How to tell if a Japanese vase is valuable

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Japanese vases are absolutely gorgeous, and they’re so lovely that lots of people have replicated them throughout the years. These tips will help you determine the value of your Japanese vase, as well as if it’s even Japanese at all.

Characteristics of a Japanese vase

Japanese vases typically had a more simplistic rim, usually in a red or brown color, although blue and green were also popular. In addition, the interior of a Japanese vase is usually rougher and bumpier, while the colors used are often dark blues and greens, or yellows and grays.

You will also want to look at the subject matter on your vase. Some common motifs that could be on a Japanese vase include the sun and moon, lotus flowers, people in kimonos or holding paper fans, Daruma dolls, cherry blossoms, butterflies, cranes, plums, gourds, and koi fish.

Finally, you should know the distinctions of Japanese script. It has a more airy, loose, and open style, and the writing will probably be vertical.

Valuable vase distinctions

Antique vases that have a mark or signature on the bottom of the base can yield varying sums. The signature or marking might be engraved, inked, or painted on the vase.

You will also want to determine the time period that the art reflects. Does it show an Art Nouveau style? Does it mimic the Japanese woodblock prints of the 19th century? If your vase was crafted by a particular artist, it could fetch a higher sum.

When in doubt, ask a professional

You can visit an art collector or historian to get a better idea of how valuable your vase is. They will look at things such as the time period it reflects, the materials used, any specific artwork or writing on it, as well as the current condition that it’s in.

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5 Comments

  1. I have a vase from my collectable granny, who was passed, but gave me a Japanese vase, when men in hats climbing up bamboo I think… it’s quite different.

  2. It did not go far enough after discussion of colors (pigments). The subjects used to define was too general to be of help. References would be helpful re signatures and getting help..help is really hard to find without a paid subscription or high price.

  3. We have a vase that was left to us by a family member that has passed we have the vase now for 30 years where can we take it to be Appraised thank you

    1. Yes, Dora
      in the same situation. I have 4″ vintage hand blown glass vase stamped on the bottom. Made in Japan. Can’t find anything that comes to it? Did you find an appraiser for your vase? Thanks, Regina

  4. I have a footed wide mouth vase all brass it has what i think cherry blossoms, two warriors on horseback one with a long spear holding out to attack the other a strange object, also pointing to something in his side back looks like a strange button thing , similar to the one he is holding out.the vase is craved in sections two sections have warriors, separating them is large urn with smaller urns around it the foot is patterned .

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