Qing Qianlong or not?

Sword typology and Edge Weapons forms of the Chinese Empire and related cultures with an emphasis on their relationship to Swordsmanship.

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John McD
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Qing Qianlong or not?

Post by John McD » Sat Jun 19, 2010 5:33 pm

Hi I've just joined, I spotted a sword in an antique shop over a week ago and have been researching ever since. It's fascinating. I'd really appreciate some feed back on the sword being genuine or not.

All the photos and comments/ desciptions are here: http://www.swordforum.com/forums/showth ... p?t=101520

Thanks in advance. I'm not a sword expert but I've handled European swords of over 150 years with sharpened blades and without (Wilkinson, etc...) This sword has the same black patinated blade, I don't think this can be faked. I'm an Engineer and understand corrossion of steel, but I've no real experience of swords and none of bronze.

Whilst awaiting membership here, I visited the link to Qianlong swords. This sword has the same type latice with the 'V' shape.

Thanks,
John

Nik
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Re: Qing Qianlong or not?

Post by Nik » Sun Jun 20, 2010 6:03 am

What the other said. Too many bells ringing with this sword, the gold pattern, the cross section, the degree of preservance up to the tight fit, no signs of use on the handle, etc. As a practical sword with a nice antique touch, it could be worth up to the $1500 mark if the blade has correct dimensions and is well made (sanmei), but for collection, nope. If it is a monosteel make with some acid treatment, $500 would be ok from the "nice look" POV, and that is already generous. BTW, have a look if that is really rayskin on the sheath, or a plastic foil with a rayskin pattern, like on some samples I got last year.

You always have to consider when thinking about such "originals" - why did this "original" surface NOW, and where did it stick in the last 15 years of searching for antique swords to sell at 10 times the average worker monthly income to westerners ? I'd venture a guess that everything you would find now that really isn't a copy is either from someones collection, or a poor, damaged sword that has been reworked with new fittings.

bond_fan
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Re: Qing Qianlong or not?

Post by bond_fan » Sun Jun 20, 2010 2:53 pm

Looks like a modern fake.

Here are repro fittings with the same shape, but slightly different open-work design:

Image

Also, why does the scabbard, fittings and handle exhibit no wear? The color of rayskin is to even, no fading or damage. Even swords with rayskin scabbards from Qianlong's collection in Beijing have more wear.

Why is does the sword not fit tight into the scabbard? Like John says a scabbard that is hundreds of years old would not fit tight. Why? The wood loses water and shrinks, so the blade will not be tight any more.

Why does the gold look immaculate, but the blade very old?

One can see from photos of swords from Qianlong's collection with gold inlaid on the blades that the blades are in much better condition and the gold not as bright. I've seen one dao pre-polish where the gold or brass was barely visible and even after the polish.

If this was real some Chinese guy would have bought it long time ago. It is a steal at that price if real and it is not.

bond_fan
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Re: Qing Qianlong or not?

Post by bond_fan » Sun Jun 20, 2010 3:22 pm

I forgot to add that this guy in San Francisco Chinatown had a pair of bronze sword he claimed was owned by an emperor of China way back in the warring states or Han period. The things looked old, but I searched them on eBay and found ones that looked exactly alike. If you look hard enough I'm sure you'll find similar ones for sale of your Qing jian.

Image

Image

Nik
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Re: Qing Qianlong or not?

Post by Nik » Sun Jun 20, 2010 4:19 pm

Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if the fittings would be original, or at least an older remake (say, around mid 20th century or so), and the rest was "added" to those. I never saw this type advertised, and they appear way too much work for cheap copies. But there is a recent trend to add new remakes of precious, well-made museum pieces to the stock of repro fittings ("Binbo" has them).

John McD
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Re: Qing Qianlong or not?

