Oriental (Chinese or Japanese?) Pottery Mark Query - Impressed symbol on Umbrella Stand

by Brenton Douglas Ballew
(Bryson City, NC, United States)

Oriental (Chinese or Japanese?) Pottery Mark Query - Impressed symbol on Umbrella Stand

Oriental (Chinese or Japanese?) Pottery Mark Query - Impressed symbol on Umbrella Stand

Oriental (Chinese or Japanese?) Pottery Mark Query - Impressed symbol on Umbrella Stand:- What I have is what appears to be an antique porcelain oriental umbrella stand. It is in excellent condition and is handpainted in traditional blue and white. An elderly woman that my grandparents cared for left it to them upon her passing.

It has been with our family for about 15 years now. The real question that I have is: There is an impressed manufacturers mark on the bottom of the umbrella stand that appears to be either a chinese or japanese character/symbol.

I have asked friends of ours who have said that the symbol would be specific to the individual manufacturer and couldn't actually be "read".

I have attached a photo in hopes that someone with some expertise in antique pottery could help us determine who made this and possibly when.

I appreciate any and all time and consideration. Thank you in advance.

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antique china values

Dear Brenton

Many thanks for posting this submission. For some reason the photos did not get uploaded, but never mind, just go to a new form and upload again, saying they are from you and for this thread, and I will transfer them manually over for you.

The subject of Chinese and Japanese markings on ceramics and porcelain is, as your friends so rightly pointed out, a can of worms for the uninitiated, to be sure.

I have to refer all of these types of query
to my ceramics expert referral service as, unlike European and American wares, there is only a limited amounts this public forum can achieve by way of freely given mutual help and assistance.

Why do I say this?

I have had many queries about Chinese and Japanese antique china come through my online expert referral service since it started in 2008, and I have to say that some wares have been modern yet very authentic looking.

I have seen other genuine antiques of very high quality which have been marked as imperial, but not actually not from the court kilns, but still worth hundreds of dollars.

I have seen items with genuine looking antique Chinese calligraphy markings, but nevertheless made for export in the 19th Century.

.... And so on.

The point is, until I get the expert's report back, I myself have absolutely no idea what to expect from a Chinese or Japanese piece.

I am constantly being surprised and educated into understanding just how complex this area is.

It's a case of 'the more you know, the less you you actually know'.

Your query and comments, as well as several other queries of late have prompted me to write an article which I am going to tag onto this thread (see comments below).

My hope is that this article will help enlighten people on this large and unruly subject of Chinese and Japanese calligraphy markings, or at least to give some general background

Peter (admin)

"Did you know?... the most popular pages on the site are..."

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Article on the difficulty of using pottery marks for the dating of Chinese and Japanese porcelain (Part 1)
by: Peter (admin)

This is an article on the difficulty of using pottery marks for the dating of Chinese and Japanese porcelain.....

The first thing to recognise is that, in comparison to China, the Europeans and Japanese are mere thieves and copycats.

According to my Miller's Guide, the first marked ceramic wares from china (probably) date from around 500 BC. Yes, that's over 2 millennia, or 2500 years of rich and detailed history to pick through.

The dynasties of Ming (1368 - 1643) and Qing (1644 - 1916) did mark thier wares, but the identification of the studio or kiln seems to be of low priority.

It was all to do with the appearance of the porcelain items themselves - the subtle finesse of the final article, the decoration, firing and finishing - exactly what you would expect from 2000 years of trial and error in getting it just right for very picky royal clients and their court.

The beauty of the item was the calling card, not the pottery mark.

Kilns not associated with the imperial court could rarely if ever match the skill of royal output. The imperial potters used subtle glaze techniques by use of fern leaves and other secret additives.

This finesse, or lack of it, is what the experts are looking for.

Think of the subtle flavours of Chinese food, developed over aeons of experimentation and perfection, and then compare to the more simple 'meat & two veg' of the Anglo Saxon diet.

The word here is 'subtlety' and culture.

Western people are used to the idea that a pottery mark (or backstamp, or emblem, or device, or base mark, or monogram, or initials, or signature mark, or letter) on the bottom of a cup, saucer, bowl, dish, ornament or tea set, denotes the maker and can help date wares.

Simple right?


In the case of Chinese wares very wrong, where use of reign marks from other earlier highly respected periods was an important sign of 'homage' and 'ancestor respect' rather than an attempt to deceive.

If you can imagine this same practice of marking wares with marks from another era going on for hundreds of years through subsequent generations of potters, you can imagine how the Chinese ceramics antique expert has to rely on looking at the actual wares themselves with the most informed eye in order to get a picture of what the item actually is.

