Lost samurai swords

Discussion in 'War Against Japan' started by Bob Turner, Dec 1, 2012.

  1. Bob Turner

    Bob Turner Senior Member

    I watched the t.v. programme "Raiders of the Lost Past," last night and they were on about an American sergeant who took a bunch of swords away from a police station. One was the most valuable samurai sword in the world.

    If any member here has got it, I'm prepared to offer as much as £2 17s 6d for it :D
     
  2. Bob Turner

    Bob Turner Senior Member

    Oh, the sergeant's name was Sgt. Cody Bimore, of the US 7th Calvary regiment. The Americans had ordered the destruction of all samurai swords. Rather a lot of them as all officers and NCOs had one. Now most of these were pretty rubbish quality, knocked out as a propaganda exercise to cement adherence to the military. However a lot were genuine family heirlooms.

    At the end of the war, loads of these swords were given to returning American soldiers. Most were worthless but a few were extremely valuable. By the same token a lot of very valuable swords were thrown into the furnace.

    Now a descendant of the Shogun, walks into a Tokyo police station and hands in his family's swords, fifteen of them but one is the most valuable samurai sword ever. Its like a guy walking into a cop shop and handing over Excalibur and it being seen as the legendary sword by the desk sergeant.

    Then in walks this u. s. sergeant, to take the swords to be melted. Only they never arrive there. By this time the army have realised that some of these swords are hugely culturally valuable, and they've got experts in to check them over as they arrive at the foundry.

    Now the bad news, Cody Bimore is what the copper wrote down as the sergeant's name. He wrote it in a special Japanese syllabary, the characters meant to approximate the sound of english phonemes. So this guy's name may not be Cody Bimore at all. No such name could be found for the regiment.

    Some family in America, will have this sword, up in the attic somewhere, granddad's old sword from the war. A masterpiece of the sword-makers art.
     
  3. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    Bob, I caught the last few minutes of that programme but to be honest wasn't really watching it as I had missed the beginning. The impression I got was that most likely the sword is (as you say) sitting forgotten in someone's loft or actually did get thrown in the furnace.
    Call me cynical but I also feel there is a good possibility it was recognised for what it is and now rests in the jealous possession of a secretive collector either in the States or in Japan.
     
  4. Bob Turner

    Bob Turner Senior Member

    Hi Mike, I agree that it's probably in the hands of some private collector. That sergeant would have to b pretty dim not to realise that he was being handed a bunch of swords that were very special. The demeanour of the desk policeman would have been a dead giveaway. The poor lad would probably have been shaking when he touched the shogun's sword but he's ordered to hand it across to the representative of the new shogun, Macarthur. (hey just realised that mean son of Arthur!!!)

    Did this sergeant try to get all the swords out by giving them to his mates? Good chance, as if you get greedy you get greedy. Once in the states, find a fence? I wouldn't trust one as far as I could throw him. look in who's who for the obvious mega rich collectors? The Randolph Hearst, Howard Hughes type of collector?

    I can't really see it making its way back to Japan, to the hands of a private collector. A mega rich American could find ways of getting it authenticated without having to send it to Japan; where it would never be returned from. A mega rich Japanese collector, might buy it but there would be loads of kudos to be had by presenting it to the nation. After all having it without showing your friends, is no fun. Show it to your Japanese friends and they'd be aghast at your keeping it for yourself.
     
  5. At Home Dad (Returning)

    At Home Dad (Returning) Well-Known Member

  6. Bob Turner

    Bob Turner Senior Member

    :) It was one of dad's proudest boasts, that he'd torpedoed his own ship. They'd been sinking loads of German stuff, ships full of gear, torpedo bodies, strapped together in bunches. After about half an hour these came leaping up out of the water. One group damaging the screws of my dad's ship. To add insult to injury, the Russians beat them at football as well.
     
  7. Dave55

    Dave55 Very Senior Member

    Hi Mike, I agree that it's probably in the hands of some private collector. That sergeant would have to b pretty dim not to realise that he was being handed a bunch of swords that were very special. The demeanour of the desk policeman would have been a dead giveaway. The poor lad would probably have been shaking when he touched the shogun's sword but he's ordered to hand it across to the representative of the new shogun, Macarthur. (hey just realised that mean son of Arthur!!!)

