If it's on topic, I'm also interested to know how they compare against modern steel.
Toledo steel is a very good steel, comparable to the best contemporary one. It is based mostly on the content of the material and way of hardening.
Damascus is much better, it is based mostly on the way of smithing - folding, beating, folding again,.. repeat a year every day many times a day. With addings during smithing. The precise receipts are not known, and Damascus weapon is better than any contemporary one. There existed close variants - reinventions in other countries, Russian bulat was one of them. The Damascus steel could be extremely sharp and simultaneously, very strong - you could cut a silk scarf by letting it to fall on the blade and you could use the same blade as a belt and you could simply cut a usual sword in two.
As for samurai weapon, it is a widespread mistake, that it had good steel. On the contrary, the steel was bad, in Japanese fencing you should never block the blow, but let it slip along the blade. Though this steel could be sharpen also to the extreme, and the trick with a scarf could be done with it, but it was weak and easily broken or at least dented by any direct blow. The Japanese did the most possible out of what they had, but the resources on the Japan islands are poor.
An interesting professional article on the theme, much more thorough than my answer: http://www.tf.uni-kiel.de/matwis/amat/def_en/articles/vikingsword/blade_patterns_intrinsic.html
The problem is that now all these names are mixed - you can buy a "japanese damascene" for 100 dollars. Not real, of course. http://www.swordsoftheeast.com/damascus_3.aspx.
The secret of toledo swords is revealed now: http://aceros-de-hispania.com/toledo-swords.htm
An interesting personal research with links: http://tf.uni-kiel.de/matwis/amat/def_en/index.html
And one more thing I would like to notice: All these themes are not well-known and closed. They are under research. And probably forever.
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