Sunday, December 18, 2016

Fakes, Forgeries or Reproductions

Though not as common as in Chinese ceramics, there are fake Imari wares made. Some imitations of great potters have also been made. Most of these would be considered reproductions or wares made in the style of an admired potter like Ogata Kenzan, Nonomura Ninsei and others. There are, however, a rising number of forgeries being made of Old Imari porcelains and such. Listed below are some links that help explain how to identify the fakes.

There are many Kutani reproductions made. Some people may try to pass off reproductions as originals.

Kutani still makes ceramics in the old styles like Yoshidaya. It is called "Yoshidaya Fu". This means in the style of Yoshidaya. Marks are also reproduced.
One must look at several factors in determining reproductions, age, etc.

Noritake and Nippon ware imitations

Sunday, October 23, 2016


Tobi Seiji 飛青磁, literally means "flying Celadon" in Japanese. It is a style of ceramics that refers to the Chinese Longquan ceramics of  the 13-14th centuries. This style is highly regarded in Japan. It is often found on tea ceremony ceramics, especially from Kyoto. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Ei-Sei-Sha: Ceramics of Himeji 姫路永世舎 (社)

This mark was a long time coming but am so pleased to finally know its origin.

Ei Sei Sha was established in 1877 (明治十年) in Himeji by Matsumura Tokimasa (松村ときまさ) who was born in 1838 in Hizen Arita Saga Prefecture.松村辰昌-1111248兵庫県、永世舎の花瓶/

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Importer-Seymour Mann, Inc.

Seymour Mann Co. inc was founded in 1946. They imported many products made in Japan from knick- knacks, and figurines, to vases and dinnerware.

       Vase from Mann's Imperial Dynasty line 

Friday, August 26, 2016

Bakumatsu Blue

While researching ceramics of the Edo Bakumatsu period (roughly 1853-1867) I noticed a blue color combination (medium gray/blue with a darker, but not cobalt blue, often  with (墨弾) Sumihajiki, a resist method used to on ceramics to leave white areas when painted or glazed.  I will call this "Bakumatsu Blue". Not all ceramics made during the Bakumatsu period used this blue combo, but it was widespread.  Similar combinations were used much earlier in the Edo period with slight variations. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Yamatoku with additional decorator marks

I am researching Yamatoku marked plates that include additional markings. Did Yamatoku make  blanks that were then decorated by others?

Hizen Arita  decorated
The Yamatoku ヤマトク mark is off to the left side combined with the red Hizen/Arita mark

Tetsuka decorated

The Yamatoku ヤマトク mark is at the top with the red 
Tetsuka テツカ mark (up side down) on the bottom. 

Tetsuka or Tezuka is often found with the Yamatoku impressed mark

Here is an example of a Taisho era blue mark with Yamatoku impressed mark

A Matsu mark with a roof meaning house of Matsu. The decorator?

 This mark is sometimes found on Yamatoku pieces.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Lefton China-imported from Japan

Lefton China was a US importer of Japanese china wares, figurines and novelties. Although the company was founded in 1941, it was after WWII that they imported wares. Some will have "Made in Occupied Japan" but most will just have some variation of Lefton China, Handpainted, Japan. The company was sold in 2000. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Shimamura Sei (島村製) made by Shimamura

Shimamura decorated porcelain for export in the latter Meiji period and early Taisho period.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

OHI YAKI-Ceramics of Ishikawa Prefecture


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Taisho Era Ceramics in All Their Variety!

*Under construction. I will continue to add to this over time. 

The Taisho Era (1912-1926) with all its ups and downs produced wares from the dull to the divine, from the mediocre to the magnificent. This post will be mostly deal with the everyday wares that are readily available. As ceramics did not magically change precisely decade by decade, emperor reign by emperor reign, there will be some overlap. Technically some examples provided here may be very late Meiji, but most were made during the Taisho era, likewise some late Taisho era wares may overlap with very early Showa. In the Taisho era ceramics became more mass produced. As demand rose the more rapidly wares were produced. Some wares are downright sloppy, while others are quite nicely done.

Export Ware 輸出陶器
Much of the Taisho period included Nippon marked wares (1891-1921), which were exported in great numbers to the west. In the latter part of the Taisho period was the start of the "Made in Japan" period beginning Sept 1921. Morimura/ Noritake was producing many lovely western style wares for an ever demanding market. Many other companies popped up with similar designs which causes headaches for collector's today. Many of the records for these companies have been lost or destroyed making it nearly impossible to attribute some marks to particular companies. Some of these companies disappeared after a short time, others were bought by other companies, some continued for many years and some are still in business today. 

Transferware small dishes for export with "Japan" marked on it. This was made after September of 1921. They are similar in size to the one made for the domestic market. They must have really been cranking out those plates given the quality shown here. 

