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Nora, Expert in Fine & Decorative Arts: Renaissance through Contemporary
Category: Antiques
Satisfied Customers: 14522
Experience:  Liberal Arts BA College Degree, Post-Graduate Christie's Education in London, 10 Yrs Art World Experience in NYC, President & Founder own Corporation. Member AOA & ISA, USPAP Compliant through 2019
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I have a desk which is wood bound, 9 by 11.5 inches,

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I have a desk blotter which is wood bound, 9 by 11.5 inches, lined with, I think, silk. The front has a japanese or chinese scene in releif in light wood (tree, figures in boats) the back flat with light wood flowers and an oriental character. It has the original (?) blotting paper inside also in a silk cover.
Can I send photos as I'd like to know a bit more about this item?
Hi There~
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Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Sorry, Nora!

I guess you've received the pictures by now - the complexities of how to communicate with you muiddled me somewhat!

The lining and the cover for the ancient blotting paper inside the blotter is a very finely woven grey coloured material - my mother in law who gave us the blotter thinks it is silk.

I searched the internet "images of Victorian blotter" and found nothing even vaguely resembling the object.

Alan P.

Hi Alan,
Thank you for the additional information.
Please allow me some time to look into this for you.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hello Nora!

Of course - please take as long as you like. We are going to give the blotter to our son and his girl friend as a house-warming present in the Autumn to go with a fully restored Victorian desk, which will boast a green leather top and french polish after meticulous repair.

Alan P .

sounds lovely.
Hi Alan~
Thank you for your patience.
This is referred to as a folding desk blotter and letter holder.
It is from Japan and dates to the late Meiji period, which in the Western world correlates to Late Victorian to Edwardian era, circa 1900.
The wood appears to be rosewood with applied design done in the style of lacquerwork. I am not able to translate the characters, though likely it is something to the matter of wishing joy, luck, wealth and happiness, as per usual with objects meant for export.
The interior is lined with moire silk.
In general, these achieve prices of $50 - $100 (32GBP - 65GBP) at auction. They do get offered at higher prices, though the key factor is finding a willing buyer. Blotter folders that reach prices of $250 - $500 (162GBP - 323GBP) are those that are cased in pierce cut, hallmarked sterling silver from England.
The suggested insurance or replacement value is $200 (129GBP).
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Nora and 2 other Antiques Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Dear Nora,

Many thanks for your explanation of this item. I have printed it off and in the next day or two I'll show it to my 102 year old mother in law who, as I mentioned, gave it to us. She has said she has always known it so it must have been in her family before she was borne in 1913! This ties in nicely with your appraisal, doesn't it? Also our trusted restorer said it was Japanese.

One last question, would this sort of item have been produced in Japan solely as an export to the West for use on desks, etc, or would the Japanese use it also?

Alan (I am aged 75!)

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Dear Nora,

For your information, I emailed our Japanese Embassy here in London with a picture of the character on the back of the blotter! They very quickly replied with the answer "GIFT"

Alan P.

Aha - that certainly makes sense - and even more apropos for when you present it as a such with the desk for the housewarming! Full circle ;)