Made in Japan: Satsuma Pottery's Crackle Glaze Makes It Easy to Recognize

By Ralph and Terry Kovel | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), February 11, 1996 | Go to article overview

Made in Japan: Satsuma Pottery's Crackle Glaze Makes It Easy to Recognize


Ralph and Terry Kovel, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


SATSUMA, a type of Japanese pottery, is one of the few Oriental wares that is easy to recognize.

Although pottery was made in Kagoshima, Satsuma, as early as the 16th century, the decoration now popular with today's collectors came later - in the late 18th century.

The pottery is a pale cream color with a characteristic crackle glaze. Look for the fine crisscrossing lines that cover the glaze.

Most pieces are decorated with lavish enamel and gilded designs. Landscapes and animals were first pictured. People were featured in the designs by the 1860s.

Satsuma gained great popularity in the United States when it was shown at the London International Exposition.

The Satsuma of the early 19th century is light in color with pale green, orange, gold and earth-tone decorations. By the end of the century the designs were darker, and black backgrounds were often used.

Look for Oriental shapes, foo dogs and dragon handles.

The rim on the bottom of the piece is usually unglazed.

Prices for Satsuma have been rising steadily since the 1960s.

Dear Ralph and Terry: I found a bottle at the entrance to a ground hog's tunnel near a railroad track behind my home. One side of the bottle says "Edison Battery Oil, Made in USA, Thomas A. Edison Incorporated, Bloomfield, NJ, USA." The other side has Edison's signature. The bottle is 4 inches high. Is this collectible of any value?

Thomas Edison took out more than a thousand different patents -

including one in 1889 for a copper-oxide primary cell. The oil needed for the batteries was sold in bottles like the one you found.

It's no wonder you found the bottle near railroad tracks; the Edison battery was used in railroad signals.

The bottles, which sell for $5 to $10, are found in clear glass, shades of green, purple and turquoise.

Dear Ralph and Terry: I have a Carnival glass creamer and sugar set from my mother. The creamer has four legs but looks like a tree trunk in the shape of a pump with a spigot. The sugar container is in the shape of a trough. It has no lid. On the bottom of the trough written in script is the word "Northwood." Do you have any information on this?

The Northwood Glass Co. was founded in Indiana, Pa., in 1896. Another plant opened in Wheeling, W. Va., in 1902. The company closed when founder Harry Northwood died in 1923.

The pump and trough appeared in the Northwood catalog in 1900. The set was offered with rose bowls, candlesticks, card receivers and other items. …

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