Monday, November 18, 2013


There was a time, back when the internet was new that I used to bid on pots on eBay. Now days, I am reticent to do so for a wide array of reasons including but not limited to; poor packing, pots not as described, photos so muddled you can not make out the details, hidden damages, mis-representation and the occasional unethical seller. I am not saying this is the totality of the market, but how many Not-Hamada, fake Arakawa Toyozo and Kato Tokuro do you need to see to realize the venue is the wild west. Provided you enter the process with a hearty dose of skepticism and a good library, at the very least, you can mitigate some of the pitfalls. I will say however, as all collectors know, despite excellent photos and a great description, you just don't know what the pot will actually look like until you have it in hand.

What brings this up is that, despite my better judgment, I bid and won a pot for what seemed to be a very good price and that was described as and I quote; "FLAWLESSNESS". I make my Paypal payment and four days later, the pot arrives from Japan. Though the packing was not great, it was adequate, but what was not adequate was the description and photos which did not reveal, the pot was chipped in a number of spots. I reported this to the dealer immediately sending along several good photos with the details highlighted. At first, I was told that it must have happened in transport, this is when I point out that a) there was no debris in the packaging and that b) once you knew what to look for, the chips were noticeable in the photos he provided in the auction, next came the gambit. As a Westerner, I just did not understand Shigaraki pottery and this was just part of the "original manufacture" of the vase. I then assured him, that having studied in Shigaraki and collecting Shigaraki and Iga pottery for nearly 30 years, I thought I had an inkling of what was and was not acceptable. What had happened was not a kamakizu or kiln flaw, but rather a good knock to one of the "ears" attached to the vase resulting in said chips. After nearly 20 emails back and forth through differing times zones and all carefully recorded through eBay, the seller finally agreed to refund my money. Though I would have been exceptionally happy to own the pot in pristine condition, I guess at the end of the day, all is well that ends well.