Antiques and Collectables

Collect the past and invest in your future, with an accumulation of knowledge from great finds. 

I love the information that comes from searching out and researching the finds that people make.  

Australia Day celebrations are with us again and it is time to reflect on what makes Australia a great place for us all. Yes, we have hardships, yes, we have problems, but the only way to solve these problems is to work on them together, working towards a solution. Blame, disunity and an expectation that someone else will solve it for us gets us nowhere.  We should strive to make our country a place where Australians, in fifty plus years, can look back and say that the decisions made in 2023 made Australia a more equitable, more environmentally sustainable, and safer and better place to live.

We learn from our mistakes. Our mistakes make us think things through more carefully. Our environment, our families, our neighbours and this great country we live in require every one of us, not to repeat the mistakes of our forebears  but to make our future bright, productive and full of good will to others. It starts with each of us as individuals. 

I was lucky enough lately to find and buy some lovely Japanese carved objects called NETSUKE. A netsuke is a small, sculptured object which was developed in Japan over a period of more than three hundred years. The golden era for netsuke was from 1600 to around 1850. Netsuke (singular and plural) initially served both functional and artistic purposes. 

The traditional form of Japanese dress, the kimono, had no pockets. Women would tuck small personal items into their sleeves, but men suspended their tobacco pouches, pipes, purses, writing implements, and other items of daily use on a silk cord passed around their obi (sash/belt). These hanging objects are called sagemono. The netsuke was attached to the other end of the cord preventing the cord from slipping through the obi. A sliding bead (ojime) was strung on the cord between the netsuke and the sagemono to allow the opening and closing of the sagemono.

The entire ensemble was then worn at the waist and functioned as a sort of removable external pocket. All three objects (netsukeojime and the different types of sagemono) were often beautifully decorated with elaborate carving, lacquer work, or inlays of rare and exotic materials. 

Subjects portrayed in netsuke include naturally found objects, plants and animals, legends and legendary heroes, myths and mystical beasts, gods and religious symbols, daily activities, and myriad other themes. Many netsuke are believed to have been talismans. These items eventually developed into highly coveted and collectible art forms. 

With transition to European dress, the use of sagemono and netsuke  declined, nearly disappearing over the period from the end of 19th to the first quarter of the 20th century but the production of netsuke did not completely go away. Instead, under a strong influence of Western collectors visiting Japan in larger and larger numbers, netsuke developed into a form of fine art and exists as such today with true master-carvers from all over the world still creating these little masterpieces. 

Katabori is the most common type of netsuke. They are compact three-dimensional figures carved in a round shape and are usually around one to three inches high. (2.5 to 8.5cm)

Netsuke have been made from many materials. Ivory – the most common material used before ivory from live animals became illegal. Netsuke made from mammoth ivory (huge quantities still exist in the Near East and Siberia) fill part of the tourist trade demand today. Boxwood, other hardwoods – popular materials in Edo Japan and still used today.

Metal is used as accents in many netsuke.  Hippopotamus tooth is used today in lieu of ivory. Boar tusk is mostly used by Iwami carvers.

Also used are Rhinoceros horn, clay/porcelain, lacquer and Cane (woven). More unusual forms are hornbill, black coral, fossilized wood, walrus tusk, walnuts and agate.

Netsuke are fascinating small figures and range in form from comical to mystic. They are still made today for the tourist market, but the most ardent collectors seek out the older forms.

Sad news, Dave is leaving our shop, Antiques and Old Wares at 12 Isabella Street, Wingham. He and Barb are seeking the sun and heading north to join family and the banana benders. We have been good mates for upwards of 25 years. Our last three years working the shop together has been fun, informative, entertaining and very enjoyable. I will be working the shop, individually, from February. I will miss a good friend!

Collecting is always fun, you are always learning and it is something that can be done for the rest of your life. If you have treasures you are not sure of, I may be able to help with information, appraisals or sales. Forty years of collecting experience. Ring Rex – 0427 880 546

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