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Thread: Need help translating makers signature - Officers Sword?

  1. #1
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    Need help translating makers signature - Officers Sword?

    I've done research and there is a lot out there! I'm not sure if this sword is an officers sword, or if by the length it is an Wakizashi, or if it has been shortened. The entire sword is 32" and the blade to the tsuba is is about 22 3/4" and the entire cutting edge is about 21 3/4".
    But anyways, here is the makers signature, I think the lower one may be "KUNI" - http://home.earthlink.net/~steinrl/kanji/kanji1.htm



  2. #2
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    Good work on Kuni, but you will have better luck reading the second (not first) kanji if you turn the nakago right side up – you're trying to read it upside down. Hint: the second kanji begins with "h."

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    Thank you for pointing me in the right direction! The only one on this site that I found was Hachi that looked even close. http://home.earthlink.net/~steinrl/kanji/kanji2.htm
    On another site I found a character that looked close http://jisho.org/kanji/details/儿 but I am not sure. I just don't see any with an H that have that backwards J part on the right.

    It wouldn't be hoku 4b4c 北 would it?

  4. #4
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    I'm glad you're willing to search and try yourself. I'll give you one more hint because the character is rather loosely inscribed. The radical on the right isn't a backwards J but more like a broken Δ. The radical on the left is basically a continuous squiggle. It's on Dr. Stein's site, you can find it.

    I'm about to take a flight so I will leave it to you and return this evening. Good luck!

  5. #5
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    Hope your flight went well! I don't mind flying but I hate the airport. I believe I have found the right character, Hiro. And I believe that it reads KUNIHIRO, fingers crossed. Now if that is correct I wonder if it is the HORIKAWA KUNIHIRO from the 1500's. I also wonder if it is still old but faked? I see the grain but I don't see any hamon. It is in pretty rough condition. It looks like an officers sword, so I wonder if the blade was put with newer parts or if it was machine made and marked with a fake mark. Here are some pictures so you can see what I'm seeing.







  6. #6
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    S.,

    Good job! It is indeed 國弘 Kunihiro.

    There are at least six smiths from ~1000 to ~1700 who signed with just the nijimei 國弘 Kunihiro, many of the early ones are famous, and another half-dozen or so who also had that name but are listed using longer mei. Horikawa Kunihiro is a famous smith who signed 國広, not 國弘 (though there is a smith who signed 國弘 who claimed to be the fourth gen Horikawa Kunihiro), and there are a whole slew of other Kunihiro who are listed as signing 國広 including at least one WWII smith. All this is moot however as gimei (false signatures) are extremely common, especially on poor-quality antiques that were remounted for WWII.

    I am away from my books for a while so I can't compare signatures except by searching online. However I do not see anything to get excited about with this sword. First of all I find the WWII-mountings atypical and suspicious (that fuchi especially is odd), second the workmanship and the skill are just not apparent / convincing, third the condition is awful. You cannot see any hada (grain) on this sword, period; the surface has to be in good polish for that. All you are seeing is the defaced surface; someone has really done a number on this piece. The lack of visible hamon is also troubling though it could be just the terrible condition. You could send it to a togishi (pro polisher) to have a "window" opened (a ~1" semi-polished section to gauge the workmanship), but there are a few other things we could try first.

    I strongly encourage you to check out this new owner's guide. In particular there are some useful photos we still need (entire bare blade, entire nakago, etc.) and a number of investigation resources you might pursue.

    Sadly SFI's nihontō forum is pretty dead, and I have to make the recommendation to go to the NMB instead for more opinions and advice.

    The blade seems to be an antique remounted for WWII, but even if so, I strongly suspect it was a junky gimei to begin with. However you should not give up just yet, this is just an impression based on the limited photographic evidence. Take the necessary photos (some, like the hada, will be impossible; just do your best), post it to the NMB too, take it to a club / show, and if necessary send it for a window polish.

    Cheers,

    —G.
    Last edited by Gabriel L; 02-28-2014 at 11:12 PM.

  7. #7
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    Thank you for all of your help! It is always interesting when I realize that there is much more to something than I had ever thought of. I read the links that you sent and I will take the pictures tomorrow, because the blade is not with me now. I am curious to see if the blade has any quality to it, it would be neat to have a window polished at some point. It is interesting to see blades that are hundreds of years old in excellent condition, it makes this blade seem fairly laughable condition, it makes me wonder how it got that way. And again, thank you very much! I will post tomorrow.

  8. #8
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    Here they are, as close as I could get them to reality with the lighting. It was a real pain getting the habaki off haha.

















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  10. #10
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    Thanks S. I have posted a reply to the NMB thread you started.

    I feel bad referring people away from SFI, which was the first sword forum I ever joined and which used to be a vibrant community. But it would be doing you and others a disservice not to let you know that many more qualified nihontō opinions are available elsewhere.

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