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Antiques Considered - February 23, 2011

 A gentleman from North Carolina purchased this Satsuma vase at an antique shop many years ago.  It is brilliant green, with a great amount of highlighted gold leaf decoration, and shows a different motif on each side.  On the one shown the design is floral, on the other overall geometric.  The base bears no marking as to country of origin or manufacturer’s name.  The piece is in perfect condition.
The absence of a country designation means that the piece dates from before 1890; from the design I should put on it a date of 1880. 

Satsuma is a peninsula on Kyushu Island, the southernmost major Japanese island.  In the sixteenth century, during the feudal period, Korean potters crossed the Tsushima Strait and commenced working there making the wares for which the area has become world famous.  Today Satsuma porcelain pottery is at a peak of popularity, and the authentic nineteenth-century pieces such as this vase command high prices from knowledgeable collectors.  Signed pieces are rare.
After the opening of Japan in 1854, the Shimazu clan, which controlled Satsuma from the seventeenth century onwards, made the area the center for Western contact and influence in Japan.   As a consequence, Satsuma was the porcelain most familiar to Westerners.  In more recent years its popularity has been eclipsed by Imari pieces, which dominate the market for Japanese porcelain today, but Satsuma collectors always are looking for great pieces such as this one.
Exports to Europe and the United States grew rapidly, and continued through the twentieth century down to World War II.  Following the War, the area returned to its former industry, but the modern production has not equaled the quality of that of the nineteenth century.
Satsuma bears the characteristics of pottery more than porcelain.  The texture is beige in color, and pieces tend to chip easily.  Perfect pieces such as this vase are increasingly difficult to find.  It is worth $750. Happy Antiquing!
Lisa and Henry Hull operate Commonwealth Antiques and Appraisals, Inc. at 5150 Jessie DuPont Hwy., 22570 (P. O. Box 35). Wicomico Church, Va 22570. Write to them or e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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