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Subject:Japanese ? drilled signature
Posted By: scotty Sun, Mar 19, 2017 IP:

can anybody help me identify or translate this partly drilled signature on what i think is a Japanese vase ? i think it is Japanese and not Chinese.
Anybody help me please ?.

Subject:Re: Japanese ? drilled signature
Posted By: rat Wed, Mar 22, 2017

Yes, Japanese, which I don't know much of anything about, but the two characters in the right column read Seto, so this is by a Seto porcelain maker.

Subject:Re: Japanese/Chinese ? drilled signature
Posted By: scotty Thu, Mar 23, 2017

Thanks but i am now completely confused as i have also now told by an appraiser it is Chinese probably Qianlong . Apparently the mark Zhi is visible meaning "make" and it is not written this way in Japanese.
and it reads as something else. Quianlong was what they best believed it to say. To confuse it my Chinese friend advised me there were Chinese producing from Japan for a period of time. . This is turning out to be very difficult lots of conflicting views. I looked at the Seto vases and they all have a similar character but not like this one. You are the first to say it reads Seto. Here is the vase itself which might help matters better. A third person with knowledge Kanji etc thinks they are Chinese characters and it could have been made byChinese artist in Hapan late 18thc . It's a quality piece as you can see in new photo. Anybody wanting to view and add their opinion most welcome :)

Subject:Re: Japanese/Chinese ? drilled signature
Posted By: Martin Michels Fri, Mar 24, 2017

Rat made a correct statement, the characters on the right spell indeed Seto 瀬戸, the character left under is "Sei" 製 (correctly written Japanese Kanji) and in my opinion the character seen above Sei is a part of the name Masukichi 桝吉. Kawamoto Masukichi 1st also known as Kawamoto Hansuke 5th (1831-1907) was a well-known Seto artist.
By no means a Chinese signature.

I'v posted another mark of Masukichi, so you can compare with yours.

Subject:Re: Japanese/Chinese ? drilled signature
Posted By: scotty Mon, Mar 27, 2017

Thank you Rat and Martin, your responses are very welcome. partic the pics you sent of the Masukichi signature. It looks right but i don't see any Seto vases remotely of this type anywhere. .I hope you don't mind but i put your responses to the appraiser again who took it on board but is still adamant that it's Chinese painting style not Japanese "neat graphic " and that the studio you refer to did pieces almost entirely in the Japanese traditional style and not this which to them is Chinese style . ... Neither of you spoke on the painting style.. do you have any views on the painting type to suggest . They also suggested it could be a sleeper whatever that means ?
I assume that to mean a "don't know" ?
i was told by another person not on this forum that the characters on base " are Japanese not Chinese but this could be a transccition period Chinese Style pottery made by Chinese artist in Hapan during the late 18th c since the paintings of the bottom parts look chinese." Do either you Rat or Martin or anyone else following this have an opinion on these comments or views ? It's puzzling.

Subject:Re: Japanese/Chinese ? drilled signature
Posted By: Bill H Tue, Mar 28, 2017

Scotty, you should start learning where to find and looking carefully at all the right sources of information, as well as checking names thoroughly via Google. Here's an assortment of links to vases by your man Masukichi, including in celadon glaze:

Also start looking for Google Books, which are a wealth of information, such as the following annotated excerpt:

Soon [after the demand for export of highly decorated Satsuma style Kyoto stoneware began to peak around the 1870’s] all of the traditional Japanese manufacturing centers were producing their own versions of brilliantly decorated overglaze enameled wares for the foreign market, if not on stoneware then on porcelain. Seto, originally famous for its stonewares, had turned to the manufacture of underglaze blue shinsei-yaki (new-made ware) porcelain in the early nineteenth century and subsequently joined the overglaze enamel export boom in the early Meiji period. One of the earliest successful Seto export potters was Kawamoto Masukichi I (1831-1907). In 1858 Kawamoto had participated in the first ever project to export Seto tableware (blue-and-white porcelain) through the Mitsui-gumi (later known as Mitsui Bussan, or Mitsui Trading) and in 1872 he began producing enameled porcelain, which he sold through Yokohama exporting companies. These were often decorated at specialist ceramic painting workshops in Yokohama. [Challenging Past And Present: The Metamorphosis of Nineteenth-Century Japanese Art; Ellen P. Conant, University of Hawaii Press, 2006 - Art - 292 pages]

Your collection and collectibles will make a lot more sense if you learn something about the historical backdrop to their manufacture.

