- Published on Tuesday, 25 September 2012 20:20
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This Imari charger comes from a family in the lower Northern Neck. An ancestor bought it in Japan over a century ago, and it is in pristine condition. The colors are still brilliant, and the piece shows no evidence of wear. It is 26 inches in diameter. The sides of the back are decorated, but bear no writing to indicate a maker.
Imari remains the most popular form of Japanese porcelain. Its name comes from the city of Imari, which was the pre-eminent porcelain center of Imperial Japan. Works made there bear the distinctive deep blue and maroon/rust decoration, usually highlighted, as in this case, with heavy gold embellishment.
The charger was the signature item in an Imari collection. This piece dates from the mid-nineteenth century, and was already old when the family member purchased it in the beginning of the twentieth century.
From the absence of a maker’s signature we can deduce that the piece antedates the international law requiring the country of origin to be marked on pieces. Most likely, this piece was meant for domestic use, rather than for foreign export. As such its appeal in today’s market is all the greater.
A collector would pay $800 for this piece, but given the current economic conditions, at an estate sale or auction, the price brought might be less than that of five years ago. Good Imari in all of its forms makes for a great display. I have seen dining rooms coordinated to reflect the presentation of a collection.
One of my clients has the largest Imari charger I ever have seen. It is 36 inches in diameter, and each year at her Christmas party she uses it for serving part of her dinner. Most collectors are not as brave and display their chargers mounted on the wall, as this one is, but I must admit food eaten off of the charger seems to have a special aura.