Japanese Ivory Jewel Box, ca. 1875

Value (2007) | $5,000 Auction$7,000 Auction

GUEST:
I bought it in a consignment shop. It was just a little shop out in the South End. I was actually looking for furniture for my son's apartment and came across this a couple of years ago, and I just loved it and so...

APPRAISER:
What do you know about it?

GUEST:
Well, you know, I think that it's Japanese. My father was in the Air Force during World War II, and then he was later stationed in Japan. And my mother came home from Japan with lots of items and this, to me, just reminded me of some of the things-- particularly some of the carvings here remind me of some of the silk screens that she had.

APPRAISER:
What did you pay for it?

GUEST:
The lady was asking, maybe, $400 or something, and I offered her $300.

And so I paid $300.

APPRAISER:
So it cost you $300.

GUEST:
Cost me $300.

APPRAISER:
Okay, this is Japanese ivory, as you thought.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
And this is from the Meiji Period. The Meiji emperor is the one who brought Japan into the modern world. He said, "No more fighting with swords. We are not making swords anymore." He just stopped it cold. And then you had all these people who had been making these swords who were some of the most accomplished metalworkers and craftsmen in the world who were out with nothing to do. So they started doing other crafts. And one of the things they worked on was other metalwork. Now, this is an ivory box with silver mounts. This clasp, for instance, is wonderful silver with inlays. Beautiful bird. Each panel here tells a different story. The top, for instance, shows someone seeking help from an official who's traveling on a horse. And this fellow seeking help is on a dragon. And look at how well it's carved and how deeply it's carved. You can see the bridge.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
The rails actually stand out. On the front doors, you've got on this one, what we call oni, which are demons. And they're fighting on a ledge. Here you have two samurai who are disguised as pilgrims helping a woman who's traveling and she's at the side of the road. The bottom, which is a drawer, shows the seven lucky gods—

GUEST:
Oh, really?

APPRAISER:
Japanese have seven lucky gods-- and they're in their boat. And the boat has a chicken as the prow. We open the doors... and you see the insides of the doors are painted in gold lacquer and you have lacquer on the drawers also. These drawers all have little pulls, little handles... There's one replacement, that's this handle. That's a little bit of a jarring note, but that's not difficult. I think if it were stained a bit it might be better.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
The feet are actually four temple lions. There are other carvings on the sides and on the back.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
All in all, it's a tour de force. It's a perfect example

GUEST:
Oh, really?

APPRAISER:
of Japanese craftsmanship. And it dates to, I would say, 1870, 1880. And after consulting, we come up with a figure of about $5,000 to $7,000 at auction.

GUEST:
Really?

APPRAISER:
Really.

GUEST:
Isn't that funny?

APPRAISER:
Wonderful piece.

GUEST:
How fun.

APPRAISER:
Congratulations. You did well.

GUEST:
Thank you very much.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Marvin Sokolow Antiques
Bayside, Wisconsin
Appraised value (2007)
$5,000 Auction$7,000 Auction
Event
Louisville, KY (July 28, 2007)
Form
Box
Material
Ivory

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