Dating old swords

In order to do so, they had to skip almost a whole month. The western calendar equivalent of this would have been to go to bed on December 2, , and the next day would have been January 1, This probably was not too difficult for the Japanese to deal with, as historically a leap month was added occasionally to ensure that the irregular months maintained alignment with the seasons.

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This rather fluid disparity in Japanese and western dates should be taken into account when reading the archaic date inscriptions on the tangs of Japanese swords. The date of manufacture had often been inscribed on the tang nakago since at least the Kamakura period However, it is important to remember that with swords dated prior to , the numeric months do not necessarily correspond with the numerical order of the months of the Gregorian calendar.

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So, when translating or transliterating sword date inscriptions, it is best to read them as a numeric month rather than converting them into a Gregorian month. However, modern Japanese swords are still dated using the archaic writing system, but are in accordance with the numerical order of the months of the Gregorian calendar. Reading the date inscriptions is mostly straightforward. However, a few tools makes the task a little easier. First, there are three basic types of archaic Japanese dating to be considered.

Nengo and eto are commonly used and even sometimes used together. Koki is based upon the timeline of the imperial lineage since the legendary founding date of Japan BCE by the first emperor Jimmu. The Koki dating system was not implemented until and is frequently seen on swords made during the World War II. However, this dating system was abandoned after the war.


Historically, nengo era names were decided by court officials and did not necessarily relate directly to the names of the ruling emperor of that period. The era names changed frequently due to superstitions and religious beliefs.

There are many eras, so the reading of the first two characters should be carefully researched to give you an approximation of the date. Other characters commonly used in date inscriptions in place of the numeric day of the month are the words for auspicious day: Below is a chart of the basic numbers used for days and months. There are some variations of some of the characters. Therefore, inscriptions containing these two characters are often avoided and alternative characters are used instead.

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My Antique Sword Collection Dating From The Early 1700's With A Period Cavalry Pistol - 2017

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