Four early iron sukashi tsuba 15th-16th century
Lot 2271
Four iron sukashi tsuba 16th-19th century
Sold for US$ 2,000 inc. premium
Auction Details
Lot Details
Property from the collection of Clarence McKenzie Lewis Jr.
Four iron sukashi tsuba
16th-19th century
Comprising a Kamakura tsuba carved with a bridge, rocks, reeds and clouds in takabori and pierced with a cherry blossom and a mushroom, hitsuana slightly enlarged at a later date; a Kamakura tsuba with a waterwheel and a cherry blossom afloat on waves in takabori and sukashibori; a late Katchushi tsuba with a raised, squared rim and pierced with blossoms and snowflakes; a Tosho tsuba pierced with three mushrooms and finished on the surface with vertical yasurime
3 5/8in (9.2cm) diameter (the largest)


  • The following collection of sword fittings was formed in the late 19th and early 20t century by Mary Churchill Ripley and added to by Clarence McKenzie Lewis, Jr. throughout his lifetime.

    Mary Churchill Ripley was an Asian scholar at the turn of the 20th century. She traveled extensively throughout Asia and published articles and book son Asian art, most notably The Oriental Rug Book, first published in 1904 and republished posthumously in a new edition in 1936. She lectured extensively on the arts of both China and Japan. To enrich her talks, she collected examples of work characteristic of those cultures. Much of the Japanese discussion was related to Japanese swords, and sword fittings, both practical and artistic manifestations of the metallurgy for which the Japanese are so justifiably famous.

    Mary's daughters worker for the Tiffany Studio. Annah Churchill Ripley met her husband-to-be, investment banker Clarence McKenzie Lewis, while she worked in the rare bookbinding studio. Her son, Clarence McKenzie Lewis, Jr., was introduced to the collection of sword fittings as a very small child and would spend hours with his grandmother Mary Churchill Ripley studying the individual pieces and learning the characteristics of each school. After the passing of his mother, he inherited the collection as a fond souvenir of both his mother and grandmother.

    Mr. Lewis's father and paternal grandmother, Helen Forbes Salomon, also shaped his appreciation for beautiful objects and sparked an interest in European art. Mr. Lewis, Sr., and his mother, Mrs. Salomon, together commissioned John Russell Pope to design a 44-room Tudor manor house on the thousand-acre "Skylands" estate in Northern New Jersey, which Lewis, Sr. purchased in 1922. Lewis traveled with his father and sister to Europe frequently during the 1920s to find furniture and antiques to furnish "Skylands," and he began to acquire some European drawings and etchings of his own.

    Mr. Lewis married Alverta Van Dusen of Philadelphia in 1945 following his service as a Captain in the U.S. Army in Italy during World War II. A graduate of Harvard Law School, he joined the U.S. Treasury's Tax Legislative Council and crafted significant portions of what became the 1954 Internal Revenue Code. During the Eisenhower administration, he moved with his wife and four sons to Pittsburgh to join the law firm of Kirkpatrick, Lockhart as head of the tax department. There Mr. Lewis served as a trustee of the Carnegie Museum, encouraging more acquisitions for the museum's collection. It was also during this period that Mr. Lewis began to put together one of the finest private collections of works by Paul Klee.

    It was his collection of sword fittings, however, that remained his enduring passion. Throughout his life he devoted many years to the study of Japanese sword guards, becoming friendly with some of the most influential collectors and scholars of Japanese art along the way. There remained with the Lewis family countless letters between Mr. Lewis and the likes of W.W. Winkworth, John Harding, Sasano Masayuki, and others discussing the various examples of tsuba on offer at Glendining, Sotheby's and Parke-Bernet Galleries.
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