Usually when I am running late for an appointment or carrying a heavy box I get asked the question, Why does my mothers teapot say Made in Occupied Japan? I usually am brusque to normal questions, like where is the chamber of commerce or do you want to buy my beanie babies (both questions are foolish), but I never fail to answer this Made in Japan
question with GUSTO......
When I started in antiques many years (umm decades and pounds, many pounds) ago I bought a great deal of JAPAN marked pieces. This is what was coming through auctions, being dug from attics and more importantly being offered for sale. I made money on
JAPAN marked items and lost money as well, but learned the key was knowing the mark and understanding the reason.
The United States occupied Japan from February 1947 until April 1952. This was post WWII and based upon our rehabilitation of the country. During this time we had all pottery marked Made in Occupied Japan. Prior to that time and after that time other marks were used...what marks you ask? Well here is the answer......
Prior to 1891 most countries simply marked ceramics and other items with a makers
mark. This mark might be initials or a combination of initials and symbols. After 1891, as
exportation became much more popular and feasible the United States said we should tax these items, so we did. The McKinley Tariff act was passed (known as the tariff act of
1890) this increased tariffs on imported items, thus countries such as Japan added NIPPON to their items being manufactured, especially pottery. Nippon literally means the suns
origin, thus the rising sun and then Japan.
In 1921 customs said no way everything in English, thus the change to JAPAN. So from
1921 to 1947 it was plain Japan, color variations were present. Mostly black, red and green were the chosen colors for the pottery as it stood out well on white pottery. The debate
many scholars of JAPAN pottery have is which color was pre occupation and which was
post.... The answer is simple, neither, all some and none. There is no proof that one color
was pre occupation while another was post, Kovels does a great job detailing this.
Made in Japan, Japan, Occupied Japan and simple makers marks are all pieces on a
map that you can follow to help date your item. Colors of the piece, glaze composition and style are as important. However collectibility is based upon the collectors want(s) while value is truly based upon rarity it is literally, day to day, based upon what
someone else will pay at any given time.
Until next time my avid worldwide reader of the pontification from the back room of "the shop" find something cool, buy it, enjoy it and then sell the damn thing so the circle is
We are actively buying Maine paperweights with town scenes inside them.
A book is forthcoming, pictures in high resolution are great if you add the dimensions, if these are for sale please let us know.
Stay collecting my friends. Come visit us downtown, at a live auction or
online. We offer online auctions, live auctions, estate clean-outs and
advice (sometimes it even is right) .
HOULTON STAMP, COIN & PAWN