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Thread: Chinese military sword? 20th century

  1. #1
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    Chinese military sword? 20th century

    Hello,
    I believe this is a Chinese military sword from the 20th Century. Any additional information you may know would be greatly appreciated.
    Would I be compromising its' value if I were to sharpen and polish the blade?
    Thank you








  2. #2
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    Does anyone have an idea? Dark stuff on the blade is leftover cosmoline.

  3. #3
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    Hi. I have two of these swords in my collection. Both are complete with wooden scabbards.
    When I purchased them they were billed as Manchurian cavalry, possibly Manchukuo or at least dating from the 1930's and clearly manufactured from railway steel given the weight of the blade.
    They are unusual but the two I have are very similar in style so may conform to an actual pattern.
    Like your sword they are both in very good condition which makes me a lttle supicious that they do date from the 1930's.
    As to value well that is a matter of conjecture. I personally would not sharpen the blade or polish it further but that is up to you.
    I would be interested to hear if anyone else has come across these swords and may add some more info.?

  4. #4
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    Interesting sword, thank you for sharing. I believe I saw one like this in similar condition on Ebay about a year ago. It was also presented as a "Chinese cavalry sword". In regards to the sharpening, I can say I would not if it were my sword. It is very possible that the lack of a sharpened blade could speak to its history and present condition. Its very possible that it sat in official storage never issued for field service, which would explain the dull edge and nice preservation on the whole.

    As far as polishing goes, it looks in pretty good order to me. Its easy to do more harm than good. I would oil the blade down, work it with some brass wool to get the old cosmoline/unstable rust/grime etc. off. Brass being harder than cosmoline, grime, etc. but softer than steel as not to alter the actual blade. Then wipe it as clean as I could, and re-oil. That would really help stop any further deterioration of the blade and improve the look without compromising any historic or monetary value. Of course that is just my opinion, but I think it is a good one.

    Again, thanks for sharing. I am particularly interested in Chinese/Chinese related swords and there evolution in the past 300 years.

  5. #5
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    I thought you may be interested to see a full view of my cavalry swords complete with scabbard.
    They are loosely based on the Japanese cavalry sword used during the two World Wars. They even sport the push button scabbard catch on the hilt. Most interesting are the blades. Very heavy unfullered steel which I guess started life as railway track and was fashioned in the same way as the dao swords used to great effect against the Japanese in the 1930's.
    As to the condition of both which is very good, I suspect they have lain in an arsenal somewhere until ''liberated'' as they both ended up in the States where I purchased them.
    Note the slightly different style of grip. In all other respects the two swords are almost indentical except for one has a blackened scabbard. Scabbard mounts appear to be brass (foot) with iron bands. Cheers, Todd.
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  6. #6
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    Thank you for your information. I will not be polishing the sword based on its historical significance. I will try to read a bit of history from those times to get a better understanding. The fact that it may have been forged from railroad rails is kind of cool, to me at least. I will check around here for the scabbard. I had one a long time ago, but it has cosmoline in it and greases the blade when you use it.

    I need to remove cosmoline from inside without disturbing the wood and paint finish.

  7. #7
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    Has anyone else got anything new to add re these unusual cavalry swords? I ask because I can find no reference to these swords in any books or even online except on this forum. Cheers, Todd.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Parker View Post
    Has anyone else got anything new to add re these unusual cavalry swords? I ask because I can find no reference to these swords in any books or even online except on this forum. Cheers, Todd.
    Frankly, these look like Chinese made fantasy swords from what I can see. Manchukuo swords typically have the distinctive crossed flags or plumb blossom motif on them. This is as opposed to the Japanese cherry blossom design. Japanese colonial swords, including Manchukuo, typically had steel or leather scabbards and followed the Japanese patterns. The colonial swords also generally incorporate the specific device for that particular colony. At any rate, I do not find them in the Fuller & Gregory or the Dawson books on Japanese swords.
    "You can't please everyone, so you have to please yourself." Ricky Nelson

  9. #9
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    Thank you for your response but I have to disagree. The only reason I mentioned Manchukuo as a possibilty was that the first sword I purchased was described as a Manchukuo Cavalry sword. I personally doubt that as I believe it far more likely they were Chinese or Manchurian. The nature of the blade suggest very strongly that it is composed of railway steel which was commonly used by the Chinese peasant labour fashioning the steel into dao swords for use by the guerilla units opposing the Japanese invasion of Manchuria back in the 1930s.
    The swords are rather crudely made and very robust and do not in the least bit resemble the majority of the fantasy swords coming out of modern day China.It does not surprise me that they are not mentioned in the books by Dawson or Gregory as they are certainly not anything to do with the Japanese, other than the fact they only loosely resemble the Japanese type 32 cavalry sword, except that they are far more massive.
    I believe they are a type of dao made for use on horseback and their very good condition speaks to the fact that a number of these swords have lain in an arsenal somewhere until liberated.
    My knowledge of the weaponry utilised by the Chinese during the period just prior to ww2 is limited but I do know the Chinese labourers made a variety of different swords styles and that this pattern is obviously one of these. Regards, Todd.

