There is often confusion between the army parade saber and the police officer saber. Both are similar in design and general appearence. They have chromed metal scabbards, brass D-hilts and wire wrapped grips. The police saber has a five petal cherry blossom mon whereas the parade saber has a ten petal cherry blossom mon. Parade sabers will occasionally have a family crest (mon) on the backstrap of the hilt. All of the blades in these swords are machine made and normally chrome plated.
Japanese cavalry sabers, introduced in the late 19th Century, have machine made blades with serial numbers on the ricasso and will commonly have arsenal stamps on the guard. The Type 25, introduced in 1892, have brass hilts and plain wood grips. The hilt back strap on later Type 32 model, introduced in 1899, is checkered steel (commonly blackened). The wood grips are also checkered. There is a leather finger loop on the inside of the guard. The blades have a long, wide fuller running the total length of the blade. The scabbards are steel with a single suspension ring. These are commonly mislabeled as 1886 cavalry sabers. The 1886 model cavalry officers parade saber was very similar to the kyu-gunto, but have slotted knuckle bows to accommodate a sword knot.
Police and mounted police sabers were all machine made and have chromed blades. This type of sword or "hanger" was carried by the low to mid rank police. These blades are commonly quite short even though the chromed metal scabbard is normal length. The hilt is brass and the grips are wood with black leather covering and brass wire wrapping. These should be distinguished from police officer sabers which are similar to Army officer parade sabers but have a five petal cherry blossom mon. This same basic design was used by a variety of civilian agencies with different emblems on the backstrap and side panels.
There were numerous civil agency swords. Some have emblems on the back strap to designate a specific civil agency. These swords are also similar to the Naval Prison Service swords. All are machine made and have chromed blades. The scabbards may be chrome or nickel plated. Some of the Naval Prison Service swords will have black leather scabbards with metal fittings.
These swords were issued to artillerymen and artillery gunners. The blades are approximately 20 inches (53 cm) in length and quite broad. They have a single wide fuller on one side but are un-fullered on the reverse. Early models have a brass hilt which is ribbed on one side and plain on the reverse. Late in the war, some were made with wood grips mounted with brass or iron guards and pommels. The black leather scabbards may be brass or iron mounted. The swords were all machine made and will commonly have ordinance stamps on the cross guard.
These swords bear striking resemblance to some western fraternal organization swords. They were worn by high ranking army officers for full dress events. The basic army design is the same as the Japanese diplomatic sword. The Army court swords have a dragonfly on the pommel. Some styles have a sunburst on the clam shell guard, others have a paulonia mon or the Imperial kiku (chrysanthemum) mon on the clam shell guard. They were issued only to field grade and general grade officers. The diplomatic swords were for consular grade diplomates. The blades are narrow, straight, double edged with floral engraving. The hilt and scabbard fittings are gilded brass. The scabbards are black polished leather with gilded brass throat and toe mounts. There are several variations in both the Army swords and the diplomatic swords.
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