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Netsuke Symposium in London

Events, meets and discussions around the European chapter.
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AFNetsuke
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Postby AFNetsuke » Thu Jan 14, 2010 8:12 pm

Warburg, I fail to understand why you feel you need to pass along "informed gossip" about an organization from which you recently resigned. You note that the BOD needs to keep membership better informed about finances. Did you miss my recent post suggesting that DONATIONS are always welcome and that I don't see any reason the INS will cease to publish or exist any time soon? I personally don't see how showing you accounting details or the minutia of transitioning from one publisher to another would benefit the INS...unless you are going to send in an extra donation as a result of acquiring this information. Feel free to send it in, any surplus can be applied to a scholarship program to promote original research, student memberships, etc. I also hope Norman, Vlad and others will help to develop a member's only area on the INS website where such business issues can be hashed out rather than using space on a Forum which is meant for sharing of netsuke information.
Alan

warburg
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Postby warburg » Thu Jan 14, 2010 8:53 pm

[quote:uv43i35n]Warburg, I fail to understand why you feel you need to pass along "informed gossip" about an organization from which you recently resigned. You note that the BOD needs to keep membership better informed about finances. Did you miss my recent post suggesting that DONATIONS are always welcome and that I don't see any reason the INS will cease to publish or exist any time soon? I personally don't see how showing you accounting details or the minutia of transitioning from one publisher to another would benefit the INS...unless you are going to send in an extra donation as a result of acquiring this information. Feel free to send it in, any surplus can be applied to a scholarship program to promote original research, student memberships, etc. I also hope Norman, Vlad and others will help to develop a member's only area on the INS website where such business issues can be hashed out rather than using space on a Forum which is meant for sharing of netsuke information.[/quote:uv43i35n]
I had not resigned from the INS when I gave the original misinformation. I suppose it's the teacher in me that can't help correcting his mistakes.

You keep repeating that the INS will not disappear soon as if I somehow said that it would; I merely indicated that the INS was in a precarious financial circumstances, something the past president told me in a phone call just before the convention.


You don't think that not getting the winter issue of the INSJ is a netsuke concern or that the number of issues one receives a year for $125 is important to netsuke collectors? Well, perhaps you're right.

I can't really believe that the BOD feels that urging people to donate more money is what is meant by sharing information, but, in any event, why would anyone donate money to a group of wealthy art dealers and collectors? With the poverty and illness that I see around me in this country, and the guilt I already feel at giving so little to relieve these conditions, I would feel really decadent donating more to a group of people who trade in Japanese bibelots.


I also can't imagine what "a scholarship to promote original research" would have to do with the INS, which as I understood it before I gave up moderating this forum, is an organization of netsuke collectors and dealers, not an educational institution. If a person wants to study Asiatic art I would recommend the graduate program at NYU.

If you look at how the "What's In a Name" thread you will see that there are a few people who value my advice about collecting netsuke, despite Vlad's contempt of my lack of appreciation for silly Chinese legends and the anecdotes of of minor Nagoya collectors about signatures.





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AFNetsuke
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Postby AFNetsuke » Fri Jan 15, 2010 5:55 pm

