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Tim in Antiques
Tim in Antiques, Antiques and Collectibles Researcher
Category: Antiques
Satisfied Customers: 1155
Experience:  Certified Fine Art Appraiser, MA, President of ANA, CFAA
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I have an antique Japanese lacquered document box with a

Customer Question

I have an antique Japanese lacquered document box with a carved deer and forest motif and mother of pearl inlay on the top and beautifully detailed hand painting on the sides. I've spent weeks online searching for another even slightly similar without much luck. I've posted pictures to the Asian Art Forum and they were stumped, Where do I go from here to identify it's origin and value? Thanks for the guidance.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Antiques
Expert:  Nora replied 1 year ago.

Hi Joel,

Have you tried posting this on Collectors Weekly under their Show & Tell area?


Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No I have not. I am seeking and EXPERT that can identify the style, period, origin and other relevant details. It would likely be someone with Asian art history expertise.
Expert:  Nora replied 1 year ago.

Definitely try there, you will be surprised how many experts lurk on there and post responses to postings.

In the meantime, I will opt-out here and open your question again to all the experts. If someone knows the answer they will post a response to you here. You do not need to re-list your question and this does not cost you extra.

I do hope you find the information that you seek.



Expert:  Tim in Antiques replied 1 year ago.

Good day, Joel. My name is***** you have appears to be a Japanese Lacquer Suzuribako, (writing box). Does it have anything inside?

Definition: 1) a Japanese box used for storing writing utensils, with places for an ink stick, a grinding stone, a water dropper, brushes and a small knife. It was typically made of aged wood wrapped in linen or silk and then painted with multiple layers of lacquer, and was usually rectangular, but could be more exotically shaped - round, crescent or even in the shape of a musical instrument. The fanciest boxes were adorned with a raised-relief or painted designs inside and out, often using gold, silver or mother-of-pearl.

These designs often referenced popular fables, poems or legends, or might depict a famous locale. First imported from China, as early as the 10th century, by the early 1900s they became largely ceremonial, as western pens and pencils became more common.

I will check on a value range for you.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The box I have consists of three pieces. The bottom, which is plain black lacquer inside, then there is a removable nesting tray, again all black lacquer. This tray must be in place as it extends slightly above the bottom piece and thus secures the top in place. Without the middle tray the top would slide off. I have seen the writing boxes with positions for ink wells, quills and parchment. Mine has none of these. I understand the Deer motif is representative of longevity, but there is and unusual symbol at the bottom of the scene among the fallen leaves. It appears to be a creature or demon with horns. Maybe a signature of sorts?
Expert:  Tim in Antiques replied 1 year ago.

Judging by the interior and the relief carving on the top yours is twentieth century.