Komai casket with three drawers sold for $30,000 (£23,800) at Tremont.

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On the abolition of the Samurai, the Kyoto firm began making decorative objects, mostly made for export.

Under the leadership of Komai Otojiro, the company became renowned for works displaying the textured inlay in gold and silver technique known as nunome-zougan.

Many were shown at international exhibitions either by the Komai Company of Kyoto or dealers such as Ikeda Seisuke marketing a selection of Japanese products.


Komai casket with three drawers sold for $30,000 (£23,800) at Tremont.

The December 3 auction at Tremont (27% buyer’s premium) in Sudbury, Massachusetts, included an impressive example of the nunome-zougan technique: a 6in (15cm) wide casket with a full Komai signature to the base.

Decorated with landscapes and brocade patterns, it opens to reveal three gilded drawers worked with repeated kikunogomon (chrysanthemum emblems), the mon used by the emperor of Japan and members of the imperial family.

Meiji metalwork at its very best, it was estimated at $1000-1500 but hammered for $30,000 (£23,800).