These were likely made in the early 1920's for export. You can see that the wobbly dish (very uneven) as well as the kiln flaws indicate rapid mass production with little quality control. They are, however, quaint and an example of trying to meet the high demand in the export market. 
The saucer size (11cm) is the same as the small mamezara made domestically during the Taisho period. 

Domestic Transfer ware 印判

The small plates above are all transferware of the late Meiji to Taisho era. These are very typical of the wares of the period and they are found in abundance in most antiques shops in Japan. Most come in blue and white but green was also popular. The quality varies as you can see. The typical small plate re called "mamezara" (bean plate), were generally 11cm in diameter, where as in the early Meiji era they were about 10.5cm.

This 24cm serving plate uses the old motifs but uses transfer, some hand painting and luster. The colors used were updated to the "times". I would date this between 1921-1930. If not for the luster I would have marked it somewhat earlier. 

This transfer ware small dish is a bit nicer (clearer transfer, mounding and glaze) and so probably is later Taisho or perhaps early Showa era. 

This is a Kutani lid to a bowl that probably dates to the Taisho period according to similar wares I have seen.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Sango China

 These were obviously found in a thrift shop but have the typical Sango mark.                                                    Mid 20th century c. 1960's

Monday, July 18, 2016

Helpful Vocabulary When Researching Japanese Ceramics

Vocabulary when searching for Japanese Ceramics
*I will be adding to this list


  (江戸) Edo Period (1603-1868)
  (江戸前期) Early Edo period (roughly 1600's)
(江戸中期)Mid Edo period (roughly 1700's) 
  (元禄時代) Genroku Jidai (1688-1704) "The Golden Age" 
(江戸後期)Late Edo period (roughly early to mid 1800's)     
   (天呆時代) Tenpo Jidai 1830-1844
(江戸幕末)Edo Bakumatsu period (1853-1867)
(明治前期 Early Meiji Period (1868-) 
*decline in quality 1872-1881 export production increased 150 fold, world market     collapse 1882
(明治後期~大正)Late Meiji ~Taisho period (1898~)
 *increased development of mass production
(大正)Taisho period (1912-1926) 
   (戦前) Pre-war
昭和戦前) Pre War Showa (1926- WWII)
 *during the war only domestic production under government control 
   (昭和戦後) Post War Showa (1946-)
   (昭和) Showa (1926-1989)
   (現代) Gen Dai  contemporary

 Japanese Ceramic Export Eras

Here is a rough guideline for EXPORTS to the USA from Meiji period onwards:
1868-1890 either marked with Japanese characters or unmarked
1891-1921 Nippon, Made in Nippon
1921-1940 Made in Japan or Japan
1941-1945 WW II few, if any exports
1945-1952 Made in Occupied Japan
1953~ Japan, Made in Japan

Dai Nippon (大日本) "Great Japan" on many later Meiji, Taisho and even some Showa era exports. 

Type of ceramics 

上野焼 Agano Yaki
赤膚焼 Akahada Yaki
天草焼Amakusa Yaki
朝日焼 Asahi Yaki
有田焼 Arita Yaki
備前焼 Bizen Yaki
萩焼 Hagi Yaki
波佐見焼 Hasami Yaki
平戸焼 Hirado Yaki 
一ノ瀬焼 Ichinose Yaki
伊賀焼 Iga Yaki
伊万里焼 Imari Yaki
犬山焼 Inuyama Yaki
出石焼 Izushi Yaki
 唐津焼 Karatsu Yaki
笠間焼 Kasama Yaki
清水焼 Kiyomizu Yaki
高田焼 Koda Yaki 
小石原焼 Koishiwara Yaki
古曽部焼 Kosobe Yaki
九谷焼 Kutani Yaki
京焼 Kyo-Yaki
益子焼 Mashiko Yaki
松代焼 Matsushiro Yaki
美濃焼 Mino Yaki 
大堀相馬焼 Obori Soma Yaki
小鹿田焼 Onta Yaki
楽焼 Raku Yaki
薩摩焼 Satsuma Yaki
瀬戸焼 Seto Yaki
渋草焼 Shibakusa Yaki
信楽焼 Shigaraki Yaki
小代焼 Shodai Yaki
高取焼 Takatori Yaki
丹波焼 Tanba Yaki
砥部焼 Tobe Yaki

Chinese Markings on Japanese Ceramics

                  大明年製 Dai Min Nen Sei
                  太明年製 Tai Min Nen Sei
                  太明成化年製 Dai Min Sei Ka Nen Sei
                  大明萬暦年製 Dai Min Ban Reki Nen Sei
                  奇玉宝鼎之珍 Ki Gyoku Hou Tei No Chin
                   冨貴長春 Fu Ki Cho Shun
                   竒石寳鼎之珍 Ki Seki Ho Tei No Chin
Helpful Search Phrases
アンティーク和食器 Antique Japanese dishes
陶器   Pottery
陶磁器 Porcelain
輸出陶器 Export Pottery 
明治輸出陶 Meiji Export Pottery
昭和レトロ Showa Retro
染付けSometsuke (blue and white)
金襴手 Kinrande (Kin ran te)
カップ&ソーサー cup and saucer
蓋付き茶碗 Futatsuki Chawan or lidded bowl
窯 Kiln (reading can be kama, gama, yo)
窯印 Kamajirushi-kiln mark
瑠璃釉金彩 Azure blue glaze with gold

(墨弾) Sumihajiki is a resist method used to on ceramics to leave white areas when painted or glazed.





