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Antiques Considered - December 9, 2009

 This Japanese Imari ginger jar was a recent purchase at a yard sale. The lid is missing, but otherwise it is in perfect condition. The buyer would like to know the age of the jar, and whether making it into a lamp would harm its value, particularly if the bottom were drilled for the electric cord. It is 7 inches high.
Imari is perhaps the most popular form of Japanese ceramics. The name comes from the city where a number of factories made porcelain in the 19th century. The signature colors are cobalt blue, a turquoise blue and a brick red. This jar has all three, and the shape is especially attractive.
Drilling the base is a questionable matter. I doubt a lid which would match in color and shape could be found, yet I also caution against drilling, suggesting instead bringing the cord off the lamp mechanism at the top. In other words, I would try to keep the jar in its present condition, in the rare event a lid did materialize. Most lamp shops sell wooden lids that blend with the porcelain quite well.

A wooden lid with a matching wooden stand could offset the jar quite effectively, but the lamp shop would need to look into electrifying without drilling. It might not be feasible.
Our firm has found that a ready market always exists for Imari. We have sold many large chargers — round trays — of varying sizes, the largest of which is the 22-inch one. Imari scenes are beautiful and bring the porcelain alive with colors that mix well with many decorative motifs.
In its present form, the jar is worth $75; with the original lid, it would be $125. A well-executed electrification could make it worth even more, whereas a botched job could eviscerate its value. All the best in making the right decision.
Happy antiquing …
• Lisa and Henry Lane Hull operate Commonwealth Antiques and Appraisals, Inc. at 5150 Jessie DuPont Hwy. (P. O. 35) Wicomico Church, Virginia 22570. Write to him there, or by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with pictures and descriptions of items you wish to have him treat in “Antiques Considered.” Please include a stamped, addressed envelope if you wish a personal acknowledgement.

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