Warburg, I guess somehow I manage to donate to what I consider worthy causes without the guilt you say you suffer if all of it is not directed at the poverty and catastrophe areas. There are days (especially living in California) that I feel my taxes are supporting a lot more people than I'd like but still we do what we can and happily contribute to other things that we feel are important (even if for somewhat selfish reasons) such as stream restoration (I fly fish but it also promotes water quality for humanity), etc.
I don't think there is any plan to reduce the content of the Journal and the delay in releasing the Winter issue which stems mostly from changing publishers (yes, there is a financial element to that transition) will hopefully be understood by our membership. A reduction is not planned at this point but perhaps publishing three times a year, putting out the same amount of material in fewer journals, could save a bunch of postage (overseas is expensive) and administrative expense.
In the very long run the survival of any publication is dependent on growing the subscription list unless these "wealthy collectors", as you say, want to increase dues (a move that usually results in loss of members...because most of them are not wealthy!). One of my Native American organizations publishes a larger and glitzier journal quarterly for $25 a year, only one fifth the cost of INS. But guess what, they have 3000 members (five times our distribution for one fifth the price...economy in numbers). And their annual convention is free to members but with very few lectures. And it's hard to do a netsuke convention in Nashville or the middle of Ohio. Recruiting new members to a relic society is as easy as having open chapter meetings where people can bring in their "field finds" or family relics...not something that happens much with good netsuke.
Perhaps one day we will migrate from a paper journal (remember newspapers?) to an electronic one and for those who like books on their library shelves a trip to Kinkos to print it on glossy paper for inclusion in a fancy three ring binder could solve the problem. How much money would that save and open our doors to YOUNG collectors (who will hopefully grow old and rich)?
The INS promotes the study of netsuke and related appurtenances and it is my understanding that it has been proposed in the past that if some of those few wealthy donors would leave a monetary legacy to the organization we could actually fund scholarship in original research (hopefully at the source in Japan). Hasn't your alma mater knocked on your door in recent years with a plea to endow their school with a posthumous bequest? Mine certainly does regularly (and one of my medical school friends who passed away recently had pledged a million dollars). I think we need to knock on some doors for the INS.
Alan

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Postby warburg » Fri Jan 15, 2010 7:18 pm

"AFNetsuke":1141bxfj wrote:Warburg, I guess somehow I manage to donate to what I consider worthy causes without the guilt you say you suffer if all of it is not directed at the poverty and catastrophe areas. There are days (especially living in California) that I feel my taxes are supporting a lot more people than I'd like but still we do what we can and happily contribute to other things that we feel are important (even if for somewhat selfish reasons) such as stream restoration (I fly fish but it also promotes water quality for humanity), etc.
I don't think there is any plan to reduce the content of the Journal and the delay in releasing the Winter issue which stems mostly from changing publishers (yes, there is a financial element to that transition) will hopefully be understood by our membership. A reduction is not planned at this point but perhaps publishing three times a year, putting out the same amount of material in fewer journals, could save a bunch of postage (overseas is expensive) and administrative expense.
In the very long run the survival of any publication is dependent on growing the subscription list unless these "wealthy collectors", as you say, want to increase dues (a move that usually results in loss of members...because most of them are not wealthy!). One of my Native American organizations publishes a larger and glitzier journal quarterly for $25 a year, only one fifth the cost of INS. But guess what, they have 3000 members (five times our distribution for one fifth the price...economy in numbers). And their annual convention is free to members but with very few lectures. And it's hard to do a netsuke convention in Nashville or the middle of Ohio. Recruiting new members to a relic society is as easy as having open chapter meetings where people can bring in their "field finds" or family relics...not something that happens much with good netsuke.
Perhaps one day we will migrate from a paper journal (remember newspapers?) to an electronic one and for those who like books on their library shelves a trip to Kinkos to print it on glossy paper for inclusion in a fancy three ring binder could solve the problem. How much money would that save and open our doors to YOUNG collectors (who will hopefully grow old and rich)?
The INS promotes the study of netsuke and related appurtenances and it is my understanding that it has been proposed in the past that if some of those few wealthy donors would leave a monetary legacy to the organization we could actually fund scholarship in original research (hopefully at the source in Japan). Hasn't your alma mater knocked on your door in recent years with a plea to endow their school with a posthumous bequest? Mine certainly does regularly (and one of my medical school friends who passed away recently had pledged a million dollars). I think we need to knock on some doors for the INS.
[/quote:1141bxfj]

I don't really disagree with you about the charity question. We used to donate more than we could afford to the Metropolitan Musum of Art, We were "supporting" members. The museum does, of course, serve the general public, but at times I did feel guilty about it.

I learned about the problem with Marquand through publishing contacts, and it does, as you say, have a financial component. What happens to the journal is of no consequence to me. I'll buy second-hand copies from the web because I like the pretty pictures.

