News — History

Anatomy of a fake tray

Anatomy of a fake tray

A customer recently asked me about an item seen on eBay - a supposedly 1st Sino-Japanese War (1895) commemorative bronze tray. It sounded a bit dodgy, and then I saw the pictures...

Well, there are a number of things wrong with this. I've cut out the seller's name - it's one of those sellers based in Mainland China who sells everything from antique vases to random trinkets. Usually, when it's a seller who sells everything and they're all a few hundred dollars fixed and are supposedly 200 years old.... it's not right. The Chinese antique market is...


Japanese wars and other events: A timeline

There are a lot of events to keep track of when it comes to these cups - they often reference various events and years. This is meant to be a handy guide to the major events that happened. We take 1895 as the starting point - almost all the items come from 1895 or later. There are exceptions, but they are rare. Here I only list the major conflicts - there are smaller incidents, events, and what not, but those are too numerous to list one by one.

1894-95: First Sino Japanese War 日清戦争. The fighting mostly...


Taking care of your cups

Taking care of your cups

One of the things that annoy me is when I find cups that are otherwise really nice, but through years of neglect and poor preservation, have ended up in a horrible state. This cup above is one such example, and it pains me because you can still see traces of the cup underneath - a soldier rowing his own boat up a river, symbolizing, I think, a hardworking soldier. That, and also because I've sold a cup like this before almost ten years ago

They're obviously not identical, but it's the same theme, and...


Learning about military sake cups: Do fakes exist?

Learning about military sake cups: Do fakes exist?

A question I hear from time to time is: do fakes exist, and how do I know if it's fake?

This is a question that others have answered before - Dan King in his book and also Rich Catalano before he shut down his site on sake cups. Basically - no, this really isn't a corner of the militaria market that has many fakes. The reason is quite simple - it's not worth it.

Consider the average cup - let's say it's about $10 for a good condition cup. To make a fake cup, one has to get a ceramic...


Learning about military sake cups: Where do cups come from? Part 2

Learning about military sake cups: Where do cups come from? Part 2

So as I mentioned in the last post, these cups were given for things that someone has done - it's a celebration of finishing something. So, what kind of stuff are they celebrating?

Well, turns out the reasons are as varied as there are cups out there. Granted, the most common reason is obvious - someone finishing their military service. These have a few variations - discharge commemoration (除隊紀念), leaving the service commemoration (退營紀念), or victorious return commemoration (凱旋紀念). The vast majority of military sake cups are related to these three, which celebrate someone finishing their term of service or...