who to talk to about identifying a sword in my family

by john
(upper nh, usa)

We have an old sword, and the story is that it is from japan from WW2, and it has its sheath, which has tassles and is in fairly good condition concidering age, and the grip can come off, showing the tang into it, which has characters in the tang. I'm wondering who I could be connected to for information, and also to gauge authenticity.

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Shin Gunto Officers Sword
by: Paul

Hi John,

It sounds like you have got yourself what is known as a Shin Gunto (new military sword) Officers sword from the story and the tassels. The color of the tassels is one easy way to identify the rank of the officer it belonged to, and give you some idea of its value:

The most valuable are brown/red and gold, which designates it was a generals sword, brown and red is a field officer, brown and blue a warrant officer, brown is a seargant or corporal.

But even a brown tasseled seargants sword can be worth more than a generals sword on occasion, and that depends on the signature on the tang and absense of a tang stamp. Here is some info on what to look for - if it is indeed mass produced, the value is typically around US$300-500 depending on condition, but if it is not and made by a well known smith of the period (or an earlier blade mounted in Shin Gunto fittings) it could be worth several thousand..

To get it properly evaluated, here are some sites that can help.

1) http://www.samuraisword.com/eval/evalsht1.htm
Evaluations are free and can be submitted by email, taking up to a couple of weeks to respond, but they do ask for the courtesy of the right of first refusal.

2) http://www.antique-swords.eu/identifications-valuations.html
This is a UK based site and costs £10 to evluate the value. They mainly deal with antique European swords, but are quite capable for providing an evaluation.

Hope this helps.

- Paul

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