Four Japanese Kakiemon Porcelain Plates

Value (2003) | $2,500 Auction$4,000 Auction

GUEST:
About 40 years ago, I was traveling in Japan and we were in Kyoto. And at the time, they had a marvelous collection of antique shops, and that's where I found these.

APPRAISER:
Do you know what they are?

GUEST:
They're Kakiemon... uh, porcelain. But aside from that I don't know very much more.

APPRAISER:
Well, these pieces were made in Japan for the Japanese market and used in a special form of dinner called the Kaiseki dinner. The Kakiemon family started producing this type of ware in the 17th century. And you probably know Meissen, don't you?

GUEST:
Yes, I do.

APPRAISER:
That's the European later version of Kakiemon. These patterns of very, very delicate enamels on a cream background were very, very popular in Europe and so adopted in the Meissen palette. You bought these as a group, I understand.

GUEST:
Yes, I did. Actually... it's obvious that the bowls don't really go with the plates.

APPRAISER:
That's correct.

GUEST:
Right. But, uh... yeah, I did.

APPRAISER:
Which do you think is older?

GUEST:
Oh, I think the plates are older.

APPRAISER:
Well, actually... no.

GUEST:
You're kidding.

APPRAISER:
The plates-- if you look at the back-- have a, um... mark on them, which is a mark characteristic of the mid-19th century.

GUEST:
Ahh...

APPRAISER:
These are lovely, lovely. But much more elaborately decorated and the enamels are a little bit more harsh than these pieces, which are actually 18th century. The gentleman sold them to you as a set, right? And there are four, correct?

GUEST:
Right, right, four of each.

APPRAISER:
Well, normally, in Japan, these come in sets of five or ten.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
And so it could be that he didn't have ten plates to sell. He may have broken a few. And actually four is not an auspicious number in Japanese.

GUEST:
Oh, dear.

APPRAISER:
The character is actually a synonym with something that means death.

GUEST:
Oh-- should I get rid of one?

APPRAISER:
No, I don't think so. What's exciting about these is that you have four 18th-century, beautiful floral dishes. And if, in fact, you had brought these to me ten years ago, each of these dishes would have been worth about, oh, 1,000 to 1,500 apiece.

GUEST:
You're kidding.

APPRAISER:
No. What happened is about 1988 to 1990, before the Japanese bubble, these 18th-century pieces were highly sought after. Now, they're worth about... oh, I would say, $500 apiece. And the 19th-century examples, which you thought were earlier, are actually worth about, oh, 200 apiece. The entire collection would now bring at auction about $2,500 to $4,000.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
A little bit more than you paid for them, I think.

GUEST:
I think I paid, what, 400? ( both chuckle )

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Bonhams, San Francisco
San Francisco, CA
Appraised value (2003)
$2,500 Auction$4,000 Auction
Event
San Francisco, CA (August 16, 2003)
Form
Plate
Material
Porcelain

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