Meiji Period Shoami Katsuyoshi Vases
Appraised Value: $20,000 - $30,000
IMAGE: 1 of 4
Appraisal Video: (2:39)
Bonhams & Butterfields, SF
GUEST: I took my husband to his first serious antique flea market in Dallas, at Fair Park, and that's where I found them, just as I walked in the door. (laughing) Literally.
APPRAISER: What attracted you about them?
GUEST: I love Art Nouveau things. I collect Art Nouveau jewelry, so I love the three-dimensional aspects of it. It has insects on it... because I collect bug jewelry. (laughing)
APPRAISER: It has a lot of florals and just very three-dimensional. They are made in the Meiji period, which was from 1868 to 1912. They're actually done by a pretty major swordsmith artist and metalworker by the name of Shoami Katsuyoshi. He lived in Okayama Prefecture, which is part of the main island, Honshu Island, sort of in the western portion. Here's the signature. It says Shoami Katsuyoshi, with a kakihan here. Actually, on this piece, on the back, it has a fuller inscription. Mm-hmm. It says "Dai Nihon," which means "made in the great Japan," which means during the Meiji period. And then the artist's name.
GUEST: Oh, wow.
APPRAISER: And Katsuyoshi, his dates are 1832 to 1908.
GUEST: Okay, okay.
APPRAISER: And he moved from making sword furniture to large vases after there was a prescription against wearing swords at the beginning of the Meiji period.
GUEST: Right, yeah.
APPRAISER: So, I mean, these are phenomenal pieces in terms of their execution. You have copper; you have shakudo, which is a combination of gold and copper; a little bit of shibuichi, which is silver and copper; and also some pure gold here. The interest in the natural form, in birds and blossoms and bugs, was really quite prevalent among these Meiji period artists. It was amazing when I saw these because normally, you'll see one piece.
APPRAISER: But not three.
APPRAISER: The power of this set is really in that it's a set. What did you pay for them?
GUEST: $2,000, about $2,000.
APPRAISER: $2,000 in a flea market? You actually paid $2,000?
GUEST: They take checks. (laughing) Checks works fine. Well, I knew they were really unusual, but I didn't know anything... that's all I knew.
APPRAISER: In the current market, this set of pieces is worth between $20,000 and $30,000.
GUEST: Oh, my... (laughing)
APPRAISER: At auction. (laughing)
GUEST: And I had to really prod my husband to buy them.
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