1905 Shirayamadani Rookwood Vase
My wife and I were vacationing, doing what we do. We were going to yard sales and we happened upon a community yard sale, and there it was. My wife got it. She was almost afraid to ask how much they wanted for it, but she went ahead and the lady said three dollars, so she didn't even try to deal on it; she just gave her the three dollars. We had it sitting out on a table and a friend of ours told us, "You might want to move that somewhere where it's less likely to get broken." So that's when I started looking online. But I haven't been able to find out a value on it.
Tell us what you do know about the piece.
It's Rookwood, it's made by a Japanese artist, the most desirable. I can't pronounce his name.
I commend you for not trying.
Okay, thank you, I knew I'd butcher it. I think it's made in the early 1900s. Don't really know anything else.
The artist, Kataro Shirayamadani...
There you go.
...came from Japan to bring a Japanese aesthetic to Rookwood. Rookwood was very evolved that way. And we've seen examples of Shirayamadani's work on ANTIQUES ROADSHOW in the past, but this is most unusual, and there are many, many things I like about it and a couple things I don't. This is a vellum-glazed vase, and if we look at the bottom of the piece, we have the normal Rookwood mark with the "RP" with the flames. If we look underneath it, there's a "V." Initially, I thought the V was for vellum, and it could be, but it's also for the date, 1905. And then we see in kanji script, Kataro Shirayamadani's signature scratched into the bottom. So we know that it's a Rookwood piece made in 1905 during the Arts and Crafts period, done by the Japanese artist. What's also most unusual, if you look on the side, this is carved in three dimensions. You really don't see this. The idea of a carved vellum, where you're not just painting something on the surface of the pot but you're actually modeling into it, is a very modern technique, especially on decorative ceramics. I know it's what sets this piece apart from the bulk of Shirayamadani's work. Because of that, it adds a great deal of value to the piece. In my own mind, I just want more from it. I wish that the bottom was painted instead of having this line demarcate the top 40% of the vase from the bottom 60%. I could see these cranes flying over a swamp or something. But you know, people like me always want more from pots because we love them so much, and I think what you have here is far more than what we see on most examples. Shirayamadani saw the vase as a 360-degree commodity, and no matter which angle you look at, there's something really interesting going on. He was one of maybe two or three artists that Rookwood had that did that. Today at auction, I would expect this piece to sell for somewhere between $4,000 and $6,000. That marsh scene with the flying birds I was talking about, you could probably add another $10,000 to both of those numbers. But most Rookwood pieces are in the hundreds. It's a great find.
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