Q: Any info on my ceramic Buddha? It’s from the personal shrine of a Japanese officer.
A: Our reader adds that the Buddha was presented to a family member as a gift and a gesture of respect sometime after WWII.
The ceramic piece seen in photos is indeed Japanese, decorated in the Satsuma style. Note the word “style.”
Satsuma is a region in Japan where pottery was made starting in the early 17th century by Korean potters who settled there. The true origins of Satsuma are not Japanese.
But in the early 1900s, a craze for all things Oriental resulted in Japanese potteries churning out derivatives, porcelain versions made for export. Boatloads were shipped to the U.S.
The original and earliest Satsuma wares are rare and pricey. Decorative pieces commonly seen today were made later in Kyoto, and are generically called “Satsuma.”
The reader’s Buddha is one of those later pieces. Dating from 1880-1920, it seems to be in excellent condition with liberal use of gold and painted embellishment.
Value today is as a decorative object. Attractive Buddhas are in fashion, and this largish version could retail or sell at auction for about $300.
Q: Are WWII war ration books worth anything?
A: When we checked, eBay had 205 postings for the books at prices ranging from $1.80 for a single book to $45 for a large collection.
In completed sales, results ranged from $4.24 to $33.56 for a book offered along with pins and a civil defense armband. A collection of 10 books plus an original paper holder brought $29.95. Clearly, extras help the sale.
World War II collectors prefer the unusual and books with early dates. And always, those in good condition sell best. Because so many ration books are still out there, buyers can be choosy.
Q: How do I go about having my bronze statue appraised?
A: It all depends on what kind of service you want and need. Appraisals may be used to insure art, antiques and household contents for day-to-day insurance protection to help guarantee you are not underinsured. Or when you need info regarding loss of value. Perhaps the issue is divorce or equitable distribution. Add estate valuations and planning, pre- and post-move inspections, charitable donations, gift tax, loan collateral, bankruptcy and resale as reasons for a formal written appraisal done by a credentialed professional.
When you’re simply curious and seek informal authentication or current market value, it’s simply cheaper to start with a local dealer or gallery familiar with the artwork in question. For instance, don’t ask a doll dealer about that bronze. Always offer to pay for the verbal appraisal. It’s only fair.
Formal appraisals by qualified professionals cost more, but their written assessments have weight in court and when loss is concerned.
FYI: With the $16 million sale this month of a Van Gogh painting, the final gavel came down on Elizabeth Taylor’s collections. Every single lot (there were 1,817) offered at Christie’s sold, resulting in a total take of $183.5 million.
There were six days of sales on two continents plus an online sale that ran concurrently. Bidders from over 40 countries were represented. Thirty items brought more than $1 million each, and seven fetched over $5 million apiece.
A painted tin-on-wood sign that sold for $46,000 recently at Noel Barrett Auctions in Pennsylvania is thought to have come from a shop on the Atlantic City boardwalk.
From a known private collection of early advertising signs, the sign spoke to bidders. Gold lettering and the image of ice cream served up in silver made for an appealing image. In excellent condition, the sign probably never weathered the elements. Another plus.
Q: Can you match the menswear trends with their decade?
1. Shrink to fit jeans
2. Unisex styles
3. Norfolk jacket
4. 5-in.-wide tie
5. Hollywood high waistbands
6. Monk strap shoes
7. Wash ‘N Wear shirts
e. Started around 1900
A: Answers are 1-f, 2-e, 3-g, 4-a, 5-c, 6-d, 7-b. Source: “A Dandy Guide to Dating Vintage Menswear WWI through the 1960s” by Sue Nightingale (Schiffer, $49.99). An easy to use, visual guide to decoding labels, zippers, styles, etc. As much social history as it is a how-to.
Danielle Arnet welcomes questions from readers. She cannot respond to each one individually, but will answer those of general interest in her column. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or write Danielle Arnet, c/o Tribune Media Services, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1400, Chicago, IL 60611. Please include an address in your query. Photos cannot be returned.