Aesthetic, Art nouveau
For sale is another of these fantastic sets of six Japanese Meiji period silver and enamel teaspoons, with dragon hamdles. Each teaspoon with slightly different floral design and enamel to the bowl. In this case each spoon has a beautifully worked dragon to the handle terminal.
The spoons are marked for Samurai Shokai, the leading Japanese luxury retailer. See below for further details. The spoons are also essentially identical to others sets in the Collection, stock numbers A741 (sold) and A1099 (available), I am therefore certain these are all by the same maker, Sanju Saku. He was one of the top Yokahama makers and it is entirely likely his work was being retailed by Samurai Shokai. This set is especially interesting as they come with an original fitted Elkington box. Almost certainly Elkington imported and retailed the spoons in c 1900.
The spoons are in very good original condition with no noticeable enamel losses and no restoration. The detailing of the flowers is really outstanding, as is the modelling of the dragon handles.
Samurai Shokai was founded by Japanese businessman Yozo Nomura (1870 – 1965), and became one of the most famous luxury shops in Japan during the early 20th century. After abandoning his university studies and traveling to America and Europe, Yozo Namura moved back to Yokohama, near Tokyo where he opened a small luxury shop selling not only silver but also jades, lacquerware, silks and porcelain. The company quickly grew and, to satisfy his international clientele, Nomura became a pioneer in offering a mail order service. Sources of the time reported:
“English is spoken in all the departments. Prices are marked in plain figures, and there are no misrepresentations. Purveyors to the Imperial Japanese Household, and to the chief Museums of the world. Wholesale and retail. Manufacturers and exporters. Mail orders a specialty. Recommended.” (T. Phillip Terry, Terry’s Japanese Empire, 1914)
Samurai Shokai exhibited in London at the Anglo-Japanese fair in 1910 gaining further popularity in Europe. Due to the great Kanto earthquake in 1923, Nomura and his family had to flee Yokohama and were forced to close the business. Nevertheless he managed to quickly rebuild his business and also became the owner of the new Grand Hotel in Yokohama. Yozo Nomura died in 1965.
Maker: Sanju Saku / Samurai Shokai (retailer)
Designer: Sanju Saku
Date: Meiji c 1900
Marks: Samurai Shokai
Material: Sterling Silver, enamel
Condition: Very good – see description and images
Size: 11 cm long
Weight: 0.4 oz, 10 grams each