Here is a Buyers Guide to purchasing Imari Porcelain; all you need to know including Expert Antique Dealer Advice & Interior Designer hints and tips to consider.
Expert Advice to Buying Imari Porcelain
1. Condition is Key
Mr Andrews, of Scottow Antiques, has a long history of specialising in the antique ceramics market, and he believes that as with any antique ceramics the condition of the piece is vital when purchasing an item. The condition will ultimately affect its value, attractiveness and how desirable the piece may be.
Becky MacGuire, a specialist in Asian Art who works for Christies, suggests that rarity is of particular importance: “rarity of form, as well as attractive decoration and superior enamelling or painting” is all of pertinence when purchasing such pieces.
3. Identifying Chinese and Japanese Imari porcelain
During the 1700’s China made a great deal of Imari porcelain. To ascertain whether your piece is of Japanese or Chinese origin look at the whiteness of the porcelain, in general Chinese Imari porcelain tended to be brighter than their original Japanese counterparts.
4. Dating your Imari Porcelain
Imari porcelain that features bright red, blue, or green porcelain was made in the early part of the 18th C, and was known as Kakiemon Imari; this type of porcelain evolved into Kinrande Imari, which used red, blue and gold in its glaze. These styles of Imari porcelain very much dominated the European market at the time.
If in the decoration of your item you are also able to identify a red and pink mix with the white enamel, it would mean the piece was not made prior to the 1730’s, when this technique was developed.
5. Imari Decoration
The decoration on Imari porcelain originates from ‘Wanli wucai’, the Ming dynasty decoration, which means ‘five colour enamels’; as antique porcelain goes Imari porcelain is very colourful and vibrant.
Interior Designer Advice
1. Diversify in your designs
The range of designs was vast so why not amalgamate designs, which include tapestry, birds, animals, floral scenes and people, into your collection. There are also more unique designs available through antique dealers, which featured boats, fans and fish in their design.
2. Lift your room with lighting
A pair of Imari vase lamps with original bronze mounts are visually very appealing, as are Imari vases that have been converted into oil lamps, the light emitted will only seek to highlight the rich hues of colours in the vase designs.
3. Wall charger
An oriental Imari wall charger in bright and vibrant colours is an interesting focal point; it is possible to pick up some extremely large wall chargers in excellent condition from the 19th C. It would make for an excellent addition for an oriental themed interior.
4. Use it
You needn’t always buy priceless pieces that you feel you are unable to get use out of, it is sometimes important to take the mystique out of vintage and antique porcelain; after all they were created to be used in the household. Try buying affordable pieces and use them everyday or simply bring them out for special occasions but do try to enjoy them.
5. Short of paintings then use porcelain
The beauty of Imari porcelain is its diversity and vibrant range of colours hence why you can replace your walls with porcelain rather than paintings. Arrange the plates in a colourful cluster in your dining room or lounge for a visual delight.
Extra Considerations when purchasing Imari Ceramics
It is important to note that it may be difficult to differentiate between Japanese and Chinese Imari from the 17th and 18th C, however there are a few considerations that will help in the identification. Chinese porcelain tended to be whiter and under glaze cobalt colour has more notes of purple, it is also brighter in nature. Chinese over glaze is also considered more orange than its Japanese counterpart, which is redder.
The beauty of antiques and vintage items of furniture and kitchenware is the lack of impact your purchase has on our delicate eco-system. By reusing, recycling and restoring items of Imari ware we ensure that pieces of porcelain that may otherwise have ended up in landfill continue to be enjoyed for their beauty for years to come.
Quality is often key when it comes to valuing antique items of pottery and ceramics such as Imari ware; pieces that are undamaged will yield more of a financial investment. Some Imari ware may be poorly painted, it is best to avoid these, as well as pieces that have been overly restored, it best to avoid buying damaged pieces of Imari ware as the value will be effected detrimentally.
For example a ‘Blackship’ piece, a design that acknowledges the Dutch sailors and their vessels during the trading period, is rare and highly coveted. Fukagawa is also a fine example of Imari porcelain that will be worthy of financial investment.
There were imitations of Imari ware in the West, although many of the potteries that reproduced them were well respected, such as Spode and Meissen, they are not considered authentic Imari ware. That is not to say that Imari ware only made in Japan is of worth, some of the largest collections of Imari ware include Chinese Imari, English and Dutch Delftware inspired by the designs.
At Love Antiques we suggest the following mantra when it comes to delivery of your antiques: Prepare, Protect and Package. Prepare by finding a trustworthy, reputable courier who has experience of delivering valuable and fragile items. It is also important to protect your investment; you can purchase insurance before delivery so in the likelihood your Imari porcelain is damaged you are afforded financial protection in advance. In regard to packaging in this case the old saying ‘less is more’ is reversed, it is more rather than less, it is important to wrap your item in bubble wrap, newspaper and ensure it is double boxed.
When it comes to porcelain and ceramics the higher the firing temperatures the more durable the piece will be and the less porous. Imari ware tended to be fired at high temperature and features a white body; this type of ceramic is called porcelain and is considered very durable. When handling your Imari pieces it is important to be gentle, damage is more than often caused by carelessness. When cleaning your Imari pieces identify any weaknesses or cracks and avoid further damage of the area.
Fist Image: Adobe Stock, ©ImageArt FILE#: 110041147
Second Image (image on the left): Antique Japanese Imari Porcelain Wall Plate c.1870 - LoveAntiques Stock
Second Image (image in the centre): Mid 19th Century Imari Porcelain Charger - LoveAntiques Stock
Second Image (image on the right): Antique Imari Japanese Porcelain Scalloped Dish 1870 - LoveAntiques Stock
Last Image (image on the left): Early 20th Century Japanese Imari bowl c.1900 - LoveAntiques Stock
Last Image (image in the centre): Pair of Japanese Meiji Blue & White Vases c.1910 - LoveAntiques Stock
Last Image (image on the right): Antique Japanese Imari Porcelain Wall Plate c.1870 - LoveAntiques Stock