Please help translate this Japanese pottery signature in square red seal mark
by Kathy Lesenko
(Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada)
Red Seal Mark from Ginger pot
My mother and father-in-law were "Collectors". They spent their whole life traveling and collecting treasures. My husband, now 60 remembers his parents referring to these pieces as "Satsuma". I would guess that they have been in this family's possessions for over 40 years.
My husband and I are full-time care-givers for our surviving father. We moved from our farm in Alberta to Coquitlam 4 years ago to stay and care for him. I wish I showed more interest in these collectables 4 years ago when my father was able to talk about them.
Eventually we will inherit this estate, which is full of valuables. As we draw nearer to the final days, I get tears thinking of all the treasures here. The months I have spent researching items has given me a thirst for knowledge. We literally have thousands of items to sort through. At the rate I am going it will take me 100 years.
I have spent 3 days searching for more information on the marks on these vases. The more I investigate, the more confused I become. I can not identify the mark anywhere. I have found many similar pieces on e-bay, but none of them have this mark. I cannot find this mark on Waiapo.com or gotheborg.com.
My first thought was that they were not genuine Satsuma because they do not have the circle mark with the plus sign in the middle.
I would like to know if anyone can recognize this mark. Is it antique and
genuine, or a reproduction. I don't want to sell an item that I feel should stay in our family for future generations. Your help is truly appreciated.
I must warn you this is my first attempt ever, at uploading images. I went and bought a new camera to do this, and I have no idea what I am doing. So please let me know if the quality isn't good enough and I will try again.
Reply by Peter (admin)
You did a good job. Lovely photos, lovely background details, thanks.
I can help you. I did find this mark on Gotheborg and he translates it as saying
"Sanko Toen". Sanko meaning 'porcelain in the big mountain'. By the way, your photo is upside-down.
Unfortunately, this does not help us with either the date or the style. To me it does not resemble items normally classed as Satsuma ware - which is covered with detailed enamel and intricate tiny hand painted dotted details on an earthenware base and does not have a white ground. I feel Gotherborg would have it classed in the Satsuma section if it were this type of ware.
As for date it could be anytime from the late 19th Century right the way through the 20th century, so until we have a more knowledgeable person to come along to help, that's all we have. If you had an idea how long it had been in the family, that might be of help.