Hmm, a harpoon trigger seems possible. The writing is chinese, rather
than japanese, but its possible that the japanese whalers got their
trigger mechanisms from the mainland.
FWIW, here's a picture of an old WW2 American deck cannon with a
similar pistol grip...despite the differences, you can almost imagine
the sailor's thumb holding down a safety mechanism on top of the grip
similar to the one on the mystery item.
Because the written languages are different, and I live in Hong Kong.
I could still be wrong, but I asked a friend who teaches Mandarin what
the writing said, and he interpreted it for me and did not say 'by the
way, its in Japanese, not Mandarin'.
Not entirely so. 'Kanji' is the form of Japanese writing that uses
Chinese characters, but the vast majority of writing in Japanese uses
only a very few Kanji forms, mostly limited to proper nouns, and mixes
in the other forms of japanese writing. The other Japanese characters
are considerably simpler and use fewer strokes, and are quickly
identifyable as Japanese.
Its not impossible that this item is Japanese, with just two Kanji
characters describing its name, but I think that would be quite
unusual. For example, here is a WW2 Japanese sniper rifle with some
Japanese writing on it
You can see that this is not in Kanji: they are not Chinese
I'm going to reply to my own post here. I could be wrong about the
writing; not because japanese writing uses the same characters as
chinese (it doesn't), but its possible that limited writing on
military items could be entirely in Kanji. The rifle, for example,
says '97 style' in both Mandarin and Japanese.
However, for the most part, Japanese writing makes limited use of
Kanji, so this item could very easily be Chinese instead. But its not
OK, I'm going to stop digging my own grave here and admit I am likely
wrong about the writing entirely. I didn't realize that the sniper
rifle is a well-known Japanese arm called 'Type 97', and was made in
Nagoya Japan. The form (using Kanji characters, ending with the
character for 'style' and identifying the firearm by using a stamp in
this format) is certainly Japanese in nature. The unknown pistol-grip
thingy has the same format....'something' style--B. I think its
Japanese, and from the same era as the Type 97 sniper rifle.
Walking away now...
On Sun, 8 Feb 2009 01:28:26 -0800 (PST), humunculus
Some food for thought...
From what I could find mucking about, England/Britain
supplied many of the early Warships for Japan (~1900). This
would have been around the time of the Dreadnoughts.
"...At this time the British were trying hard to build up
Japan as a counterbalance to Russian power in the Far East
-- Britain's first overseas alliance was the Anglo-Japanese
Pact of 1902. British shipyards continued building warships
for the Japanese through WWI, and sharing techniques with
Japanese shipyards as well. Meanwhile the Japanese were
assiduously amassing the technical expertise and yard
facilities to build for themselves. By 1904 Togo's fleet
included 5 modern battleships and 8 armored cruisers,
totaling about 60 vessels; two even more powerful
pre-dreadnoughts were building in Britain, but were not
completed in time for the war." From:
That may help explain the odd combination of numbering and
Kanji characters on the pistol grip thingy.
This old book makes mention of "Firing Keys".
From about half-way down page 79:
"...the firing key is in the shape of a pistol grip. The
operation is simple; pressure on the trigger establishes the
electrical connection by bringing a spring in contact with a
contact nut. The two electric wires project out from the
muzzle or forward part of the grip. This system contemplates
having the pointer keep one hand on the elevating wheel to
point and the other on the pistol grip during firing."
This web page (slow to load, several images from manuals
make up the page):
Has some discussion, schematics and diagrams concerning fire
control mechanisms for large navy type guns.
I suspect it was a war souvenir and most likely others do
Sure would like to hear/know the whole story behind it...
On Sun, 8 Feb 2009 01:21:56 -0800 (PST), the renowned humunculus
The two characters mean, respectively, "Peace" and "Left"
individually, and in Mandarin are pronouced "an1 zuo3".
They are often used to phonetically (in Mandarin) translate "Enzo", if
that might help. ("Anderson" is different).
"it's the network..." "The Journey is the reward"
firstname.lastname@example.org Info for manufacturers: http://www.trexon.com
Unless your picture is a mirror image of mine, the second character
isn't zuo3, its shi4, which means 'style' or 'type'. On zuo3, the
vertical stroke is on the left, not the right.
I agree that the first character is an1.
Not so. There is a Japanese interpretation of both.
The first character is "cheap" (onyomi=an, kunyomi=yasu[i]). It can be
combined with many other kanji to form words that have nothing to do with
"cheap". E.g. anzen (safety), anshin (peace of mind), fuan (unease). In fact
I thought the character on the piece somewhat signified safety but I do not
see the other kanji for "zen" which is almost invariably present in this
The second character *looks* like "left" but it is a mirror image of kanji
for "left". Well, not quite, there is an additional stroke which I cannot
see in the picture, but it is usually very tiny. This makes this a kanji for
"model", "ceremony", "form" and in some context "style".
I have looked as hard as I could (those who use Japanese dictionaries will
know that this is not a simple process :-) but could not find the two
characters together in any context.
The kanji characters are in majority identical in their structure and
meaning to the Chinese. Not always. In Japanese, however, the words can also
be written independently in two alphabets using syllables: Hiragana for
native words and katakana usually for foreign words (Hence "Makudonarudo"
for McDonald's). The hiragana is used to modify kanji to express grammatical
forms, particularly in case of verbs.
Here is another photo that someone sent in to me, along with this
The item is in the collection of the Lititz Moravian Church's Archive and
Museum in Lititz, PA. The item is sheet tin, light weight, and shows no
signs of any wear or use, like for dipping or hanging. Each little, tin
v-shape going down are like 'pockets'. It could date anywhere from 1750's,
founding of the church, to the 1850's. We have many other tin items in the
collection from this period since the Moravians were like a communal society
set up to do missionary work with the Native American Indians in North
America, and all the tools and much of the output of the various crafts
folks in town remained with the church.
Might be another one that doesn't really have a purpose, but maybe someone
will have an idea on it.
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