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.
- Does it have a hand painted marking? Most original items have the makers signature done by hand.
- Is the Shimazu crest on there? The red circle with a gold cross is a good sign that the piece is a genuine antique.
- 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.co.uk (United Kingdom)
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.