Best regards,

Bill H.

Subject:Re: Japanese/Chinese ? drilled signature
Posted By: scotty Tue, Mar 28, 2017

Thank you Bill, i will follow your links and look into it some more, i see some of the Seto links, i am just trying to come to terms with what this appraiser of markings has been saying which is totally at odds if you read his original pronouncement. I am very convinced by what Martin showed me but the markings leave something to be desired for absolute comparison. I don't have a lot of time to spend googling and enter the field of study and that's why i asked the forums. i will try to do better i promise. Meantime if an appraiser tells me one thing and the forum contributors another i got to wade through it. i have 4 different people saying different things and with respect i don't trust every forum members contribution unless they can give something to it as i have seen some nonsense spouted before. I value your contribution as you have given me some links to follow through and thanks for that. I believe my appraiser has led me up a garden path perhaps with good intentions. Me i need a quick ID preferably such as Martin gave. I do have other things needing my attention not including 3 young children so not much study time for computers or books on vases just need a good pointer from a forum member. Big problem when you are given contradictory advice though , then you ask each person why? It's what a forum is about ..people talking.. not telling them to just go look into it mate ! An Asian Art forum i thought would be full of some expertise to suck up. I am still astounded by the pomposity of some dealers who are just never wrong always right, not you Bill, you have contributed something positive and thanks. What use is " it's an X Y Z son and that's what it is ..ok? " Can't trust that unless the forum member is not anonymous and has qualifications or experience of a study field but you don't get that here ..all you get is a nickname and then you get to pronounce on stuff. So pinch of salt unless like contributor Martin you give something positive. Been a member of many forums including classic cars, art glass etc and one thing common is all members form friendships too and sometimes back up each others views so again there is a degree of is what you are being told correct ?. Got to question , and keep asking until you are fairly certain . Need my tea and a lie down after that diatribe ...prob be an expert on that too somewhere to tell me best variety and position to repose in ! :) :)

Subject:Re: Japanese/Chinese ? drilled signature
Posted By: scotty Tue, Mar 28, 2017

PS Bill,
take all on board, i posted up different markings for the artist, is it normal for different signatures to be put on the artists works do you know? i have seemingly different signatures on properly attributed to him and what i find unusual if you see my reply to Martin is the signature types appear to correspond to the painting types.I mentioned my one looked Chinese and so does the songbird and trees blossom etc and both carry my type signature. the others appear to have a different style of painting Japanese in my simple view but this type bears a different signature type by him. Do you know why ? Is this usual to change the signatures or maybe he used several..? It's a completely different question from my original but it still throws back to what i was banging on about all the time... the fact it looked more Chinese style and now i found another like mine gone through auction only mind you but then it has my signature type too , the others gone through all have different type of painting, different but similar signatures and for some reason too higher prices . Bill ?

Subject:Re: Japanese/Chinese ? drilled signature
Posted By: scotty Wed, Mar 29, 2017

Hi Bill,
i did as you suggested and i found out that the answer quite simply for the varied painting styles is down to the mish mash of artists doing the actual painting, some farmed out too. Christopher Dresser was there and his notes explain that quite clearly. That's all i needed to know. Nobody said that , in retrospect mine was a simply answered question i feel but you are right to tell me to go find out myself. A simple sentence by someone in the forum knowing that would have sufficed. I see the practice was endemic at the time.
cheers and thanks for your links, i amassed quite an assortment of signatures by the end of it all.

