I want to say that I absolutely agree with Martyn in his considerations.
I also want to say that when borat mention the point of provenance of important names and important collections, I associate it only with the human history of that netsuke, not on quality and therefore for me is a very secondary element ... because even here opinions are subjective and many factors undermine the choice we make, absolutely individual and probably not shared by so many other collectors.
One likes Masanao sleeping mouse, others ignore it and prefer a rat of Okatomo, and so on independently
Of who was the owner.
I do not think the possession of a netsuke along the time in the hands of important names and collections is a measure of value, as I said was only a "human" component, only this, very secondary for my decisions.
The famous "Monalisa" of netsuke In fact, - Ama and Octopus – was discovered in Vienna in one small shop
At banana price without any provenience and subsequently became a ikona.
The bigger collections have had and have masterpieces but also pieces of little artistic value but with a great appreciation from the owner.
Not so long ago the sale of Maria Callas was sold, this great lyric woman was not familiar with netsuke, so it was a "mix" and the prices has reflected the good the medium and low quality average level ..
Who has experience and knows the matter is not distracted by provenience and status but recognize quality and price ratio, as Martyn has well quoted.
I bought an Ox and calf signed Tomotada – (and extensively discussed and posted in the old forum, thread Tomotada - ) in Brazil, a country with absolutely no tradition in Asian art culture, which the owner, anonymous widow of a CEO of a famous corporation, assured it belonged to Rockefeller's (Nelson Rockefeller (1908-1979) till when he was on official visit in 1952 to Sao Paulo, and give the netsuke as gift togheter witl one Shibayama set inro to the Lebanese friend family who housed him.
Later one this Lebanese family sold to my widow vendor friend of them, as well my dear friend...
Rockefeller came ten times to Brazil, some on an official mission, some on his own initiative., Having deep roots as political and great economic interests in Brazil…
Was really this the story of the Ox?, I don’t care, I care the piece.
One final example: I own two contemporary netsukes absolutely twins published in the British Museum book “Netsuke 100 miniature masterpieces from Japan” – see pages 104 and 167 – the only difference is
my piece have 21 masks and the piece in BM 15 - the other similar Netsuke is in the Takamado Coll
illustrated in Tokyo National Museum, and this one probably have the “royal pedigree” for people who care status, for me irrelevant.
In my opinion no one of this 3 mentioned netsukes have more value because of their hypothetical mentioned pedigree, they have value only for their beauty…
In our NetsukeWorld nothing is a fixed formula, everything is pure individual taste and sentiment, or
Finally, auctions and good dealers are very important for buyers, but in my experience if you have knowledge and experience the best formula is to be an expert "Hunter" all around to achieve incredible
discovers...one of the biggest Hunters and model was our unforgettable Antonio Pereda...
Excellence in netsuke art don't need signature or pedigree, or age, only quality, aesthetics, beauty.