Late 19th-Century Satsuma-Style Ewers

Value (2009) | $600 Retail$1,000 Retail

GUEST:
I'm a hair stylist, and I had been doing my client's hair for over ten years, and she became very ill, so I started going to her house, because she could no longer come down to the shop to get her hair done.

APPRAISER:
Right.

GUEST:
And one day we were there, and her husband showed me around the house and asked me if I liked these. And I said, "Well, yeah, they're neat-looking, very interesting." And he says, "Well, you can have them." So I received them from him, and my client, unfortunately, passed away two years ago at 80 years old. She told me that they were given to her by her aunt, and I have no idea where they're from or if they're Japanese, Chinese...I have no idea.

APPRAISER:
Okay, first of all, these are made in Japan.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
They're very typical of a big class of Japanese ceramics, pottery. Let's take a look at the bottom. There's a little bit of a clue there. Now, we see that there are absolutely no marks on the bottom, and that is typical of this type of pottery. But the color of the glaze, then you see the foot rim, the color, it's just absolutely typical and is the way that I knew that it was Japanese-made. If we spin them around, we can see they have all types of decorations on them. There's a huge dragon in the center of both vases. There is a landscape painted on the front of the vase. And there's all kinds of raised enameling all over the surface of the pottery. These are made of pottery and not of porcelain. And they were possibly made in the area of Satsuma. We would call them Satsuma-style pottery.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
Not the name of a company, but the name of an area.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
Now, the best pieces of Satsuma we would call Satsuma, but these were pieces that would have been made for export to North America and other parts of the world. So the best Satsuma was very time-consuming and very intricate and very detailed and would have had somewhat different decoration, but this was really the cheap stuff. It started being made in the 1880s. That was a time period when the lower-class, working Japanese person made very, very little money, so they would have worked all day long, many hours a days, almost every day of the week, doing all of this hand decoration...

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
...for very little pay. So that the companies that manufactured these could afford to make these very cheaply. They were exported, for instance, to the United States. They paid duty on them, they were sold in a store, and they were still very inexpensive. So when they were new, they were big, they were showy, they were extravagant-looking. Now they're well over a hundred years old. They're still big, they're still showy, they're still extravagant-looking, but the quality level is not great. So that does limit the value somewhat. However, we liked these, because, quite frankly, they're better than most of the vases that we see like this.

GUEST:
Uh-huh.

APPRAISER:
Normally these big, showy Satsuma-style vases usually sell for around $50, $100, maybe $200 a piece. But this decoration on here, the raised enameling, is called moriage, and it makes these better. And they are a true pair, and instead of being exactly the same piece twice, they're a mirror image, and so that makes it even a little better. I would estimate that a retail value for these would be between $600 and $1,000, for the pair.

GUEST:
Oh, okay.

APPRAISER:
So it's really a wonderful gift that you got from your client.

GUEST:
Uh-huh, it is, it is.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
David Lackey Antiques & Art
Houston, TX
Appraised value (2009)
$600 Retail$1,000 Retail
Event
San Jose, CA (August 15, 2009)
Period
19th Century
Form
Ewer
Material
Ceramic, Pottery

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