Posted 2 years ago
This tetsubin is about 8" in diameter x 4" to base neck and 5.5" to top of neck. It has a maker's mark and weighs about 5 lbs. The design is Arare (hobnail) with a complex pine cone finial. The handle does not fold down but is affixed to two rings on the neck of the tetsubin. It is in excellent, used condition with some light rust inside.
I thought I had made a mistake on this one. It is in really nice shape, but, though there were many watchers, I was the only bidder at a bargain price. Bidding on Japanese testsubin is typically very spirited with lots of last minute bidders. The seller had a reserve price of $25 and the option for an offer. Japanese tetsubin do not sell for $25..... Of course shipping was nearly $20, probably because, since the handle does not fold down, a large box was needed to ship it. I am actually on a spending hold due to some unexpected sewer issues, but had made the seller an offer of $30 before that took place just to see what would happen and the seller just let my offer expire. I expected a decline or what happened. No surprise, just kicking the tires on the auction, so I went ahead and put the minimum bid on it and forgot about it, before my sewer woes. Well, Hell, I won it for $25. Hmmmmm. The mark did not look particularly Japanese to me from the seller's images which were not very good.
But.... This tetsubin has several features of an antique Japanese tetsubin. The complex pine cone is a classic Japanese style. The design of the neck is also classic in older Japanese tetsubin and very high end new ones. Though it may seem odd now, many antique tetsubin have this same handle configuration. Also, the two part body is fairly hard to do on a large kettle and I thought it was a 1.5 - 2 liter kettle, which is why I bid on it. It is the next size up from the tetsubin in my collection. The size was a guesstimate on my part as the seller just took some images of a ruler next to the kettle and the only dimension in their description was a 1.5" neck. They did give an approximate weight of 5 lbs. Of course, I did not analyze the construction of the kettle closely before bidding as I believed that I had no chance of winning it. Hence the "Oops!".
One thing that really bothered me about this tetsubin is the treatment of the handle. There are two grooves cut into the top of the handle to create the impression that it has been hammered into shape. The front groove is easily seen in image #4. I've never seen this in a Japanese tetsubin or kyusu before. It gives the handle the appearance of a traditionally hand hammered handle, but it is not. It is also looked to be done in a very rough fashion. A few minutes work with the fine file could have smoothed the groves out and fooled the eye as to their nature. I was not sure what to make of this.
So there I was. Was it a copy of a high end Japanese tetsubin or an incredible deal. Sigh.
Conclusion: Once it arrived I determined that the mark is Japanese and the workmanship is good, not great. It will do exactly what it was made to do, though. I think that this is a good quality Japanese tetsubin meant for every day use. It holds 6 cups, about 1.5 liters, and turned out to be 8" in diameter and dwarfs my other tetsubin. It weighs a few tenths of an ounce under 5 lbs and is thin walled compared to my smaller tetsubin. It was extremely dirty inside, with towel after towel of nasty brown stuff coming out of it. It is the first time that I have filled a piece of Japanese cast iron with hot, soapy water. I am still working on cleaning it out before I restore the interior by boiling green tea in it. I suspect that someone tried using it as a teapot, for brewing tea, and what am getting out of it is tea stains. I now think the groove was cut in the handle on the spout side as a thumb rest and the groove at the back side was cut to artistically balance the handle again. The handle is definitely hand made and shaped. So. Incredible deal!
I did find a very similar one on Etsy. If you check that one out, note that both tetsubin have the same horizontal lines bracketing the rows of hobnails..... The maker's mark does not look, to me, to be the same and the Etsy seller's provenance seems shaky, at best. I would have a lot of questions for the Etsy seller about their attribution at the price ($495 + $28 shipping) they are asking for it....