These life-size depictions of fruit are botanical illustrations from a 1851 American publication. They are Lithographs – etched onto stone as a method of printing – and hand-coloured to accurately depict the apple and pear varieties. They are all a little browned & faded, and their gilt frames are overpainted in white – but they certainly have a terrific impact! And the price…. irresistible!
With Christmas fast approaching we have some great gift ideas for everyone.
Moorabool has been selling Antiques as Christmas Gifts for over 60 years…
Looking for something ‘Unique’? We can provide that!
Antiques and fossils make great gift for the person who has everything. Today’s Fresh Stock has a terrific range to consider. All the ancient pieces & fossils come with a Certificate of Authenticity & Description explaining what they are.
This stunning cabinet is known as a Shodana, and is seen here being used as intended – it’s a ‘curio cabinet’, to store your precious objects in. What makes this example so interesting is the architectural element – the central portion contains two three-shelf corner partitions, the lower one having four sliding screen doors – miniature versions of the Japanese house doors – and the entire segment hinges outward, to leave the interior space clear. Above is another larger shelf section with four similar sliding doors. The open fretwork on these is amazing for its fineness and accuracy, true miniatures of the full-sized house doors in Meiji Japan. Add to that the rich wood inlay, and this is a truely spectacular piece of Japanese Meiji period craftsmanship.
A fine quality Japanese piece fresh to stock is this Japanese Suzuribako writing box. The lid has an intricate panel of quail and a maize plant, modelled in high relief with various woods and bone, the rest of the box adorned with an intricately carved cell pattern, the interior lined in jet black lacquer with gilt foliage to the inside of lid, fitted with a full set of writing instruments, including silver butterfly Suiteki inset within a silver dish, a carved slate ink-stone with gilt rim, two brushes, a bodkin with lacquer sheath & a matching steel blade with inscribed maker’s inscription, and two gilt-decorated ink blocks.
23.5cm x 20.5cm, 6cm high blade 6.5cm, in sheaf 19cm
This is an ‘Inro’, a small box with cord to carry at your waist. Standing just 8cm tall, it was intended to contain ‘medicine’, via a series of segments that seal tightly together, a small usable compartment in the base of each.
The quality of this piece speaks for itself, with a very finely detailed continuous scene – probably from a popular play – depicting two gracious ladies seeing off a bare-foot bald-headed Samurai, clutching his sword. They were enjoying a quiet picnic in the woods a moment ago, as can be seen by the red rug with picnic box, wine bottle and cup….. and the intruder on the other side, a wizen old Samurai warrior with his sword, is receiving a good telling-off by the startled ladies. No doubt it’s illustrating something form a popular play of the period – if anyone knows, please send us a message!
There is a signature to the base of the lowest segment, which is interesting as it bears to parts; first, an inlaid mother-of-pearl plaque with ‘芝山’ , and second, three characters in gold lacquer “松花齋”. These signatures reveal the origins of this piece; the lacquer case and landscape is by Shokasai, a well known & respected Edo lacquer artist, while the fine inlaid figures is by the fabled Shibayama artists, made as a joint effort & hence signed by both.
Shibayama: this Japanese family workshop of artisans was founded by Shabayama Dosho, also known as Senzo. He was a farmer from Shibayama who became a famous artist in the 18th century after moving to Edo to practice his trade. He had many descendents, such as his grandson & successor, Shibayama Naoyuki, who continued the workshop’s tradition for fine inlaid work into the 19th century. Records are not distinct when it comes to the later Edo period Shibayama artists, as they all used the simple signature “‘芝山” , for ‘Shibayama’.
ref. Bonhams NY 19 Sept. 2008, lot 5036 for a comparable example.
Japanese artists began to print in the 17th century, and technological advances meant that by the 18th century they were able to produce large & colourful images. For the multi-coloured images, a different wood block was carved for each, and carefully lined up consecutively to create the multi-colours image. They were initially commissions by the wealthy Edo period patrons to illustrate calendars, which they gave as New Year presents. Subjects were often beautiful courtesans, actors, or illustrations of popular opera scenes. Scenic splendour and historical events followed. They were hugely popular in Japan, and specialty shops existed just to sell ‘the latest’ from the famous artists. Collectors would be inclined to ’collect the series’ by a particular artist, storing them away in specialty wooden boxes. In many ways, it was just like the present day Comic Book scene! The simple lines, and the bright separate zones of flat colour were the result of the techniques used. They were very important factors in the development of Western Art, once collectors discovered them in the later 19th century. In fact, it’s well documented that the great ’fathers of Modern Art’ such as Gauguin and Van Gogh both collected and were inspired by Japanese Woodblocks, as they set about their quest for a break with the traditions of Western Art.
We have a selection of these vivid prints for sale, some shown below with more to come shortly.
