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NLF Gunto Discussion

Article about: I'm still in the investigation stage of this, and am posting on 5 forums, so forgive me if you see this on other website forums, but I'd like to spread a wide net, so to speak to gather more

  1. #1

    Default NLF Gunto Discussion

    I'm still in the investigation stage of this, and am posting on 5 forums, so forgive me if you see this on other website forums, but I'd like to spread a wide net, so to speak to gather more input. Also, the 2 pictures I tried to imbed in the discussion won't post that way, so they are added as attachments. If you are able to help with either of the 2 requests below, please let me know:



    Collectors of WWII gunto are well aware of the strange arrangement often called “Marine Landing Sword” or “Navy Landing Sword”. As we all know the first name is bad because the Japanese did not have a Marine organization in WWII. I will use the second, or “NLF”, for this discussion simply to have a name to use.



    Pictured below, in all I’ve seen, they have a stainless-steel (or their version of it in the ‘40s) marked with a Toyokawa Navy Arsenal stamp. They are usually unsigned, but I have seen 2 with kanji – one was signed, and the other simply read “resident of Nara.” The koshirae are predominantly naval, but lack the rising sun seppa and have bright gold army fittings on the saya, including a single ashi (belt hanger).







    Fuller, in “Japanese Military and Civil Swords and Dirks,” discusses naval forces working with land forces, calling them Naval Landing Forces, and shows a picture of navy officers wearing uniforms that are a combination of army and navy items. One officer is wearing an army gunto (pg 65). In several places in the book, he discusses how widely varied NLF gunto seem to be in fitting arrangements. But he devotes a full page, pg 138, to this style gunto and discusses various theories about it, but concludes that it is his opinion they are “post-war assemblies.”



    In discussing this style on Wehrmacht-Awards.com, a very knowledgeable and well respected member, Bob Coleman relayed the following:

    04-09-2017, 06:21 PM

    #8

    Bob Coleman

    Member



    Bob Coleman is offline

    Join Date: Jan 2003

    Location: NATURE'S WONDERLAND

    Posts: 4,843




    The naval sword is of the type put together from left over parts and sold post war as souvenirs to GI's by Japan Sword Company, which is still in business today in Tokyo. I have purchased four of these from Korean War vets who all gave me the same information as to where they acquired them. Tell tale signs are the single hanger, lacquer scabbard, solid iron tsuba without the sun ray plates and gilt painted fittings. All four that I saw were unsigned stainless steel blades with an anchor stamp and the end of the tang roughly snapped off. All four I bought also came with a cheap brown cloth sword bag.




    In reply, “Sengoku” added:



    Sengoku

    New Member



    Sengoku is offline

    Join Date: Mar 2016

    Location: Leeds UK

    Posts: 44




    I have actually come across a reference to the occupation authorities approving the use of old stock to produce souvenirs for allied troops, and keep the artisans working and earning. I don't have any links to hand though.




    I tried to contact The Japanese Sword Co, in Tokyo, but they have no published email address. I did make contact via Facebook's Messenger and offer the following exchange:







    My first request is: Their final statement clearly got lost in translation – if there is someone who could speak and write Japanese, would you be willing to write in Japanese, a request to answer in Japanese? You could send it to me, I’ll copy and paste, and when they respond, I’ll bring it back to you for translation.



    My second area of investigation involves Bob Coleman’s feeling that all the metal parts were painted gold. I have found one owner, who happens to be a metallurgist, who checked and found his army fittings were indeed electro-gilded using brass (not gold), not painted.



    So my second need is for another owner of this style, to check the gold-colored coating on the army fittings to see if it is painted or gilded. I know an old AF buddy that owns one, and am checking with him, but if there are more out there who can check, more information is better!



    Here’s my thinking:



    While Bob’s information gained from his purchases are without question, all it actually tells us is that 3 guys bought gunto in this style from The Tokyo Sword Co. It doesn’t tell us if the gunto were obtained, as is, by the company and then sold, or as Bob suspects, the company obtained supplies of parts and assembled them. Sengoku’s info adds to the possibility that Bob’s theory is correct, but still doesn’t prove that it was done.



