My Display Wins First Prize at the Calgary Gun Show for the Second Year!

            Easter, 2006 was the third time I have displayed my collection at the Alberta Arms and Cartridge Collectors Association (AACCA) Spring Gun Show, at the Round-up Centre on the Stampede Grounds here in Calgary, Alberta. It is Canada’s largest gun show, with approximately 600 tables. In 2004 I won one of eight “Judges’ Awards”, sort of like “Honourable Mention”, for my seven-gun, two-table exhibit (for details, see:  Calgary 2004 Display ). In 2005 I won Best in Show for my four-table display with 24 guns (see  2005 Gun Show Displays). In 2006 I again won Best in Show. The four-table display used the same background panels as in 2005, but had about one third more guns, many more accessories and new items of related militaria, and all new labeling. Here is a shot of the whole display. Note the new, professionally made banner hanging on the table skirt. Further down this page you can see detail shots of each panel and display case. The display was laid out chronologically from right to left because the right end of the display was near the entrance and so the traffic naturally flowed from right to left.


            Here I am with my award in front of the display. For some reason people always are ready to take my picture when my hair is a mess. I am going to have to keep a mirror at my display to be better ready for such moments. Besides the trophy I got a cheque for $750. The prize was especially meaningful because they flew in a firearms expert from back east, Mr. Jim Gooding, to be chief judge.


            The weekend after the Calgary show we made the 12 hour drive to Vancouver and did the same display at the Historical Arms Society of British Columbia’s big two-day show at the Coquitlam Sports Centre. We were right next to the entrance, the first thing people came to when they entered the main hall.


            Here I am shaking hands with the President of the HACS upon receiving the Best in Show award. Besides the ribbon in my hand I am holding a small blue jewelry box. It contained a beautiful gold pin with a diamond on it, which was first prize.


            Here are detail shots of each display panel and case. The lighting was rather poor in both halls and there are lots of reflections off the plexiglass, but they will give you a good idea of how I laid out the display. The first few panels and cases give background on how the Japanese developed the fanaticism of their soldiers through a total militarization of society. The first panel focuses on the Imperial Reservists Association, which brought most men into the military sphere even when they were not on active service. These photos were taken at the Calgary show, but apart from a slight shift in the position of the TV/VCR/DVD, the display was the same in Vancouver as in Calgary. After all, less than a week had passed between the two shows!


            The corresponding case shows typical items a man might accumulate through his military service and membership in the Imperial Reservists Association. Of particular interest here are the marksmanship record book and badge in the upper right (see the bullseye) and the Imperial Gift cigarettes in the lower left. The latter were given to men returning from a campaign, in the case of these specimens from the Nomonhan clash with the Soviet Union in 1939. To make sure people who had seen my display last year did not just walk by, I put a note on each case that there were “NEW ITEMS IN EVERY CASE”. The yellow Post-it in the lower left was a reminder to people to vote in the People’s Choice balloting. Unfortunately the people at the door were too busy to hand out ballots, so there ended up not being a People’s Choice Award.


            Women and youths were also brought under military influence through membership in organizations which were led by Reservists. This panel describes these organizations.


            This case shows items relating to the activities of the women’s and youths’ groups. I think the most interesting of these are the special merit medal of the Patriotic Women’s Association (upper left) and the small porcelain doll of a woman wearing a sash like the one second from left (doll is in the lower centre of photo).


            Now we start with the guns. This panel shows the Type 26 revolver. All the gun panels follow a standard format, with a historical introduction, summary of strengths and weaknesses and a chart of basic data.


            This year I had four Type 26s in my display. The top one has the original finish. The second one is a 1930s Japanese arsenal rework that retained the original checkered grips. The one on the right (pointing left) is a rework on which the grips were replaced with horizontally grooved panels. The fourth one is in rather poor condition but serves to show the gun’s most striking feature, the swing-out sideplate. Each case of guns contains items from the period in which the guns were the state of the art. In this case, for example, there are medals from the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95), Boxer Rebellion (1900) and Russo-Japanese War (1904-05).


            The Japanese had some interesting traditions relating to the send-off and subsequent support of their troops. This panel describes two of these, “good luck flags” and “thousand-stitch belts”.


            Right next to the panel I put this send-off banner, used in the parades and ceremonies held to celebrate the dispatch of troops. This one congratulates a Mr. Kurita and was sponsored by the Tachibana Billiard Hall. The mounting hardware is original, but the bamboo pole is one I got at a local building supply store. At the base of the banner I also put document holders explaining how I got into this field of collecting and detailing some of the little-known Canadian connections to the Pacific War.


            Accompanying the panel and banner is this display case. Besides the thousand-stitch belt and comfort bags (see my section on “Other Militaria” for details), there are a variety of period photos. The most interesting of these to me is in the second row, third from the left. It shows a military entertainment troupe that has just done a show. They are dressed as samurai or in drag and are posing with a group of sailors in June, 1945.


