SWORD OF MAJOR GENERAL KENJI MATSUMOTO, IMPERIAL JAPANESE ARMY, 1929-1939 41 x 3in (104 x 8cm)

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Lot 14
SWORD OF MAJOR GENERAL KENJI MATSUMOTO, IMPERIAL JAPANESE ARMY, 1929-1939
41 x 3in (104 x 8cm)

US$ 5,000 - 8,000
£ 3,600 - 5,700
Amended
SWORD OF MAJOR GENERAL KENJI MATSUMOTO, IMPERIAL JAPANESE ARMY, 1929-1939
A fine sword comprised of a blade with tang marked with Japanese characters translating to "Made by Kanechika, from Noshu, Seki-Ju" indicating manufacture in the mid 16th century, with modern Type 98 Shin-gunto scabbard and furniture. The blade has been incorrectly polished at some point in its history, leading to the invisibility of most of the distinctive wave pattern. The wooden hilt is covered in ray skin with brown cloth bindings holding a gold-painted copper ornament (menuki) with cherry blossom motif. The pommel is brown painted brass with gold paint highlights with a central ring holding a red and faded gold cloth tassel with yellow ends, indicating a general's rank (tassel's center disconnected due to fraying). The guard is brass with cherry blossom motifs, while the end of the hilt (fuchi) is brown painted brass displaying cherry blossoms and the characters for "Matsumoto" in gold. The scabbard is wooden with imitation sharkskin coating and brown-painted brass bands, belt ring and butt with gold highlights. The butt is marked with the serial number "213917."

It was not uncommon for Imperial Japanese officers of high birth to adapt their centuries old family blades, with modern hilts and guards, so as to maintain a link between their current service and Japan's martial past. This particular sword was carried by Major General Kenji Matsumoto, Chief of Staff of Japan's China Garrison Army in 1929 and later Chief of 4th Section (European & American Intelligence), 2nd Section, General Staff and Military Attaché to the USA. The fine condition of this sword can be credited to the fact it served more as a badge of office, than a battlefield weapon. In the occupation of Japan, the American authorities ordered that swords be handed in, and many old and new swords were melted down. only a personal appeal to General Douglas MacArthur from sword expert Dr. Homma Junji allowed for the preservation of blades with historical or artistic merit. It is likely that this example escaped the furnace either due to that intervention or by its acquisition by a member of the occupying forces.
41 x 3in (104 x 8cm)

Saleroom notices

  • Please note that the tassel attachment is frayed. Please note that the provenance is Shelton Yokomizo. It sold in the late 1990's to John Egger.
Contacts
SWORD OF MAJOR GENERAL KENJI MATSUMOTO, IMPERIAL JAPANESE ARMY, 1929-1939 41 x 3in (104 x 8cm)
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