Value of Japanese samurai swords

Written by lynne murray | 13/05/2017
Value of Japanese samurai swords
Proper handling of a samurai sword requires years of training. (Image by, courtesy of Rodrigo Della Fávera)

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..


Value of Japanese samurai swords
Samurai swords were deeply respected by their owners (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

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.


Value of Japanese samurai swords
The U.S. has more than Japan (Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

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."


Value of Japanese samurai swords
Authenticated swords can be quite valuable (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

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.


Value of Japanese samurai swords
Serious collecters don't buy online (Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

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.


Value of Japanese samurai swords
There is a big interest in Japanese culture (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

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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