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Ebony- Christie's 11-4-09 offering

Discussions, identification and analysis of the vast range of woods used in Netsuke
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DSW90049
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Postby DSW90049 » Sat Oct 17, 2009 4:30 pm

I am curious about Lot 206 in Christie's (11-4-09) Sale No. 5968, now online at:

http://www.christies.com/LotFinder/lot_details.aspx?from=searchresults&pos=5&intObjectID=5255215&sid=f1a80225-2e76-4eed-a152-1c61f77b081b

It is listed as:

"A Rare Osaka School Ebony Netsuke
[i:1mcpqqyu] SIGNED [i:1mcpqqyu]KAIGYOKU[/i:1mcpqqyu] (MASATSUGU KAIGYOKUSAI [1813-1892])" - very high estimates.

And, it includes: [/i:1mcpqqyu] "[i:1mcpqqyu]tomobako[/i:1mcpqqyu] signed [i:1mcpqqyu]Kaigyokusai Masatsugu[/i:1mcpqqyu] and sealed"

[b:1mcpqqyu]Has anybody seen this yet?[/b:1mcpqqyu] I know very little about ebony as a netuske material, but I do know that you don't see it very often, let alone carved by as stellar a netsuke-shi as [i:1mcpqqyu]Kaigyokusai[/i:1mcpqqyu].

[b:1mcpqqyu]Any thoughts on this among the INS Forum Faithful?[/b:1mcpqqyu]

"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

fkc
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Postby fkc » Sat Oct 17, 2009 5:03 pm

I like that piece; it's pretty uncompromising as a seal-type netsuke.

Good ebony is rare and expensive; that from Sri Lanka is the blackest and densest and the most sought after. It's hard to carve, covers everything in black dust when being sanded, blunts tools in a minute, but, like boxwood, takes the most wonderful polish and is well worth the effort.
Freda http://fiedesigns.blogspot.com/

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Vlad
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Postby Vlad » Sat Oct 17, 2009 5:32 pm


A big chunk of the price comes from the believe of it being a true Masatsugu and a provenance. Does anybody know of any for this piece? It is also anything but what I would expect and value in Kaigyokusai in terms of intricacy of carving. But again, he might've just followed the traditional seal techniques and standards. Is it enough to drive the price? We shell see...
"Man sieht nur, was man weiß" - "One sees only what one knows". Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)

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DSW90049
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Postby DSW90049 » Sat Oct 17, 2009 5:33 pm

Thanks, fk, that's what I have heard from friends who work with tools - picking ebony is a real test of one's skills & patience - fascinating stuff.

Thanks for the mini-education on this material.

From another, earlier life, which involved manufacturing guitars, we used ebony for fingerboards for its strength, but it became very hard to get and expensive in qualities and quantities needed and Honduran mahogany was the cheaper substitute. That only involved cutting a long, flat, thin piece that could then be grooved at the intervals necessary for regular playing and tuning.

"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

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Shugenja
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Postby Shugenja » Sat Oct 17, 2009 7:29 pm

Well, I think someone at the auction house got on the wrong boat with this item. When you look at the zoom view of the piece, the carving of the seal handle (the lion) is very mediocre... and the carving of the seal itself appears poor.

Seal carving was a serious profession... one that I don't believe Kaigyokusai ever engaged in. He signed "Kaigyoku" during much of his "golden period", when his work was considered the best. Perhaps the box is genuine...



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DSW90049
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Postby DSW90049 » Sun Oct 18, 2009 1:33 pm

Shugenja: Wow- that's really some mistake if you are right about that.
"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

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Shugenja
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Postby Shugenja » Thu Nov 05, 2009 5:00 am

Well, the estimate for this piece was 20 - 30,000 GBP. So it seems someone besides the cataloger though it was good enough... and forked over 10,000 GBP, hammer ! But 1/2 the low estimate is hardly a vote of confidence for the piece... perhaps it was the box that drew the interest.

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DSW90049
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Postby DSW90049 » Thu Nov 05, 2009 2:57 pm

For purposes of our historical reference and continuing education here:

A Rare Osaka School Ebony Netsuke
[i:2lap0w05] SIGNED [i:2lap0w05]KAIGYOKU[/i:2lap0w05] (MASATSUGU KAIGYOKUSAI [1813-1892])
Lot 206
[/i:2lap0w05]
Price Realized
(Set Currency)
  • £12,500
  • [*:2lap0w05]($20,388)[*:2lap0w05]Price includes buyer's premium[/list:2lap0w05]
    Estimate
      £20,000 - £30,000 [*:2lap0w05]($32,620 - $48,930)[/list:2lap0w05]
        [*:2lap0w05]
        Lot Description
        A Rare Osaka School Ebony Netsuke
        Signed [i:2lap0w05]Kaigyoku[/i:2lap0w05] (Masatsugu Kaigyokusai [1813-1892])
        Of a [i:2lap0w05]karashishi[/i:2lap0w05] on a plinth with seal beneath, with [i:2lap0w05]tomobako[/i:2lap0w05] signed [i:2lap0w05]Kaigyokusai Masatsugu[/i:2lap0w05] and sealed
        4.4cm. high
        [/list:2lap0w05]

        Sale Information
        Sale 5968
        Japanese Art & Design
        4 November 2009
        London, South Kensington


        The box, or Tomobako, referred to in this thread is pictured above.

        This lot sold for a little more than half of the low-end estimate.

        More than if disbelieved entirely; less than if entirely believed.

        Interesting . . .

        Sure wish there were more Tomobako's that could be reunited with their long lost netsuke!

"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

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Vlad
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Postby Vlad » Thu Nov 05, 2009 6:53 pm


"DSW90049":2fuj86ph wrote:
Sure wish there were more Tomobako's that could be reunited with their long lost netsuke!

[/quote:2fuj86ph]
As long as they are not "reunited" in the similar way!:)
"Man sieht nur, was man weiß" - "One sees only what one knows". Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)

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DSW90049
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Postby DSW90049 » Thu Nov 05, 2009 7:35 pm

Vlad- are you suggesting that
US ($20,388) is a whole lot of somebody's hard-earned money to pay for a box?

If you are, I agree with you.
If you are not, it's just my cynicism coming out :) . . .


"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


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