Fierce Bidding for Outstanding Collection of Netsuke

The sale of the Robert S. Huthart Collection of Iwami Netsuke: Part I at Bonhams on 15 May attracted strong bidding. All of the top ten items far out-performed their presale estimates, and the sale achieved a total of £1,315,646.

Today's Fine Japanese Art sale made £1,062,661 and the two sales achieved a combined total of £2,378,307.

Robert S. Huthart Collection of Iwami Netsuke: Part I

Businessman Robert S. Huthart was born in Newcastle in the UK, but lived and worked for most of his life in Hong Kong. Fascinated by netsuke – the small carved ornaments worn as part of Japanese traditional dress – he built up over many decades the finest collection ever formed of netsuke from the historical Iwami district in South West Japan (today part of the Shimane prefecture).

Highlights of the sale included:

- A boar-tusk netsuke with an applied snail, by Seiyodo Tomiharu. Sold for £68,810 (£5,000-5,500)
- A large boxwood netsuke of a toad by Mitani Goho. Sold for £52,500 (£4,000-5,000)
- A boxwood netsuke of a kirin. Sold for £40,000 (£10,000-15,000)
- An ebony netsuke of a frog on a log attributed to Seiyodo Tomiharu. Sold for £37,560 (£3,500-4,000)

Bonhams Head of Fine Japanese Art, Suzannah Yip said, "The quality and rarity of the Robert S. Huthart collection is widely acknowledged among collectors of netsuke, and the competition to acquire his pieces was intense. We are delighted at the result, and are looking forward to offering more of these treasures in the second part of the sale later in the year."

Fine Japanese Art sale

In the Fine Japanese Art sale in London on 16 May, a magnificent Nanban cabinet from the Momoyama period (1573-1615) was sold for £125,000.

Among the other major lots were:
- An exquisite Meiji era (1868-1912) inlaid bronze hanaike (flower vase) in the form of a gourd by Shoami Katsuyoshi (1832-1908). Sold for £125,000 (£10,000-150,000).
- A fine late 19th century/early 20th century matching lacquer set of a suzuribako (box for writing utensils) and a bundai (writing desk) by Uematsu Hobi (1872-1933). Sold for £100,000 (£50,000-80,000)
- Gold-lacquer three-case inro by Shibata Zeshin (1807-1891). Sold for £50,000 (estimate £40,000-50,000).


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest and most renowned auctioneers, offering fine art and antiques, motor cars and jewelry. The main salerooms are in London, New York, Los Angeles and Hong Kong, with auctions also held in Knightsbridge, Edinburgh, Paris, San Francisco and Sydney. With a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 22 countries, Bonhams offers advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full list of forthcoming auctions, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments, please visit


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