Inro and Netsuke Group
Appraised Value: $4,300 - $6,700 (1997)
$1,500 - $2,500 (2012)
IMAGE: 1 of 6
Appraisal Video: (3:50)
APPRAISER: You brought some interesting pieces and I thought it would be fun to look at a few of the ones you brought and compare them. Why don't you start with about where these are from?
GUEST: The only thing that I know about them is they had belonged to my husband. He had gotten the older ones from his dad, who, I believe, brought them back from the South Pacific after the Second World War.
APPRAISER: Well, your little box of objects are perfect teaching tools. It'll be fun to look at how these all work. This is called an inro and it is a traditional little Japanese pocket accessory. In traditional Japanese garb, there were no pockets, so what people did was hang things from their belt- their sashes that wrapped around their robes. So, the inro is one of these, and originally they were functional, but at this point, they're more ornamental. These other little objects here are netsuke. What they are are little anchors for the inro. Also, other items that could have been draped were tobacco pouches, little money purses, that kind of thing. But imagine my fingers are the belt. This would keep it from slipping through the belt so they work as wonderful anchors. As a result, over time, they end up with a wonderful patina from rubbing against the robes and from rubbing against people's arms and skin. These examples are actually quite nice here. This is a nice 19th-century inro-- beautiful lacquerwork with little metal inlaid details-- quite nice example. It's not signed, which is unusual for one of this quality. Each of these is a separate compartment that could theoretically hold another type of medicine or substance.
GUEST: That's what they would have used that for, then?
APPRAISER: Well, I think that a lot of these ended up being more like jewelry of the time, so some of them were just for show. Their own personal pillbox. Quite an early piece here-- probably late 18th, early 19th century. You can see on the reverse it has two holes where the cord here would have been strung through. This particular one down here is also similar age and it has a hole for string that runs right underneath the dragon's body, so it's kind of hidden. And also on the bottom of this one is a seal, so it was a dual-purpose one. The person who carried it also had their stamp right there, too. So that's nice. I pulled this one out as more a comparative study, because these are very typical-- it is ivory, same substance as these, but it's more typical of modern pieces. Comparatively a little clunky.
GUEST: (laughs) He is!
APPRAISER: A little awkward, cute, colorful. There's a definite quality difference there. Do you have any idea about value?
GUEST: I have no idea about price. I know what I paid for the one with the little... color to it.
APPRAISER: What did you pay for him?
GUEST: I paid $125 for that.
APPRAISER: Oh, that's very reasonable. For these pieces-- neither of these ones are signed, so we don't have any famous artists here, but they're very nice quality. I'm going to give you conservative auction estimates. Probably, this one, $2,000 to $3,000. And this piece, probably $1,500 to $2,500. He's just wonderful. This inro, too, is very nice quality, but it has a little too much wear on it. My value's going to be a little lower-- probably $800 to $1,200, but still it's a very nice piece, so... pretty neat group you have. I really thank you for bringing them in.
GUEST: Thank you very much.
APPRAISER: Some of the nicest pieces I've seen.
This website is produced for PBS Online by WGBH Boston. ©1997-2014 WGBH Educational Foundation.
ANTIQUES ROADSHOW is a trademark of the BBC and is produced for PBS by WGBH under license from BBC Worldwide.
WGBH and PBS are not responsible for the content of websites linked to or from ANTIQUES ROADSHOW Online.
PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.