defense for a Japanese sword when shipping is a sturdy well
constructed package. A strong package along with a reliable
carrier is essential to protecting your valued sword. REGISTERED mail is the most secure option and should be used whenever possible. Insurance
is fine, but it will not replace your one of a kind blade if it is lost
or damaged in shipping. Shipping insurance can also be difficult
to collect on. You must have proof of value such as a bill of
sale or a written appraisal from a professional third party
appraiser. To complicate matters further your blade will be
valuable after being polished, so any receipt or appraisal you have
will be out of date. Therefore your best bet on getting your
sword shipped without loss is a strong package.|
I strongly advise against shipping a fully mounted blade unnecessarily. I only
need the blade not the entire mounting. I can not even tell you how many immaculate brand new koshirae
(traditional mountings) or rare antique koshirae I've seen damaged in
shipping over the last 29 years. A sturdy
with a strong peg is good for shipping if you have one. If not, a
very safe board mounting can be easily made. A shira-saya or
board mounted blade is very difficult to damage in shipping. It
is also much less attractive to a potential thief.
Special steps must be taken when shipping an unmounted blade, but
it can be
done very safely and reliably. A bare blade will also give
smaller and lighter package that will cost much less to ship. To ship just the blade, take the blade
the mounting and wrap it in paper such as newspaper to prevent it from
being scuffed or finger printed. Wrap it tightly to prevent
it from moving around. The next step is to mount
blade onto a wooden board that is longer then the overall length of the
blade. A common 1"x2" to 1"x4" works very well. Drill a
hole in the board and put a heavy wire (at least 12 gauge solid) or
nylon rope or similar through the hole in the board and the hole in the
IS ESSENTIAL FOR SHIPPING AN UNMOUNTED
BLADE! Further strap the blade onto the board with LOTS of heavy strapping
need a package that can withstand being dropped on its end from a
height of 2 or 3 feet. Being dropped on its end by
postal workers will send the blade crashing forward
with the force of a hammer blow.
If you ship a bare blade
strapping it down the tip may crash into the end of the package and be
possibly cause injury!!! Strapping the blade down like this
protects it from the worst forms of shipping damage. It will
the blade from poking through the end of the packing. It will
also prevent the blade from being bent if the package is crushed.
A bare blade
strapped to a board in this manner can actually
much safer overall then a blade shipped in shira-saya or other
mounting. It prevents the blade from vibrating or
rattling in its saya during shipping and scuffing up the new polish. You also don't have to worry about the peg breaking or saya splitting. It is absolutely NOT attractive to a potential thief,
especially if they don't know anything about Japanese swords. Bottom
line, a board mounting is the safest and most secure method of shipping
a Japanese blade, with a strong shira-saya coming in second, and a full
traditional koshirae not being recommended at all.
Once you have a sturdy shira-saya or board mounting you need
carton. FedEx and the Post Office both have 38" triangular
shipping tubes that are very good for unmounted blades katana length
and under. FedEx also has much larger shipping tubes available for
sale. The heavy cardboard core from a carpet roll or
light weight 4" pvc "sewer" pipe can also make a good shipping tube. Wrap your blade in bubble wrap and seal it tightly in your
for safe shipping. Make sure that there is at least some
cushioning in the end of the tube such as crumpled up newspaper for
when the package is dropped on its end.
Finally you have to choose a carrier and this is essential. Registered U.S. Mail or U.S. Express Mail with
insurance are best. Insured US Priority
Mail with signature required or FedEx with direct signature required can also be
used, but are much less secure.
