|The LUNDGREN Auction |
by Robert E. Haynes (Nov. 1997)
Helge would have been pleased and surprised. Pleased that the world recognized his collecting ability, and surprised that many of the best pieces in his collection, were not in his auction. C.H. Lundgren began collecting shortly after W.W. II. He would buy whole auctions of fittings and other Japanese art at Gendinings, 7 Blenheim St., New Bond St., London. Much to the consternation of the London Japanese art dealers. This he did until Mr. French decided that Glendinings should be a coin house, and not sell Japanese art, which he hated. By this time Helge had 25 years of buying experience, and almost a thousand pieces in his collection. He then expanded his collecting to Europe, America, and Japan. In 1960 Lundgren first wrote to me with many questions about his fittings, which produced several hundred letters, that I still retain. In 1962 I introduced him to Dr. Torigoye and they began a correspondence. By the 1970's Helge had invited Dr. T. to his home in Sweden to write boxes for the best pieces in his collection. By the time Mr. Ogasawara saw the collection it had changed dramatically. That is the collection that was put up for auction, Tuesday, 18 November 1997, at Christie's in London. A review of the lots follows.
The first three lots were "bought-in" because the estimate was double what it should have been. Lot 2 was the best of these, and they are excellent study pieces. Lot 4, with the very strange heading of: A KOFUN SHITOGI TSUBA (HOJU TSUBA), and the date of Nara period (8th century). It should have read: A HOJU SHAPE (torankei) KOFUN PERIOD TSUBA, and date of 250-550, the Tumulas period. Also the estimate was double its value, considering the condition. Lot 5 was also in bad condition and over estimated, both lots were B.I. Lot 6 sold for 1,725 pounds ($2,915.), a very high price for a "Momoyama period Onin tsuba", Dr. Torigoye dated it 1450, in the first edition of TSUBA KANSHOKI (1964), page 35. Lot 7 "late Muromachi Onin tsuba", sold for 977 pounds ($1,651.), about right considering its size and condition. Lot 8, a most interesting piece because of the very rare flush silver inlay on the mimi, which extends onto the web in some places. This style of silver inlay can also be seen on iron plate fittings of the Kofun period. An important study piece, and a very good price at 575 pounds ($971.). I hope the new owner will write an article about its significance. Lot 9, a very interesting work of merit, unfortunately was in very bad condition, what with one bunny missing. Lot 10 is a very fine classic Onin tsuba of the best quality, and sold for 1,840 pounds ($3,109.). An equivalent example to the one in the Compton auction, Part II, lot 25, which sold for $6,050. Lot 11, the first of the Nagayoshi, and the one in the best condition, is a very well known example in the West. Several buyers fought over this piece with the resulting price of 1,955 pounds ($3,303.). Its value, but too high a price for a Tokyo dealer to make a profit. Lot 12 and 13, two fine classic examples of Kamakura-bori tsuba, brought prices equal to comparable lots in the Compton auction. Lot 12 sold for 2,070 pounds ($3,498.), a little higher than Compton, Part II, lot 19, which sold for $3,080. Lot 13 sold for 2,300 pounds ($3,887.), a thousand dollars below the Compton example in Part I, lot 4, which brought $4,950. Lot 14 was of great interest to many Western collectors. Heianjo Tadashige, despite what the catalog says, is not a recorded artist. He seems to have been a contemporary of Heianjo Nagayoshi, but from this example one can see he was a far superior artist. The swordsmiths who signed Tadashige, who worked during the period of the tsuba Tadashige, lived in Hizen, and there are none recorded who lived at Kyoto. In fact this seems to be the only known example of his work. He is not recorded by Wakayama, and this tsuba a is the source of the name in the Haynes list. Jim Gilbert drew to my attention that there was a similar example to lot 14, illustrated in the "RED CROSS", by H.L. Joly (1916), plate CX, number 133, which is signed Heianjo Nagayoshi. It is slightly larger, and the web is decorated with monkeys and bonsai. The work is not as fine as that of the Tadashige. I wonder which is the chicken, and which is the egg? It sold for 2,760 pounds ($4,664.). Lot 15, the second Heianjo Nagayoshi, with the rare tiger and bamboo subject, sold for 805 pounds ($1,360.). Lot 16, a Muramachi plate with hitsu-ana, carving and inlay added in the Edo period, to refit it for use on a wakizashi. It still brought 1,150 pounds ($1,943.), near its true value. The type of tsuba seen in lots 17 and 18 are often misconstrued. They are early examples of Nagoya-mono tsuba. They are not Ko-Mino and date ca. 1700 to 1750. See the example in Compton, sale II, lot 125, a signed example. The plates are not true shakudo, but katsushirome, or yamagane, black lacquered to resemble shakudo, but without any gold in the alloy. Despite this dealers and collectors are willing to pay prices many times their value. Lot 17 sold for 3,220 pounds ($5,441.) ten times its value. Lot 18 sold for 1,495 pounds ($2,526.), with a late Katchushi tsuba, but still double its value. The Compton example brought $2,750, also more than double its value. Lot 19 is a very different story. It is a rare and very fine Ko-kinko tsuba. Probably closer to 1500 in date than Momoyama. It sold for 7,475 ($12,632.) and is comparable to lot 123 in Compton sale I, which sold for $19,800.
