Meiji treasures defy estimates at Bonhams New York

Fine Japanese Works of Art
19 Mar 2013
New York

NEW YORK — Bonhams March 19 Fine Japanese Works of Art auction realised over $2.7 million, with all of the top 10 lots dating from the late 19th-early 20th century, or Meiji period, a time when Eastern and Western influences coalesced in Japan. The Madison Avenue salesroom was filled to capacity with focused bidders who competed with international clientele on the phones and online. The works were praised not only for their distinctive style but also for their superb craftsmanship.

The majority of highlights soared past their pre-sale high estimates, including the top lot, a model of a silver dragon which sold for $128,500 against a pre-sale estimate of $5,000-7,000. The powerful and dynamic model rendered in silver, gold and shakudo sparked a phone bidding war between determined clients. A Satsuma vase and cover by Yabu Meizan from a Florida estate achieved an exciting $88,900.

Lacquer inro also attracted the attention of collectors, and achieved impressive results. The most notable was a four-case Shibayama lacquer inro by Teiun, which sold for $56,250, more than six times its pre-sale high estimate.

Cloisonné enamel, a hallmark of Meiji decorative arts, once again performed strongly. A large and impressive example by the Goto studio led the way with a result of $42,500, doubling its pre-sale low estimate.

Other exceptional results were realised in the sword section, highlighted by a fine tanto in aikuchi mounts by Katsuyoshi which sold for $56,250.

"These strong results show the market is still driven by a demand for quality works of art, and demonstrates Bonhams commitment to drawing from the collections of private individuals and estates, bringing items that are fresh to the market," said Jeff Olson, the Director of the Japanese Department at Bonhams New York.

Fine Japanese Works of Art was the second of four Asia Week auctions at Bonhams New York. Bonhams next Fine Japanese Works of Art auction will take place on September 12 in New York.


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to

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