I can't imagine what you mean by "original research" into netsuke, especially in Japan. Almost all important netsuke collections are, and have been for over 100 years, in the West. There are about 35 serious collectors in Japan, most of them interested in Meiji and contemporary pieces. This is reflected in the catalogues of the [i:1141bxfj]Go Collection[/i:1141bxfj] and the collection of the Tokyo National Museum. There are scarcely any Japanese studies of netsuke that have any significance. No doubt you have a copy of Norman's comprehensive bibliography, so you can verify this for yourself. Some people tell me that thre are a few interesting items that should be translated, and perhaps funds should be allocated for this, but there is no evidence that significant research is underway.

As you know, I am a close friend of Alain Ducros. My wife and I have lived in Paris of and on for years since 1970. We were in Paris for three years while Alain was writing his last book, and every Sunday afternoon possible he came to our apartment on the rue Mazarine and I helped him with translation.

Ducros is a graduate of the most prestigious French academy of fine arts. He has spent four to six months a year in Japan for as long as I have known him. He went into this Nagoya signature and Tomokazu business concocted by Watanabe's collector friends long ago and concluded that it was "simply nonsense." I have emailed you his last letter to me about it. If you don't read French, perhaps someone can help you with translation. I had Ducros commentary before I wrote the short response to Watanabe, but Alain doesn't want to get into another INS controversy.

Some members of the INS board seem to understand the significance of the forthcoming London symposium better than others do. The number of serious netsuke collectors in Europe has multiplied recently. Travel in Europe has become much simpler and quite inexpensive. EU nations do not have border restrictions on endangered species. In the last few years the US Fish and Wild Life service has made it extraordinarily difficult for dealers to bring ivory netsuke or other netsuke with horn inlays into the US and even more difficult to take them out of the US. The times they are a'changing.

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AFNetsuke
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Postby AFNetsuke » Sat Jan 16, 2010 5:41 am


Warburg, as you say, there are few serious Japanese collectors and few books but what I had in mind was possible research into the earlier pieces by way of contact with families, temples, graveyards, etc. A few articles have appeared in the Journal with such research in the past. If you want to uproot old ideas it seems going to the source may be a good start... I can't blame Alain for not wanting to get into the controversy. It seems to me that we should not fear the people on the "other side of the pond" getting more involved in netsuke, publishing their own journal (Euronetsuke, to which I subscribe) or holding events. I think if they are spreading netsuke knowledge and interest in collecting it will only be good in the long run. Also there are those who seem to be able to move ivory across borders in spite of the red tape. Paul Moss had an awful lot of ivory in his cases when he visited in November. I'm actually very fond of wood these days anyway and it would not kill me to bring home something other than ivory.
Alan

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Postby warburg » Sat Jan 16, 2010 11:03 am

"AFNetsuke":3ah64nsa wrote:
Warburg, as you say, there are few serious Japanese collectors and few books but what I had in mind was possible research into the earlier pieces by way of contact with families, temples, graveyards, etc. . . . Paul Moss had an awful lot of ivory in his cases when he visited in November.
[/quote:3ah64nsa]

That's precisely what Alain has been doing for the past 20 years, and a very few other people have also done this sort of thing. Yes, you can read the results of such efforts in the [i:3ah64nsa]INSJ[/i:3ah64nsa] and evaluate for yourself the importance of this kind of research toward understanding how netsuke were created and utilized. No other commentary on its value is really necessary.

It's true that S. L. Moss had a good number of ivory netsuke in his cases at the convention. I was especially attracted to the Otoman piece for $180,000 ( I suppose I could have struck a bargain for a small reduction), but I'm too old for a divorce.

Moss is a high-end dealer, and I suppose it's worthwhile for them to surmount the hurdles, but only a few months before Max Rutherston told me that he had an entire case of ivory netsuke impounded by Fish and Wild Life because of a minor error or omission in filling out a form, and it took months before they were returned. Robert Fleischel has also spoken of these difficulties, and he now holds regular exhibitions at Espace 4 in Paris, which is on the same street as our apartment, the rue Mazarine.

