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Thread: Qing or Ching Ching money down the drain?

  1. #1

    Qing or Ching Ching money down the drain?

    Hi to everyone, I've just joined, I spotted this sword in an antique shop in the Far East. They claim it is a Qing Jian presentation sword and are asking a Qing price. I have no idea about such things and have spent three days researching Jian swords which is immensely interesting. This sword has 4 gold dragons on both sides with a gold motif between them. The four dragons are different and unusual. The blade is completely patinated all over almost identical to my father's 1868 Henry Wilkinson British sword. The shark/ Ray skin handle is much more worn than the scabbard. The hole in the handle is through a bronze 5 leaf flower and is worn on both sides with rubbing. There is no nut on the pommel and the spike is hammered flat against it....The sword is light and well balanced. It is lenticular and not shallow diamond cross section... there is a gold 6 character inscription within 2 gold squares on one side...and comments appreciated.
    thanks in advance,
    John
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  2. #2

    Qing or Ching Ching?

    Some more pics....having problems uploading....I think this is probably a 40 year old copy (movie sword?) but made by a good sword company....it's the black patinated blade that's saying it's old...I like it and wish to buy it but not for the price if it's a copy...
    John
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  3. #3

    Qing or Ching Ching money down the drain?

    some more pics...sorry it's from my camera phone...
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  4. #4

    Qing or....

    Some more pics......The sword is definately not a fighting sword.....can anyone translate the characters in the box? The shop owner says it states it's Qing...he has no problem with me photographing it and showing it to experts!

    thanks,
    John
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  5. #5

    Thumbs down ...I'm leaning heavily towards a recent copy (fake).

    Nihao John,

    It is always difficult trying to identify authenticity from a blurry photograph, especially when the sword in question is a realistic copy. No offense intended but your phone is not the proper tool for the job, nor a clear enough indicator about the details. The intricately pierced hushou and jiantan, scabbard fittings, etc... are quite lovely but I am very suspicious about this sword. What material are the fittings made of? Brass, nickel or steel? Without a clearer picture to analyze, any guesses are faulty, at best. That being said, I'll toss in my own 2 cents worth (and you may not like my opinion).

    I haven't seen a genuine antique Qing Dynasty examples that had such an ornate design scheme to the hardware (outside of museums) but it could be an historic original, regardless. The odds favor the opposite scenario. Personally, I kind of doubt it's pedigree. The blade is the primary indicator and I seen nothing clearly enough to say, with any certainty but I suspect it is a recent copy. Is the ray-skin on the grip and scabbard body smooth and shiny or aged looking? Are there any seams coming undone or ripples present? Jian with such elaborate details to the furniture, would likely have a superior, san mai constructed blade. In other words, it should be a real, fighting blade of superior forging. Now, there would be some indication of forge-folded steel, patterning and/or a hardened edge. Is there? Have you drawn the sword from the scabbard with your own two hands? Is the blade stiff or flexible? Lightweight or heavy? Do the fittings rattle or are the tight? The engraved, golden inscriptions seem questionable to me, as well, so... I'm leaning heavily towards a recent copy (fake). There have been plenty of this type on eBay and ALL OF THEM have been fraudulent copies. So, just because this one isn't inexpensive, doesn't mean it is an antique. You could upload the photos (or better yet, a new batch taken with a real camera) on Great River Taoist Center's forum. Sifu Rodell is quite knowledgeable about antique Chinese swords, especially Qing Dynasty and Republican era jians.

    This is a link to the appropriate forum category: http://forum.grtc.org/viewforum.php?...78c26d79bba9d4

    I have no idea how much this Jian is being sold for. How much? Please indicate the asking price on this jian, as it is quintessential to answering your questions. OK? Even a good reproduction would fetch from $500.00 - $1,000.00. For my money, an expensive wall-hanger is kind of a waste of money. IMO, it's better to buy a new reproduction jian from Huanuo Sword Arts or Zheng Wu. At least you can practice with them or cut targets and they are very well made copies of historical examples (more or less). That's just my perspective, though. If you are looking for a good, authentic antique jian, just let me know. You can PM me, as I have only one available for sale. The bottom line is this, the value is relative to the quality and authenticity. I hesitate to condemn this sword on superfluous grounds but all indications point to a relatively recent forgery. Sorry but there are too many anomalies presented in this batch of pictures, so don't get your hopes up. In terms of an all-or-nothing proclamation, I would have to vote, "Nay". Fair enough?

