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Lot 0700

Description

FROM THE ESTATE OF GEN. CLARENCE R. HUEBNER, COMMANDER OF THE 1ST INFANTRY DIVISION IN THE FIRST WAVE AT OMAHA BEACH Finely-forged Japanese sword blade, measuring 30' from 'kissaki'(tip) to the habaki stop, and 39 1/2' long overall. The tang is inscribed with a 'mei' of seven or eight vertically-placed kanji, a second inscription on the reverse consisting of seven kanji, most likely a date, although both are untranslated by us. The length and the placement of the 'mei' identify this example as a 'tachi', a larger and most prominently curved style of sword than the more common katana, which it preceded by several centuries. The tang further shows a fine layer of brown oxidation, with diagonal file marks faintly visible, and two holes for 'mekugi', or securing pins. The blade is very skillfully forged and shows a very pronounced, active 'hamon' delineating the cutting edge. The obverse of the blade features three narrow fullers, the bottom of which stops halfway along the cutting edge, with the remainder terminating 1' from the tip. The reverse, by contrast, shows a single broad fuller along the entire length, with a second, much narrower half-fuller below. The exposed areas of the blade show some very light oxidation freckling and some very small chips adjacent to the 'habaki', but it is otherwise in superb condition. The sword is mounted with a custom-fitted wood grip covered with white ray skin, wrapped with dark blue-green fabric laces and with two brass 'menuki' in the form of a swallow clutching a flower, inserted beneath the wrappings, one on each side. The 'tsuba'(guard) is one of the finest examples we have handled, and is forged from iron, depicting three figures with ladles clustered around a large jar, with their robes and accouterments finely highlighted with gold paint. The underside depicts a single figure encountering a large jar beneath a flowering tree, again embellished with gold paint. Three brass spacers are placed above the 'tsuba', and a heavy, grooved brass 'habaki' (collar) is fitted. The grip is secured by a single 'mekugi' blade through the upper hole. The blade is housed in a wood scabbard wrapped with brown leather-patterned paper and decorated with black metal fittings at the tip, matching those seen at the pommel. The grip and scabbard almost certainly post-date the blade, and were likely fitted during the period around World War II. The paper covering of the scabbard is torn in places, and the grip shows some wear, otherwise the fittings are in very good condition. CLARENCE R. HUEBNER (1888-1972) American general who commanded the 1st Infantry Division, popularly known as the 'Big Red One', in early August of 1943. He commanded the division during the D-Day landings on June 6, 1944, where it was the first force to face the Germans on Omaha Beach, and he joined his men on the beach the same day. The division was instrumental in the breakthrough following the battle for St. Lo and in foiling the German counteroffensive at Mortain. After the Allied breakout in Normandy, the division advanced rapidly, arriving at the German border in early October of 1944, where it was committed to battle at Aachen, which it captured after two weeks of heavy fighting. After experiencing heavy fighting once again in the Huertgen Forest, the division briefly rested but soon returned to counter the German offensive at the Battle of the Bulge in December, 1944. In January, 1945, Huebner was named commander of the V Corps, which he commanded in its advance to the Elbe river, where elements of the corps made the first contact with the Soviet Red Army. By war's end, the division had advanced into Czechoslovakia. Following the German surrender, Huebner served as the Chief of Staff for all American forces in Europe, and in 1949 was named the final military governor of the American occupation zone in Germany. This 'tachi' originates directly from General Huebner's estate and is accompanied by a letter of provenance signed by a direct linear descendant. We believe that he received this sword as a gift from an unknown fellow officer, and that it was likely sized as a prize from a surrendering Japanese officer at war's end.

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CAPTURED JAPANESE "TACHI"

Estimate $800 - $1,000Nov 20