The Collector’s Minute: Chokin-Style Decorative Art
Chokin-style decoration originated in Japan for samurai swords, but after laws banned the carrying of such weapons, artists applied their trade to more mundane decorative pieces.
Chokin metal work is an art form that dates all the way back to the 12th
century and used a variety of different colored metals from base metals
to 24-karat gold. The color of each metal used as part of the overall design,
in many cases on a dark background.
This technique was once used to
decorate the armor, weapons and hilts of samurai swords, but when the samurai class was banned form carrying swords in 1876, the choking artists expanded into decorative arts items sold for
export and the general market.
The designs are typically of traditional
Japanese folklore and art, depicting geisha, pagoda landscapes, fishing boats
and mythological beings such as dragons, immortals and demons.
This vase is a two-metal type, the enameled finish and brass engraved
through to the silvery base metal to highlight the design work of the
swimming carp in silver. It’s stamped on the bottom, “Expressive
Designs, Inc., Made in Japan.”
We don’t have much information on this
company, except that it appears to have been an import-export business
located in Fort Lauderdale, FL, and marketed a large line of limited-edition collectibles of a type popular in North America since the 1980s, a period
where demand for items of this type peaked.
Limited-edition collectibles were most often sold on the premise that, because
they were only going to be made in limited numbers, their future rarity would
increase value over time. Sadly, in nearly all cases this has not occurred. Most such items even 30 years past their initial sale have failed to even maintain
their original retail value.
Values for the modern chokin -type vases by Expressive Designs, Inc., and their competitors are still very
modest at the current time. Generally, at auction, most comparable chokin
vases sell in the $30-to-$60 range.
Mike Wilcox, of Wilcox & Hall Appraisers, is a Worthologist who specializes in Art Nouveau and the Arts and Craft movement.
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