The next 14 lots are iron sukashi examples of very different quality. Lundgren acquired his iron sukashi tsuba before any of the Sasano books were published. Thus he was not influenced by them, and bought the designs he liked, and not solely the types that are so much in vogue today. The great variation in price of these lots has a great deal to do with Sasano's influence. Lot 21, which is probably not Akasaka, but still a decent crane, brought 920 pounds ($1,554.). Lot 22, which appears to be very early, or even proto Akasaka, did not sell, even though the estimate was about right. Lot 23, though late had a good signature, and brought its correct value of 1,725 pounds ($2,915.). This is true of lot 24, an earlier example that brought the same price. Lot 25 brought 3,680 pounds ($6,219.), a price comparable to lot 49 in the Compton sale 1, which brought $9,350. Lot 27 is of note as it brought 3,450 pounds ($5,830.), and has the boldest design of these lots. Lots 28 to 35 are of no great merit and brought respectable prices. It is interesting to note that lot 35 sold after the sale for 747 pounds ($1,262.). The next lot of note is 37, the last of the Nagayoshi tsuba, which did not sell, probably because of its bad condition, and the companion piece was of no great merit. Lot 38 did not sell, which is a surprise. I have Lundgren's original photo of this tsuba that he sent to me many years ago. Lot 40, my old tsuba that is illustrated in the catalog of ARMS AND ARMOR OF ANCIENT JAPAN, Los Angeles, 1964, number 77, is by far the earliest example of this type of work I have ever seen. It did not sell! Lots 42 to 48 are a mixture of types. The Katchushi examples are all of late age and average quality. Lot 45 sold for 1,495 pounds ($2,526.). A very high price for a socalled Yamakichibei, even if it is genuine, it is a very poor example. Lot 48 is an object lesson. I have known this tsuba for 35 years, and have coveted it all that time. It brought 805 pounds ($1,360.). A very low price for such a fine piece. I am sure it did not go back to Japan because the label Shoami did not impress the buyers. It is actually Ko-Shoami work of the finest quality, and would be an exceptional addition to any collection. The next lot of note is 49. In both the book and the catalog it is listed as, Bushu Ito school. It brought 4,370 pounds ($7,385.), which would make it the most valuable unsigned Ito school tsuba in the world! It no doubt was bought by someone who could see the possibilities of the hand of a Kanshiro or Hayashi Higo master in the work. Dr. Torigoye, in TOSO SORAN, p.230, says it is the work of the second Hayashi, Tohei. I am sure it will appear in some future Juyo list as just that! The next lot of note is 56. John Harding and I discussed the Misumi school over the phone, but I did not know that he had this, and lot 120, in mind. This type of brass plate Higo work could have been done by any number of artists, Misumi Koji among them. Evidently the buyers were not impressed, for it sold for 1,610 pounds ($2,720.). Lot 57 has been around for many years. It was in several old English collections and must have been brought over from Japan at the turn of the century. The carved "walnut" design over the seppaŹdai area was no doubt done in Japan to remove a forged Myoju signature, and since it could not be sold by Amiya or others it went to Europe. Unfortunately it has also lost most of its original patina and the open hitsu, added later destroys the design. It is an Umetada study piece, beyond repair. Which still brought 7,820 pounds ($13,321.) an astounding price for a wreck.
