Originally Posted by Neil
I have attached a photo below of a similar sword I have owned in the past. I thought you would enjoy seeing the period silk grip wrap and wrist lanyard on this piece. This is a common wrapping and lanyard treatment for this type of sword.
In regards to restoration I can tell you what I would do if it were in my collection. I would give all the metal portions of the sword and scabbard a good going over with a brass brush or brass wool to remove the easily accessed active red rust. Then I would rub these same area down with gun oil to help stabilize all the existing oxidation. For a similar separated guard I have I mixed shaved charcoal with epoxy and clamped it after light application and clean up. I was happy with the results, the charcoal keeps it looking antiquated in the seam. I would also take a slightly damp sponge and wipe down the scabbard where the ray skin covering is securely attached. Take it for what you will, that is what I would do if it were in my hands.
The age of Chinese swords can be a tricky question. Unfortunately there is little good evidence available to confidently nail down dates of many Chinese weapons. Although in this swords case it is widely spoken and accepted to be a late Qing army soldiers sword. Of coarse someone just saying it is only step one in the verification process. In my experience with these swords in particular I have seen more than one go up for sale as "bring back souvenirs" by European soldiers evolved in the Boxer Uprising of 1898-1901. I like this kind of secondary information to feel good about dating a piece to a specific era. It is certainly not an exact manufacture date, but I think it is in the ball park. I hope this information is useful.