    Did this sergeant try to get all the swords out by giving them to his mates? Good chance, as if you get greedy you get greedy. Once in the states, find a fence? I wouldn't trust one as far as I could throw him. look in who's who for the obvious mega rich collectors? The Randolph Hearst, Howard Hughes type of collector?

    I can't really see it making its way back to Japan, to the hands of a private collector. A mega rich American could find ways of getting it authenticated without having to send it to Japan; where it would never be returned from. A mega rich Japanese collector, might buy it but there would be loads of kudos to be had by presenting it to the nation. After all having it without showing your friends, is no fun. Show it to your Japanese friends and they'd be aghast at your keeping it for yourself.

    Hi Bob,

    I bet it is just as likely to be rusting away in a barn with a bunch of old shovels and hoes after being used as a gardening implement.

    Another good possibility is that it was given to the sarges's kids to play with out in the woods. We had lots of of bayonets and swords to play with when I was a kid in the fifties. We even took them to school for show and tell.

    Dave
     
  8. Bob Turner

    Bob Turner Senior Member

    Sad if true but I can't buy that. the sergeant didn't take any of those swords to where they were to be looked at by an expert, prior to either being given back to the owners, or being melted down for scrap. So he pinched them, or he had them pinched from him by a person or persons unknown.

    All of those swords will have been made by a rather clever folding method, the shogun's sword was folded about twenty thousand times. It was a lot sharper than the very best razor blade you can buy. Not really something you can give to the grand bairns to play with. If it's sitting in someone's loft, still in its scabbard, you could draw it and still slice through a dropped handkerchief.
     
  9. Dave55

    Dave55 Very Senior Member

    All of those swords will have been made by a rather clever folding method, the shogun's sword was folded about twenty thousand times. .

    Twenty thousand layers, not not twenty thousand foldings. The power of exponents, old boy. :)

    Dave
     
  10. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    A word of caution about Japanese WWII swords: the great majority were standard issue items, not private purchases or heirlooms. The Japanese Army had at least two patterns, one for officers and one for others. I doubt very much that these were made according to high-quality ancient standards.
     
  11. Wah

    Wah Junior Member

    Hello,
    I just joined the forum. My name is Stephen and I live in USA. :)
    It is my opinion that this sword has not been destroyed. :D

    I did a search and saw there was talk on the new documentary on the lost Honjo Masamune on this forum. I am afraid not all the facts are correct in this documentary. It’s nobody’s fault, its just that recently I copied a set of documents in the National Archives in College Park Maryland in USA that gave information that is not well known.
    These letters came directly from the hand of Iemasa Tokugawa (he handed Honjo Masamune in to police station) that states he only lost three swords. These three swords were the swords the authorities had questions about so he was asked to take them to meijiro police station. I can share the documents if you want to see them.
    I have spent the last ten years researching this particular lost sword.
    Yeah, I know, I’m a little crazy .!!:lol:
    I also found a scroll called Token Shokwan, with the missing sword in it. Can I show you something to see what you think?
    In this youtube video I listed last night, I show a rather low resolution picture of the whole line drawing. Then I show a closeup of the monouchi/kissaki areas. I put the line drawing over top of a sword I own….. What do you think?
    I have higher resolution pictures of this area if you want to see it better.
    Thank you , Stephen T
    Japanese Sword Honjo Masamune Line Drawing / Nihonto Oshigata 本庄æX£å®— - YouTube
     
  12. Bob Turner

    Bob Turner Senior Member

    Hi Dave, I stand corrected, so that's about 2^14 or fourteen, fifteen foldings. (Saxon swords had a similar folding number but the quality of the steel produced was lower. That's because the Japanese ores were "right")

    TTH, the new Shogun Macarthur ordered all swords destroyed. Agreed, that most army swords were of poor quality, and merely looked like samurai swords. Now the very fact that they were issued, shows a cultural change in Japan. Were the Samurai a caste or a class? It looks like, with industrialation, the old social division were in flux.

    We have a descendant of the Shogun, show up at a police station. he's with a servant or two, and he's wearing top hat and tails. he feels that it's his duty to hand these swords over. A shogun handing ovr his weapons to the new shogun. But, the new shogun doesn't understand the symbolism or the Japanese mind set.