A remarkable folio of 200 year-old Chinese paintings recently came to Moorabool. They are large-scale examples of the ‘China Trade’ paintings, usually seen on a smaller scale on ‘Pith-paper’. These are on a thicker paper, using Mulberry bark as the basis, hence known as ‘Mulberry Paper’. They were popular with the European traders who came to Canton to buy Tea, Silk, Porcelain, and exotic Eastern produce. Rare early examples can be the mid-18th century, but they became very popular by around 1800 as trade flourished. Their subject matter reflects this intention as a ‘souvenir album’ – the distant ancestors of the postcard folio of the modern tourist.
One theme was ‘The Story of Tea’, showing the process it went through from the bush to the tea chest- appropriate considering the intended customer, visiting European merchants. Another rarer series follows the manufacture of Porcelain.
By far the most popular subjects were the everyday people that visitors would have seen on the streets – the umbrella mender, the fish sellers, the hat maker. Crime & punishment folios featured many macabre details not suitable for children… Others have children playing with toys, the dress of the wealthy & court, and the bright & lively processions for various holidays and celebrations.
A third group served as a ‘Visual Encyclopaedia’ – with subjects such as flower specimens, birds & fish specimens, ship types, and even ’Antiques’. This album we are showing here belongs to this group, a Musical Instrument ‘visual guide’.
Occasionally there are small-scale pith paintings of Chinese musicians playing the various instruments – but it seems these depictions of instruments on this album are quite rare. No comparable example could be found.
They represent a large number of Chinese musical instruments, as were used in the early 19th century when they were painted. As a folio, they were a document of the types of Chinese traditional instruments, which brings to mind it’s purpose: to the Westerners who were often the clients for the China-Trade paintings, they were curios; to the Chinese, they would be a fine reference folio for the musically minded – a tutor to a prince, perhaps?
A total of 20 instruments are depicted, some single, several double, and two triple.
Welcome to our 2022 Special Gallery of Fresh Chinese items.
We’ve always stocked a good selection of Chinese items, and at present, we have a large number of items to share.
Of particular note below are the Ming Dynasty blue & white pieces. Part of a collection we are selling, the highlight is perhaps the Jiajing period dish, 500 years old and complete with a mark. This 4-character mark misses the important part – the name of the Emperor during the period it was made – but is also found on a very similar example in the British Museum. They have linked it to an example that has the complete mark, revealing it to be made in the time of Emperor Jiajing, who reigned 1522-66.
We have some quality Chinese Hardwood furniture to offer. A pair of cabinets make excellent display cases for any collector of Asian Antiques, and are available as a single or the pair. The long low table has handy compartments beneath, and is an excellent shallow size for small spaces, such as a hallway.
Below are some lovely examples of the Tang & Ming dynasty pottery models. These items were buried as offerings, to ensure the deceased had a life of luxury in the afterlife. They are accurate models of everyday items, and allow us to vividly imagine everyday life in their time: in this respect, they indeed meet their purpose by bringing the past to life!
Blue and White porcelains have been the most popular Chinese Ceramics in Europe since the Ming Dynasty, and the same aesthetic is still popular today. The following examples are all Ming, dating from 500-
Vast amounts of Chinese Porcelain was made purely as Export Wares in China, with England, Europe, and America as the main destination. The shapes reflect this, as they are usually European rather than traditional Chinese.
Works on paper – or ‘pith’, the thinly-shaved core of a fast-growing tropical plant – are beautiful, rare survivors. The larger pieces are on linen, and were intended as ‘scrolls’, to be brought out and displayed when needed. The large example with the multi-figures is a family tree, an ‘Ancestor Scroll’ set in the interior of their house.
Fresh to stock are two pieces of Royal Worcester, beautifully hand-painted, one by James Stinton with pheasants, the other with doves & a cottage by Charles Baldwyn.
James Stinton was son of well known Worcester artist John, and his brother John junior, all of who painted birds. James came to work at the Royal Worcester factory when Grainger Worcester was taken over in 1902, making this a very early example of his work at Royal Worcester. James also painted watercolours of this same subject. These ‘studies’ were probably a side-line for him, but would have also been a great way to keep his skills sharp.
The large Charles Baldwyn vase is an unusual example. It dates to 1903 – the last year he worked at the factory, before leaving to become a watercolour artist. He had spent his time at Worcester, and made a name for himself painting birds: as an avid bird watcher, he was able to turn this hobby into an art with great success. A search for his Worcester painting will reveal a large number of ‘flights of swans’ – his most popular design – and the occasional own or blue bird. Our example is doves, and while there are a few of these, their background is most unusual – a classic English Country Cottage. It’s a rare, large example of this talented artist, one of the last he would have done before leaving the Royal Worcester works.
An interesting selection of items, just freshly released. With Christmas coming up fast, there’s a lot of items that would make great small presents – check out the ‘Under $100‘ and ‘Under $50‘ galleries.
We’re used to Dutch Delft in the blue & white, but the mineral manganese was also used to produce these interesting variations to the usual ‘Delft’. The Biblical examples are scarce, and these are fine examples – note the ‘Moses in the Bullrushes’ scene complete with a Sphinx in the background!
