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Thread: Please help me identify this blade

  1. #1

    Please help me identify this blade

    Hello all. I picked this item up in Northern Japan sometime around 2006-2007 from a very elderly Japanese gentleman that would occasionally come on base and sell antiques at the BX. He spoke very little English, so all he could tell me about this piece was "Old, very old". I used to think that it might be some type of Gladius, but I never could find much information. However, now I'm beginning to wonder if it might be a form of Jian? Especially since I found a photo online of a Jian with beautiful spiral inlay that looks VERY similar to whats left of the "guard" on my piece. It appears to be cast in one piece, out of what I believe to be bronze. The spiral decoration I spoke of is very hard to see on mine, as there are only 2-4 "spirals" visible/left. Overall length is approximately 15.75 inches. Any help in identifying this piece would be very much appreciated!

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    Here is the URL for the bronze Jian with spirals I think that my piece slightly resembles:

    http://image.invaluable.com/housePho...-L75132837.jpg

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Brisbane, Australia
    Posts
    618
    Yes, it's a jian. Short, and the wide guard is unusual (but historical). Most (almost all!) of these that one finds for sale are modern fakes/replicas, so unless you have a good reason for thinking it's old, a good default assumption is to assume it's modern. (Replica ancient bronze jian were made hundreds of years ago (e.g., Ming), so it's an old tradition.) I don't know any genuine old bronze jian that looks quite like this, so can't point you at any specific swords it might be based on (assuming it's modern).

    Easy enough to check if it might be old: genuine ones are high-tin bronze, and modern ones are usually brass. If it's brass, it's modern.
    "In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.

  3. #3
    Thanks for the info! I have absolutely no idea if it's a reproduction or the real deal, to be honest. How might someone test the alloy of something like this?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Brisbane, Australia
    Posts
    618
    If you polish it, brass is typically very yellow. Bronze is usually redder/browner. Depends on the exact alloy. For an idea of the difference in appearance, see
    http://metalsupermarkets.com/blog/di...-brass-bronze/
    I find the colour difference is enough. But the metal needs to be clean and polished. Maybe you could do so on the inside of the grip hole?
    Hydrochloric acid will turn brass pinkish (it strips out the zinc and leaves the copper).

    X-ray fluorescence and mass spectrometry will be very reliable, but need fancy equipment. Not a home test.

    Sometimes, replicas/fakes are made of pot metal (non-brass zinc alloys). These tend to be brittle. If you try to remove a small piece from the inside edge of the hole in the grip, and it's crumbly, with large grains, you have pot metal.
    "In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.

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