    What the poor sod would have made, of the fact that no one of rank from the American army was there to accept these swords, is beyond me. There must have been Japanese who believed that the vicious hairy barbarians, were going to kill them in contemptuous ways. In total defeat, they expected nothing other than that.
     
  13. Bob Turner

    Bob Turner Senior Member

    Hi Wah, The you tube video is down, so are you talking about a line drawing of the blade edge, which would be almost a unique finger print? Of course all other high quality samurai blades would have unique finger prints and only an expert could say for definite.

    You say you have a a sword that could be the actual Honjo Masamune, can you cast any light on the sergeant's name, or better yet, something on what happened to it, once out of the cop shop?
     
  14. Bob Turner

    Bob Turner Senior Member

    I think if I had this sword, I'd say that I would be willing to let it go to a Japanese private buyer, for a percentage of the insurance valuation. With a sincere hope that such a buyer would present it to the Japanese people.

    That sounds great but it's just me being a little bit of an Artful Dodger :D The buyer would be the state but no state can be seen to be openly buying back something that's perhaps come by in dubious fashion. Of course I'd stash the sword in a bank vault someplace, and I'd use go betweens, just in case a bunch of ninjas show up and try and beat the whereabouts of it from me. Not that I'm paranoid, oh no! :unsure::unsure::huh::huh:o_Oo_O
     
  15. Wah

    Wah Junior Member

    Hi Wah, The you tube video is down, so are you talking about a line drawing of the blade edge, which would be almost a unique finger print? Of course all other high quality samurai blades would have unique finger prints and only an expert could say for definite.

    You say you have a a sword that could be the actual Honjo Masamune, can you cast any light on the sergeant's name, or better yet, something on what happened to it, once out of the cop shop?

    Hello Bob,

    Thank you for your reply. You ask some tricky questions. As for the seargents name, here is the actual Japanese given by the Education Ministry. Hope you can see the characters.



    コリ- デイバイモ 軍曹



    Please keep in mind that the sword needs polish. I will be putting up more areas for comparison later.:D


    Honjo Masamune - YouTube
    Honjo Masamune line drawing comparison part 2 - YouTube
     
  16. Bob Turner

    Bob Turner Senior Member

    I wonder if the police desk officer got so mixed up that he wrote some strange transposed name for a sergeant D.B. Macari.

    I'm sure that treasure hunters have already looked through every possible variant of the name in army records. So I don't think it could be that easy.

    Oh, I wouldn't clean the blade, unless you know exactly what you're doing. having said that, perhaps watch this How to Clean A Japanese Sword - YouTube
     
  17. Wah

    Wah Junior Member

    I wonder if the police desk officer got so mixed up that he wrote some strange transposed name for a sergeant D.B. Macari.

    I'm sure that treasure hunters have already looked through every possible variant of the name in army records. So I don't think it could be that easy.

    Oh, I wouldn't clean the blade, unless you know exactly what you're doing. having said that, perhaps watch this How to Clean A Japanese Sword - YouTube

    Thanks Bob,
    I already know how to clean it, I just needs some tips on how to polish it!!:lol:LOL!!
    It would be beautiful polished but the Japanese would not appreciate it being polished by anyone in USA, so I have decided to leave it alone. Many swords have been ruined by people who thought they knew what they were doing.

    As far as the name of the Seargent, I have an opinion and that's all. Maybe he's listed in the National archives.

    Btw, Do you know where I could get a copy of the Honjo documentary? I have not seen it and would like to. I can not download it off their sight and would gladly Paypal somebody some dough for it. Thanks
     
  18. Bob Turner

    Bob Turner Senior Member

    I knew a guy that was involved in the making of a Saxon "folded" sword, and he said that the pattern really came out, when the swordsmith rubbed the blade down with oil (I believe he said it was linseed rather than a mineral oil)

    When you say that you tried to downlad it from their site, did you mean the makers or the broadcasters? The broadcasters have a download button but I haven't tried it. Raiders of the Lost Past: Yesterday TV
     
  19. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    Download costs £4.00

    Cheers
    Paul
     
  20. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Wah,

    Hello and welcome to the forum.

    Regards
    Tom
     

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