The Luck of the Irish, and I'm not even Irish!
We were at a small flea market in Osaka, Japan today. Very small indoor thing with only about 50 vendors. We were one of the vendors, getting rid of some trash and treasures before we start packing for the move. Before the general public was allowed in, I took a stroll, looking at what the others were selling. Most was old clothing, dishes, kids stuff, etc., but one guy had lots of boxes of 'trash.' Old buttons, corkscrews, marbles, magazines, a few lighters, and a couple of knives... And I'm a Knifeknut!
I looked at the knives and the only thing that caught my attention was a rusty old Warncliff-bladed thing that looked sort of home-made. He only wanted 300 Yen (about $4 USD) and I don't have any Warncliffs in my collection, so I bought it. The more I looked at it, the more I thought...'there just might be something good hidden inside all the dirt and rust...'
I brought it home and started cleaning it up. The handles was obviously made in an hour or two by someone who didn't know woodworking, and the rivets are hand peened but I figure I could deal with that. The rust wasn't too bad, only two small pits near the spine. An hour or two with Flitz and Simichrome polish had the blade just about sparkling... and revealed a hand forged blade with the Japanese characters hand-stamped into the ricasso... Hitachi Yasugi Tama-hagane!!!
(I realize this has absolutely no meaning for you at all. I understand. So to put it in perspective, this is like buying a glass ring and discovering once you got home that the glass was really a diamond. The tama hagane steel in this little pocket knife, only the steel, BEFORE it was even shaped into a knife blade, would be worth about $300 USD today...Remember, that's BEFORE the folding and hammering, folding and hammering, folding and hammering it into about 1,000+ layers BY ONE OF THE WORLD'S FORMOST METAL WORKERS.)
I'm guessing perhaps it was made in the early days of Hitachi Steel, probably back in the '20's or '30's, forged this in his spare time from tama hagane from the Yasugi steel works, whipped up a quick handle for it, and carried it as his EDC...
I'm going to contact Hitatchi and Yasugi and see if I can get some more information from them.
Tomorrow I'll sharpen it. Steel like this can take an edge so sharp it would make your eyes bleed if you look at it!