Question on this Korean Ring Pommel Sword from the Three Kingdoms Period

gman87

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My father purchased this Korean sword as an investment due to the rarity of Korean swords in today's market. I understand that people usually collect antiques but this sword seems very special and I was wondering if anyone can provide further information on this piece. I titled it as the ring pommel sword because it looks familiar and the blade has sharp edge all around the blade unlike a traditional Samurai sword.

Here's a link with some photos.
http://g1.apoconline.com/Korean Sword/

I am planning on selling this sword on a auction site such as eBay but have no idea how much I should charge.

Side note: The person my father bought this sword from a grandmaster and he passed away and unfortunately he forgot to ask the name of the blacksmith and the location it came from.

All he knows is that the sword was hand-forged from a famous blacksmith in Korea who also passed away at the age of 98. Sorry for the lack of info but this is why I am seeking people on this forum to help me out.

Thanks in Advance.
 

Brian R. VanCise

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You need to find someone who can give you the blacksmiths name, location, etc and get this verfied as a real sword made in Korea and not just a knock off. I know that will be very hard to do but without that I think you will have a hard time finding anyone willing to pay you more than a hundred dollars or so.
 

Ken Morgan

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It has to be authenticated by a real sword expert.
EBay and other sites are full of knock offs, forgeries and plain crap. In fact 95% of all sword and fitting sales on places like EBay are of this variety, and everybody tells a similar story to what you are saying. The only way for you to stand out, is to have it authenticated by a third party.
 
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gman87

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@Ken
Where would I be able to find an expert to help me authenticate this sword?
 

jonpalombi

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@Ken
Where would I be able to find an expert to help me authenticate this sword?

Well gman87,

Frankly, you wont be able to find an expert to verify it's authenticity, as it is apparently a modern replica from mainland China. I've been a Korean sword enthusiast since 1975 and I have been collecting authentic antique swords since the early 1990's. Antique Korean swords are rare as hens teeth!!! From my research, this one looks very little like any genuine Korean swords of antiquity. It does, however, closely resemble contemporary Chinese factory-made, Han Dynasty Jians.

It's difficult to tell from photos but I know of several Chinese forges that manufacture Chinese Han Dynasty Jians. Zhou Zheng Wu (Chris) of Zheng Wu Forge, literally put this design on the map in the mid-to-late 1990's. http://www.zheng-wu.com/jian/10hanjianrpv.htm It is based on the long-handled jians of the early Han Dynasty, in China. Now, many others have joined the trend. I've never seen one with such an unusual tip, though, as it's blade profile resembles a double-edged sword, except at the point. This swords tip resembles a single-edged saber's does but has a double-edged cutting edge. Interesting. Un-historically accurate... but interesting none the less. It doesn't really make much sense, though, as a double-edged sword has a central point for thrusting and a saber has a single edge, as it needs the mass a flat-back edge/spine for generating more power in the cutting motion (like the Japanese katana or the Chinese dao). Some antique Korean swords had this feature but they came to a central point and only for about 8-10 inches past the tip. Odd, so I really don't know what to say about this anomaly.


I don't mean to sound rude, condescending or abrupt... since that is not my intention. I just wanted to honesty express my opinion. So, if a "Grandmaster" sold it to your dad, regardless of his expertise in his own art, he may not necessarily have much knowledge about ancient Korean swords, himself. Regardless, not many people will accept that this recently-made Chinese replica was forged by a 98 year old Korean smith, whose name is lost to the ashes of time. Why would he forge Chinese jians instead of documented Korean examples? Yes, I know that early Korean 3 Kingdoms Dynastic swords did resemble their Chinese counterparts but this one even has the mass-produced, satin covered folding box to got wit it (as all of the Chinese factory-production swords do). I can post a few links with information on historical ancient Korean swords, if you would like me to. Yes?

IMO, it would probably fetch somewhere between 250 and 400 dollars, as it doesn't appear to have folded steel. Although it is hard to tell from such blurry pictures. The high-end Zheng Wu ones can fetch well over a thousand dollars (depending on the type of forge-folded steel used and the quality of the fittings). http://www.zhengwusword.com/zw/huanshoujian.htm

You could post it on Sword Forum International and get some valid replies from the folks over there. You will need to register as a new member but it's a great bunch of people with quite a depth of experience. I recommend your checking them out! OK? Here's a link for the proper section: http://www.swordforum.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=135

Take care, Jon Palombi
 
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jonpalombi

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I don't mean to sound rude, condescending or abrupt... since that is not my intention. I just wanted to honesty express my opinion.

