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Authentic Plastic Netsuke?

Tito
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Location: Miami, Fl

Postby Tito » Wed Aug 03, 2011 12:14 am

Norman,

I knew that they were not made from wood for various reasons: 1. They failed the pin test; 2. When handled, they felt cooler and smoother than wooden netsuke; 3. when bounced against a ceramic surface, they didn't sound as dull as wood, but, did sound as sharp as stag antler.

The material is extremely hard. I had to hit one repeatedly with a hammer against a cement surface in order to break it, so that I could inspect it further and conduct other tests . Inside, they have the consistency of a horses hoof; it felt just like it when I scraped it with a blade. But, the material does not emit any recognizable smell when burned, unlike stag antler or horn.

I said that I had bought them during my first Army tour of duty in the Far East, because I went to both Japan and Korea. I bought them at an antique store in Japan.

I am attaching pictures of another of these netsuke.

--------
Lou

Attachments
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Norman
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Postby Norman » Wed Aug 03, 2011 12:52 am

Can we see photos of the inside of the now broken one, to see the grain that is the "consistency of a horses hoof"?
From the second one, my gut reaction is ironwood! Or at least "iron wood" as used to describe many commercial netsuke on eBay. see: http://desc.shop.ebay.com/i.html?_nkw=ironwood+netsuke&_sacat=0&LH_PrefLoc=2&_odkw=ironwood&_osacat=0&_trksid=p3286.c0.m270.l1313&LH_TitleDesc=1
Some of these descriptions use both ironwood and boxwood interchangeably!try this one for a color and style match:
http://cgi.ebay.com/Vivid-ironwood-carved-dog-play-ball-figure-netsuke-/140586735919?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item20bb9f592f :
[b:1nwazjpe]

Vivid ironwood carved dog play ball figure netsuke

Although it does have some brown stripes in the grain on the back!
[/b:1nwazjpe][/b:1nwazjpe]Norman



Tito
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Location: Miami, Fl

Postby Tito » Wed Aug 03, 2011 7:22 am


When I said that the material had the consistency of a horse's hoof, I meant in terms of both texture and color, so, it couldn't be any type of wood.

I conducted the tests that I mentioned a couple of years ago, and I didn't keep the broken pieces. To be able to take a picture of the inside of one of these netsuke, I might have to break another one.

-------
Lou


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chonchon
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Postby chonchon » Wed Aug 03, 2011 5:44 pm


Tito, I have a horse very similar to yours which a friend gave me. Close inspection when I got home revealed the remains of a mold/mould line along the horse's stomach.
Piers

Size is something.

Tito
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Joined: Tue Dec 01, 2009 5:17 pm
Location: Miami, Fl

Postby Tito » Wed Aug 03, 2011 9:27 pm

Piers,

Thanks for your comment.

I am not doubting whether the netsuke were made from a mold. In fact, I am thinking that what you said is a very likely possibility.

What I said in the beginning, and the reason that I decided to post on this thread, is that the two netsuke that I have shown appeared to be made from resin, pressed horn, or some other form of man-made material, similar to those described and collected by Norman Sanfield.

I've had these netsuke stored in a box for about 25 years. I didn't know anything about them or the material that they were made from, so, I became curious and I decided to ask about them when I saw this thread.

-------
Lou

Tito
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Location: Miami, Fl

Postby Tito » Fri Aug 05, 2011 10:58 am

Vlad, I am glad that to 'hear' say that we may continue this discussion, because, I really would like to resolve the mystery of the netsuke that I have shown on this thread.

For those that may know something about them, either because you also own or have seen anything like them before, I wonder whether the last quote that Norman cited in posting #10 applies here.

--------
Lou

fkc
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Postby fkc » Fri Aug 05, 2011 12:31 pm

I can't say much from a collector's pov, but may be able to contribute on materials from a carver's pov. Pressed horn, natural resin and layered lacquer were and are used for netsuke, whether moulded or carved. The early plastics celluloid and bakelite were also used, though not now as these have not been in production since the later plastics and synthetic resins took over after WW2; they can be made on a small scale from fairly common ingredients, though.

Pressed horn will usually show striations of, or dots of colour other than the main one, sometimes layers, too; resin is mostly uni-coloured with, often, a slight translucency to it, especially at the edges of the object. Layered lacquer is just the build-up from a lacquerer's bench which has been added to over time as he scraped off the residue of his wet brush onto the growing heap. It usually shows as layers of slightly different colours or even contrasting colours. Celluloid and bakelite can be uni-coloured or mixed to resemble different types of wood or horn; they can also decompose or pit slightly with time; bakelite is quite brittle and has a tendency to chip.

The horse doesn't look like wood to me as the surface is slightly pitted (it seems, from the photos), shows slight differences of colour all over and doesn't have a grain. It's hard to tell what your horse is made from, but if it's one of the early plastics, it could be moulded and then further shaped with hand tools; it looks as if there has been some hand shaping, especially around the lower part of the front hoofs and at the edges of the mane, and, certainly, the ring around the back legs/gourd could only have been attached by hand, even if it's a plastic. That could have been moulded separately, carefully pressed around the back leg area while still warm and pliable, then pressed together and finished by hand. I think I see the join lines here. Look at the blown up fourth photo carefully and you may see them, too, or examine the netsuke under a magnifier.

I'm not sure about the mushrooms; it could be one of the plastics or resin. I think it's moulded; the edges are slightly softened and rounded, difficult to achieve by carving.

To go back to Norman's point, even black ironwood can sometimes have yellowish or lighter streaks through it and it would still show a grain.

Freda http://fiedesigns.blogspot.com/

Tito
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Location: Miami, Fl

Postby Tito » Fri Aug 05, 2011 9:35 pm

Freda,

Thanks so much for your input. A lot of great information.

From your description of the different materials, it seems to me that the netsuke is made of resin. I have broken another one of them, and taken the photos of the cut out area shown below. The inside of the piece has this mostly even dark coffee color. When I scrape it with a knife, the material turns almost white and somewhat translucent, as you may be able to see.

Do you think that my assumption about this material is correct?

--------
Lou



Attachments
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fkc
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Postby fkc » Fri Aug 05, 2011 10:24 pm

I'm not absolutely certain as photos can't really substitute for handling the piece, but looking at the white, dust effect, it could well be. If the dust has a slight stickiness to it when rubbed through the fingers until it's warm, then it's probably resin - amber, a natural resin, has this quality, too. A similar kind is used to rub against the horsehair of the violin family of bows in order for them to grip the strings of the instrument. There might also be pinpricks or tiny air bubbles in the material.

Was the inner appearance of this one similar to the one you broke some years ago?

Please don't break any more and keep the one you have cut up for study purposes. As these gather some age, they may well be of value to historians of materials, even if they're not worth much in monetary terms to current collectors. Again, I'm reasonably sure the horse was hand finished, which makes it an interesting piece.
Freda http://fiedesigns.blogspot.com/

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DSW90049
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Postby DSW90049 » Fri Aug 05, 2011 11:08 pm

This thread has been most informative and I thank all who contributed!

P.S. Lou, hope you are safe & doing well!!! [/i:3cqnpgsy]
You are one brave man to conduct destructive testing here, but it is MOST helpful to all who wish to gain an understanding of this area.

"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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