    Zai jian, Jon
    Last edited by jonpalombi; 06-17-2010 at 09:51 AM.
    "A wise person aspires the study of swordsmanship. A lucky person finds a worthy teacher, an unlucky person finds yet another student... in the guise of a genuine Master. Sadly, a fool cannot tell the difference either way." Anecdotes of The Unknown Swordsman

  6. #6

    Qing or...?

    Thanks very much Jon,

    everything is tight, I haven't seen any hamon swirl type marks on the steel. I have taken the sword in and out many times it slides in ok until about the last inch and then is very tight, water tight...I've looked at the scabbard hole and it's wood and bronze, looks very well used but still tight after thousands of times putting the sword in and out. Everything is bronze/ copper based..along the top where the hanging eyes are the bronze is rubbed in places and is lighter....there is elaborate patterns along the bronze.... SHop owner says it's the only one he's ever had....he has 5 japanese second world war swords with hamons....

    Oh it's rigid and gradually tapers to a thinner end. He's asking 2,000 USD....says it arrived only 3 months ago with a batch of other antiques from his people in the mainland. I guess if it were diamond cross section you couldn't get the dragons on it properly.
    I'll get more photos and a tape to measure. I think it's only about 1.5 to 2lbs in weight and would be good at doing the Tai Chi.
    J
    Last edited by John McD; 06-17-2010 at 09:44 AM.

  7. #7
    Well John,

    I have never drawn an antique jian from it's scabbard and found it was too tight. If anything, it is the exact opposite. Aged wood seems to contract slightly, leaving the fit somewhat loose. What does the wood at the mouth of the scabbard look like? Old or new? Any splitting or cracking in the grains? At best, this could be a composite piece, with new parts blended with original parts. Again, I strongly suspect in-authenticity from this sword. Better photos would go a long way, though. $2000.00 is the approximate going rate in the West for an antique jian of average quality. I'm guessing that's four times the actual value of this jian. BTW, the blade should have a diamond cross-section. any real engravings were done on the ricasso of the blade (which is flat) and these are usually on very late Qing or early Republican examples. I am uncertain about this piece, however, and without proper information, it is risky. Unless you are quite wealthy, it is hardly a worthwhile gamble. When in doubt... keep asking questions. Good luck with your quest but be careful.

    Ciao, Jon
    Last edited by jonpalombi; 06-17-2010 at 10:05 AM.
    "A wise person aspires the study of swordsmanship. A lucky person finds a worthy teacher, an unlucky person finds yet another student... in the guise of a genuine Master. Sadly, a fool cannot tell the difference either way." Anecdotes of The Unknown Swordsman

  8. #8

    Qing or ...?

    Having looked at your linked page Jon, and the links from there, where folks discuss the excellent copies being made in Chinese factories.....together with the tightness of the sword fit at the mouth of the scabbard...I'm inclined to agree that it's modern....but it feels like a great sword. The one thing I cannot explain is the black patinated blade?? How do you fake that? It appears very genuine. Sticking it in manure for a few months doesn't give you this effect...and I know of no chemical that can black patinate steel...The other stuff, you could sit for a few weeks rubbing it down or pulling string in and out the holes...and then leave it to oxidise again......oh there's spots of green/ blue copper oxide in places on the bronze/ brass..I'll get better photos tomorrow with my olympus.....I'll tell them it's a copy and see what they say...

    I'd like to own it at a reasonable price, put it on a Chinese sword stand in the house...
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  9. #9

    Question Hmmm....

    Quote Originally Posted by John McD View Post
    The one thing I cannot explain is the black patinated blade?? How do you fake that? It appears very genuine. Sticking it in manure for a few months doesn't give you this effect...and I know of no chemical that can black patinate steel...The other stuff, you could sit for a few weeks rubbing it down or pulling string in and out the holes...and then leave it to oxidise again......oh there's spots of green/ blue copper oxide in places on the bronze/ brass..I'll get better photos tomorrow with my Olympus.....I'll tell them it's a copy and see what they say...

    I'd like to own it at a reasonable price, put it on a Chinese sword stand in the house...
    There are indeed chemicals that blacken steel, although they cannot provide an antiqued patina that looks convincing. I've been a professional jeweler for 26 years and I have access to just about every type of metal colorant. Oxidation can be created, easily enough. For the sake of objectivity, this could be a fancy practice weapon or a tourist item from the 1940's - 1960's and gain enough patination to pass for "antique". It appears to be a martial arts weapon, rather than a real sword. Hey, that's still pretty old but not an historical fighting jian, from the Qing Dynasty. All we are certain of is that, the darkening on the blade could have been natural or induced. Also, the blue/green oxidation of the fittings would parallel such an assessment. Especially, copper-bearing alloys and low-carbon steels are receptive to such treatments. Josh Stout would be a good SFI member to ask, as he has a good instinct about these things.

