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Netsuke

The original function of a netsuke, a small Japanese carving usually made from wood or ivory, was to serve as a toggle to secure an inro and other accoutrements to the obi or belt of traditional Japanese costume.

But, like so much in Japanese art, the delicate detailed carving on these pieces, often carried out by master craftsmen, transformed them from the functional into small scale sculptures collected as works of art in their own right.

Subjects range from animals and mythological characters to comical subjects from everyday life.


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Sotheby's hoping to be big in Japan again with London sale

03 December 2018

For the first time in a decade, Sotheby’s Asian Art in London offering included a designated sale of Japanese art on November 6.

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De Waal Netsuke collection brings welcome addition to Blythe Road auction

03 December 2018

A welcome addition to the November 21 Asian Works of Art sale at Matthew Barton (24% buyer’s premium) of 25 Blythe Road in west London were 79 netsuke from the collection belonging to Edmund de Waal, author of the bestselling memoir 'The Hare with Amber Eyes'. London Japanese art dealer Max Rutherston helped organise the sale and took this section of the auction.

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Netsuke portraying historical general appears in Cologne auction

19 November 2018

The sales of Asian art at Lempertz in Cologne traditionally devote a large selection to Japanese works of art and the auction on December 7-8 is no exception.

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De Waal netsuke at auction – minus hare with amber eyes

29 October 2018

Netsuke from the collection of ceramicist and author Edmund de Waal, made famous by the 2010 memoir 'The Hare with the Amber Eyes', go under the hammer in London.

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Mask netsuke prove a mixed bag but head is highlight

25 June 2018

The 195-lot collection of mask netsuke amassed by Swiss entrepreneur Peter Müller met with mixed success when offered by Matthew Barton (24% buyer’s premium).

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Netsuke fans look further afield

12 March 2018

With Bonhams the only one of the ‘big three’ in this market, other salerooms carve out a role...

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Tiger displays bite as Kent tartanware checks in

10 July 2017

One of the earliest examples of the lucrative tartan tourism, which dates back to George IV’s visit to Edinburgh in 1822 and was turbo-charged by Queen Victoria’s love of the Highlands, were the sycamore boxes and trinkets made in small factories in the little Ayrshire town of Mauchline.

Meiji period netsuke of a rat

The rat awakens – Netsuke estimated at £200-300 sparks bidding war and sells at £28,500

22 July 2016

This tiny ivory netsuke of a rat was the major suprise of a recent auction in the Cotswolds.

Netsuke bonanza at Cologne saleroom

12 May 2014

In a series of sales to be spread over the coming years, Cologne auctioneers Lempertz are selling netsuke from the Kolodotschko collection.

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Tiny Japanese ivory takes £13,000

11 March 2013

This 1½in (3.5cm) Japanese ivory okimono stole the show at Tamylns’ in Bridgwater, Somerset when it sold to a telephone bidder for £13,000.

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Netsuke collection goes to Liverpool

17 November 2008

Liverpool World Museum’s Japanese holdings have been given a significant boost by the donation of 128 netsuke. The gift represents around half the collection of the late Jonas G Gadelius donated by his widow Gabita.

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A good luck charm brings £41,000

06 March 2006

It was catalogued simply as “a carved and signed ivory netsuke modeled as a dragon” and estimated at just £200-300, but this 11/2in (4.5cm) netsuke shot to £41,000 (plus 15 per cent premium) at Paul Beighton of Thurcroft, near Rotherham on February 26. Why? The reason was twofold.

Fine Meiji from Cheshire estate

09 March 2005

A local estate was the source of some fine Meiji ivories sold by Cheshire auctioneers Frank Marshall (15% buyer’s premium) of Knutsford on January 11.

High degree of quality is right format at Cambridge

11 May 2004

VOLUME sales have their value but the conscious decision of Cambridge auctioneers Cheffins (15% buyer's premium) to go for quality rather than quantity – relegating lower-end consignments to fortnightly general outings and keeping the best for five well-promoted annual sales – has proved a winning format.

Few falls, no submissions for netsuke collection

09 July 2003

It’s not often a sale devoted entirely to a single owner collection of Netsukes turns up in the provinces but this was exactly what happened on June 18 at Halls (15% buyer’s premium) Shrewsbury salerooms.

Japanese collection comes to light in time for Asian Art Week

08 May 2003

HALLS of Shrewsbury will be taking a very active part in next month’s Asian Art Week, having turned up a 157-piece collection of netsuke in the Midlands.

Hunting a £4000 buffalo

27 August 2002

The compact animal carvings of the Tomotada school are rightly thought of as the zenith of shashin netsuke, and this ivory buffalo and calf, right, by the Kyoto master (or one of his pupils) attracted strong bidding from US and London trade at Bonhams’dispersal of Branton Court.

London-Brighton battles boost netsuke bids

21 June 2001

UK: AN 80-lot collection of Japanese netsuke, inro and okimono from the deceased estate of a Lewes-based collector lifted the proceedings in Raymond P. Inman’s Sussex sale.

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