Appraisal Video: (2:40)
President and Owner
Castle Fine Arts, Inc.
GUEST: I was helping some people move, and she said, "Here, take this." She didn't give me any history and I didn't ask, so I'm just totally clueless.
APPRAISER: Well, what you have here is a very rare Japanese netsuke. They were used as toggles on the belt, so they attached to the belt. There'd be a cord that would go through holes, and they'd use it as a toggle. This is 18th century, and there's several reasons it's very rare, the first one of which is not only is it early, but it's very long, it's very large. Most netsukes are about this size, they'd be about that size. There are three different materials on this. This is horn, all horn here, this is ivory, and she has little pinpoints of silver highlighting the eyes, and she's wearing a little silver bracelet. Now obviously, ivory is a problem area now because there's bans on elephant ivory and all the poaching. This is well over 100 years. It's something that would not be made today, couldn't be made today, because of the regulations protecting the herds, and unfortunately there's still poaching going on, but there's great efforts to try to put an end to that. So as I say, this is very old ivory, and it's provably old ivory. It's also interesting to see how it would have been worn, the direction, because obviously it had to be a toggle, it had to hold the belt. And if we move it like this, we can see that not only she has a little silver patch on her hip, but here are the entry areas at the back where the cord would go through, and then the cord would come out here. So in effect, it would have been made to be worn this way and the legs would have come around the sides. So here, this would be the front of the costume, the cords would go through, and she'd be attached like this. Now, it's also very, very unusual in that the subject matter is South Sea Islands. It's a South Sea Islands lady, it's not Japanese. I don't see a signature. It's interesting because later on, they were normally signed-- in the Meiji period, there'd be a signature-- but it's obviously a master craftsman. The combination of its size, its material, and the subject, and also its age, makes it a very important piece. Because of its rarity, pieces like this are seldom seen. It's in wonderful condition, and the auction market for this piece, if it were to come up, would be in the range of $3,000 to $3,500.
GUEST: Thank you very much.