Often I have friends who are searching for specific pots for specific trees, and also other friends who simply have me keep an eye out for big name potters’ work up for sale. When I find one of these big name pieces for a friend, I will often have it checked by the very generous master at One of my favorite nurseries, one of the most respected experts, along with a couple of other Japanese Bonsai pros and pottery collectors both here and abroad.
Recently I came upon this Tsukinowa Yusen, and I have a friend who is always on the lookout for them. I’ve bought pots from this seller before that were authentic, so, initially, I had no reason to doubt it’s authenticity. He paid me right away.
However, I had some doubts about the painting style, the feet, and the clay. So, before I purchased it from the seller, I had it checked out, and the consensus, from 3 Japanese Pros, was….FAKE!
All my doubts were confirmed, the painting style is too sloppy, the shape is not one Yusen often used, the feet are all wrong, and the clay is off. We mostly agreed that the signature is spot on though.
Of course, I sent my friend his funds back, and I was very very relieved to have the friends I have in Japan to help me with these purchases, and their great generosity in doing so!
Lesson here today: a signature or a chop is not enough to go by when evaluating high end pots. You must go by the style, the clay, the age, and the minor details that go into these potters’ works. It’s much harder to identify a forgery than just matching up the chop. Forgers in China these days are using computers, scanning equipment, CNC machines and diamond routers(I believe they’re called) to engrave picture perfect signatures into old pots that resemble a famous potter’s work(this can be identified by the tiny displacement of clay on the outside of the lines of a signature, meaning it was done before the clay was fired….no displacement waves=forged!).
The Forged Yusen
I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing the pitfalls of buying high end pottery.
Be careful out there!