Japanese Bronze Sculpture, ca. 1890
It came with a German professor from Japan when he returned. He had been teaching in Japan, and his students gave him this as a going-away gift for their appreciation. We believe it was 1892 that he returned to Germany with the statue. And my father then found it in an antiques store on consignment from the grandchildren. My father was in the Army, stationed in Heidelberg, and he loved bronzes, and he saw it and went in and asked how much it cost, and it was $150, and being in the Army with four kids, that was a lot of money.
And what year was that?
1964. And so he walked by there for six months, and his heart would pound and he would wonder if it was still there, and it still was. So after six months, he went back in with my uncle and, together, they discussed with the shop owner that perhaps $100 would be an okay amount. And she went back to the grandchildren, and they agreed.
That's great. And now it's yours.
It's now mine. We have an Asian daughter adopted from Vietnam, and my father thought that this should be in our family.
The scale of it's wonderful. It's not small and it's not too big. It's just like the three bears, it's just right, isn't it? And it's depicting an archer, and we know that this is from Japan not just because of the story that you've heard from the professor. One of the other clues is if we go around to the back, we see, as with a lot of Japanese art, the craftsmen often sign their work, which is different than what you get with Chinese art or other cultures, but in most cases they did not. But with Japanese, they did. And if you look right here, you'll see that there's a signature. And this is the name of the maker, whose name is Hiromitsu. Hiromitsu is not one of the major makers, so there's not a lot of information out there. Ne'ertheless, it's a terrific piece. Now, 1892 is an interesting timeframe because it's the beginning of the Meiji Dynasty, the Meiji period. You had a shifting in Japanese industry, moving toward industry, away from the manufacture of armor and weaponry and so on. And so the folks that were making those things lost their jobs. They had to go do something else. So what do they do initially? They're making lots of images of militaristic themes, and the other great favorite subject would be animal subjects. But this happens to be a terrific view of an archer, a military theme. If you look at some of the casting on the face and the armor and the breastplate, it's not the A+ quality, but it's very high quality. The patina is good, the surface. You all have not gone through and polished it.
And I'm sure you watch the Roadshow and you've heard everybody say, "Don't polish the surface." You haven't done that, so that's good. The market's down in Japanese art at this time, but I would insure this for around $15,000.
So I think your dad did pretty well.
He did, he did. Thank you so much.
Executive producer Marsha Bemko shares her tips for getting the most out of ANTIQUES ROADSHOW.
Value can change: The value of an item is dependent upon many things, including the condition of the object itself, trends in the market for that kind of object, and the location where the item will be sold. These are just some of the reasons why the answer to the question "What's it worth?" is so often "It depends."
Note the date: Take note of the date the appraisal was recorded. This information appears in the upper left corner of the page, with the label "Appraised On." Values change over time according to market forces, so the current value of the item could be higher, lower, or the same as when our expert first appraised it.
Context is key: Listen carefully. Most of our experts will give appraisal values in context. For example, you'll often hear them say what an item is worth "at auction," or "retail," or "for insurance purposes" (replacement value). Retail prices are different from wholesale prices. Often an auctioneer will talk about what she knows best: the auction market. A shop owner will usually talk about what he knows best: the retail price he'd place on the object in his shop. And though there are no hard and fast rules, an object's auction price can often be half its retail value; yet for other objects, an auction price could be higher than retail. As a rule, however, retail and insurance/replacement values are about the same.
Verbal approximations: The values given by the experts on ANTIQUES ROADSHOW are considered "verbal approximations of value." Technically, an "appraisal" is a legal document, generally for insurance purposes, written by a qualified expert and paid for by the owner of the item. An appraisal usually involves an extensive amount of research to establish authenticity, provenance, composition, method of construction, and other important attributes of a particular object.
Opinion of value: As with all appraisals, the verbal approximations of value given at ROADSHOW events are our experts' opinions formed from their knowledge of antiques and collectibles, market trends, and other factors. Although our valuations are based on research and experience, opinions can, and sometimes do, vary among experts.
Appraiser affiliations: Finally, the affiliation of the appraiser may have changed since the appraisal was recorded. To see current contact information for an appraiser in the ROADSHOW Archive, click on the link below the appraiser's picture. Our Appraiser Index also contains a complete list of active ROADSHOW appraisers and their contact details and biographies.