Hi gman87,

I really, really hate forum bullies. You know, those who feel their knowledge is deeper or greater than another's understanding? It is my sincere wish, not to come off as one. I am not personally, such an opinionated blow-hard. now, if I have come across as one of those arrogant bastards... sorry, my bad. This was never my stance. Still, I stand firmly behind presenting a crystal-clear understanding as to accurate, historical authenticity... and Korean has erred in many ways, in recent decades, re-creating it's own martial history (especially in terms of swordsmanship). The idea is that... fiction must never be substituted for fact. In retrospect, I cannot be soooooo certain that a Korean smith didn't actually forge this sword. I do not know for an absolute certainty, that such an assessment is an irrefutable constant and I apologize if my assessment was offensive to you. Others will hardly be as considerate... of yours and your dad's feelings, with the critique of such a sword. Especially those choosing not to use their real names. I fearlessly stand by my words, written or spoken and if I do personally err... I humbly admit to such an error and beg for forgiveness. So, I just wanted to clear the air about what might come of as some kind of rigid pomposity. Understood?

That being said, the smith was not a traditionally-trained one, in the sense of adhering to traditional replication, and this is most evident in the way the blade was forged. You know, I have been thinking about this design for days and I have finally come to terms with what it is... that makes me so sure that this blade bears no resemblance to an antiquated Korean sword's and the furniture as being wholly Chinese in design.

The blade is forged/constructed in the manner that Viking and early medieval "broadswords" were (except for the tip), which more resembles the kissaki of a Japanese katana. Note the wide/deep fuller running down the center of the blade? This is not an Asian methodology of blade-construction, nor have I ever seen any examples that mirror this feature. Sure, "blood-grooves" adorn many Asian sabers and swords, however, none that are crafted in this European manner (on genuine, authenticated historical examples). Asian grooves are narrow and crisply cut, often in rows of 2 and sometimes 3... but usually just a single groove, with Japanese and Korean swords. the majority of sabres have greater mass on the top side of the single-edged blade and much less mass for the cutting edge. Double-edged swords have a unified balance of the two, with the mass in the center. There is really no technical advantage to having this type if tip on a sword that has such a blade profile. Yet, it is handsome, I must admit. Hybrids and anomalies have always intrigued me and his one is most fascinating, regardless where is was forged.

Genuine historical Asian hybrids, which do actually exist, combine these attributes by having a saber's overall proportions and have a double-edged point,which has the double-edge wrapping around the tip by 8-12 inches, however, retain much of the mass on the unsharpened spine. You will notice this phenomenon in some of the valuable links I am including in this reply.

Most of the commercially-produced European swords, today, are forged in mainland China. Many smiths have forged viking and crusader-style swords for both, Western and Eastern collectors. This type of fusion, is usually the product of imagination and frankly, I am all for it! Innovations are most intriguing. Still, this sword is being presented as Korean and I know that it bears very, very little in common with documented examples. So, as I suggested, try uploading these pics on Sword Forum International. Lots of folks there will give you some valuable perspective. Again, no harm was intended to you or any slander insinuated towards your father's teacher. OK? Are we cool?

Do check out these wonderful links about historical Korean swords:

http://museum.kma.ac.kr/kor/museum/main.htm

http://www.arscives.com/historysteel....swordlist.htm

http://www.koreanmartialartsresource...swordarts.html

http://www.swordsofkorea.com/swords.htm

http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v3...albumview=grid


Be well and practice often, Jon Palombi
 
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jonpalombi

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Hey guys,

I knew I had seen a design nearly identical this is one, before. Zhi Swords in mainland China forges this one, which has a single-edged blade but the tip is not clipped or have a kissaki shape to it. Also, it has no wide central fuller. Still, it looks quite a bit similar, especially the fittings, guard & ring pommel. Now, this does not necessarily mean Zhi Swords crafted it... but they do custom work all the time and those never get shown in the online catalog.
http://www.zhisword.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=45_47&products_id=509

Ciao, Jon
 
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gman87

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Thanks guys, I am not offended at all but rather impressed by the knowledge you guys possess.
 
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gman87

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Hey Jon,

I don't have any knowledge on blades and this question might sound stupid but I am curious so I'll ask anyway. Is it possible for a blacksmith to hand-forge a blade then polish with a machine?

