February Newsletter

Dear Friends 

Welcome to our February newsletter.

January 2024 disappeared in a flash, or so it seems, here in the UK we endured the flash floods and general havoc caused by storms eight and nine of the season arriving either side of freezing arctic conditions, followed up by record high temperatures in Scotland last weekend. Remarkably in our garden Azalea buds were springing into life, that was until this mid-January freeze killed them off, you really couldn’t make it up. I do begin to wonder if this is now a permanent cyclical event, it seems that we will no longer have actual seasons as such, still, as long as the birds and wildlife continue to visit then all will be well in the gardens.

This beauty was from the very rare Maruki family, he landed in late Autumn obviously didn’t like the cold and immediately emigrated to Europe, I did thoroughly enjoy our time together and I know he will love his new home.  

Another thing that came flooding in during January were unprecedented amounts of enquiries from prospective sellers. I am certainly witnessing a distinct two-pronged scenario, not unsurprising when you consider all that is wrong in the world at this time, instability tends to accelerate certain markets or actions whilst placing others firmly on hold. On one hand people are calling to cash up valuable assets whilst on the other many savvy investors and collectors are playing the longer game in looking to acquire such items, I guess it stands to reason that one cannot work without the other.

Here at SSJA we are always keen to purchase your market fresh items, with discretion absolutely assured. If you are looking to dispose of all or any part of your collections, or just require general advice or informal or formal valuations, then please do not hesitate to contact me with images and item details by using our contact pages HERE.

Whilst I was very pleased with January’s sales results which started as early as New Year’s Day and continued at a steady pace throughout the month, the buying was the most noticeable aspect with multiple fresh pieces acquired, including beautiful Satsuma, mixed metal vases and some charming okimono. 

With a further photo shoot imminent, that is, when I can eventually pin down our ever-popular photographer Emma, I will look forward to sharing some of these lovely market fresh pieces with you.

On New Year’s Day I was pleased to be contacted both by an existing client who chose to purchase the Komai style lucky Gods box as well as this most serene rendition of the famous bronze Buddha at Kamakura, it seemed ironic that once again the lucky Gods box was heading back “over the pond” from where it had only recently arrived, we are certainly keeping the couriers busy. 

Another welcome enquiry from the USA was for our cloisonne enamel box decorated with crabs in relief (moriage). The charming box was almost certainly manufactured by the Ando company who were leading exponents of the technique of layering enamels in relief. Ando had worked in conjunction with the master enameller Kawade Shibataro to perfect this highly decorative and very desirable manufacturing process. The box will sit amongst a significant collection of enamels and exceptional metal wares. Thank you to both of the above American based clients for their continued patronage. 

In mid-January I listed this large and impressive pair of bronze and mixed metal vases by one of my personal favourite metalworkers, the Imperial artist Suzuki Chokichi, the vases were formerly part of a long-standing UK based collection. On this occasion Kako has captured birds and insects in flight amidst cherry blossom to one vase and Autumnal maple leaves to the other. There is a charming scene of one particular bird sat preening its feathers, all very usual and high quality as you would expect from this artist, then randomly and typical of Chokichi’s maverick style he designs side handles that actually pivot like door knockers, so unusual and not something I have seen before. 

I was pleasantly surprised to receive a call from a UK based collector, who, following a spot of friendly financial jousting decided to add these vases to his rather impressive metalwork collection. Thank you to that long standing client for continuing to believe in what we are striving to build together.

As Februarys exclusive featured item, I am delighted to offer the first of the pieces acquired on my recent Japanese trip, this charming decorative Iron wall panel comes complete in its original tomobako and depicts the charming subject of puppies pulling at wisteria, the well recorded artist Funakoshi Shunmin has skilfully carved the iron panel in relief whilst adding inlays of gold and silver to highlight the foliage. I simply couldn’t resist the combination of its charming subject matter and quality of carving, I sincerely hope to find it a new home that will enjoy it as much as I do. 

Best wishes