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Postby DSW90049 » Thu Feb 11, 2010 4:59 pm

I am sorry to have missed the above exchange while I was out having my surgery, but, having now read it, I have a few thoughts on it to share:

- I have been talking privately with others on this Forum about organizing something whereby INS, either acting alone or with other affected collector organizations, would actively lobby with both Fish & Game and at the federal level for a softening of the CITES treaty laws to allow American collectors now to actively be on par with and compete with European collectors who can trade netsuke made of ivory and other endangered species materials without any bureaucratic issues throughout the EU. This actively hurts many INS members who wish to partake of netsuke offered for sale or trade worldwide in our 21st Century global marketplace without being in fear of seizure of valuable pieces (like Warburg relates above concerning Mr. Rutherston's ivory pieces) due to silly, counter-productive law originally intended to save certain species which is entirely misguided when directed to netsuke, many of which clearly fall within an antique = 100+ years old definition, but for the inevitable bureaucratic nonsense. I think the way to go on this is for INS to seriously consider backing such a move and to be a proponent of a one-time 'passport' for netsuke that covers the piece no matter how many times it is thereafter traded or sold - INS can offer a valuable service opining as to these facts and charge a fair fee which will help INS meet today's current financial challenges;
- we are in a worldwide Depression which started in late 2007 - it affects every walk of life and critically affects organizations like INS - you have already, and will continue to see, the effect in the netsuke marketplace, aside from a few auctions where a few collectors/dealers engage in bidding matches for pieces they prize ( [i:3oxiutv6]c.f.,[/i:3oxiutv6] Kirchoff Auction) - you may even see a softening of netsuke pricing (I hope; I hope!) which may foster competition, or even some true discount-netsuke dealers who come along to upset the pricing applecart - [i:3oxiutv6]it has happened in every other walk of life[/i:3oxiutv6];
- the future of this hobby/interest and of the INS is dependent on our abilities to get younger members into the fold and then bring them along. We cannot wait indefinitely as the average ages of the faithful are in the higher numbers right now and that is not healthy for any organization - we need new blood;
- many collections will be coming to market/auction in the next years - there is a very exciting potential for a re-birth of another Golden Age of netsuke interest and collecting- people [b:3oxiutv6]like[/b:3oxiutv6] to buy collectibles during Depressions;
- the views expressed in some degree by AF and Warburg in the above dialogue are not necessarily reconcilable, nor must they [b:3oxiutv6]ever [/b:3oxiutv6]be - [i:3oxiutv6]viva la difference[/i:3oxiutv6], I say! The only thing we all ever have to agree on is our commitment to this area of artistic interest and study.

"There is no shortcut to netsuke collecting; it takes time, study and patience. The market is flooded with utterly worthless rubbish. . . . "
Netsukes: Their Makers, Use and Meaning, H. Seymour Trower(1898)~~~~David

warburg
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Postby warburg » Tue Feb 23, 2010 10:00 pm

Details of the London Symposium to be held on 5-8 November are posted on http://www.euronetsuke.eu.

Bonhams will hold the first of the Ted Wrangham netsuke sales shortly after the symposium.


warburg
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Postby warburg » Fri Mar 12, 2010 10:14 am

Has anyone else here registered for the netsuke symposium in London? Those who register before April 1st get a £40 reduction for themselves and the same reduction for a spouse or "partner," as we say these days. It's not a large amount, but those who plan to attend might as well take advantage of it, so am going to register today.

Bonhams will hold the first part of the Ted Wrangham auction two days after the symposium. I'm not familiar with the Wrangham collection, but he was apparently a serious collector.

The GBP is low against the euro and the dollar ($1.50) at the moment, owing largely to the Greek financial debacle, but, of course, it may be considerably higher six months from now.


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Postby OldKappa » Fri Mar 12, 2010 10:40 am

Ted...[i:2dkm8tf2]apparently[/i:2dkm8tf2] a serious collector?

For those of us who had the honor of having known him, he was not only a [i:2dkm8tf2]great[/i:2dkm8tf2] collector and scholar but a friendly person who always had the time to answer any questions on netsukes, inros, etc...

He was a gentleman of the old school and will be missed by many.

You only have to look at his book: The Index Of Inro Artists



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