I took a long trip to my father's grandmaster to ask more about the blade but I didn't get much out of him. He said the blade is actually hand-forged when I clearly don't see any forged marks and he also argues that this blade and its design was specifically tailored for a king in Korea (I have no idea who). He said the blade is one of the strongest and claims that it can cut a katana in half (I don't believe this either).

Overall, GM was hilarious and very vague on the sword descriptions.

Thought it'd might help you come to a conclusion as to why the sword looks the way it is. The steel and its design has no resemblance to the links you've provided me but everything else is pretty much the same.
 

jonpalombi

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Hey Jon,

I don't have any knowledge on blades and this question might sound stupid but I am curious so I'll ask anyway. Is it possible for a blacksmith to hand-forge a blade then polish with a machine?

Hi gman87,

Your question is neither stupid or irrelevant. In fact, you seem to possess a keen intellect and are open to friendly discussion. Yes, even hand-forged blades are often ground and polished with machinery. In many cases, a power-hammer is used to forge-fold the steel into as many as 2000 layers. Now, unless a sword is forged traditionally, with hammer in-hand and is hand-quenched and hand-polished with stones... it is to some extent a "factory-made sword". Which, makes it more affordable and more accessible to more people. All good things and this is good news for regular folks, with average incomes. Your father must know how much he paid. How much? Use this as a guide to reselling it. How long ago did he buy it? I don't know if this one is hand-forged & polished or not? Also, I do not condemn it for being rather unique in it's blade design. All I know, is that it bears no resemblance to any documented Korean blade type that is recorded in Korean publications or is housed within any of the armouries or museums of Korea. The fittings, without a shadow of a doubt, are Chinese (as is 90 percent of this sword's entire make up).

I'm not being judgemental or saying it is somehow WRONG that this Chinese Han Dynasty Jian/dao sword has a Viking/Early Saxon Migration Period blade construction, combined with a Japanese-style saber's tip. I find this very interesting and not really a terrible coupling. I even like it quit a bit! However, we must not re-write history, as this is a grievous sin. This blade profile and construction never occurred in Korea. Never.

I took a long trip to my father's grandmaster to ask more about the blade but I didn't get much out of him. He said the blade is actually hand-forged when I clearly don't see any forged marks and he also argues that this blade and its design was specifically tailored for a king in Korea (I have no idea who). He said the blade is one of the strongest and claims that it can cut a katana in half (I don't believe this either).

Overall, GM was hilarious and very vague on the sword descriptions.

I am most curios to know which King this replica is supposed to have been the sword of? I wonder which Dynasty of the Three Kingdoms? Sounds like a fascinating tale. You know, many contemporary Koreans believe that it was Ancient Korea, not Ancient China, that was responsible for all of the major cultural developments in Eastern Asia. So it's obvious that nationalism plays a big part in defining historical truths. Thankfully, we are able to maintain a clear-headed objectivity, being Westerners. As for the blade being "the strongest" and able to cut through Japanese katanas... it is obvious that we have made a departure from reality and are trying to re-create the glory of a bygone era.

Again, I'm not trying to come off as judgemental. This sword has factory-made Chinese Han Dynasty fittings, hilt and scabbard. These are available, commercially from several Chinese sources and it is most likely the origin. The blade could certainly been forged in Korea. Why not, since many fine smiths are native Koreans? Martial Arts Swords forges wonder blades in Korea. Both Japanese-style and Korean-style. Chosun Dynasty, not Silla, Baekje or Goguryeo, of course. There's certainly no reason not to make modern replicas of three kingdom era swords. Just as long as they are accurate.

Say, did you check out any of the links I posted about authentic antique Korean swords?

There is a wealth of knowledge in those 5 links! The Grand Master would benefit from taking a peek at these valuable sites, as well.

Thought it'd might help you come to a conclusion as to why the sword looks the way it is. The steel and its design has no resemblance to the links you've provided me but everything else is pretty much the same.

Well, it would be wonderful if you could take some more photos of the tip, from several angles and the top edge of the blade, from several vantage points. Look carefully for any folding pattern. If you see any, please take a couple close-up pics of the blade, without a flash. Is th tip edge sharp all the way to the hilt? A very interesting sword, to say the very least. I do love anomalies and this one sure is one. Have you posted it on Sword forum International? There are quite a few experts in the field who frequent the site. I find them all friendly and most informative. Besides, if you want to sell this sword, you need to have an open, objective discussion about just exactly what this sword actually is... and is not.

