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Samurai sword to go under the hammer

PUBLISHED: 11:02 15 June 2009 | UPDATED: 14:10 03 July 2010

As Japanese swordsmith Sukeshda forged a fearsome samurai blade in the late summer of 1541 there was no way he would imagine it would end up in a junk shop, become a wedding present and then take pride of place in a Norfolk home.

As Japanese swordsmith Sukeshda forged a fearsome samurai blade in the late summer of 1541 there was no way he would imagine it would end up in a junk shop, become a wedding present and then take pride of place in a Norfolk home.

And as eminent artist Frederick Gore painted one of his early works he may have shuddered at the thought that it would wind up in a charity shop and covered in varnish.

But now after languishing away in charity and junk shops, the rare 16th century sword and unusual painting are the centre pieces of an auction at Horners in Acle, near Yarmouth, on Saturday and are sure to net their owners a small fortune.

The early painting by Mr Gore RA is valued at between £4,000 and £5,000. When it was bought from a charity shop it was covered in varnish and its purchaser did not think it was of any value.

But after cleaning up the art work it was soon clear to its owner from the Yarmouth area that the painting was by the celebrated 20th artist.

Auctioneer Henry Horner-Glister said: “There are quite a few things that you would not look twice at in shops and they are actually worth something. But more and more people are now going to charity shops to see if they can find anything that may be of some worth.”

The sword is valued at between £1,000 and £2,000 and is being put up for auction by Richard and June McCarthy of Attleborough.

It was forged in the Japanese village of Bizen by swordsmith Sukeshda in 1541 and somehow ended up in a junk shop in 1954 when it was bought as wedding present for the McCarthys.

Victor Harris of the British Museum's department of oriental antiquities has verified the samurai sword is from the 16th century and there is a strong chance the weapon may have been used by a Japanese officer in the second world war.

Commentating on the sword's possible violent past, Mr McCarthy, 79, said: “Who knows? They did not use them for eating did they?”

Mr Horner-Glister said: “The sword is quite rare really and is something you don't normally find in rural areas.”

Also included in the auction is a Charles II silver tankard valued at between £3,000 and £4000 and a pair of Georgian forceps valued at between £300 and £400.

The auction starts at 10am at Horners of Norwich Road, Acle, and lots can be viewed the day before from 10am to 8pm. Call 01493 750225 or visit www.horners.co.uk

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