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Value of Japanese samurai swords

Updated April 17, 2017

Both the monetary value and the cultural value of a samurai sword depend on what variety of sword, how old it is and whether it was machine-made or forged by hand..

Significance

Samurai warriors deeply respected and valued their battle swords, known as katana. Their lives depended on these weapons. The tempering process that forged the razor-sharp blades mirrored the discipline and honour of Bushido, the samurai code of conduct.

History

No one knows the exact total, but possibly as many as a million Japanese swords were brought to the United States by American soldiers during World War II and U.S. occupation of Japan. The Samurai Sword Identification & Price Guide, a good source for estimating sword values, states that "the number of Samurai swords found in the U.S. is greater than those found in Japan."

Types

Most war trophy swords stem from the Japanese military's mass production of so-called Shin-Gunto or "New Army Swords" presented to all Non-Commissioned Officers in the Imperial Japanese Army beginning in 1935.

World War II factory-made swords display a stamped serial number and all have so-called "blood grooves" along the blade designed to make the sword lighter to carry. The value of authenticated Japanese army swords ranges from £195 to £325.

Considerations

Fine hand-forged samurai swords can be found at prices in the hundreds to a few thousand dollars. Genuine antique samurai swords approach museum-quality values of £5,200 to £19,500. Serious collectors never buy online, only patronise reputable dealers, get more than one appraisal and build legal safeguards into the transaction.

Potential

Interest in martial arts and Japanese culture has inspired many to value precision hand-forged samurai swords from modern swordsmiths who have mastered the art of samurai sword making. These serious weapons range from a few hundred dollars to around £650.

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About the Author

Lynne Murray has over 40 years writing experience, with publications including mystery novels and an interview with Darlene Cates, of "What's Eating Gilbert Grape." Murray received a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from San Francisco State University. She's conducted workshops at the Open Education Exchange and Southwestern Writers Conference.