            This panel covers the pistols that carried the “Nambu-shiki” (Nambu-type) designation, now referred to as the Grandpa, Papa and Baby Nambus.


            The corresponding display case shows Navy items with the naval-marked TGE Papa and officers’ items (insignia, dog tag) with the Baby Nambu, which was privately purchased by officers. These guns were state of the art during World War I, so I have the two medals from WWI and the Taisho Emperor’s Enthronement medal in the lower centre. Again, I disassembled my poorest specimen to show the mechanism of the Papa in the lower left.


            The ammunition explanatory panel covers the three uniquely Japanese calibres (7mm Nambu, 8mm Nambu and 9mm Japanese Revolver) as well as the ammunition made for foreign private-purchase weapons used by officers.


            The main new addition to the ammunition display case was a Japanese-made .44 Russian cartridge for the old S&W revolvers Japan used before they developed indigenous handgun design capacity. The other innovation was to show sectioned versions of many of the main cartridges so you can see what was inside them. A cartridge collector friend of mine did the sectioning.


This panel covers the Type 14, which is what most people think of when they hear “Nambu” or “Japanese pistol”.


            The first Type 14 display case covers the small trigger guard version. I need to get a few more of the early ones to strengthen this part of my collection. The medals include the Showa Enthronement medal, Manchuria and China campaign medals and the Nomonhan incident medal.


            The centrepiece of the background panels is this good luck flag with the title of the display. The paper title was the only “banner” I had until I got the professional one shown attached to the table skirt this year. The slogan on the flag is “loyalty and national service” and it was dedicated to a Mr. Kameuchi.


            My panel on Type 14 holsters points out the key distinguishing features (ring shape, strap type, etc.) and provides a table summarizing the eleven major variations identified in the Derby & Brown book. I had ten of them in the display, and got the eleventh one (the Type VIII transitional) shortly after the show.


            Here are the leather holsters starting with the Type IA on the right and working left. I showed the back or the inside as required to demonstrate the differences between types.


            Here are the rest of the leather holsters and a waist belt. Just above the belt is a photo of a group of officers in northern China. They are in full combat gear and wearing holsters, but only a few of the holsters seem to be for the Type 14. Most seem to be for foreign private purchase pistols.


            I had a TV/VCR and DVD set up to show videos relating to Japanese weapons and Japanese troops in WWII. Many of the tapes/DVDs I showed were purchased in Japan and show footage we never see here, where Pacific War coverage mostly just shows Americans with the odd Japanese corpse here and there. The plastic stand had a copy of a recent issue of the Canadian Firearms Journal in which an article I wrote appeared. The pistol on the cover is one of my Baby Nambus.


            No display of Japanese firearms would be complete without an explanation of the role of Lt. General Kijiro Nambu. Today he is best remembered for his pistol designs, but his work touched virtually every rifle and machine gun in the Japanese arsenal in WWII. His firm also manufactured other arms such as the “knee mortar” and training rifles.


            The last two variations of holsters are made of rubberized canvas, a leather substitute. A shoulder strap of this material is shown above the holster on the left.


            The pistol in the holster shows why the Japanese were so keen on lanyards: without one you can hardly get the pistol out of the holster. The other items in the case include a canteen, a bugle, a military song book and postcards sent from the front.


            Few people in Canada know much about Japanese handguns and usually what they do know is wrong. This panel addresses some common questions and misconceptions.


            The display case below that panel shows large trigger guard Type 14s made at the Chuo Kogyo factory in Kokubunji, a suburb of Tokyo. There is also an original Type 14 manual and a “bring-back” document authorizing a US soldier to bring back a pistol as a war trophy. In the corner are medals from the three Japanese Orders of Merit: the Order of the Golden Kite, the Order of the Rising Sun (lower grades were also called the Order of the Pawlonia Leaves), and the Order of the Sacred Treasure.


The next panel is a grouping of photos of Japanese handguns in use.


            The last maker of Type 14s was Toriimatsu factory of Nagoya Arsenal, and all the pistols in this case came from there. Toriimatsu production roughly corresponded with the period of the war with the USA and the Allies, so the items here include things like Japanese stamps commemorating the first anniversary of the victory at Pearl Harbour, occupation scrip, and the record book of a soldier who served on Pacific Islands near New Guinea.


            The last major design adopted by the Japanese, the Type 94, was also the most controversial: many now regard it as ugly and/or unfit for service, but it was popular enough with those who carried it at the time.


            The last case contains four of these Type 94 pistols, accessories and a war bond issued to raise money for weapons. The labels, like those for all the guns in the display, explain the small differences between them that may not be obvious at first to the untrained eye.


            Next year I am tentatively planning to team up with a friend and do a joint display. Between the two of us we have most of the weapons the Japanese used in WWII from pistols to rifles, machine guns, bayonets and so on.


To return to the home page, please click here: Nambu World: Teri’s WWII Japanese Handgun Website


Last updated: May 30, 2006. All contents are copyright Teri unless otherwise specified and may not be used elsewhere in any form without prior permission.