    2000 US dollars is on the steep side for a practice/ display sword. Offer his $700.00 and see if he bites. That is, if you have fallen in love with this jian. It would be best to hold off from an impulse buy and see what the CSA community thinks.

    This piece may have bee made for the tourist marketplace, back in the post-WWII period? I am curious to see your Olympus pictorial. Please pay attention to the chape, mouth of the scabbard, interior opening to the hushou (guard), end of pommel (where the tang-bolt is peened), and especially the blade's surface. Please lightly tap the pommel with your left fist, to see if the blade is too springy or has no life at all. this is a good indication of the quality of the steel. I'll be extremely interested to see the results.

    Remember, "An ounce of caution is worth a pound of cure". The tight scabbard, blue-ish patina to the brass and pristine ray-skin... makes me suspicious and without much trust in the authenticity this sword. For a nice display item, I agree with you, it is handsome. Not 2000 bucks worth of handsome, though. Ultimately, the better pictures will tell more about the origins of this jian. Thanks in advance.

    Bye now, Jon
    Last edited by jonpalombi; 06-17-2010 at 12:58 PM.
    "A wise person aspires the study of swordsmanship. A lucky person finds a worthy teacher, an unlucky person finds yet another student... in the guise of a genuine Master. Sadly, a fool cannot tell the difference either way." Anecdotes of The Unknown Swordsman

  10. #10

    Qing or....?

    Jon,

    I've been back to the shop and had a good look at the sword. It all seems so genuine. I have many photos but they are 800-900kb and I think I can only upload 100kb photos, but I'll try....The owners showed me a book of Chinese Characters 4 different types going back through the ages. They showed me the same characters that are on the sword blade in gold (yes they think it's gold in steel) They are indeed the oldest of the characters. Apparently it says - Qing Dynasty-in the years of-Qianlong. So emperor Qianlong from 1740..... So they are saying the sword is older than a late Qing!

    The sword blade flexes....sorry misled you last night that it was rigid. It is genuine black patina on steel. The patina does not effect the gold dragons or character box or motifs between the dragons, but all the areas of steel even between the gold. These gold lines remain immaculate in the black patina. They are neither raised nor etched or engraved, but somehow in the steel running a finger nail along them cannot discern them.

    We all tried knocking the pommel/ tang with our bone in front of the left wrist. The pommel and the sword blade vibrates gently and with harmony.

    The tang spike is visible through the bronze pommel. It is very black. It comes out the pommel and is bashed flat onto a bronze 5 petal flower washer. The 5 petal flower moves about half a mm and the pommel can rock from side to side by 1mm.

    They will not budge from 2,000USD.

    "They know it's Qing Dynasty, Qianlong!"

    I spotted how the sword jams tight...it's the bronze mouth of the scabbard jamming against the inside of the bronze latice structure of the hilt. If I gently opened the latice, the sword would easily slide in/ out the scabbard.

    The lady pointed out that all the bronze pieces were single items hand carved with no joins or braising etc....she is absolutely right, there are no visible seams or joints to any of the bronze anywhere. None of the bronze is damaged or has pieces missing.
    I'll try some photos..
    John
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  11. #11

    Qing or...?

    Excellent..the photo worked....some more...

    The sword overall length from point tip to pommel tip is 39inches. The handle is 9 inches.....
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  12. #12

    Qing?

    more photos...the bronze is rubbed lighter where people grip the scabbard to draw and replace the sword just below the mouth.
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  13. #13

    Qing or...?

    Last pictures....the bronze and fishskin looks dark and light depending on whether I used my flash or not....I'm actually surprised by the pictures of how the bronze looks so light at times and dark at others...

    I'm interested in comments...
    thanks,
    John
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  14. #14
    Looks like a modern fake.

    Here are repro fittings with the same shape, but slightly different open-work design:

    http://i596.photobucket.com/albums/t...s/IMG_1522.jpg

    Also, why does the scabbard, fittings and handle exhibit no wear? The color of rayskin is to even, no fading or damage. Even swords with rayskin scabbards from Qianlong's collection in Beijing have more wear.

    Why is does the sword not fit tight into the scabbard? Like John says a scabbard that is hundreds of years old would not fit tight. Why? The wood loses water and shrinks, so the blade will not be tight any more.

    Why does the gold look immaculate, but the blade very old?

    One can see from photos of swords from Qianlong's collection with gold inlaid on the blades that the blades are in much better condition and the gold not as bright. I've seen one dao pre-polish where the gold or brass was barely visible and even after the polish.

