Posts Tagged ‘Nippon’

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Here is a pair of beautiful Nippon vases in a lovely celestial blue and pink pattern. The hand painted landscape scene depicts a lake, trees, a little house and a pretty sky. Both have the same image and both are painted this same way front and back. The moriage work is used to frame the landscape. The decoration is inspired by the late-Rococo porcelain styles of Germany and France. There is some loss of gold on the Japanese Chin (*) dog handles, and normal signs of wear as appropriate with age. Unmarked, but I believe this to be original Nippon porcelain from the late 19th Century or early 20th Century. Measurements: Height: 5.9″

(*) The Japanese Chin, also known as the Japanese Spaniel is another dog breed that resembles Chinese guardian lions , also called Fu (or Foo) Lions, and originates in China. Professor Ludvic von Schulmuth studied canine origins by studying the skeletal remains of dogs found in human settlements as long as ten thousand years ago. The Professor created a genealogical tree of Tibetan dogs that shows the “Gobi Desert Kitchen Midden Dog”, a scavenger, evolved into the “Small Soft-Coated Drop-Eared Hunting Dog”. From this dog evolved the Tibetan Spaniel, Pekingese, and Japanese Chin.

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Nippon Porcelain

The Japanese did not begin exporting their porcelain until the 17th century. It was at that time that a civil war caused the Chinese exporting to halt, prompting the Dutch to convince the Japanese to begin exporting to fill the European demand for porcelain.

Nippon porcelain production began in 1891, when exporting to America was opened, and ended in 1921 when a tariff stating that items had to be plainly marked in English was enacted. The name Nippon simply means Japan. It is not a type of porcelain, but rather a time period that porcelain contained the mark of Nippon.

In general, unmarked Nippon is prior to March 1891; however, this is not a hard and fast rule. Until import laws were clarified, some USA ports allowed goods to enter the country as long as the crate or box was marked with the originating country.

In its day, the Nippon porcelain was inexpensive and often seen as not worthy of collecting. Today, it is not only popular in America, but also Japan and very expensive to collect.

Pieces such as vases, pots and plates were decorated using distinctive decorating techniques.  Nippon porcelain was wholly hand painted until 1904. After 1904, piece began appearing with decals and stencil designs.  Many of them were decorated using materials which are no longer available nowadays. It would be very difficult to bring these techniques and materials back into today’s ceramic industry. The decorating techniques include the following:

Moriage 盛り上げ

Moriage is the term used to describe the layering of small beads or lines of slip clay onto the surface of the pottery, vase or bowl to create three dimensional decorative effects.

There are three basic methods for applying the moriage designs. One is by hand rolling and shaping. The second makes use of tubing. The tubing was filled with softened clay and applied to the porcelain much as we decorate cakes today. The third technique is to reduce the clay to a liquid state and brush it on items. Moriage designs are innumerable and varied. They include border trimmings, lacy designs, and floral motifs.

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Kin-mori 金盛 or Gold Moriage 金彩

The Moriage were often painted gold after the glaze had been applied, giving the pottery item a unique and special finish. The beads were all placed onto the pottery by hand before it was fired in the kiln. Later, when the mass production of such items was started, the addition of the slip clay beads was replaced by adding small dots of enamel which speeded up the production time of each of the items.


enamel-mori agold moriageKin-mori2

Jewel ジュエル

This is a raised decoration using glassy pigments that looks like a jewel embedded in the enamel. The colours used are red, yellow, blue, green, and pink. Also known as “Hoseki-mori”.

hoseki-mori bhoseki-mori c

hoseki-mori dhoseki-mori e

hoseki-mori ghoseki-mori h

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hoseki mori ihoseki-mori a

Cobalt コバルト

Cobalt blue was the primary blue pigment used in Chinese blue and white porcelain for centuries, beginning in the late 8th or early 9th century.

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Cerulean blue is much used for colouring pottery, and consists of 79 parts of grey flux (fondant aux gris), 7 of carbonate of cobalt, 14 hydrated carbonate. The name of this 19th blue pigment was based on the Latin word “caeruleum” (sky or heavens) previously used in Classical Antiquity to refer to numerous blue pigments. The quite numerous versions of cobalt cerulean already offer quite a various range of undertones.

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Designs デザインパターン

Images and patterns are drawn directly onto ceramics by highly skilled craftsmen. These designs are based on complicated, elegant curves and light pastel colours. The paintings were greatly influenced by traditional European decorative style.

Landscape 風景

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Old Swan

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Portrait ポートレート

Japanese Josephine portraitJosephine

Japanese kmpKMP berlin

Japanese Mucha vaseAlfons Maria Mucha Sarah Bernhardt



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This is a beautiful hand painted cup and saucer set by Nippon. There are gilded moriage decorations and beading on both pieces.

Style: Art Deco – Unmarked

Age: C late 19th – early 20th century

Nippon Porcelain

Nippon is not the name of the manufacturer as many think, but rather the country of origin. Today, Nippon items are among the most sought after collectibles on the antique market. In October of 1890, the “McKinley Tariff Act” required items entering the United States be marked with the country of origin. In September of 1891, the Nippon era began and lasted until 1921. During that time, merchandise from Japan, had to be marked Nippon, the Japanese name for Japan. After 1921, the United States required that imports carry the word Japan or made in Japan.

During the Nippon manufacturing era the Japanese government commissioned a number of foreign artisans to come to Japan to instruct them in the production and painting of porcelain in the European style. They were highly successful in their efforts at imitation, and much Nippon porcelain that was produced bears a strong resemblance to such European porcelain products as Limoges, Sevres, KPM, R.S. Prussia, Beleek, Wedgwood, Gouda, Royal Bayreuth, and the list goes on and on. The advantage to the American consumer of the day was that hand painted Nippon porcelain could be acquired at a fraction of the cost of its European counterparts.

Early unmarked Nippon is of higher quality. The artwork and decorations are superior. The gold was used quite lavishly on the pieces exported during this time. However, much of this gold was not very durable and today we find that a number of these pieces have much of the gold worn off.

Nippon has secured a reputation as fine art in the world of porcelain. This is because its superb techniques are being re-evaluated and the art deco and moriage (1) of Nippon are not just viewed as second-rate western style porcelains. They are viewed as outstanding artistic porcelain works.

(1) Moriage or “raised enamel decoration”: is a special type of raised decoration used on some Japanese pottery. It is the art of laying “beads” of porcelain on the item prior to firing in the kiln. Most typically it was decorated later in gold. Sometimes pieces of clay were shaped by hand and applied to the item; sometimes the clay was squeezed from a tube in the way we apply cake frosting.

Examples of Nippon Porcelain

Reproduction Alert

The authentic cracker jar is on the left. Note that the gold on the reproduction cracker jar is darker and looks burnished.

Again, note the color difference in both the porcelain and gold.

Note that the inside rim of the authentic cracker jar lid (on the left) is shaped differently than the inside lid of the reproduction.

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