The next lots of interest are 59 and 63, the two Kogitsune tsuba. Lot 59 did not sell, but was still worth the estimate. Lot 63 is as fine a classical example of this rare artist's work as one will ever find. It also has the very rare inscription, with the artist's name, "matsudai kore o (zan) nokoru", which translates; "I have made this for the ages."(to remain eternal). It sold for 1,840 pounds ($3,109.). Lots 64 to 69 are cataloged as Choshu examples. Lots 65 and 69, are also listed as "CHOSHU" by Ogasawara. They are in reality Kyoto work. Lot 65 is Momoyama period and of a type that later would have gold and silver nunome decoration in the Edo period examples. Lot 69, an Edo period work of the same type but without any nunome. Lot 65 brought 1,955 pounds ($3,303.), a very high price, even though it is a nice tsuba. Lot 69 was B.I., why I am not sure. Lot 68 brought 3,220 pounds ($5,441.), a very high price for a second class Nakai Zensuke example. The next tsuba of note is the Honjo Yoshitane in lot 71. It brought 3,220 pounds ($5,441.), with a tsuba by one of the seven Goto Seijo (most probably the 6th). In the Compton I sale, see lot 21, a large fine example of the first Yoshitane, which sold for $9,900. Lot 22, in the same sale, was by the second Yoshitane, as is the Lundgren example, and it sold for $4,620, which if you deduct the value of the Goto Seijo, is about equal value in each auction. The Umetada tsuba in lot 72 is of note. It is signed, Yamashiro Kuni ju Umetada Narishige. The only other recorded examples of his work are in the Oeder collection, p. 25, number 200, without a photo of the piece. Also the Pabst auction (1956) had an example, lot 52, which also was not illustrated. None of the Japanese books have an illustrated example, so this seems to be the source for the signature. In my research I thought I should compare this tsuba to the work of the two artists who signed Umetada Shigenari. It was not unusual for some artists to reverse the kanji of their names at some period of their work. See Wakayama, vol. II, page 16, upper left photo. One can see this is the same hand, with the very eccentric form of the NARI kanji. It would seam that the first generation Shigenari, signed Narishige in his early work, and later reversed the kanji of his name to read Shigenari. The meaning of the two kanji does not change apreciably, regardless of their position. Since I did not do this research before the sale, I was not able to bid on the lot, which sold for 2,300 pounds ($3,887.), which I am sure was mostly intended for the Seki Yoshinori tsuba in this lot. I hope the new owner will contact me, for I would like to do additional research on the Narishige tsuba. Lot 73 is not an important tsuba but is an interesting signature. When I owned this tsuba, ca. 1969, the name was not recorded in Japan. It is now recorded by Wakayama (page 27 upper one), under Inaba, and evidently unknown to Ogasawara. This is the work of Osawa Hokio, who also signed Tachibana, and Soshi Niudo. There are two examples in the V. & A. Museum (M1853-1931 and M295-1916), also see the Naunton collection, #2469. He seems to have traveled a great deal for besides Suruga he lived in Ise (Kuwana, Seishu), Mino, Shinano, and Kyoto. He worked in both the Suruga school style and that of the Ito school. The lot sold for 1150 pounds ($1,943.), I sold this tsuba to Lundgren for $26.00! Lots 75 to 78 brought some very high prices. Lot 75, a very nice Owari sukashi tsuba brought 3,680 pounds (6,219) and 1ot 78 another good Owari example, brought 4830 pounds ($8,162.). Lots 76 and 77, three Kyo examples, brought 2,750 ($4,647.), and 3,450 pounds $5,830.) respectively. These prices reflect the influence of the teachings of Sasano, and are a tribute to the reputation of this master among Western students. The following lots are primarily Kinko tsuba. Lot 81, a very ordinary Omori Terumitsu example, was not in the ARMS AND ARMOR OF (OLD, sic) ANCIENT JAPAN, number 64. Number 64 is a "TANTO Signed 'Bizen Kuni Osafune no ju Toshimitsu'." Lot 81 brought 2,185 pounds ($3,692.), an extraordinary price for a third rate work, by a second rate artist. Lot 85 brought 8,050 pounds ($13,604.), which is many times its value, and will be a record price for this artist for many years to come. I have to wonder why anyone would pay such a price, when there are so many superior examples in this sale, that brought a fraction of the price of this lot! Lot 88, the Nara Toshiharu I have known for many years and always admired it as a fine example of the work of this artist. The "Shozui" one can dismiss, as a rather nice Ko-Nara tsuba with a later signature, for export to Europe. The lot sold "after the sale" for 747 pounds ($1,262.), a very cheap price for the Toshiharu alone. One has to wonder again at lots 94 and 95. The Hirata Harutoshi tsuba, lot 94, brought 3,680 pounds ($6,219.). A dreadful tsuba made for export to the West. Yet lot 95 brought 2,300 pounds ($3,887.), and is at least a valid tsuba, even though of third rate Hirata quality. Lot 98 brought 11,500 pounds ($19,435.). A very high price for the best work of a third class artist. Even Wakayama devotes only three lines to him (p.473 1). The Oda and the Ishiguro worked for Shimazu Hisamitsu (1820-87) and Tadayoshi (1840-97), at Edo, and produced many similar fittings to the taste of the daimyo. It will be interesting to see if these turn-up as Juyo, in the future. Lots 100 to 106 were of no merit, though lot 105, an unrecorded artist is of interest. Lot 106 brought 4,600 pounds ($7,774.), and must be the ugliest tsuba Kanenori ever made. Lots 107 to 112 are a group of third rate Kinko examples that brought first rate prices. Lot 113 brought 10,925 pounds ($18,463.). Though this tsuba is well known in the West, Lundgren bought it at the R.G. McNair Scott auction, held at Glendining's, April 11-12 1960, it was lot 399, which sold, with another tsuba, for 27 pounds ($37.94 each), and falls under a comment of Dr. Torigoye. He said of a similar example by Otsuki Mitsuoki, "The design would make a good painting, but is not appropriate to a tsuba." Lots 114 to 118 are all third rate Kinko examples and have very little merit. Lots 119 to 126, are all low end common Higo examples that do not need any comment. Lot 127 brought 4,025 pounds ($6,802.), an enormous price for a slightly better than average Fukanobu. Even the signed example (Kamiyoshi) in the Compton sale I, lot 79, brought only $3,520. It is interesting to note that lot 131 brought 13,800 pounds ($23,322.), almost half the price of the Ichijo dai-sho in the Compton sale I, lot 167, which sold for $60,500. Although I have heard that the Compton pieces are still for sale. Next we have the six Kunitomo sahari inlay tsuba. Lots 136 and 137 did not sell. Lot 137 may have been cut-down, and the rim cover added. Lot 138 a small ordinary, signed Hazama example, was sold with a Shonai Sekibun tsuba, not illustrated, for 2,530 pounds ($4,275.). Lot 139 a line inlay style example by Teiei, brought 8,050 pounds ($13,604.). Lot 140, another Teiei, with good bold sahari inlay of a kiri bloom, brought 9,200 pounds ($15,548.). Lot 141 with the rare signature of NAGAAKI, both kanji also read mei or mio, (see Wakayama page 568 2), brought 3,450 pounds ($5,830.). None of these reached the prices in the Compton sale I, lots 105 and 106. Lot 105 is signed Hazama, and sold for $22,000. Lot 106, signed Teiei, sold_for $28,600. The prices of sahari inlay tsuba are out of all proportion to the workmanship. The iron plates are ordinary at best, and the inlay requires more dexterity than aesthetics. Lot 144, the first of the fuchi-kashira, signed by Iwamoto Konkan, brought 3,450 pounds ($5,830.), a pair, if unsigned, that would have fetched a tenth of the selling price. The three lots of sets of fittings, two futatokoro-mono and a mitokoro-mono brought very high prices.