I highly recommend registering over there and uploading a thread in the Modern-era Swords and Collecting Community, in the General Discussion Forum.
http://www.swordforum.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=19

Good luck in your quest to unravel the mystery of this sword of yours. I wouldn't get too carried away about how much it is worth. It would likely fetch between 400 and 600 bucks if it is quality forge-folded steel and about half that if it is mono-steel construction. You know, not forge-folded steel and without any heat treatment? This doesn't necessarily make it unsuitable for cutting practice, on the contrary, mono-steel isusually less likely to bend or set. The major issue is the tang to the blade. This is where things get dicey and just plain DANGEROUS! It's always best to know who the exact smith is. Who ever forged the steel would be a valuable asset, so you can ask if it fashioned for actual use or is just an art object and what type of steel it is forged from. OK? Good luck, man.

Take care gman87, Jon
 
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jonpalombi

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Greetings All,

For those of you following gman87's thread, I have at long-last, procured positive proof of the origin of this reproduction "Korean" sword. It is, in fact, manufactured in mainland China (which I was certain from the very get-go). The forge is Jkoo Sword Manufacturer and can be found at this website: www.sinosword.com

The specific link at the bottom of this reply, goes straight to this very model, in every single aspect... (although, it does not list the price).

Now, I cannot say just who is being deceitful here... nor is it my place. gman87's father may have been conned by the unnamed "Grandmaster" or the unnamed "Grandmaster" may have been conned by some third party? Regardless, the senior teacher should have a better grasp of genuine Korean history and a deeper understanding of authentic Korean swords. Since the part about the 98 year old sword-smith seemed like a blatant deception from the start, I have suspected foul play all along. Still, we might extend our trust, giving the lad the benefit of the doubt? Hey, you never know until you follow through with all the leads available, eh? This has been accomplished and the evidence, frankly, is an open book.

Sadly, this also allows for only one other possibility, in this chain deception... gman87, himself. We are left with but 2 realities. #1. gman87 is being false or #2. gman87 is the victim of said falsehood, being perpetrated upon himself and his dad. Either way, the truth had to come out! If the former is true, shame on him!!! If the latter is true... who knows how far back this dirty lie may have begun it's journey to this KSA forum? Ultimately, I have felt the overriding need to clarify the contents of this thread, as this is not a historical Korean sword. Secondly, I wanted to expose this fraud to my fellow sword enthusiasts, especially the KSA ones. If gman87 is trying to get interested parties to buy this sword, an honest advertisement would have been more appropriate. If he felt that by mystifying this piece and overlaying a Korean origin upon it, so he could get more $$$, double the shame upon him (at the very least)!

Sorry dude, whatever your real name is, but... "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark".

As I suggested twice, he might have tried Sword Forum International. I would have seen it if he had. Of course, he would have been eaten-alive by many of the senior members, as there is a deep well of expertise housed within SFI's hallowed halls. Perhaps he felt this forum was an easier mark? Sorry, I beg to differ.

If gman87 is sincere, yet completely ignorant, I was glad to help him out and no "Thank you Jon" is really needed. As I have stated previously, I hate forum bullies and I am not intentionally acting like one. I have to clear the air about this point! OK? I would rather throw my keyboard into the dumpster and take a vow of Internet silence. Overall, I am satisfied that this ridiculous falsehood is exposed to the clear light of day. I hope nobody had their feelings trampled upon or have been unduly hurt in the process. That being said, cannot sit quiet, while historical distortion (and quite possibly deception) is being presented to this KSA forum. By in large, the evidence is leaning towards gman87 and I cannot forgive his audacity for such a plot. If I am mistaken, I beg his forgiveness and perhaps, we should expose the "grandmaster" in this treachery? or is it ever worth the time? I seriously doubt it... given how many subjects are worthy of our collective discussion. As my Italian forefathers would likely say, "Capiche?"

I do feel that, despite the inaccurate information uploaded in this thread, some good can be culled from this discussion. For the 5 links I previously uploaded are excellent learning tools and can be of benefit to any sword aficionado or Korean martial arts practitioner. Please follow them and enjoy the beautifully displayed knowledge they share with us. Besides, they are wonderful eye candy to behold!!!

Furthermore, this is the link, which conclusively proves once and for all, where this sword actually came from (for all of us to see):

http://www.sinosword.com/ProductShow/?p=Chinese-Han-Dynasty-Dao-Jian-sword

Yours in Martial Spirit, Jon Palombi
 
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