    If this was real some Chinese guy would have bought it long time ago. It is a steal at that price if real and it is not.
    Last edited by T.Lee; 06-20-2010 at 12:51 PM. Reason: Correction of spelling.

  15. #15
    I forgot to add that this guy in San Francisco Chinatown had a pair of bronze sword he claimed was owned by an emperor of China way back in the warring states or Han period. The things looked old, but I searched them on eBay and found ones that looked exactly alike. If you look hard enough I'm sure you'll find similar ones for sale of your Qing jian.




  16. #16

    Qing or....?

    I think you may be correct, modern facsimile. The materials are all so well made. The Rayskin is genuine skin (less than 1mm thick) I can see a crease/ cross section through the bronze and it's genuine fish skin, but perhaps newer than it should be (it is incredibly smooth to the hand and fingers, however the finger nail can discern almost every white dot when scratched along the surface as with the handle).. The bronze fittings are all hand carved and a tribute to the carvers skill. The bronze edgings are all little curves. The geometry of everything is perfect. The size of the sword the size of the bronze fittings how they relate to each other....The blade is surely over 150 years old, I have held such blades with such patination, but yes, the gold could have been added more recently (The blade doesn't vibrate, it humms with harmony when the tang is struck)....many hundreds of hours went into making this, the design, the planning, the materials sourcing and craftmanship, to create such a wonderful fake....... I like it.

    The sword has a maritime/ sea theme, the dragons with sea serpent tails. All the bronze pieces are actually little waves. How do they make new bronze so black? The two long bronze pieces along the top and bottom of the scabbard are also carved with sea wave swirls...and, of course, it is covered in Rayskin from the sea. The gold motifs between the animals on the sword are also curvy waves. A lot of effort and cost for a china wholesale price less than USD2,000. amazing.

    There are 8 animals, 10 motifs and the Character box inlaid in gold into the sword (both sides). A lot of fake effort (19 very intricate pictorals in gold). How do you retro inlay gold without damaging the antique patina of an old blade? The blade also has genuine pitting holes. Two of the animals have gold missing from their toes (flexing the sword too much?). The holes that remain are about 0.75mm into the steel. All animals have 3 toes on each foot. The blade, bronze fittings and rayskin are genuine but how old are they? The sword boldly states, in old characters, in gold, that it is Qing Dynasty, Qianlong (a big boast indeed).

    If I were the forger and sourced a genuine blade and somehow inlaid gold in 19 intricate pictorals, 0.75mm deep, and hand carved bronze to this quality and somehow achieved a bronze patina to a deep black, why wouldn't I go the extra yard and try and make the genuine rayskin look older?? and then why not ask the $10,000 or whatever?

    This bronze is of superior finer craftsmanship to the brass, clunky exmple above. The black patina of this bronze is being worn by the handling of the last 3 months in the shop, however, even after polishing, I do not think it would ever become so brassy yellow.

    They won't budge from the price (I think they genuinely paid a good price for it and really think it's Qing) She says a family have had this wrapped up in cloth since they were presented with it and handed it down the generations. I guess if someone received $1,200 for it then that's a years income (or more) for some people. Only back in WW2 Japanese Officers had their Ancestral blades of several hundred years (many still being discovered as true and not WW2 but in WW2 scabbards and furnishings). Why wouldn't Chinese hold their swords (for 2 hundred years)? The materials are genuine but perhaps not Qing....I'd like to own it and put it on a sword stand, but not at the price. How much do people think it is worth? Websites are quoting $1,200 for new Jians, surely this is worth the $2,000 as a superb quality fake with genuine parts and craftsmanship?

    thanks again.
    John
    Last edited by John McD; 06-20-2010 at 08:25 PM.

  17. #17

    It it is a fake...probably not much

    If it is a fake, the blade is most likely soft and not tempered. So the item is only worth as much as the materials and relatively little labor hours use to construct it. I've seen some fake Chinese sword on ebay selling at a little over a hundred including shipping, which tells me that they are probably worth less than the asking price.

    After browsing ebay a little, there is one on ebay with different fittings asking for about $400 (not including shipping). Unless the blade is properly tempered (which is not), it is very expensive.
    Last edited by Hon Cheah; 06-20-2010 at 06:07 PM. Reason: Adding more info.

  18. #18
    Gold or silver inlaid blades with fake Qianlong marks were made for tourists in the late Qing, but usually with bone handles. These late Qing tourist jian have become popular and are being copied again. This appears to be just such a copy of a copy. The characters on the blade are accurate copies of bad late Qing work, but the other decorations do not match the earlier copies. The ray skin and fittings are well done, but modern work.

    I think you can do better. If you like high quality craftsmanship, don't mind something post 1900, and have some patience, there are good deals out there. I have bought several authentic late Qing or Republican jian for less than $1000.