Lot 145 an unsigned set, brought 1,840 (3,109.). Lot 146, signed by Ishiguro Masaaki, and in classic Ishiguro school style, brought 14,950 pounds ($25,265.), the highest price of a single lot of fittings in the sale. At least 13 lots of fittings, in Compton sale I, exceeded $25,000, the highest being the Hirata "Donin" kozuka, lot 210, which brought $104,500. Lot 147, the mitokoro-mono, signed Yoshioka Inabanosuke brought 6,670 pounds ($11,272.). The Compton sale I Yoshioka examples did not bring as high comparable prices. The next lot of note is 153. Signed Kawatsu cho Sa Taira Iesada, and dated 1634. This artist lived at Sanuki on Shikoku. Kawatsu cho Sa, means the chief town of Sa (Sanuki), which is Kawatsu. It has nothing to do with Iyo (Yoshu), an entirely different province on the Island of Shikoku. It also has nothing to do with the Shoami family, but is the work of an independant artist, most probably from Kyoto. Lot 157, is not the Red Cross no. 905, that is the Otsuki Mitsuoki, lot 113, as mentioned, and is plate CXLIV. This Mino style tsuba is a fine early example and brought the high bid of 5,175 pounds ($8,475.), an interesting price for a tsuba that Ogasawara declined to put in his book of the Lundgren collection. The same may be said for lot 158, a tsuba I once owned, and liked, it has been offered in past auctions, always bought in. I am sure that the signature is correct and that it is a very fine example of the work of Kikugawa Nampo, perhaps the bid of 4,830 pounds ($8,162.) vindicates my claim. Lot 160 to 221 are fuchi-kashira. Lundgren was inordinately fond of fuchi-kashira, for two reasons. When he was buying, in his early days of collecting, few others had any interest in f.k., so he could buy them in large lots at a very low price. Thus he acquired examples of almost all schools of machibori artists and most generations of each school. One need mention only one pair in this sale, and that is lot 203, which sold for 10,925 pounds ($18,463.). An obscene price for any pair of fuchi-kashira, and this one in particular. It should be noted that they are number 2503 in the Hawkshaw book, and that Hawkshaw had 22 other fittings by Natsuo, who had been dead only 12 years when Joly published the Hawkshaw collection catalog. The design is minimal and the workmanship could have been done by anyone of the students of Natsuo, and very well might have been, as he is known to have signed the work of his students.
On to the kozuka which comprise lots 222 to 263. The two highest priced lots are 254, which brought 4,025 pounds ($6,802.), the ubiquitous Ishiguro Masayoshi pheasant design, and lot 258 which brought 4,600 pounds ($7,774.), signed by Hirotoshi, a third rate artist. At least the comic design of this bonito gives Jim Gilbert a smile when he sees it. There were any number of far superior kozuka that brought half the price of this lot. This ends the morning session, and the fittings perse. Lots 264 to 278 are the mounted swords. Some of these had fine mountings. Most did not have blades that would interest the blade collectors, except lot 271, a Bishu Osafune Kanemitsu, dated 1356. The mounts signed by Ishiguro Masayoshi, and remarkably tasteful for this artist. The lot brought 62,000 pounds ($104,780.). The others in the sword section were of no great note. Lots 279 to 291 are articulated animals of iron, and other metals. These were grossly over estimated, and only one sold, it was lot 291, which went for 2,875 pounds ($4,858.), within the estimate. The cover illustrated lot, number 285 did not sell, even though such parties, as the Tokyo National Museum, seem to have been interested, but declined to bid. The remaining six lots of the sale were miscellaneous items, such as kogo, koro, tessen, pipes, pouches, and an iron suzuribako, signed by Tosa Myochin Munemasa, who is unrecorded. The lot brought 1,840 pounds ($3,109.).
Thus ended the Lundgren auction. Jim Gibert, in our discussions, made some interesting comments. He noted that both the Lundgren and the Compton sales lacked examples of first class Tosho and Katchushi examples, and neither had Kaneie, Nobuie, or other first class iron artists. Each auction was heavy in Kamakura-bori, brass inlay tsuba, and Kinko. Auctions such as this one, and the Compton, are not the best barometers of the market, but this should not be a problem in the future, as there are very few such collections still in the hands of their original owners. I can think of only two or three that might someday come onto the market. In Japan, large famous collections are not sold publicly, as they are in the West. In most cases they are sold privately, to collectors who are "invited" to participate, in an almost secret sale. I think the Western method of sale is the best, for it allows both new and old collectors to buy, each with his knowledge and his enthusiasm. (R.E.H., November 1997)
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