Planning on collecting and investing in Japanese netsuke? It is a specialized art and collectors pay top dollars for rare and antique netsuke. Though you might like a netsuke but is it worth the price? How do you determine which is the right one for your collection? We understand that there are various aspects of buying authentic antique netsuke, but the top considerations include:
Artist’s skill levels: The price of the mammoth ivory netsuke depends upon the skill of the artist. From crude sculptures in ivory and wood to high quality detailed artwork, all levels of talent can be seen. Seasoned collectors can recognize the locale where the netsuke was produced and check for authentic signatures. However, it takes years to be able to judge and evaluate netsuke, but you can always consult a professional collector to assist you with the evaluations.
Authenticity: To know if the netsuke is authentic or not, is difficult as signatures can be forged easily. Only a netsuke expert is able to accurately match and identify the marks, signature, style and age of the netsuke along with the artistry strokes of different artists. Consult an expert if you intend investing in antique netsuke.
Condition and state of netsuke: Although antique netsuke will show wear but it should not be so much that the value of the netsuke tumbles. Original and used antique netsuke might be chipped, tiny repairs, cracked and restored but it should be negligible. The price will depend upon the condition and rarity of the item.
Rarity of the netsuke subject: If the subject is rare, such as Baku, (mythical animal that eats nightmares/bad dreams) or rare animals, it can be priced higher. As netsuke collectors specialize in particular subjects- mythical animals, legends and even daily activities, some netsuke are more in demand than others. Prices vary accordingly.
Additionally, there are specific areas and schools of netsuke production such as Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and more which have their own styles. Seasoned netsuke collectors are able to differentiate between the different styles. Some of the well-known netsuke artists are Kokusai, Toyomasa, Okatomo, Kaigyokusai and Tomotada that command top dollars for their carvings.
Only the most famous netsuke artist’s signature commands a high price. The key consideration in price is the rarity, originality, quality of hand carving and the artistic appeal of the netsuke. Generally high quality netsuke, both old and new range from few hundred dollars to few thousands of dollars, depending on these considerations.