Post by John McD » Sun Jun 20, 2010 10:01 pm

I think you may be correct, modern facsimile. The materials are all so well made. The Rayskin is genuine skin (less than 1mm thick) I can see a crease/ cross section through the bronze and it's genuine fish skin, but perhaps newer than it should be (it is incredibly smooth to the hand and fingers, however the finger nail can discern almost every white dot when scratched along the surface as with the handle).. The bronze fittings are all hand carved and a tribute to the carvers skill. The bronze edgings are all little curves. The geometry of everything is perfect. The size of the sword the size of the bronze fittings how they relate to each other....The blade is surely over 150 years old, I have held such blades with such patination, but yes, the gold could have been added more recently (The blade doesn't vibrate, it humms with harmony when the tang is struck)....many hundreds of hours went into making this, the design, the planning, the materials sourcing and craftmanship, to create such a wonderful fake....... I like it.

The sword has a maritime/ sea theme, the dragons with sea serpent tails. All the bronze pieces are actually little waves. How do they make new bronze so black? The two long bronze pieces along the top and bottom of the scabbard are also carved with sea wave swirls...and, of course, it is covered in Rayskin from the sea. The gold motifs between the animals on the sword are also curvy waves. A lot of effort and cost for a china wholesale price less than USD2,000. amazing.

There are 8 animals, 10 motifs and the Character box inlaid in gold into the sword (both sides). A lot of fake effort (19 pictorals in gold). How do you retro inlay gold without damaging the antique patina of an old blade? The blade also has genuine pitting holes. Two of the animals have gold missing from their toes (flexing the sword too much?). The holes that remain are about 0.75mm into the steel. All animals have 3 toes on each foot. The blade, bronze fittings and rayskin are genuine but how old are they? The sword boldly states, in old characters, in gold, that it is Qing Dynasty, Qianlong (a big boast indeed).

If I were the forger and sourced a genuine blade and somehow inlaid gold in 19 pictorals, 0.75mm deep, and hand carved bronze to this quality and somehow achieved a bronze patina to a deep black, why wouldn't I go the extra yard and try and make the genuine rayskin look older?? and then why not ask the $10,000 or whatever?

Although not sharpened on the edges, the sword tapers to a very fine point, which if thrust forward would easily go through a man's torso.

They won't budge from the price (I think they genuinely paid a good price for it and really think it's Qing) She says a family have had this wrapped up in cloth since they were presented with it and handed it down the generations. I guess if someone received $1,200 for it then that's a years income (or more) for some people. Only back in WW2, Japanese Officers had their Ancestral blades of several hundred years. Why wouldn't Chinese (for 2 hundred)? The materials are genuine but perhaps not Qing....I'd like to own it and put it on a sword stand, but not at the price. How much do people think it is worth? Websites are quoting $1,200 for new Jians, surely this is worth the $2,000 as a superb quality fake with genuine parts and craftsmanship?

thanks again.
John

Nik
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Re: Qing Qianlong or not?

Post by Nik » Mon Jun 21, 2010 7:31 am

You don't sell something that was "handed down the generations" for hundreds of years for $2,000. If it would be really old, it should be worth a lot more. If it isn't, a lot less. You hear this "handed down" story so often, it's not funny anymore. So many details scream fake, I would not touch this, especially not solely based on "how the patina looks". I know the number one expert of faking swords in Germany, he is responsible for lots of fakes that even got exhibited in museums. There are patinas that are hard to fake, but in general, a lot is possible. A real sword should have a lot more wear on handle and scabbard, and less on the blade.

BTW, I do *not* think this is worth $2,000 even for the "workmanship" unless the blade is a well-made sanmei construction from good steels, with appropriate hardness (somewhere around 58 HRC for old originals).

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Peter Dekker
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Re: Qing Qianlong or not?

Post by Peter Dekker » Wed Jul 07, 2010 5:36 pm

I agree with all Nik's points.

It is definitely a modern reproduction. Especially obvious is the style of fittings which is totally off. There is also a lack of convincing wear on the scabbard and fittings. The ray-skin is not worked in the traditional way and has too high a polish on it. It is probably also thicker than the stuff used on old pieces, looking at the grain.

For a beginner the rule of thimb is: If it looks too good to be true, it is too good to be true. Something that is handled for so many years will have dings, wear on the high spots, scratches, traces of repairs, etc.

-Peter
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