Good day my name is Tim
I am a Certified IRS Qualified Fine and Decorative Art Appraiser. It will be a pleasure to put my expertise, libraries, resources, and experience in the field to work for you. I have the images you sent. Please tell me the length of the sword. I will see what I can discover regarding the current value of the sword.
Here is a short intro to the sword. For samurai, or military nobility, in pre-industrial Japan, a sword was more than a weapon: It was an extension of the soul. Two swords were carried to form a daisho (meaning "big and small") set, comprised of a katana (which means "long sword") and wakizashi (which means "side arm"). Samurai treated katana swords, which are curved and single edged, with great reverence. They gave them names and, when male children turned 13, held ceremonies in which young men received their first katana swords and armor, along with adult names and samurai status.
The wakizashi — a short sword with a curved blade — was a samurai's "honor weapon" and was always with him; he would even sleep with it under his pillow. When a samurai entered a house, he was expected to leave his armor and weapons outside, but it was traditional for him to keep his wakizashi at his side for protection. Knowing the length will help determine which you have.
The size indicates that it is katana by Kawabe Hidekuni (Suishinshi Masahide)(1750-1825). Which is more recent than the date given by the previous appraisal. The current estimate for the sword is: $17,400.00 - $26,00.00.
If you try to locate the family in Japan, they could possible try to claim it back.
The number I just gave is a little low. That was just for the blade, without the hilt and the scabbard. I just found a value for a daisho (the Katana and the wakizashi ) ($117,018) that sold at Christie's in 2005. So the estimate for just the Katana is $50,000 to $55,000.00.