Every few years this topic comes up in a big way, and my email box goes crazy. While I've published a few factory videos and wrote a few articles for Sword Buyers Guide, I decided since I already pay for a blog, I may as well put my inside access to use on Roninkatana.com as well. So here it is.
Ronin Katana has been around for 10 years now, and during that time I've spent many many months in China living and working. My wife is the niece of Chinese national treasure smith Weiping Zheng, and the cousin of master smith Ye Jie. My apartment in Longquan is about 200 yards from the spring which water has been drawn from for thousands of years to quench swords in. Living in Longquan, where most of the Chinese ebay sword dealers get their stock, provides me with a pretty unique look at how the sword industry operates. Rather than make a long, you've been warned!!! post about how Chinese dealers trick people with what they are actually selling, I am just going to let the pictures do the talking.
So what does an ebay sword factory look like? Lets have a look.
This is the operation of one of the largest ebay sword dealers. I guess you could call it a sword factory, but it's actually just an assembly factory. They don't make anything here. They couldn't even if they wanted to. They don't have the skills, employees, or equipment.
So what are they doing in these pictures? You know that section in the ebay auction that shows you all the ways you can customize your sword? Well, you are looking at that happen. This is where they put on the parts you ordered, and ship your sword from.
So where are all the swords coming from? Don't they have master smiths? The answers to those questions are, from another factory, and no, they don't. Master smiths either have their own forge, or work for one of the major factories. I'll post pictures of a dozen or so masters that I know in subsequent posts in this series.
Part two in this series will explore where the sword blades for sale on ebay are getting made, and who is making them. Future segments will explore the city of Longquan, the major factories, and well, everything you thought you knew, but really don't.