General information on Antique Japanese Porcelain Pieces.

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Antique Japanese Porcelain

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Check out this adorable Japanese porcelain pagoda teapot, made in the kilns at Makuza Kozan, 19th century

This very expensive Japanese Kutani Jar shows the typical bright burnt orange and black with gilding.

Japanese porcelain incense burner in Kakeimon style with a mythical karashishi knob, c 1700

Collectors of antique Japanese porcelain should follow a few guidelines in evaluating Japanese collectibles, as well as learning what to avoid before  selecting and purchasing Japanese porcelain collectibles. Of course, any antique piece that bears a mark can give the collector greater insight into the age, origin and authenticity of the piece.

Before the early 17th century, all the items of porcelain in Japan were imported from China; however, during raids carried out in Korea, many of the native potters were captured and brought to Arita, which soon became the main area of production of antique Japanese porcelain. As a result of the collapse of the Ming Dynasty in 1644, western countries turned to Japan to replace the vast demand for antique porcelain wares. There was steady decline in Japan's porcelain production by the mid 18th century, and only small amounts of porcelain wares were exported to westerners. Japan saw a resurgence in porcelain production after reopening trade in the 1860's, and Europe was flooded with Imari, Kutani and Satsuma wares under the banner of the Aesthetic movement.

Many antique Japanese porcelain pieces were exported to Europe and the United States from the mid-19th century until the outbreak of the Second World War, providing the antique collector of today a wealth of pieces to choose from. 

A diligent collector can actually find a 19th century Imari vase in good condition for a very moderate price. However, some antique Japanese porcelain continues to demand high prices, such as a Nabeshima dish or a rare Kakiemon bowl, ranging in price from $15,000 to $60,000.

It has become customary for some collectors to call Japanese blue and white porcelain wares, Arita, and the more colorful wares Imari or Kakiemon. But, this terminology is not accurate because the Arita and Imari wares were made at the same time in the same kilns. Imari is actually the name of a port through which the porcelain was shipped to Nagasaki. And, the word Kakiemon denotes a style instead of a location of the kiln.

The cheaper blue-red-gold Imari wares were commonly imitated by the Chinese as Chinese Imari, and this may have well contributed to the decline in export trade, and the ultimately decreased availability of antique Japanese porcelain pieces from the early to mid-eighteenth century.

When selecting Japanese porcelain, look for brown rims on the edge of plates signifying quality. Figural subjects, animals, birds or insects will all add value to the piece as well. Antique porcelain with any disfiguration of the design, black speckling, blistered glazes or worn gilding or scratched enamels should always be avoided.

Even more contemporary Japanese porcelain from the early 20th century is a very good investment. Look for good quality hand-painted vases and services made between 1900 and 1925 by companies such as Noritake and Samurai China.






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