17th-Century Japanese Tea Urn
Appraised Value: $10,000 - $15,000
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (2:51)
President and Owner
Castle Fine Arts, Inc.
GUEST: About 30 years ago, in my pursuits as a garage sale junkie, I found this very unusual piece. I'd never seen anything like it before. I thought it was Chinese. I thought it was a funeral urn for ashes. And then I thought it might be a tea service. And it's been sitting on my dresser for 30 years waiting for an answer until the ROADSHOW came along.
APPRAISER: It's Japanese, and it's very, very early Japanese. You're correct about it being a tea urn. That's exactly what it was, but it was made for the Dutch export market in Japan, in a very famous kiln area called Arita. A-R-I-T-A, Arita. And it was done by the Dutch because what happened in China was, at the end of the Ming Dynasty, all the kilns closed down, and the Dutch had to find someplace to go to make their fine pieces for export to their country. So they went into Japan and they approached Arita. And this is a very early piece, and the reason we know this is early is... and can probably date it from about 1670, is the fact that it's a rather transitional piece in that it has these Japanese figures, here, the seven lucky gods. And one of them is Daikoku, which is this man right here, holding the mallet, and he's the god of good fortune, of wealth. So these were figures that the Japanese used in their porcelains before the Dutch came in. And they were unsure of what to put on this porcelain. How were they going to decorate this piece for the Dutch market? So it's interesting in the fact that the shape and some of the areas of the shape of the urn are Dutch, and what they expected to be made for the Dutch market, but the Japanese were using their decoration. So that's why we can date it from that period. And as you say, it is for tea. It's a tea spigot. You can see here, right at the front of the piece there is a spot where there's now a cork, but was once probably a removable spigot or a spout. And again, how we can tell on the period and be able to be sure it's that early is on the base. And on the base here, you'll see that there's crosshatching, almost like it's been seated on material. And this is also proof that it's very early. So, a very rare piece, never seen a piece like this before and we're so excited to be able to have it here today. Do you have some idea of what the value might be?
GUEST: Only a hope.
APPRAISER: How much did you pay for this vase?
GUEST: I don't recall exactly, but I had a rule at the time that I wouldn't buy anything for more than $10 at a garage sale.
GUEST: So... I'm sure I stuck to that rule.
APPRAISER: So you think perhaps $10 then?
APPRAISER: The estimate would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $10,000 to $15,000 for this.
GUEST: I'm speechless.
APPRAISER: Well, it's a wonderful piece...
GUEST: I'm delighted.
APPRAISER: ...and we're very pleased to see it.
GUEST: Thank you very much.
APPRAISER: Thank you very much for bringing it in today. If it had the top, it'd probably be $20,000.
This website is produced for PBS Online by WGBH Boston. ©1997-2015 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.