Estimate Your Satsuma Pottery Value

The writers here at our Satsuma Pottery website are all passionate collectors of Japanese culture, from Samurai armor to Uchiwa fans - but none of us are experts in our respective fields. Asking us to value a vase or tea set based on a few blurry images is a very difficult thing to do - and certainly not something we are proficient at.

We use a number of methods to estimate the Satsuma Pottery value when looking to buy pieces or to appraise items for other people. I thought it made sense for us to share them here, so that you are able to do some of your own research before taking them to be properly valued in person.

These are presented in no particular order, but they are definitely points we consider and tools we use when looking to see what price a piece might sell for or should be bought for.

1. Is it real?

Whether a piece is a "genuine" or "real" piece of Satsuma pottery is something I have written about before - and is definitely the first place to start if you are looking to confirm the providence of the piece.

  1. Does it have a hand painted marking?  Most original items have the makers signature done by hand.
  2. Is the Shimazu crest on there?  The red circle with a gold cross is a good sign that the piece is a genuine antique.
  3. Is the marking written in English?  Many pieces made after the 1940's were marked with "Made in Japan" or "Japanese Satsuma" on them. If your piece has english writing, then it will not be as valuable.

2. The history

This is not something you can put a price on easily, but many of the pieces that people have contacted me about originate from within their family. These pieces have been passed down to them and the current owner is looking for a value (to sell or for insurance purposes).

Satsuma pieces that have a good, proven story behind them will be worth more money. For example, if the piece was presented as a gift by a notable Japanese person (Emperor or such) then it will be worth more than a piece found at a local thrift shop.

You also have to be able to prove that the story is real too to get any decent value from the item.

3. Is the Satsuma piece damaged?

Like any other piece of antique pottery, the better condition it is in, the more valuable it will be. Cracks and chips can be repaired, but any serious collector will not want to do this anyway as it will detract from the piece, but these things have to be taken into account when estimating the value.

4. Look at what is selling now.

One of the best ways to estimate the price is to look at what is selling and seeing if you can find something similar to your piece.

The best place to do this is on eBay and they quite happily give you access to their "Completed Listings" over the last 30 days or so.  Use the following links to view items that have been sold on eBay (use the eBay site nearest to your location):

eBay.com (USA)
eBay.co.uk (United Kingdom)
eBay.ca (Canada)
eBay.de (Germany)

This list has already been sorted to show more expensive items at the top. This is because the higher priced items are definitely genuine and therefore you will be able to match your item with more certainty.

The listings on eBay will help you match the style, size and type of item and some of them also have images of the makers mark too (click the items to see more details and pictures) so you might be able to identify who your item has been made by.

Don't forget that you can use the "Categories" links on the eBay pages to drill down further into specific types of piece, such as Satsuma Buttons or Bowls. Alternatively, add some additional words to the search box at the top of the eBay page to help narrow your search.

5. Check the marking on the bottom.

There are a number of other websites that can give you more information about Satsuma pottery and also some images of the markings.

The best is the Gotheborg site, which has an extensive listing of markings and their translations. This will help you identify the maker, area the piece was made and also a rough time period of when it was made.

There are also books available from Amazon that will help you identify the piece. These can be a great resource for lovers of Japanese and Satsuma pottery.


I hope this list of methods and resources has been a help to you in identifying an estimated price for your Satsuma pottery piece.

I am not able to offer this as a service online, but there are websites such as ValueMyStuff that will do it for you - for a price. I have not met anyone who has used such a service as yet, so please provide me with any feedback you have if you decide to go down this route.

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  1. well i tried the on line appraiser and they said it was free so i figured what the heck i’ll try it , so what i was trying to value was a statue of kwan-yen it was approx. 18″ H X 7 1/2″ W it was absolutely perfect i sent the woman 6 pics all different angles the statue had her standing wind was blowing clothing to one side very crisp colors blues , red , yellow , black , white and gold leafing i told the woman i’m pretty sure it is famile porcelain , well she told me without a doubt it was a cheap ceramic piece and on it’s best day it might bring 50 to 70 dollars if i was lucky then she kept trying to get me to agree to pay her for the estimate i didn’t pay her a nickel i put the statue onebay for $ 750.00 and sold it in less than ( 1 hour ) yes 1 hour to a fella in china and on top of that it was 170.00 dollars shipping when he got it he sent me a very nice thank you , so what do you think , should i have paid the appraiser and listed it for 50 dollars , myself i think the appraiser was insane i wouldn’t do that again ever. but anyway this statue had an open bottom and there were two imprinted seals in there and i still haven’t found anyone to translate them i have pics of them and i made molds of them but no one to translate .

    1. Hi John. Wow. This does sound like a bad example of an online appraiser. However, if it was free, I do wonder if they were just trying to get you to list the item with them or sell it to them?
      With anything online, an opinion will only be based on the pictures. Handling it and seeing it in person will have made a big difference. But glad to see you went with your gut and managed to get a good sale! Well done you!

  2. J’ai une paire de vases satsuma qui font 47 cm de haut.
    La traduction de la signature est la suivante.
    Pouvez-vous me confirmer cette traduction et me dire quel est réellement le signataire afin de me faire une idée de leur valeur car j’envisage de les vendre.
    Merci

    It says 大日本 薩摩 白山造

    So it is “satsuma pottery” style made in ” 大日本” period (1868 – 1945), by I believe “Hakuyama” or “Shiroyama” (one character can read many ways…)

  3. i have a vase It is bottleshaped ( looking at pictures tear or pear )
    It has a strongly carved / inscribed dragon and eagle
    It has waves and clouds
    The colours are fairly subtle and muted
    Olive green Enamel Decorated in black and brown but touches of a heavy thick turquoise and a small amount of bright yellow and some gilding in a dull gold Some which has worn off rim and the fine gold speckled decoration
    There is very little dragonware I see on here in a pear shaped bottle vase ? I assumed it was japanese as the dragon had 3 toes ? There is no obbious stamp but at the neck of the bottle is a cross but broken in its form not like the satsuma emblem Im not good on internet but can text the photos if anyone can help
    The vase has age signs Crackling Rust spots Especially the base and a few kiln flaws

  4. I have a matched pair of 12′ Satsuma vases with red marks on base indicating Seizan, Meiji Period. Cobalt blue background, typical faces. Raised enamel and gold leaf. Perfect condition.

  5. my plate shows as royal satsuma fine hand painted porcelain decoration only.it looks like real vintage piece Please give me your comment thank you

  6. Hello,
    Are there any pieces with no marks on bottom? I’ve purchased what looks like a Satsuma piece with a sticker on the bottom. Unfortunately the goodwill sticker is right over it which had made it impossible to get off. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you

  7. I bought a sleeping cat with lots of details it’s a satsuma wondering what the current price is for this item

  8. I purchased a piece of oriental pottery at an estate sale and I am wondering what its value is. It is 12 inch tall, oblong when seen from top, has two black dolphins for handles, looks like satsuma painting, no markings on bottom or inside and was brought back from the orient during the second world war around 1944. please advise. Ben