Then, don't forget, other marks on Chinese antique porcelain include personal commendations to the recipient or well wishing symbols, or devices denoting strength or good luck and so on.

...... continued in part 2

Article on the difficulty of using pottery marks for the dating of Chinese and Japanese porcelain (Part 2)
by: Anonymous

Article on the difficulty of using pottery marks for the dating of Chinese and Japanese porcelain (Part 2)

Continued from Part 1.....

After all, it you were gifted a set of beautiful china from a royal personage, you were hardly likely to forget where they came from, so why would you want a makers mark on the base?

Then to add to the mix of confusion and complication, remember that subsequent generations, both modern and from antiquity devised methods of how to very cleverly fake wares and marks from the Ming and Qing dynasties.

With some items, we get to a situation where even the best expert can hardly tell real from fake and the only definitive answer comes from chemical analysis.

So you can begin to get an idea of how fraught with difficulty this area of Chinese porcelain identification actually is.

Japanese ware seems, in one sense, relatively more simple, but in another even more difficult.

According to Miller's Guide to Pottery & Porcelain Marks by Gordon Lang, more simple:-

    "The majority of Japanese ceramics are usually less than 150 years old. Within this phase, output was dominated by two types of ware:

    Satsuma and its related earthenware Genre

    and the so called

    Kutani eggshell porcelains"

Remember, as with Chinese wares, the identification of the studio or kiln which made the item is not the priority of the base marking on Japanese wares.

Another complication history gives us is that earlier in history, Japanese raiders brought back with them captive Chinese potters together with their knowledge, materials and skills. The subsequently produced items cannot be considered to be Japanese, although made in Japan, they are still to be considered Chinese wares.

Obviously, distinct Japanese styles did emerge as described in the above extract from Millers Guide, and are of course collectible in their own right.

However, where identifying Japanese becomes very tricky is the 20th century introduction of Western style tea set type ware for export.

There are very many thousands of different marks to be seen on porcelain wares, many of them westernised, but very few of them denoting a maker as such.

Many people are in possession of Japanese wares and services, dating to both pre-war and post war, but they are often misguided when asking experts to denote a maker from the mark.

20th Century Japanese marks can often give clues as to the date of an item because of the style of backstamping, but rarely are they labelled to show the original maker.

We just have to get used to this eastern trait of not marking for identification, and let the experts decipher the visual clues for us.

My ceramics expert referral service

Best regards

Peter (admin)

Chinese/Japanese Umberella Stand
by: Brenton Ballew


Thank you for your time and help with my submission. I also appreciated the accompanying article as I'm always interested in broadening my knowledge. I have now uploaded the pictures that did not upload last time, I hope they go through correctly this attempt (see above).

Thank you again,

Brenton Ballew

The potter's name is Yamakichi
by: Peter

Your umbrella or stick stand is Japanese, and the potter's name is YAMAKICHI. The reason I know this is that I also own a Japanese umbrella or stick stand that has the identical impressed mark on the bottom! The two 'kanji' (the Japanese name for Chinese writing characters) read Yamakichi. The impression is shaped like a gourd. So far I have been unable to find any information about Yamakichi. Peter, Wiltshire, England.

Yamakichi Wares - A Japanese Retail Mark from Asakusa (Arita Ware))
by: Peter (admin)


Many thanks for solving this one!

Yet another mystery solved on this public pottery mark forum. I did some googling and soon found out that Yamakichi or "Yama-kichi" are a well established Japanese ceramic and glass retailer who stock all sorts of Japanese porcelain, but particularly specialise in local Arita wares.

Here's the run down:-

"Yama-kichi" is a Japanese retailer based in Asakusa, Japan specialising in ceramics and glass wares. Their website tells us they sell Arita Wares, Kiyomizu Wares, Mino Wares and Tokoname Wares,

Yamakichi are located in the heart of the Arita ware region according to their online sales blurb and maintain that Arita Ware has a 400 year history and Asakusa is one of the most prominent centers. The area was apparently one of the first in the world to successfully decorate ceramics in polychrome enamels.

They give a list of their inventory and here is a translation:

    From Kyoto - the Kiyomizu Wares.

    From Aichi Prefecture - the Tokoname Pottery Wares (teapots for delicious teas).

    From Wakasa and Aizu Cities - lacquered wares

    From Ishikawa Prefecture - Kutani Porcelain Wares like 'Welcome Cats'.

Hope this helps.

Many thanks again for giving us this lead Peter.

Best regards

Peter (admin)

Don't forget, for accurate professional valuations, go here :-

My vintage and antique china values page

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