INUYAMA YAKI- Ceramics of Aichi Prefecture

Inuyama Yaki translates to "Dog Mountain" fired. Inuyama ceramics are made in north western Aichi Prefecture, just north of Nagoya. It has a long tradition for ceramics dating from the early Edo period.

Helpful links:

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Luster Ware

Luster ware developed after 1921. Noritake used it extensively, but many other manufacturers in Japan did as well. There are varying degrees of quality depending on who manufactured it.  Luster ware was also used in Europe, especially Bavarian and Czech are found.

                                 Morimura green mark (Noritake)

The mark is unknown but this was made in Gifu Prefecture.

This divided luster ware plate is by Tashiro Shoten

Making Marriages With Orphaned Ceramics

Oops! Sometimes a piece of chinaware breaks, or we see sometimes orphaned pieces at a thrift store. It is possible to make things "work" using similar patterns, shapes, styles, eras and such. It really can be a bit of a game. I will be posting some "marriages" that bring these orphans together so they can still be useful.

I found the cup in Japan and this saucer at a thrift store  in the USA. The saucers is Regal China, made in Occupied Japan. The cup is marked Matsuhara, which I have not really been able to find out anything about. The styles fit although they are over a decade or so apart. The colors are not perfect but they seem happy together. 

I found these two orphans at different times at my favorite thrift/charity shop. 
The era, scale, style and pattern are similar enough that they make a pleasing marriage. 


Sumida Yaki is famous for its bright, humorous and sometimes odd motifs. It is called Sumida Gawa Yaki by many because the workshops were by the Sumida River in Tokyo. In Japanese it is just called Sumida Yaki. 
Probably the most prolific and famous potter in Inoue Ryousai. He worked closely with other noted artists including Ishiguro Koko.

This mark is that of Ishiguro Koko (石黒香香) who used bone script 香二 for his mark. The 二 is the iteration mark used in old Chinese (for repeating a character). Ishiguro Koko's name is written three ways that I know of.
(石黒) 香香 , (石黒) 香二, (石黒)香々

Hara Gozan

Inoue Ryosai

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Ceramics with patent numbers assists with dating

In Carole Bess White's series of books on Made in Japan Ceramics she has a page with patent numbers. It is very helpful in establishing approximate years. I will show some examples with approximate years by using the list from the MIJ books. 

This Kutani sake flask with the number 372399 fits into the 1967-1967 time frame

Monday, July 4, 2016

TOUSEI TOUKI (統制陶器)-Ceramics made during WWII (domestic)

During WWII there were no exports from Japan. Most production was focused on the war effort. However, domestic ceramic wares were produced during 1941-1946 (Showa 15-21).  They were made in various areas under government control. They are usually marked with the the first kanji character for the area where they were produced and a number. I believe the numbers indicate the kiln.

For example the area of manufacture is the mark along with a number:

Arita made 有55 
Banko made 万 120
Bizen made 備 3
Gifu (Mino) made 岐 123
Hasami made 波 32
Hizen made 肥 28
Kyoto made 京 252
Nagoya made 名 24
Seto made 品 148
Seto made 瀬 202
Seto made セ 598
Shigaraki made 信 240
Tokoname made 常 107

Here is a great Japanese site which has many examples. The examples I used above were translated from this site so that you can maneuver your way around the site to see the various examples shown there.

Here is another link which shows that the snake eye foot was still being made during the World War II  period. I had previously thought the snake eye was only made through Meiji or early Taisho period.

Some examples of Tousei Touki marks:

To the left is the Aoki mark with 有55 meaning made by Aoki in Arita during the war
The two on the right are the Gifu mark 岐.

        Small plate with Gifu mark 917

This is a mark on a military cup found at fb group Collecting Japanese Ceramics and Arts
This is unusual in that it does not have a number. It is marked right to left Meito 明陶 with the Gifu mark above. This has the Gifu mark.

Examples of Tousei Toki from various sites


Gifu 396

Gifu 959

Gifu 964

Gifu 94

Seto made 180

Seto made 332


Seto made 66 

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Helpful Vocabulary When Researching Japanese Ceramics

Vocabulary when searching for Japanese Ceramics *I will be adding to this list Dating   ( 江戸) Edo Period (1603-1868)   (江戸 前期) Early Edo per...