Appraisal Video: (3:29)
Lark Mason & Associates
GUEST: It came from my husband's uncle, and this was part of his collection, and when he died in 1960, his widow gave it to me.
APPRAISER: And he had bought it, you said...
GUEST: I would say in the '30s. There's a signature on the side, and I wondered if that had any indication if it was Chinese or Japanese.
GUEST: And, uh, also I was wondering about the metal that's inlaid in it. Is that possible to clean it and make it look nicer?
APPRAISER: Okay, I'll start out by telling you that it is Japanese.
APPRAISER: And typical of Japanese art are these bold sculptures that were made in the early part of the 20th century. So this probably dates to what's called the Meiji Dynasty, which is late 19th century, early 20th century, ending in 1911.
GUEST: Oh, my.
APPRAISER: Now, what's also interesting about it are the materials. And this particular combination of a variety of materials is a type of work in Japan called "shibiyama." When you look up here at the top, you see that it's ivory, but as we move down the body, there's some gold. That's actually gold-inlaid silver or bronze.
APPRAISER: So that's two materials. Slightly to the left of that is mother-of-pearl, in different shapes that have been inlaid into the surface. Now, as we move down the body, we'll see this rope, which looks extremely realistic. That's carved out of ivory as well.
APPRAISER: And it's so limp looking, you get a sense that it really is rope, don't you?
GUEST: Yes, yes.
APPRAISER: Now, that's covering this wonderful dragon, which is dark gray, and that's what you were wondering about cleaning, isn't it?
GUEST: Yes, yes.
APPRAISER: Well, that's actually silver. And it's tarnished, and it's going to tarnish again unless you put a protective covering on it. So I'd almost be inclined to leave it.
APPRAISER: Okay? And then further down the leg, we see another array of exotic materials: coral, mother-of-pearl, jade-- which we haven't seen yet. And the whole body, of course, is carved wood, simulating bronze. Now, if I turn around on the other side, we even find enamel. Now, the one problem with this, which you're quite aware of... And I'm going to roll back here a little bit. Up here at the top if you look, we've got damages. It's missing the leg. And here on the back, if you look right at the back of the head, there's pieces missing here.
APPRAISER: And if you come down the body, there's missing inlay. And the wood over here is cracked. And in many locations, the wood's actually sort of dry, so it was probably in the sunlight and it started to shrink and shift, and that's caused some damage to it. Now, you mentioned the signature. That's the clue that tells us that it's Japanese. And I'm not familiar with who the maker is, but we could certainly try to find that out with some research. Even with the damages and the losses, I think for insurance purposes, this has got to be valued at around $7,500, $8,500.
APPRAISER: If it were perfect, an insurance figure of $20,000, $25,000 would not surprise me.
GUEST: Mmm. Well, we love it. We call it "The Warrior."