Mantetsu swords were regarded as kings of all Guntos for its hardiness of RC72 and the ability to withstand the extreme coldness in Manchurai.
10,000 Mantetsu swords were produced in 1945 with hundreds of thousands more made over the years but this sword seems to be the only 1945 example survived. It is also the only sword signed with the unknown slogan, "Konan Issei " and that makes it the Holy Grail amongst the collectors of Japanese military swords.
"Konan Issei" Mantetsu was unknown even to historian of Japanese Military Swords until recently. A batch was made at the very end of the war to be rushed to the troops in the South Pacific war zone and seemed that none survived except this sword that was found in Japan. Either the owner did not go to war or he was somebody prominent, evacuated back when Japan at the final stage of the losing war.
This Mantetsu was seen by many and regarded as a fake because no record of Konan Issei could be found anywhere...not even Japanese Military sword historians could confirm its existence.
Addition to this raity is that out of the 8.6 millions Japanese personnels enlisted for the War Services, there were about 2.6 million personnels eligible to carry a sword.
There was a production of around 240,000 Mantetsu swords produced in 1944 alone. There was a plan by Nan Man Army Arsenal to produce 10,000 Mantetsu in 1945.
Researchers are still ploughing through the information available trying to get the total numbers of Mantetsu swords produced in 1945 by all the other Arsenals combined.
"There is a TOTAL ABSENCE of a Mantetsu made in 1945" And one with the unknown"Konan Issei" is absolutely rare.
Initially, I have my doubt on this sword too but after I studied carefully, the file mark and signs, I was quite sure that it has every characteristic of a Mantetsu despite the unfamiliar slogan.
I took the gamble and acquired it at a price equivalent to its scrap value.
Latest information provided by Mantetsu reseacher, Mr. Bruce Pennington can be found on www.militaria.co.za.
" A reprint of an old note book of a school girl was found in Japan and it is about the lives of school kids who were conscripted during WWII to polish swords at the Mukden Arsenal in Korea, she stated she was in the labor service and had polished some Mantetsu swords and some with the Konan Issei slogan. Photo of said page in PHOTO 4.
During 1944 and 1945 the Japanese suffered major reverses in mainland Asia in South Central China and Burma, while the Allies crippled the Japanese Navy and captured key Western Pacific islands.
There was a plan was made to produce a large quantity of Mantetsu swords in 1945. The iroha squence were all used up and it is my belief that an old slogan from another campaign was used on the 1945 production swords.
"Konan Issei" swords were created hastily from readily Mantetsu blades in very small quantity, probably less than 1,000 and rushed out to the frontline army officers fighting in the South Pacific War.
Very fierce battles were fought on all fronts and Japanese soldiers were instructed to fight to death and never to surrender. Most swords perished together with their owners.
To date, there is a total absence of a 1945 Mantetsu and that left many researchers wondering.
It was considered a great shame to live on when combrades had fought to death. Many committed suicide after they were ordered by the Emperor to surrender soon after atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Then why has this blade survived is another unanswered.
Could it be that the owner was not involved in field action or owner was evacuated back to Japan during the War's final phase?
Members of the Imperial family served as representatives of the Emperor supervising looting of treasures and they held the rank of Colonel. In a real dangerous situation, these Princes were the first to be evaculated back to Japan.
I have a Murata to that was carried by a Royalty with handle wrapped in silk and a much faded colonel tassle attached.
To the best of my knowledge, this sword, is the only 1945 Mantetsu sword known to the market and its previously unknown slogan enhanced its rarity.
I took the gamble and it is with great luck that I became the proud owner of something that is so rare to the militaria collecting world.
The hamon is suguha and except with the wordings" Konan Isshin, otherwise, it's very much a Mantetsu sword.
From the serial numbers stated in the page, it seems that more than a thousand of "Konan Issei" blades were made but for reasons unknown, my blade is the only "1945 Mantetsu" that surfaced over so many years. It could be due to the very fierce battles fought at the final phase of war and most of the Konan blades perished together with the owners.
In fact, every Mantetsu sword is considered as superiorly made for its cutting ability and sturdiness of not breaking in extreme cold weather. It is very much sought after by militaria collectors worldwide. Recently, some normal Mantetsu were sold at almost USD7,000.
A Mantetsu sword is regarded as the "King of all Military swords" with a cutting edge hardness of HRC 72, and its cutting abilty stands shoulder to shoulder with the best Japanese swords made in history with the exception of a few great swordsmiths.
The very sharp blade is in good old WW2 polish and in excellent condition with some age wear.
From the overall fine condition of the sword, it could be, the sword was received sometime in late Spring 1945 and the war ended on 15th August 1945.
The temper line is suguha with koie active temper and has deep o-maru temper at the point. The forging grain is tight itame-hada.
The scabbard is made of heavy metal. The near mint condition blade is sturdy and has a 66.5cm cutting edge., 7 mm thickness at the notch and razor sharp.
There are typical Mantetsu file marks, with Serial nos. stamped (i622) on the mune of the tang.
An original Colonel tassle is attached to replace its damaged one.
Gunto is very emotionally connected to the People of Asia especially to the Chinese who had suffered tremendously in the War. Older Chinese in China and South Eat Asia countries, hate Guntos to this day.
The 3 All Policy, (Loot All, Burn All and kill all) adopted by the Japanese in China was extremely cruel and " Cruelty" is an understatement.
The Beheading contest in China of 2 army officers competing to cut the most heads with Mantetsu swords was widely published in Japan. The cruelty act was glorified.
Due to the fact that I heard and read so much about the war atrocities committed by the Japanese Military, I was much surprised when I encountered a people so different when I travelled to Japan on my numerous business trips.
Japanese people I had encountered in Japan were very kind and polite. Discreetly, over drink, I had always try to ask the elderly Japanese business people who have served in the war about the Nanking incident. They would always smiled and replied gently that it was a war.
I have visited war musems and everything on display was pleasantly normal like any museum.
I started to develop a great curiousity in WW2 sword, trying to understand how could the kind Japanese people turned into mean monsters doing so much evil in a war.
(SINGAPORE LAW ON SWORD IMPORT)
Before 2014, no sharp edged sword was allowed...it applied to all...gunto or antique sword. A lot of documents from auction house and sellers were needed to convince the police that it is a valuable antique sword and not a weapon. Despite so, many swords were sent for blade blunting before releasing to the owners.
A WW2 Showato that was left behind from the war was put on sale in a junk store. It has no handle and a bit rusty. The asking price was $3,000 or around USD$2,000. It sold fast.
In a close market like Singapore, "A GUNTO IS LIKE A MASAMUNE".
There are many Replica collectors here and some would spent a million Dollars on the hobby...buying "REPLICAS".
Over time, I built up the rapport with the Police Arms Department and pushed hard to open the gate for the importation of real Japanese swords. The police were very kind and helpful to me.
I bought and imported swords with vengence without any understanding of swords. I bought books and with the numerous blades in hand, slowly, I learned.
I then moved on to Samurai swords and made many mistakes. Along the way, from online articles, I studied and worked towards the next phase of collecting Art Swords.
It is a very difficult subject as a good Art Sword is highly priced and always have flaws.
Even buying one with Juyo (Important Sword) certificate, could still turn out to be a "bad purchase".
To me, "I am buying history to relive a memory". How many memories could be purchased?
I studied the articles on swords from the many nice websites online and slowly, I am begining to understand what is a good Art sword.
I adopt a play safe policy of not over paying as eventually, in 5 years time, I am very likely be selling off my many Collections to travel.
It's a very tiring journey and the peak is far and high.