  10. #10
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    I agree, fantasy. Fantasy can include robust examples, not just cheap looking or garishly decorated ones. These just don't look right--they look as recent as 10 years ago. I have several old Chinese dao --the look of real, old Chinese swords is "in your face"--these just don't look right.
    Tom Donoho

  11. #11
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    Here is a known Chinese cavalry sword type that emulates the Japanese model 32








    I don't know the other pattern being shown here but I would keep in mind the tourist markets. As to rail steel or not, it is kind of a stretch to assume that without provenance. Steel weighs what steel weighs. If these we see in this thread seem overly heavy, that would be another note that they might not be have been made for martial use. After all, the Chinese have and had a long history of swordmaking. Honestly, I would put these in a category such as the American D bowies are. Those are a hundred to one or more not made during the American Civil War.

    I see a peasant attribution as a bit romantic unless someone comes up with text describing these en masse for peasant use.

    Cheers

    Hotspur; always willing to read a story but the better ones might reveal the best information
    Last edited by Glen C.; 08-23-2013 at 12:36 PM.

  12. #12
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    Thanks, Glen.

    Even these sabers that you post pictures of have been topics of debate.

    During the Nationalist time and the time of the war lords, old and new dao were used--the Chinese military loved their dao. Not saying that's all that was used in edged weapons.
    Tom Donoho

  13. #13
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    A dealer recently showed me several of these swords that came out of a crate in deep storage from a government store house in China. They all had the typical cosmoline on the blades. I think Todd is on the right track. Its been my experience that there is still a lot to learn about Chinese swords.

  14. #14
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    Chinese Sabre

    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Parker View Post
    Thank you for your response but I have to disagree. The only reason I mentioned Manchukuo as a possibilty was that the first sword I purchased was described as a Manchukuo Cavalry sword. I personally doubt that as I believe it far more likely they were Chinese or Manchurian. The nature of the blade suggest very strongly that it is composed of railway steel which was commonly used by the Chinese peasant labour fashioning the steel into dao swords for use by the guerilla units opposing the Japanese invasion of Manchuria back in the 1930s.
    The swords are rather crudely made and very robust and do not in the least bit resemble the majority of the fantasy swords coming out of modern day China.It does not surprise me that they are not mentioned in the books by Dawson or Gregory as they are certainly not anything to do with the Japanese, other than the fact they only loosely resemble the Japanese type 32 cavalry sword, except that they are far more massive.
    I believe they are a type of dao made for use on horseback and their very good condition speaks to the fact that a number of these swords have lain in an arsenal somewhere until liberated.
    My knowledge of the weaponry utilised by the Chinese during the period just prior to ww2 is limited but I do know the Chinese labourers made a variety of different swords styles and that this pattern is obviously one of these. Regards, Todd.

    Ok , I have recently acquired one too , 6 years after this thread started. I have scoured the internet for information and found very little . The story of my sword is very similar . The man I got mine from is a reputable collector , who bought it 20 years ago in Portland Oregon from an importer who brought a container over from a government warehouse in China . The container was mostly full of ammunition and SKS rifles , and 10 crates of Swords , 5 to a box . Swords covered in cosmoline . He was told they were Mongolian Cavalry , from the 1931 Manchurian invasion .
    Some of the swords had a medallion peened under the pommel and some did not .
    The medallion is like the coin from the 1911 rebellion , I believe it was cast using a real coin , but careful inspection reveals it is not an actual coin . Some people say this sword is a fake , and I have concerns but the story of government crates and cosmoline lead me to think it is real . Why would anyone fake a sword nobody ever heard of ? A Gunto or antique sure , but why this one . Nothing on it looks fake .
    The only concern I have is it’s weight . Mounted soldier or not , I can’t imagine swinging it in combat , I can barely lift it !
    There has to be more information out there !
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by B.K.Smith View Post
    The only concern I have is it’s weight . Mounted soldier or not , I can’t imagine swinging it in combat , I can barely lift it !
    How heavy is it?
    "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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    Weight of Chinese Sabre

    Quote Originally Posted by Timo Nieminen View Post
    How heavy is it?
    I need to get a proper scale , but using a bathroom scale I estimate it to be around 4.5 pounds , so twice what a normal sword would be. It weighs more than my two handed European swords do but with a single handed grip. The grip is also big and bulky in the hand , not easy to get control of it.
    The blade measures 9 millimetres thick near the guard and with no fuller it is substantial.
    If it had a Katana style handle it would be easier to wield , still too heavy , but it's supposed to be a Cavalry Sabre.
    Imagine picking an Elephant up by its nose !
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