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Japanese Lacquer Box - Signed on Top and Paper Label On Bottom

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Rogueroman's items4 of 94Group of 5 vintage Apollo Moonwalk color Photos, August 1969Egyptian Revival Incense Burner
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    Posted 7 months ago

    (94 items)

    I have this old lacquer box, which I assume to be Japanese. It measures 7 3/4" L x 6 7/8" wide x 3" high. The sides of the box are in a dark wine colored lacquer, the sloped edges on the top are red and then it has a painted bird and flowers on a black lacquer background on the top with a thin border of gold. The lid is hinged and the interior of the box is black lacquer. There are two signature? stamps in gold on the lower right corner of the lid and the remnants of a paper label on the bottom. I am trying to identify the AGE of this piece, what the stamps translate as and perhaps what it was used for. Thank you in advance.

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    1. rhineisfine rhineisfine, 7 months ago
      Hello, I can't help much, but I'll throw out a few things to get started :)

      Definitely Japanese - the swallow (tsubame) & wisteria (fuji) flower design is a traditional one. (For example, you can see a Swallow and Wisteria woodblock print by Utagawa Hiroshige on the Metropolitan Museum of Art website.)

      Unfortunately I can't read the kanji characters (I'm not Japanese!) but if I can find out more, I will post later. However, I will say that the stamp that's directly above the round one depicts a brass Japanese censer (incense burner). Therefore, I suppose it's barely possible this was a box intended for storing incense. However, the lock (?) mechanism seems to argue against that. Perhaps the censer is simply the logo of the company under whose aegis this box was made.

      Re: age, this is purely an impression, but I think it's late Taisho or (likelier) early Showa, pre-WW2. I would be delighted to be corrected by someone more knowledgeable.

      Hope that helps a little!
    2. Rogueroman Rogueroman, 7 months ago
      Thank you very much for that information. It’s exciting to learn a bit more about this little box. And thank you for your continued research. It also gives me a place to start searching as well.
    3. Congcu, 7 months ago
      The censer could be the family crest (mon) of the company that made the box.
    4. rhineisfine rhineisfine, 7 months ago
      OK, I could pick out a few characters, but it doesn't help much, I'm afraid!

      Top of box:

      The censer/incense burner is a mystery because the characters are old style (looks like seal script to me). The characters on the round seal (below the censer) are a little easier to make out. The two in the middle, below the dot and from left to right, look like 'nama' (Google Translate gives this as 'raw' ) and 'tera' or '-ji', the character for temple. That's probably the more salient of the two :) The one at lower left I cannot make out (and TBH I'm not sure where it begins and the above character ends!). The character at lower right looks like 'uma' or horse - but the zodiacal kanji for horse (as in "year of the horse"), not the usual one used for the animal you'd see in a field. The figures around the edge are (left to right, counter-clockwise) 'No. 5??72'. The bits in the middle that that look like 0-1, I'm not sure of. So, some kind of number, but significance unknown. The smears and rubs provide extra challenge :)

      Bottom of box:

      The large character in the centre of the stylized pine bough says 'matsu' or pine.
      The visible characters in the banner at top don't make sense when I run them through the translator... karma (?), joint work... something like that. The 2 characters in the cartouche at left seem to say 'shitaji', foundation or groundwork. The ones at the bottom, again L to R, seem to say 'atashi' (proof), then inspection (no phonetics given) - but the 2 together can mean examination. Then the label is torn. So, just a stab at interpreting this, maybe this is a label that was put onto the box as part of quality review or something.

      Hopefully someone will come along, tear apart my tentative pokes at the kanji, and provide instant clarity!

      P.S. There is an incense company called Yamadamatsu but I don't see any signs of the kanji that make up the "Yamada" part of the name here (yama - mountain, ta or da - rice paddy) so I doubt that it's related.
    5. Rogueroman Rogueroman, 7 months ago
      Thank you again for the information. This is far more than I have been able to determine or find. It is very helpful and very kind of you. I appreciate your time.
    6. Rogueroman Rogueroman, 4 months ago
      Rhineisfine - I have discovered a bit more info from a facebook group, but the info is very limited. I am hoping to hear more from them as there was no mention of age or detail about the company or its location. Apparently it was made by the Matsuoka Lacquerware Guild. The sticker is some kind of company that verifies the quality of the lacquer. And the number around the edge is a patent number. Have you heard of the Matsuoka Lacquerware Guild? I have not been able to find any information on line, at least at this point. Hopefully this little extra information may help. Thank you again for all of your help.
    7. Rogueroman Rogueroman, 4 months ago
      I couldn't find Matsuoka Lacquerware Guild but I did find the name Matsumoto lacquerware guild, but not much info there either.

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