Occupied Japan Aunt Jemima String Holder

This example will often be found described as a 'Great addition to your collection'. But, only if your collecting interest happens to be contemporary reproductions would this be true.

For comparison purposes for this example we have included pictures of the original string holder that was copied to make this particular reproduction. Images are marked to indicate which is which, but in reality the reproduction is so poorly made it should be easy to recognize it as the knock-off.

In comparing the two, note the difference in quality. Even though the original was never intended to be considered a fine porcelain object and instead was a fairly inexpensive kitchen adjunct when originally marketed, careful attention was still paid to detail in its making and decorating.

The reproduction, on the other hand, is of very low quality and the decoration looks only marginally like that of the original. Black, not brown, face and hands, for instance, and no facial detail at all other than glaring white eyes. The reproduction piece was painted wearing a scarf tied at the front of the neck, like an article of clothing worn for the outdoors, rather than material used to keep the hair tied back while cooking. The gingham checks of her apron are only suggested with splashes of paint, rather than painted in full.

The reproduction also helps to illustrate common problems often seen on these types of pieces. Note that the original piece actually is made in such a way as to allow its use for holding a ball of string, its originally intended function. The back rim is high enough and extends far enough inward on the sides to be able to corral the string ball. The reproduction has an almost non-existent rim in back at bottom and sides and it is unlikely that it would be very useful for the purpose for which it supposedly was designed. It would be impractical for that purpose.

Note that the reproduction appears made to primarily sit on a table or shelf, even though a rather large round hole has been provided for hanging. The mounting hole in the original string holder is slotted to give it more stability on the wall and while in use.

The original was made only for hanging on the wall, though it was given a flat bottom. In the reproduction, the hole for dispensing string is extremely large, making it clumsily apparent. It mostly seems intended to shout at the observer, "I am a sting holder!", rather than having been supplied for utility. The dispensing hole is small in the original. Functional and fully glazed, it was designed to be as unobtrusive to the eye as possible.

The original string holder is marked U.S.A. and N.S.Co. on the back. It was made by the National Silver Company. The reproduction has a false "Occupied Japan" mark rubber stamped on its unglazed back, for added collector appeal.

The reproduction measures 6-1/2 inches tall and 4-1/4 inches at the bottom of the skirt. The original measures 6 5/8 inches tall, 4 inches wide and is 2 3/4 inches deep.

In considering a functional collectible, always ask yourself while examining it, would this be practical for fulfilling that need? Reproduction items generally are only intended to fool the eye, not to be truly useful articles.

Item ID: 2007RP00028

Modern Reproductions, Fakes and Fantasies


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