    Here is an example of a nice Republican copy of a Qing Longquan jian.

    Notice that even though this sword is only 70-80 years old and looks very new, there are clear signs of age.

    http://i77.photobucket.com/albums/j6...i/sword006.jpg

    http://i77.photobucket.com/albums/j6...i/sword007.jpg

    http://i77.photobucket.com/albums/j6...i/sword008.jpg

    http://i77.photobucket.com/albums/j6...i/sword012.jpg

    http://i77.photobucket.com/albums/j6...i/sword013.jpg

    Here is a modern fake. In some ways it looks older, but look closely and you will see the differences.

    http://i77.photobucket.com/albums/j6...i/DSC_0697.jpg

    http://i77.photobucket.com/albums/j6...DSC_0690-1.jpg

    http://i77.photobucket.com/albums/j6...i/DSC_0692.jpg

    http://i77.photobucket.com/albums/j6...i/DSC_0700.jpg


    Josh

  19. #19

    Thumbs down The jury is out and it's an imposter!

    Quote Originally Posted by josh stout View Post
    These late Qing tourist jian have become popular and are being copied again. This appears to be just such a copy of a copy. The characters on the blade are accurate copies of bad late Qing work, but the other decorations do not match the earlier copies. The ray skin and fittings are well done, but modern work.
    Josh
    Nihao Josh,

    Yeah, pretty much what I figured. Now, say John fancies this jian, despite it being an outrageous counterfeit, what would you suggest he offer the swindler for it? Since the store owner may not even know the truth (or does he?)... my feeling is that he will feign offense and stick to the over-inflated price. Perhaps the next shopper will be a little more naive and trusting? Like B.T. Barnum said, "There's a sucker born every minute."

    I would advise John to invest in a real antique but we all know how scarce jian & scabbard, complete packages are! So, I think 400 dollars seems more than fair for this wall-hanger. The new Gim made for Cold Steel (by Huanuo Sword Arts) has detailed fittings in nickel alloy and genuine ray-skin. the blade is forge-folded and it looks like a better piece for $400.00, to my eye and it probably can handle fairly substantial cutting challenges. I wish the Fu-dog hushou was better carved and/or more historically accurate, though.

    http://www.kultofathena.com/product....+Jade+Lion+Gim

    Even a reproduction-reproduction with this much work in the furniture is kind of attractive, albeit falsely labeled, as having Dynastic origins. Just to play around with, it might be worth 400 bucks? That being said, what to do with one? You can't cut with them and they are completely fake, pseudo-antiquities, however pretty.

    Zai jian, Jon
    Last edited by jonpalombi; 06-21-2010 at 11:51 AM.
    "A wise person aspires the study of swordsmanship. A lucky person finds a worthy teacher, an unlucky person finds yet another student... in the guise of a genuine Master. Sadly, a fool cannot tell the difference either way." Anecdotes of The Unknown Swordsman

  20. #20

    Ching Ching money down the drain!

    Gentlemen,
    thanks for the excellent contributions.....so it's ching ching then.

    I'll give it a wide berth...I was never interested in cutting anything....if you build straw men and slice through them in your garden in the UK, the ambulance arrives and takes you away to the mentally ill ward..(different culture)...I know Texas ranch owners also..if I behaved like them with the gun culture I'd get locked up also...(different culture)..

    For the record: I took my swiss army victornox knife to this sword yesterday and scratched across one line of gold..it is actually about 0.4-0.5mm deep. The gold was soft and scratched out, leaving a groove. the steel scratched a little, the patina hardly affected. The Ray Skin was surprising...incredibly hard, each dot going all the way through...a lot of force needed to take little slices...and it powdered in my fingers like bone or sea shells or coral.

    A great deal of effort into a copy....especially the patina....this has been a very good example for future folks to reference.

    regards,
    John

  21. #21
    lol so you took a knife and scratched this chinese guys precious '$2000' jian with your pocket knife!!

    Lucky you didnt get chased out by the store by some crazed sword wielding chinese! Even worse you might have got the old 'youve damaged it, so you must pay for it'

    Remind me not to let you near any of my antiques for sale

    On a side note as ive learnt to my cost if it seems to good to be true then it almost always is. Looks a nice thing but sounds like you avoided making a costly blunder.

    Worrying how much effort and workmanship some people are putting into forgeries. Makes things alot harder for novice collectors like me.

    Oh and John i hear you about taking swords out in your garden in the UK. Im scared stiff when im with mine in the garden, casting nervous looks at neighbours windows and looking for the armed police likely to come crashing through my door

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