Antiques & Collectibles – Swords of honour

Samurai swords on display at Armor Antiques.

Geelong military antiques collector Graeme Acton has been dealing with swords for more than three decades but none have piqued his passion as much as Japanese designs.

The Japanese swords occupy pride of place in his central Geelong museum and antiques store, considering them works of art even more so than pieces of militaria.

Graeme finds the intricacy of their design and styling entrancing.

“Quite apart from the blade being the most important part of the Japanese sword, the handle and scabbard fittings are in many cases works of art in their own right,” he explains.

“Placed under the binding on the side of the handle are small fittings called ’menuki’. They are not only a decoration but provide a move secure grip.

“The sword guard, or tsuba, comes in many sizes and is made from iron, copper or brass. They can be decorated in simple patterns or cut outs and more intricate designs like waves, clouds or even tree bark.”

Graeme says some of Japanese swords’ fittings featured “very fine decorations”, including gold, silver and copper inlays depicting anytihng from insects, fish and other animals through to village scenes and “all sorts objects”.

“It’s sometimes hard to believe that many of these are made hundreds of years ago,” Graeme says.

“The detail is amazing.”

Graeme invites antique enthusiasts and militaria buffs to inspect the Japanese swords and his wide range of other items on display at Armor Antiques & Military Museum, at 200 Moorabool Street, Geelong.

“It’s one of the biggest collections of its type on display in Australia,” Graeme declares.