Subject:Re: Japanese Meji Monkey....signature help
Posted By: Bill H Thu, Aug 10, 2017
Martin, thanks for the information. I had been trying to find information online to clear up which of the potential names was the right one for the characters 一光. Some museums and auction houses seem to have added to the confusion with references to "Ikko/Kazumitsu" without noting that both names derive from the same characters.
For anyone interested, according to the JDIC, an online Japanese-English dictionary that supports the Unicode Organization, "一光" can be: a female given name "Ikkou" or "Ikko" (いっこう); given name as-yet unclassified by sex "Kazumitsu" (かずみつ); given name as-yet unclassified by sex "Kazuteru" (かずてる); surname Ikari (いかり); given name as-yet unclassified by sex "Ichikou" (いちこう); given name as-yet unclassified by sex "Ichimitsu" (いちみつ); female given name "Itsumi" (いつみ); and female given name "Hitomi" (ひとみ).
It would appear that carvers or sculptors using the name "Ikko" spanned the late Edo through early Showa periods, or potentially the better part of a century. Obviously, Ikko is not a single individual. At best, the name could have been used by a succession of generations in the same family, or on the dark side, by a profusion of copyists. (MARTIN: Is it reasonable to believe that a female artist named Ikko would have been working in this field during the Edo and Meiji periods?)
While looking for a biography of Ikko, I found a Trocadero dealer's referral of parties interested in Ikko to the book "Netsuke & Inro Artists and How to Read their Signatures" by George Lazarnick (an 'ouch' price of $3,800 for one in hardcover at Amazon). The Ikko mark attracted four-figure bids at major auction houses in years gone by, but the "hammer" price in what seems to be the auction for the Puerblo example (LINK) is listed on liveauctioneers.com as only $340.00 (the liveauctioneer description referred to restoration of an ear, which may have diminished the figure). A French Troc Shop was asking 900 euros US$1053.88 for a 19th C Ikko netsuke depicting a monkey and young.
By comparison, an upscale Orlando, Florida shop where I bought the unmarked but probable Kutani 4.4-inch high model of a monkey, shown in the images below, wanted about $300 for it before the haggling started and brought the price down by a third. This likely was one from the traditional "See-Hear-Speak No Evil" trio.
Forgive this long-winded path to my suggestion that more personal research apparently needs to be done to unearth the truth of just who the famous Ikko was...or to find a cheaper copy of the George Lazarnick book, which surely exists in soft cover. If I was more than just an incidental collector of Japanese ceramics, I might take up the challenge myself, but my slate is too full to accommodate the task at the moment.