Thrifted pots — help with provenance and identification?

Dogestoevsky

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Hi all, and thanks in advance for fielding my questions!

I recently lucked out and was able to pick up a dozen or so shohin pots from a thrift store. Having done my fair share of scouting for actual bonsai pots, I never assumed I would just run into a whole collection just waiting for some love.

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I’m looking for some help in identifying the chops and signatures. From my limited experience with ceramics, it seems to me that about half were slip cast or made with forms, and the other half are wheel thrown or slab built. The ones that appear to be slip cast have no identifying info, but the rounds and and hand built ovals have the marks attached:

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I went down the list of potters on japanesebonsaipots.net, and it appears four of the rounds are from Yamaaki (see example of a Mr. Toshio I believe). I understand Yamaaki was once the largest production in Tokoname, and they still have a sizable inventory. Beautiful little rounds with great detail on the feet!

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The other three pots have me stumped. One reads simply “Fuji Japan” in English; another is a two character box chop that (I think) also translates to Fuji; and the third has a faded four character chop that I cannot match to anything. From the workmanship I believe these to be all of the same origin. Thoughts?

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All in all, the craftsmanship on all of these is quite fine — thin sides, smooth finishes, crisp lines. Very grateful to add them to my collection!

Thanks again for any help you can provide in discerning the provenance of these lovely little pieces. I don’t need them to be fancy or expensive, I just want to understand them and their origins a bit more. Best to all to you nuts ❤️
 
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Just wow!! Very nice score.
That's something I'm dreaming of entering a thrift store.
I have found some bonsai pots in thrift stores but they were always cheap Chinese pots.
 

sorce

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I like the lip on that white one in the back!

Sorce
 

rockm

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I've run across the "Fuji" pots at yard sales. Even came across a collection of similar things a while back. FWIW the Fuji pots were mass produced, mold-made back in the 1970's. Kyodoh Bussan was an exporter of many goods, including bonsai pots to the west. "Toyo" is another sticker stamp of an exporter of similar bonsai pots during the same period. They're good functional pots though. They tended to come in shohin and mame sizes. Not worth much resale-wise. There are a lot of them out there.
 

Dogestoevsky

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I've run across the "Fuji" pots at yard sales. Even came across a collection of similar things a while back. FWIW the Fuji pots were mass produced, mold-made back in the 1970's. Kyodoh Bussan was an exporter of many goods, including bonsai pots to the west. "Toyo" is another sticker stamp of an exporter of similar bonsai pots during the same period. They're good functional pots though. They tended to come in shohin and mame sizes. Not worth much resale-wise. There are a lot of them out there.
Ahh thank you! I did a little research into the Kyodoh Bussan co. yesterday and was surprised by their … market diversity? Glad to hear the three mystery pots are sturdy.
 

rockm

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rockm

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BTW, what's up with that big rectangle in the left of the photo? Also the small rectangle third row up, second pot in, on the right?
 

Dogestoevsky

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These two soft rectangles, yes?

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Both unmarked. The larger one appears to be hand built, about 10” x 6.5” with an interior lip — and the smaller one if I had to guess might be cast from a mold; it looks similar to the other Fuji pots at 4” x 3”

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While I’m delighted by all these, I admit I’m a touch worried that this collection is lost or stolen. Even if someone wanted to move on from bonsai, who would willingly part with pots made by prominent artists? Not to mention the thrift store owners didn’t seem to know anything about them or their value… so I don’t imagine a great sum of money was made from selling them to the shop. They did say that “dad is / was a plant guy.”

@Leo in N E Illinois , I picked these up in your neck of the woods. Is anyone in your local network searching for lost or stolen bonsai pots? I will (painfully 😂) return them if someone was taken advantage of.
 

rockm

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These two soft rectangles, yes?

View attachment 427501

Both unmarked. The larger one appears to be hand built, about 10” x 6.5” with an interior lip — and the smaller one if I had to guess might be cast from a mold; it looks similar to the other Fuji pots at 4” x 3”

View attachment 427502
View attachment 427503

While I’m delighted by all these, I admit I’m a touch worried that this collection is lost or stolen. Even if someone wanted to move on from bonsai, who would willingly part with pots made by prominent artists? Not to mention the thrift store owners didn’t seem to know anything about them or their value… so I don’t imagine a great sum of money was made from selling them to the shop. They did say that “dad is / was a plant guy.”

@Leo in N E Illinois , I picked these up in your neck of the woods. Is anyone in your local network searching for lost or stolen bonsai pots? I will (painfully 😂) return them if someone was taken advantage of.
Theft isn't likely involved. It's probably more of a matter of "you don't know what you don't know." It's very probable (IMO) that the original owner of these died leaving his family to deal with his belongings--the Sara Rayner pot looks like most "banzai pots" to people who don't do bonsai. These probably got sold/donated/etc. as an entire lot and have kept together as such.

Happens a lot with bonsai stuff. I have found some VERY nice bonsai books at the local used bookstore, books that are not all that common. Got the Tenth Anniversary Noelanders Trophy book last week for $5. That kind of book isn't very well known outside of advanced bonsai circles. It's published in Belgium. I've also run across copies of the 1970's booklet on the National Arboretum's bonsai--another rare one. I suspect both came from collections of local bonsai enthusiasts who passed on and their relatives sold those collections off for pennies on the dollar.

That, unfortunately, is the fate of most bonsai and bonsai stuff we collect over the years...Anyone unfamiliar with bonsai doesn't understand the value to those of us who know bonsai. Not their fault, just the way it is. That is one of the reasons I have an issue with people who expect to hand their bonsai over to their kids/relatives etc. as "heirlooms." Extensive bonsai collections (trees and "stuff) can be mostly a burden to those left behind after a death....
 
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rockm

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Thanks for the closer look at the rectangles. They look like production Tokoname pots. Solid, useable pots, but pretty common.
 
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