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Netsuke are sculptural items popularized in Japan over three hundred years ago. These served functional and aesthetic purposes. However, netsuke is now a popular art collector’s item. People spend on these unique art pieces as an investment and others use them as ornaments in their interior. When looking for netsuke, careful consideration is required to ensure you get genuine netsuke. Luckily, there’re various online collectors’ stores where to buy netsuke. But, you have to understand these 6 questions to ask when buying netsuke.

Is it authentic?

It’s not that easy to determine the authenticity of netsuke. The artist’s signature might be a good benchmark but it can be faked easily. Everyone knows that genuine netsuke dates back many years but some artists can fake old age. Determining the authenticity of netsuke concerns accurate identification and matching of features such as:

  • Age
  • Style
  • School
  • Material
  • Signature
  • Stroke
  • Artistry

A proper understanding of all the above features about netsuke requires many years of studying and experience handling authentic netsuke.

What is the level of artist skill?

Reputable art collectors are usually exposed to various pieces made by different artists with a range of skills. So, it makes it possible to differentiate between folk art and Michelangelo. It’s important to understand that some collectors have simple carved pieces while others look for those with complex and minute details. Luckily, netsuke can have beauty regardless of the level of the artist.

Which school does the artist come from?

The most popular names of artists when looking at netsuke include;

  1. Kokusai
  2. Tomiharu
  3. Okatomo
  4. Tomotada
  5. Toyomasa
  6. Kaigyokusai
  7. Morita Soko

Therefore, when investing in ivory netsuke, that from such carvers is the best deal. For those with a low budget, you can opt for netsuke made by students of those top artists. Additionally, ensure to buy from a seasoned collector who can differentiate the styles of netsuke including Tokyo, Asakusa, Kyoto, Osaka, and Hida. Therefore, buying from a seasoned collector is the trick to get netsuke with attributes specific to an artist.

How rare is the netsuke?

Netsuke with rare objects is more desirable for its rarity. A good example is the mythical beast Baku that eats bad dreams. Other good options include the squirrel although it might not draw the same level of interest. Ensure to buy netsuke from a collector with specialization in collecting legends, animals, or mythical objects. Such collectors readily appreciate the need to choose only the rarest netsuke.

What is the condition of netsuke?

People have different perceptions about netsuke wear, age cracks, chips, and restoration. Damage significantly affects netsuke value but the extent depends on netsuke age and rarity. Showing some signs of wear on netsuke is acceptable although this shouldn’t be significant to make it lose value. The extent of surface erosion, minor chips, cracks, and tiny repairs is acceptable for its direct relationship to netsuke age.

What is the netsuke price?

The price of netsuke varies greatly with famous artists going for higher prices. However, the value of netsuke depends on a combination of extrinsic and intrinsic factors. Additionally, keep in mind that the presence of a signature has no direct effect on value because it can be faked. The material of netsuke doesn’t affect its value.

Bottom line

When investing in netsuke, rarity, quality of carving, artistic appeal, and originality are the factors to look out for. Luckily, reputable collectors do all the hard work of choosing quality netsuke. You just have to browse the items in the collection to choose those that fit in your budget and requirements.

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