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Rarity: Materials

The first element of an item's rarity has to be the material with which it's made. Quite simply, it's the stuff that the cup is made of, and roughly speaking, from rarest to least rare, I'd put them in the following order:

Aluminium, Bakelite, Silver, Silver alloy, Tin, Pewter, Metal, Wood, Porcelain

It's easy to forget now with aluminium (aluminum) being so common, but back in the day it was an expensive metal. It eventually became cheaper when Charles M. Hall discovered a new process that made it a lot easier to produce aluminium, but that took some time and...


Rarity: A Three Part Combo

Rarity: A Three Part Combo

Imagine a cup like this: A pure silver sake cup, decorated with a hand-carved image of the aircraft carrier Akagi with planes taking off and its distinctive funnels visible. The back of the cup has the words "Congratulations on Victory" "December 8th, Showa 16th Year" and the name of the person receiving the cup "Admiral Nagumo Chuichi". Even better, it comes with an original wooden box, and on the inside of the lid has a beautiful hand written message, maybe something quoting Admiral Togo, and signed by, say, Hideki Tojo (because Yamamoto probably wouldn't have called it a victory so...


Item attribution and production processes of cups and bottles

Item attribution and production processes of cups and bottles

Today a customer asked me about telling items apart when there's no explicit attribution to a unit. Specifically, the question was about items with horses on them with no unit name - how do you know if this was an item for a transport unit or a cavalry unit? They both use horses as a theme in their decoration. What to do?

This got me to think about what I've learned about the process of production for these cups after having looked at and handled thousands of these. As I mentioned in my last post, porcelain items were actually the most...


Periodization of sake cups and sake bottles

Periodization of sake cups and sake bottles

How do we know how old a cup is? One of the interesting things about this hobby is that these cups are mostly tied to history - personal, unit, or political. There are cups that are tied to individual histories - someone did this or that. There are ones that are tied to particular units - the Manchukuo Railroad units, the Taiwan regiments, individual warships, etc. Then there are the ones that are dated to events - Sino-Japanese War, Russo-Japanese War, WW1, WW2, etc. 

Among these, only the last kind are very easily datable. Usually it says right on the...


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