Antiques & Collecting

Flattery in Its Sincerest Form Finds Kakiemon Style

This Meissen Kakiemon-style plate auctioned for $6,500. It was made about 1740 and has the crossed swords mark in blue.
March 2018

An auction catalog offered a “rare Kakiemon enameled porcelain plate” from the 18th century, but there was no further explanation of the age, history or design. What is the meaning of Kakiemon?

Sakaida Kakiemon (1596-1666) was a potter who worked in Japan in the early 17th century. He and his family painted porcelain made in the town of Arita. Kakiemon wares were painted over the glaze using blue, red, green, yellow and black, and sometimes with gilding. The best work was done from 1680 to 1720. The ceramic was milky white with a smooth surface and designs were asymmetrical and sparse, so there was a lot of white space as part of the design.

Most patterns were based on flower arrangements, crooked tree branches, flowers like peonies or chrysanthemums, or flowering fruit trees. One famous pattern included quail.

The Kakiemon style was so popular, it was copied by many English and German factories, and 19th-century copies are very similar to early designs. A collector today may identify a plate as Kakiemon if it is in the style of the early pieces. But the description used by a museum might also include the name of a European maker.

Meissen (German), Chantilly and Mennecy (French), and Chelsea, Bow and Worcester (English) all made early collectible copies. Collectors pay high prices for the 18th- and early 19th-century pieces.

A 9-inch Meissen plate made in about 1740 with a tiger, bamboo and flower decoration sold at a Brunk auction for $6,500. The pattern is copied today on modern dishes. Collectors should not be confused. The new dishes are very different in shape and glaze; only the decoration is old.

Q: I’d like to know the value of a violin that is about 100 years old. The inscription inside reads “Copy of Antonius Stradivarius, made in Czechoslovakia.” What is it worth? — David, Abilene, Texas

A: Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737) made violins, violas, cellos and other stringed instruments at his workshop in Cremona, Italy. Fewer than 600 of the original Stradivarius violins still are in existence, and they sell for several million dollars each.

Thousands of copies have been made and don’t sell for high prices. Your violin was made after the creation of Czechoslovakia in 1918. Recently, a violin like yours that included the case sold for $57.

Terry Kovel writes about the latest news of the antiques market. Her website is


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