Once essential items for anyone who wrote, a pen-knife was a small sharp blade that allowed you to trim a quill to write with. The rarities in this collection are the ‘mini’ examples- perfectly usable , but in miniature and designed to hang from the fob chain of a gent’s pocketwatch. The ‘fancy’ examples with silver blades are in fact for use with foods – ie. cutting soft fruits, where steel would both be damaged by the acids of the fruit, and cause discolouration to the fruit. Silver on the other hand didn’t have the same reaction, and they were a popular item in the Victorian era. There’s also a rather lethal looking medical tool: a lancet, perhaps the most ancient and simple of all medical instruments: it has a super sharp double-sided blade with slender point, and was used to open a vein and allow all the badness to drain from the body… alongside the inevitable blood. Thankfully, a practice long since abandoned thanks to modern medicine! This is a German example in Tortoiseshell, marked ‘THAMM’ for a Berlin maker of surgical instruments.
Our latest Fresh Stock on Moorabool.com includes a terrific variety of fine items – including some Sterling Silver rarities, usable Whiskey & Wine glasses, and a scattering of jewellery.
Lots more in the pipeline, as October draws to a close it will soon be November – and that’s almost Christmas! We will have a sensational selection of Christmas Present ideas for all of those who like to plan ahead.
Best wishes from Paul & Glenys Rosenberg & all at Moorabool
We have a fine collection of Portrait Miniatures to offer over the next few weeks. From several collections, including John Rosenberg’s own personal pieces, we will be putting them into their own gallery – see them all here >>
These two pieces of Napoleonic-era Silver have an interesting tale to tell. The hallmarks show that the teapot is French, and the jug is Dutch. Not illustrated is a matching tea canister, also Dutch. This canister has an engraved dedication – a wedding gift in the early 19th century. It was retained by the family, and opens up an interesting story: the family name was well represented in records available online, and at this period was involved with the famous Dutch East Indies company (VOC). This enterprise, controlling trade from the far East to Europe, created huge fortunes for those involved, and this was most certainly the case with this family; Meissen porcelain, and quantities of early Chinese porcelain, some dating to the VOC’s heyday in the Kanxi period, 1644-1722. (These will be the subject of another release & blog in the near future, stay tuned for more!).
A- the hallmarks of the jug are Dutch, with the Crown being used for a short period, 1807-10, for large articles of .934 grade silver. The stork with eel in beak beneath it is the City Guild mark for The Hague, and the ‘M’ indicates a maker, while ‘g’ is for the year 1809.
B- the hallmarks for the teapot indicate a French origin – the helmeted head is the mark used for certified Silver items, of ’provincial’ origin (Paris makers used the head of Athena). The Rooster mark is the fineness indicator for France, introduced in an oval such as this to indicate ’Provincial’, .950 grade silver, in 1809. However, thanks to Napoleon, the French Kingdom spread far across Europe – and their particular assay system for precious metals was used in multiple places. Also widely used was the diamond-shaped stamp containing the maker’s mark, although a single letter – ‘S’- is not common, with the majority of makers having two. Dutch silversmiths had used the marks seen in ’A’, the helmet-shaped jug, but were forced to disband their guilds and conform to the French marking system. A search for the ’S’ maker has so far been unfruitful, in both Dutch & French makers.
The jug & teapot tell an interesting story, of the time when France held sway over even the silversmiths of Holland. Napoleon’s vision of Empire brought with it the elegant simplicity of these ‘Empire Style’ pieces, and they show the harmonious situation in Europe for the few brief years of the Kingdom of Holland. The jug, reading the date letter, was made in 1809; the teapot was made to the same pattern, with it’s hallmark type being first introduced in 1809, whether in either France or Holland, and it was then combined as a tea service.
We have a quantity of English Sterling Silver to offer, from local estates – including some collector’s rarities, and some very usable pieces.
These ordinary looking Georgian Sterling teaspoons are nothing remarkable from the front – but turn them over, and instead of the normal stub at the junction of handle & bowl, they have fancy moulding – these are ’Picture back’ spoons. For a while during the later 18th century, there were a number of spoon makers who decorated their spoon backs in this manner, but numbers were always less than ’normal’ production and they’re the rarities of today’s Sterling Collecting field. We have several ’scroll backs’, a ’single rose back’ and another that doesn’t seem to have a name – a simple scroll moulded to the back. All came from a local family via a family inheritance from the UK.
Pair of Sugar Castors
These interesting sugar-castors were used by the Georgian diner to spread sugar on desserts. While the shape is something from the earlier 18th century, these are hallmarked for 1775 & 1777 – the last years such pieces were used. They were being replaced by new sugar-spreading techniques – sugar bowls and baskets with sifter-spoons.
They are marked for a second-generation London silversmith, Thomas Daniell (also spelt with one ‘l’). His father,
A lovely large ‘Stuffing Spoon’, dated 1807. This was literally to help with the ‘stuffing’ of poultry – and would have had to be large for a Turkey, Goose, Swan or Peacock! It would have been very handy on the table – and why not again, it serves a decent spoonful…