Thrifted pots — help with provenance and identification?

Dogestoevsky

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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 familiar with it. 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." They're mostly a burden to those left behind after a death....
That thought passed through my mind — thanks for sharing. Settling the estate of a loved one is never easy… especially if your loved one collected a lot of stuff!
 

rockm

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That thought passed through my mind — thanks for sharing. Settling the estate of a loved one is never easy… especially if your loved one collected a lot of stuff!
Having close relatives pass opened my eyes to how people tend to overvalue "heirlooms." The cold hard market for such stuff is heartless. Strip away the sentimentality of any item and it typically brings a pittance in the real world.
 

BrianBay9

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Dogestoevsky

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Having close relatives pass opened my eyes to how people tend to overvalue "heirlooms." The cold hard market for such stuff is heartless. Strip away the sentimentality of any item and it typically brings a pittance in the real world.
I work in the fine art world and have had a couple older friends pass and leave behind storage units of work. Even for the artist who sold well, his daughter struggled immensely with storage fees, cataloguing, representing the estate, copyright, etc. What starts as a sullen time leafing through someone’s creations can quickly become a second job.

When it’s my time to go, I’ll let the kids know to leave my bones at the thrift shop 😂
 

rockm

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I work in the fine art world and have had a couple older friends pass and leave behind storage units of work. Even for the artist who sold well, his daughter struggled immensely with storage fees, cataloguing, representing the estate, copyright, etc. What starts as a sullen time leafing through someone’s creations can quickly become a second job.

When it’s my time to go, I’ll let the kids know to leave my bones at the thrift shop 😂
Some local club members' families have convened auctions of their bonsai after the bonsaist died. They had it planned out before however. Took a lot of work, not to mention family members who cared for trees in the lee time between the death and the auction...no small job.
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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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.

I haven't heard of any thefts in my neighborhood lately. The Yamaaki's and the Sara Raynor are great finds, making the trip worth it. The others, without seeing them in person, are probably not anything more than production grade, which is useful. Use them and bang them around the back yard without worrying.

Fine bonsai pots, are very expensive when you are trying to find a specific pot, right now. But when you want to sell them, they are worth nothing to the vast majority out there. Like all "collectables" they are worthless except to the small number of collectors. Unlike commodities, bonsai and bonsai pots, they have no "indexed" value. For this reason, if we can, we should think about reducing and selling off our collections before we get "too old, senile or crippled up, or dead". In that regard, I am 67 years old and have heart trouble. I have been talking to two people making initial arrangements for disposition of my "bonsai & bonsai stuff". I don't want to leave a big problem for the family. Better to scale back now than to leave a huge mess.
 

Gr8tfuldad

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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....
This is exactly how I plan to torture my children from the other side of the fence. Payback time 😂
 

Dogestoevsky

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Thanks everybody for chiming in on this post! I did end up going back to the same store and was able to dig up a handful of other pots I had missed the first go around. Nothing that leaps out at me like the Yamaaki rounds or the Sara Rayner oval, but thought I’d share as a thank you to those who have helped me with identification and encouragement.

Here’s batch number 2:
3106F00C-86F4-455A-B887-7E7DC2A6F7B7.jpeg

Interesting to find the large pots (10” x 15.5”) squirreled away next to so many smaller containers. They are a touch warped and of a somewhat crude make, but they have lovely cloud feet and some decent detail. Good partners for big, rough trees.

The only marks in this batch were the set of four raw sienna glazed shohin pots, hand lettered in a script I cannot decipher. Any input appreciated on that! They also sport fun sunburst striations on the interior, relative to the drainage holes.

C0C52258-D728-493C-B1F6-22C01CDC5FF2.jpeg 353B098E-45B5-448F-A657-FC35AA5902E1.jpeg

The only other mark on the group is this 1995 pot produced by an “Evans.” Rough, groggy stoneware oval; stable and subtle, but with some asymmetry in the feet.

2509731A-D7C9-4264-82CB-6BC08C5BEDBC.jpeg

I did look for books and other tools, but nothing to be found.

Thanks again for all the help, and happy spring to everyone ❤️
 
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