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Occupied Japan

Could you tell me what "made in Occupied Japan" means. I have a pitcher with this marked on the bottom. It is a hand painted dragon on it, with white blue and gold.

A term used for Japanese export from 1945 to 1952

"Occupied Japan" (OJ) is a term used for the time period from 1945 (after World War II) through April 25, 1952; it was during this time that the Allies "occupied" Japan.

You will also see items marked "Occupied Germany" - both of which are generally an insult to these countries. I do not have any specifics on the German occupation. As Japan needed to rebuild their economy after the war, part of the agreement to allow them to export goods out of their country was that they had to mark 50% of all items with "Occupied Japan" or "Made in Occupied Japan."

This could be done with a paper label, cloth label (as on scarves, doilies, clothing), engraved, handwritten or stamped. Thus, you may come across things, such as a salt and pepper set, where only one of the pair is marked OJ and the other will just have "Japan" on it.

They exported every thing you can imagine, but during the last 2 years, 90% of the items were kitchenware, which is why we have a proliferation of china, dishes, vases, etc.

Many of the figurines were cheaply made, and looked it. But the Japanese had a wonderful talent for mimicry - you will find pieces that you would swear are Dresden and when you turn them upside down, you will find "Made in Occupied Japan!"

The collectibility of OJ is that it covered a specific 6-7 year period in our history. There are many fakes out their now, especially those that portray black persons, so you need to be careful.

One test for porcelain: the mark was always put UNDER the glaze. If you have a suspicious piece, try nail polish remover. If the markings come off - it was a fake.

Bisque pieces are most highly prized and much harder to identify for authenticity. Warning: Do NOT ever wrap any bisque item in newspaper or colored wrapping. The bisque will absorb the print and is near impossible to remove. It will ruin the piece.

I hope I've helped you a little and didn't give you more than you wanted. I've been collecting OJ for 30+ years and get a little passionate about the subject. You can go to e-Bay or Yahoo and run a search on Occupied Japan and see many items up for sale, to give you some idea of where the pricing is going. Most of the serious collectors I know are disgusted with the outrageous prices being asked for the lower valued items out there.

I hope this helps. Have a great day,
Ms. Sam Armijo