REGISTERED U.S. MAIL
is the most secure. The package stays locked up and
has to be signed for. It also has the least expensive insurance
because it is very unusual for a Registered package to be lost or
damaged. Registered packages do not even travel in the normal mail
stream and receive specialized handling throughout. The downside is
that it can be very slow. Post-covid it can take 5 to 15 days for a
package to go cross country due to all the extra layers of security and
staffing shortages at the post office. Registered mail does have
packaging requirements. You must have a "virgin"
package. This is a package with no old postage, address, or other marks
it. The package also must be sealed with "paper
is the kind that you have to wet and stick. They have these
requirements so they can put "tamper seals" on the package. Brown
package wrapping paper and paper tape can be found in the packaging
isle of most large office supply stores and some hardware stores.
is the kind of tape you want for Registered US mail shipping. Click on the image to buy this tape from Amazon.
PRIORITY MAIL WITH INSURANCE
is an acceptable option. There are no special packaging
requirements. Cross country shipping usually takes about 4 to 5
days. You MUST have over $500 insurance
or the package will not require a signature and may be left unattended.
Priority mail with insurance will generally cost more than
Registered mail because the insurance is much more expensive due to the
higher rate of loss and damage.
U.S. EXPRESS MAIL
insurance is an over night service from the post office. It can cost $100 to $200 to ship a large sword with insurance,
package moves very fast with good tracking which reduces the
opportunity for mishaps. You
can use any type of tape to seal an Express mail package.
is not really recommended, but can be used successfully if you prefer. You can only insure an antique Japanese sword for $500
max with FedEx. They also consider all damage that occurs during
caused by inadequate packaging and will not pay any claims, so
appropriate insurance is NOT
available through FedEx. They also insist on opening and inspecting ALL
packages valued at over $499. This pretty much guarantees
swords with higher declared values will be finger printed, scuffed up
or otherwise buggered with by some back room box handler, so you really must declare
an artificially low value for FedEx shipping. They do have
tracking and the packages move fast which makes them less likely to run
into trouble, but I do know a few people who have had their FedEx packages stolen. You
can use any type of tape to seal a FedEx package.
UPS is not a good option.
a DIRECT SIGNATURE!
Delivery people are much more likely to deliver a package to the
correct address if they are required to get a signature. Delivery confirmation is NOT enough.
confirmation the carrier pushes a button claiming that the package was
delivered, but there is no proof that the package was actually
delivered or that it was delivered to the correct address or that it
wasn't stolen off a front porch after being left unattended.
SWORD SHIPPING RULES
-DO NOT use a gun
to ship swords. The foam inserts do not hold swords securely
and you are just asking to have your package
stopped and opened.Make
to NEVER use a
retail shipping outlet, one of those chain
stores that does all the packaging and shipping for you. One
my clients did this and they not only stole the contents of his
original package, but sent a completely different box in its place. Loss or theft by a third party retail shipper is not covered
stuff a bare blade with no handle into a scabbard for shipping. That's
a good way to break the tip of the blade or split the saya or both.
NOT use plastic zip ties to secure a sword blade. They have
high tensile strength but very poor shear resistance. Translation, they break
use a wood peg to mount a sword on a board, it will break.
cheap on shipping, risking thousands of dollars just to save $10 or $20
is not good.
-DO NOT use
-DO NOT use uninsured US Mail.
NOT use FedEx GROUND shipping.
NOT declare a value of $499 or higher with FedEx. They will
open and unpack the box! They also will NOT pay an insurance
claim for over $500 on an antique sword blade so there is no benefit to
claiming a higher value.
NOT use retail shipping outlets like The USP Store, Knikos, Mail Boxes Plus etc. The
hourly workers at these outlets are known to have pretty
all of your own packing.
tell anyone what is in the package. If someone is nosy enough
ask, I usually just say 'original art work' which is technically true,
but not interesting enough to provoke a theft.
CHECK the mailing address! If you send
your package to the wrong address, you are not likely to get it back.
sword I have ever
seen lost or damaged in shipping was the result of the shipper either
packaging badly or going cheap on the shipping (no tracking and no
signature required). Follow the above guide lines and you can
make sure that your swords will arrive safely. For
example, over the last 29 years of full time polishing, I have never
had a sword that I packed
and shipped lost or damaged in any way.