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Useful sources for pictures and translations of Japanese and Chinese ceramic marks

Dear Jan-Erik,

Thank you for your wonderful website. I am an Australian collector of Oriental ceramics and other objects d’ art. My major interests are in Japanese pieces, particularly Satsuma, Kutani and Imari pottery and porcelain; lacquerware; bronzes; and wood block prints.

I guess I have about 20 pieces of Satsuma and ten each of Kutani and Imari. In addition, a few sometsuke, including Sei Ji Kai Sha and unmarked Arita. The quality of the Satsuma varies from very good (1 x Ryozan and 2 x Shozan) through good to indifferent. Some of the Kutani and most of the Imari is pretty good also. Many pieces are antique. Most would be mid - late Meiji. A few are probably early Meiji. There are also some Showa and a few more recent pieces.

In addition, I have a few pieces of antique Chinese porcelain, although none are particularly valuable and are generally 19th century - a pair of good Mandarin pattern famille rose vases, a Nanking pattern blue and white bowl, a few other bits and pieces. I also have a few 18th century Chinese export pieces - a teapot and a plate, both c. 1760 and in various famille rose palettes; and a clobbered, lidded Meiping vase with transfer print Chinoiserie decoration and an underglaze blue Chia Ching period mark. The decoration was probably done in England.

I have been an occasional visitor of your website since late 2000. It is a wonderful service to collectors worldwide! Thank you so much for the care and effort (and dedication!) that you have put into it for many years. It is getting better and better every time that I look at it.

Being principally a Japanese collector, I have a special interest in the section on Japanese marks - particularly the Satsuma. I note from a recent visit that this section is much improved, and from a current note on the site, that you have received further significant information not yet incorporated.

May I also add a little more information. Attached is a list of minor errors and suggestions re the current descriptions of the Japanese marks. However, I have to say that I cannot read Japanese. Everything that I have learnt about marks I have learnt by studying pictures in various books, cross referencing and so on. So, although there are many marks that I cannot translate, there are many that I can confirm and a few which appear to be wrong, based on my other references. I this regard, I have discounted Chaffers because of its age and variant spellings, unless it is confirmed elsewhere. Many of my suggestions are to add the less important words which have commonly been left out of the translations (eg sei, tsukuru, dai ni hon, zo, do, kore, kuni, bi jutsu, Kyoto, etc).

(Suggested corrections to the Japanese marks section entered 2002-26-01, Ed.)

Also attached to this letter is a list of the references which I have principally used, most of which I recommend. I do not have a digital camera or constant access to the Internet, or else I would send you extracts from these sources. However, if you are keen to obtain photocopies or scanned references, I will see what I can do. Also attached is a small but useful list of websites on Japanese ceramics that I have cobbled together over the past few years. Few rival yours! I have to say that your website is by far the best and most comprehensive on Oriental ceramics generally.

Best regards,
Howard Reed