    On the other hand, the evidence from my friends’ gunto is beginning to show that the army parts are electro-gilded, not painted. There are only 2 choices on how this happened – 1. Japanese craftsmen, during the war, gilded these parts to go on navy gunto; or 2. The Japanese Sword Co paid someone to electro-gild these parts to create souvenirs.



    To me, the gunto we have seen are all very uniform in appearance. It seems to me that pieced-together items would have more variation. Although, this could be understandable if The Japanese Sword Co obtained a large supply of fittings and blades made by a single manufacturer.



    There have been no known photos of this style in use, or in surrender piles, however the canvas same’ and newness of parts points to late-war, 1945ish, if these were war produced, so that wouldn’t be unexpected. All the blades I’ve seen are immaculate and clearly never saw action.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture NLF Gunto Discussion   NLF Gunto Discussion  


  2. #2

    Default

    An interesting point from Douglas Pine at NMB:

    jeep44

    Chu Saku
    Members
    19 posts

    Locationcanton, mi

    Posted Today, 06:53 PM

    This is my sword. My question is... was there another military sword that had a fuchi with an integral seppa? I've never seen one, so I doubt these would be "left-over" parts-they were made specifically for this pattern of sword
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture NLF Gunto Discussion  

  3. #3
    ?

    Default

    Navy Kai gunto
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture NLF Gunto Discussion  

  4. #4

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    Yes, Jareth, and the third one down from the top intrigues me. It has what appears to be the double looped ashi of an army gunto. I realize it COULD be an ashi made for wooden saya with leather cover, but I see no reference to this style in my books. Under-leather ashi are quite varied, but they seem to be a single "loop" around the saya, not double.

    If anyone knows of an example of the double-loop style for under-leather ashi, let me know.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture NLF Gunto Discussion  

  5. #5

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    Well, a dissapointing turn in the NLF - Japanese Sword Co. investigation. I just got word back from them in answer to clarifying questions, and they deny neither finding already assembled gunto in this style nor assembling surplus parts to make them. Yet, we have fairly good evidence from Bob Coleman that US G.I.s did buy this style gunto from them after the war.

    This COULD mean I missed a third question - Did you manufacture, or contract out for manufacture, new, this style gunto. Or it could mean someone simply brought a few of these in to sell, and the JSC bought and resold them. Or, and I would hate to think this of them, they are simply lying about it for their own reasons
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture NLF Gunto Discussion  

  6. #6

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    Bruce-
    Do you think that after 65+ years anyone at Japan Sword would know about these? Especially as they were being represented as something they were not.
    BOB

    LIFE'S LOSERS NEVER LEARN FROM THE ERROR OF THEIR WAYS.

  7. #7

    Default

    Quote by BOB COLEMAN View Post
    Bruce-
    Do you think that after 65+ years anyone at Japan Sword would know about these? Especially as they were being represented as something they were not.
    Sure Bob, but wouldn't they just say that? And here's where my lack of cultural understanding comes into play. If someone were to ask me, an American, those questions I would simply say "Who knows?!" But would a Japanese say that?

    I was just hoping there would be a senior manager with enough "corporate knowledge " around to know some of the business's history.

  8. #8

    Default

    I think you have received a foreigner it is none of your business reply. I believe the oral tradition from four individuals I met is enough of the truth. When I visited Japan Sword in the 80's, they were selling replicas of all forms of WW2 era swords and dirks(without a sharp steel blade).
    It is always a mistake to apply Western standards when dealing with individuals from another culture.
    BOB

    LIFE'S LOSERS NEVER LEARN FROM THE ERROR OF THEIR WAYS.

  9. #9

    Default

    "It is always a mistake to apply Western standards when dealing with individuals from another culture"

    Agreed. Which is why I was running that thought by you. Thanks!

    So, Harrumph! Dead end for now.

  10. #10

    Default

    A significant find on this topic, on this thread: Interesting sword auction - Wehrmacht-Awards.com Militaria Forums

    One of these is being sold with a bring-back certificate from the 8th Army PX, calling it a souvenier, not a war weapon! It appears to have been sold by the PX! The certicate is dated 1950.

    I suspect these were being made as part of the MacArthur administration's efforts to keep industry working after the war.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture NLF Gunto Discussion   NLF Gunto Discussion  


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