Fake Ivory Netsukes, ca.1961

Value (2004) | $3,000 Retail$4,500 Retail

Well, I was at a media trade show in New York City, and I was running around with nothing to do down in the lobby, and I ran into a gift shop where there was an estate sale going on. And the wife and I just bought a new home in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and it was all in oriental. And I found these things and thought they'd be a good curio-cabinet display.

Okay. And these are called "netsuke," Japanese carvings made as toggles. Now, each one of these is individually hand-carved, and each one is signed-- here's a signature on the underside of this one. And each one is signed by a particular artist. Now, netsuke have been made as early as the 18th century, but they continued to make copies. Today, they cannot make them in ivory anymore, because it's outlawed. These were elephant ivory, however these were all made in 1960 to 1962. They are all new. Each one has a tag. This tag is from the Japanese factory. Each one came from the same factory; they all came in together to the U.S. Every one made at the same time. Now, one thing about these that will help you decide when you look at them whether they're old or new is that every one has the same exact polish, the same amount of wear on every place on it. Nothing differs. There's no different color, they don't show that they've been handled a lot over the years so that hand oil has changed the color of the ivory. They all have the exact same handiwork. Now, they claim to be by various artists, but they're not, they were by craftsmen. The originals would be by famous artists. And in this envelope is a whole set of papers indicating the artist who made each one and describing each one, but that's all not true. You told me you paid about how much for them then?

Oh, I think between $300 and $500.

For the whole set?


All right, well, it's not a bad investment in some ways, because today they would sell for about $200 to $300 each. Bad part about it is you were sold antiques which were new. That's the problem. And that's the thing that we have to steer away from when we look at antiques. You have to deal with people who you can trust and who do a good thing for you. I think "crooked" is the word for it.

That's too bad.

Appraisal Details

Marvin Sokolow Antiques
Bayside, WI
Appraised value (2004)
$3,000 Retail$4,500 Retail
Memphis, TN (July 31, 2004)
Asian Arts

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