Hess Fine Art

Fine Art, Auction, Watch and Antique Experts Since 1984.
1131 4th Street North
St. Petersburg, FL 33701 (map)
(727) 896-0622 | 1-800-922-4377
Mon - Fri:10am - 6pm EST
Sat:10am - 3pm EST
Hess Fine Art Facebook Hess Fine Art Twitter Hess Fine Art Pinterest

What's It Worth? Samurai Swords – The Stuff Of Legends

What's It Worth? Samurai Swords – The Stuff Of Legends

Few things are more confusing in the world of antiques than samurai swords. Some say they are noble, some say they represent terror – and both are correct. Centuries ago, the Japanese became experts in techniques of sharpening fine steel. Using almost medieval tools, they crafted what Katrina calls the “thermonuclear device of their period.”

Indeed — in early Japan, the sharpness of these tools was tested on human beings. (You read that correctly.) These swords were often identified by gold writing on the hilt identifying the maker of the sword and the identity of the poor chap the sword was tested on. It’s too gruesome to describe in detail, but there were several cuts prescribed to various parts of the anatomy. I have heard two schools of thought. While they were not  ALL tested on humans, the humans who were put through this were criminals. Some say they were not considered human because of their criminal behavior. Others maintain that the criminals’ acts were forgiven and  their families no  longer dishonored  once the criminals  were subjected to  this process

(Later, testing was done on swine or other animals.) These
swords are highly sought after.

Additional features driving collectibility of samurai swords are their artistic elements. The tsuba (or hand guard) of each sword can be worth from $50 to $5,000 for the wrist guard alone – if old and highly decorated. Furthermore, the menuki (or decorations on top of the handle or tsuka) are of great interest. They are, like the tsuba, very decorative, but sometimes made of mixed metals (iron, silver, gold, etc.) and often very old.

Valuation is determined on an individual basis. WWII issue swords can be worth as little as $100, but often the tsuba is much older, sometimes centuries older than the sword; and the tsuba can be worth more than the sword itself. The most expensive sword we’ve owned was an aforementioned goldinlaid sword that we paid over $5,000 for. (It was tested on a human being.) Value depends on length of blade, type of “temper line,” decoration, age and swordmaker.

All Asian and Eastern European antiques, and fine art of any kind wanted.
Whether you are a jeweler, dealer, collector or private citizen, we want to bid on your item.

Stop in or call 727.896.0622 for an appointment. 

Comments, questions or suggestions for this column, please send to jeffreyphess@aol.com. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

St. Petersburg 1131 4th St. N, St. Petersburg FL 33701.

Ph: 727.896.0622

Contact Us

Make Me an Offer Form

Hess Fine Art - Fine Art, Auction, Watch and Antique Experts Since 1984

Whats It Worth - Samurai Swords The Stuff Of Legends.PDF

Whats It Worth - Samurai Swords The Stuff Of Legends.PDF

Publication Name: 
Publish Date: 
October, 2017