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Thread: Inherited Jian Sword

  1. #1

    Inherited Jian Sword

    I am the second person to inherit this sword. My grandfather, US Hospital ship intern, brought it back in 1943 from WWII where he was at Philippines and Japan that we know of for sure. He left it to my father who has passed it to me.

    The fitting and pommel all appear to be sterling silver. There are no inscriptions anywhere except at the top of the blade. The hilt is fastened to the tang at the end of the pommel by a silver capped nut. The scabbard and handle appear to be covered with black shark skin. The blade is approximates 81 centimeters from beginning of tang to tip. POB is about 5 inches from the hilt. The sword is very solid and has been stored coated with vaseline except to view it once in a great while since it was brought here in 1943.

    We would like to know anything that can be reasonably be determined from the attached pictures. How old is is? Where might it have originated from. What is it's approximate value range? We have no interest in ever parting with this sword. If possible I would appreciate any direction to get the inscriptions on each side of the blade interpreted.
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  2. #2
    China, first half of XX century. Most possible period - 1930th.

    Give me the better pics of the hyerogliphs in cartouche and I will try to read them.

  3. #3
    Thanks for the response. I've attached views of the inscriptions.
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  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by dan d s View Post
    Thanks for the response. I've attached views of the inscriptions.
    For this one (see the attachment) - the inscription is the false mark of Qianlong reign (1735-1796) - 乾隆年造 (Qianlong Nianzao).

    It was done in accordance with the Chinese tradition to stamp old marks on contemporary things in order to assure that the thing is equal to the ancient high-level specimen.

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  5. #5
    The second inscription seems to be the name of the sword in Qianlong Era style - Qinggang Youlian 青鋼 酉煉 or something like that.

    We can translate it as something like "Clear steel (qinggang), mature and refine (you lian)".

    It has no relation to the quality of the blade - it is only the poetic form to ttract clients.

    I think (judjing by the shape of the blade and fittings) - it is a sword made in the first half of XX century, probably in the end of 1920th - first half of 1930th.

    I can be wrong so if anybody can investigate the matter it would be great!

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Aleksey Pastukhov View Post
    The second inscription seems to be the name of the sword in Qianlong Era style - Qinggang Youlian 青鋼 酉煉 or something like that.

    We can translate it as something like "Clear steel (qinggang), mature and refine (you lian)".

    It has no relation to the quality of the blade - it is only the poetic form to ttract clients.

    I think (judjing by the shape of the blade and fittings) - it is a sword made in the first half of XX century, probably in the end of 1920th - first half of 1930th.

    I can be wrong so if anybody can investigate the matter it would be great!
    I agree with the dates; everything about it is consistent with the early Republican period. Even the spurious Qianlong rein marks are typical. Unfortunately some are fooled by this. I have a jian with the same marks from the same period that included a "certificate of authenticity" typed up in the 1970s from a "Chinese general" stating it was from the Qianlong period.

    Your example is particularly fine, with a substantial ricasso, typical of the period, and the classic "ace of spades" guard. Blades form the period can be mono-steel, sanmai, and/or differentially heat treated. A closeup of the tip would help us decide. I think the inscription is claiming it is good quality mono-steel.

    Some that look like yours can have a very high temper that will ring when you flick the tip. Others will have a more traditional temper indicated by a fairly tight vibration when you tap the pommel. Some have no temper at all and will feel somewhat dead when you tap the pommel.

    Are you sure about the silver? Most guards are brass. Could yours be coin silver? It seems more likely to be something a bit harder than sterling.

    Anyway, it is a magnificent piece. If you ever want to sell it let me know, but my advice is to keep it as an amazing family heirloom.

    Thanks,
    Josh

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by josh stout View Post
    Are you sure about the silver? Most guards are brass. Could yours be coin silver? It seems more likely to be something a bit harder than sterling.
    I think it is something like so called "German Silver" (Zn-Cu alloy). It was quite typical for the first half of XX century.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Aleksey Pastukhov View Post
    I think it is something like so called "German Silver" (Zn-Cu alloy). It was quite typical for the first half of XX century.
    I think you are right. I was trying to remember the name of the alloy, and "German Silver" is it.

    Thanks,
    Josh

  9. #9
    First, to both you and Aleksey, I really appreciate the time and replies. I tried flicking the tip, just a short metalic ring. I wasn't sure how you meant to tap the pommel exactly. I tapped the pommel with my knuckle and that did produced a tight short vibration I didn't expect this to be of great monetary value, but was hoping it wasn't just a cheap tourist knockoff. Is it of enough value I should consider insuring it above normal household properties? Attached is a picture of the tip.
    Thanks!
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  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by dan d s View Post
    First, to both you and Aleksey, I really appreciate the time and replies. I tried flicking the tip, just a short metalic ring. I wasn't sure how you meant to tap the pommel exactly. I tapped the pommel with my knuckle and that did produced a tight short vibration I didn't expect this to be of great monetary value, but was hoping it wasn't just a cheap tourist knockoff. Is it of enough value I should consider insuring it above normal household properties? Attached is a picture of the tip.
    Thanks!
    It looks like it has a good traditional sanmai blade. I don't know about the heat treatment. I wouldn't bother insuring it unless you send it through the mail. One or two grand or even more would be the replacement cost, but you probably would not get that much if you sold it.

    You should give it a little oil now and then, and display it with pride.
    Josh

    Ps. I apologize for mentioning a price, but I figure that "more or less than a grand" is vague enough to be helpful while not being in any way specific

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