How do you identify and appraise Satsuma porcelain pieces?


Quick Answer

Satsuma earthenware pottery has crackle glaze and distinctive beige or ivory color. Pieces feature hand-painted raised enamel decorated with gold accents as well as colors such as blue, green, red or orange. Original Satsuma pieces were made, painted and glazed by hand, but there are many mass-produced items in the same style. You can use an online appraisal service such as Marks4Antiques.com, view some representative pieces and values on Kovels.com, or find a professional appraiser.

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Full Answer

Many of the Satsuma pieces were made during the Meiji period and date from 1868 to 1912. Intricate details and fine hand-painted decorations make them very collectible. Typically Satsuma earthenware pieces include vases, buttons, figures and tea sets. Plates, bowls and dishes are also very common. Common decorative themes include dragons, Japanese landscapes and Japanese figures.

Examine the piece for identifying marks. If there are English words, you most likely have a copy rather than an antique piece. The Shimazu clan ruled the Satsuma province during the Meiji period, so check for a Shimazu crest, which is a circle with a cross through it. You may also see kanji for the artist's name or the name of a workshop.

Original pieces have hand-painted marks not stamped ones, so pieces with perfect marks are likely more modern. Finally, due to the earth and clay composition of Satsuma pieces, they are thicker than porcelain and unlike porcelain don't make a ringing sound if you tap them.

Gotheberg.com offers some photos of some of the markings as well as details about the colors and features of some of the pieces. You can opt for an online appraisal such as ValueMyStuff.com or find a professional appraiser. Appraisers.org is a good starting place to find an accredited professional, or try contacting a local museum or gallery.

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