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Help needed with signature urushi laquer maki-e

 
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Neo
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2010 9:21 am    Post subject: Help needed with signature urushi laquer maki-e Reply with quote
Hello!

I am not sure if I should post in the Art or in the Language forum, in this case the Art forum has won!

Can anyone help me with the following ?

I am the lucky owner of metal "candy box" which we think might be a tebako with urushi lacquer with a beautifully detailed goldpheasant and some grains painted on it by using maki-e technique made probably around the 1920's /1930's; Art deco ?

There is a "signature" on it, which I think might be kanji.

We have found - what looks like - the same red seal (kakihan ?) on a satsuma vase which was identified as Gyozan Pottery, Tokyo. This box is made of a metal which looks like aluminium and I have not been able to find any informaton on the Gyozan family involved in metal work.

Help me

Photos:
http://smvk.cwahi.net/Goudfazant/pheasant00.htm

I am not sure if all of the above information is correct and if we have made the correct identifications and furthermore if we have used the correct japanese names for the techniques used to produce this "box".

Is there anybody who can help me with this ?

Japonisme and the influences it has had on the European Art Nouveau have allways interested me, but at the moment I seem to be stuck with my research; Internet, library, etc. I've had it!

Art Nouveau is easy to research, but the resources for Japanese art are limited if you don't know what you are looking for (keywords, etc.), so any help will be highly appreciated!

Thank you very much!
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lordameth
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2010 10:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I can't quite make out the third character, but the rest reads Namiki 並木 (?) Matsuyama 松山, both of which are likely the surnames of the artists/craftsmen who made the piece, though Matsuyama could also be a placename.

My best guess for the ? character after 並木 is 盛, or perhaps 益。 「盛」 ("mori") is often seen in given names, like Morishige or Kiyomori... it looks like by itself, it's often read as Shigeru.

Maybe your artist is a Namiki Mori or Namiki Shigeru. While there seems to be a car dealership in Tokyo called Namikimori, I'm afraid I'm not seeing any other leads on that...

It's a very nice piece, though. Good luck finding out more about it.
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Neo
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 28, 2010 8:35 am    Post subject: Namiki Dunhill - Maki-e Laquer Reply with quote
Thanks for your help! I have been able to do the final identification with your information!

The 3 kanji characters on the right read "Namiki Kan" which is the workshop where this object has been made.

In 1924 the Namiki Manufacturing Company started to manufacture lacquer pens with Maki-e decorations and quickly started a successful distribution with offices in New York, London, Shanghai and Singapore.

Namiki revived the Maki-e technique, applying it to pens, cigarette boxes and lighters, many of which were sold as luxury products through a partnership with Britain's Alfred Dunhill (approx. 1928).

This box is probably part of the objects made for Dunhill although it doesn't have any marks or stamps which would confirm this.

Namiki still exists and the present name is Pilot Corporation, they are still famous for their production of lacquer maki-e fountain pens.

I haven't been able to find any information on the artist (2 kanji characters + kao on the left) yet.

BUT I have found a cigarette case with the same signature. Unfortunately the artist has not been identified either.

Photo of the signature on the cigarette case next to the signature on my box:
http://smvk.cwahi.net/Goudfazant/pheasant00.htm

Looking at the Kanji characters for Matsuyama 松山 which you gave me, I am sure that your translation is correct.

Unfortunately, the books about Namiki are difficult to obtain, approx. USD 400 for a book, and this doesn't guarantee that the signature will be mentioned in it.

The Pilot Pen Museum in Tokyo might also be able to help but they don't seem to have an e-mail address.
http://www.stutler.cc/pens/penstation/index.html

I am not giving up, so I hope to be able to identify the artist soon!

Thanks again for your help!
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lordameth
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PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2010 6:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
(Sorry I'm coming back to this so late... but I am interested in your findings)

Ah, so the Namiki corporation became the now quite major Pilot Pen Corporation, eh? Interesting.

Well, it may be kind of a long shot, but I wonder about simply contacting the company. Maybe they can reroute your query to the right person within the organization...

http://www.pilotpen.us/contactus/

For a company with such history, I really would not be surprised if someone in the organization - whether at the "Pen Station" in Tokyo, or another Corporate Historical Archivist or something, might exist for this sort of purpose.

Good luck!
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