Subject:Re: Japanese/Chinese ? drilled signature
Posted By: Bill H Thu, Mar 30, 2017

You may also have noticed how there is more than one generation of potter who has worked under this name.

Bill H.

Subject:Re: Japanese/Chinese ? drilled signature
Posted By: scotty Fri, Mar 31, 2017

Thanks Bill,
yes i have read about it and the book by Christopher Dresser who was there makes interesting reading.
I see now also how various artists with different styles involved.
Interesting stuff.

Subject:Re: Japanese/Chinese ? drilled signature
Posted By: scotty Tue, Mar 28, 2017

Hi Martin,
your response to date i think is the best i have had, tell me do you have any knowledge of Masukich studio ? To me an interesting thing is i have been told the signature you supplied me with matches one other recorded sale of a vase attributed to Masukichi which has gone through Christies or the other leading auction houses. There have only been several sales of vases attributed to him gone through the leading houses. There is a question ...all the other Masukichi attributed vases have signatures that are different to these two . It also appears that the two vases with the signatures matching (mine and the one you showed me ) happen to be the same two vases with the more free flowing "Chinese" style of painting i keep on banging on about. All the others are in the more traditional Japanese style which can be googled as Bill suggested. ( still not got round to doing them all yet ) I just wondered if you know of two different signatures by Masukichi or any reason why there would be different signatures please?
I ask that to any forum member who might know this artist and can help on that if Martin doesn't know and hoping not to cause offence by asking ! i will try and get these signatures up on image if i can convert the files .

Subject:Re: Japanese/Chinese ? drilled signature
Posted By: scotty Tue, Mar 28, 2017

here is the other signatures, why are they different and the styles in this type are similar too?
the second photo is of a signature of him same as mi vase and both these vases have a more freely painted .chinese style, that's all i am saying, it's diff signatures but also a coincidence the paintings are separated in style just like the signatures.
If this is normal ok i just don't know you see.. strange i thought also the auction prices are quite different but maybe that's not relevant just strange too ..

Subject:Re: Japanese/Chinese ? drilled signature
Posted By: Martin Michels Wed, Mar 29, 2017


Why use Japanese potters different marks? Perhaps just for fun or to mark new periods in their artistic development, we can only guess after more than 100 years. The're was also a Masukichi 1 and 2, both with some identical signatures. What I do know is that I have several different marks of Kawamoto Masukichi in my database. Signatures with Kawamoto Masukichi, Kawamoto Hansuke, Kawamoto, Masukichi - all with or without Seto and/or Dai Nippon.

Info about Masukichi:
In 1862 Kawamoto Hansuke 5th established his own porcelain workshop and took the name Masukichi 1st. He was one of the earliest Seto potters to find success with sometsuke painting and eventually became one of Morimura-kumi's main potters. In 1877 Masukichi 1st adopted the 2nd son of Hansuke 4th, who became Masukichi 2nd in 1886. In 1881 he founded 2 trading companies, the Seto Jikosha with Hansuke 6th (1844-1905) and the Jikosha in Tokyo. In 1883 Morimura-kumi commissioned him to produce Western-style coffee cups, a historically important order that led eventually to the production of Japan's first six-person coffee set. Masukichi 1st successor, Kawamoto Masukichi 2nd (1852-1918), produced mainly blue-and-white porcelain and was the first manufacturer of export porcelain in Seto during the Meiji period. Masukichi 2nd was one of the leading porcelain manufacturers in Seto, gained a reputation for developing new glazes. Masukichi 2nd also contributed to improving production methods, for example by being among the first to introduce the use of plaster moulds after learning the required techniques from Kato Tomotaro and Kawamoto Hansuke in 1875.


Subject:Re: Japanese/Chinese ? drilled signature
Posted By: scotty Thu, Mar 30, 2017

Thanks Martin, you have cracked it expertly for me and i found the notes by Christopher Dresser in his book on architecture included references.
anyway thanks again , you nailed it for me and i am very grateful indeed.
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