This Chinese or Japanese vintage miniature metal and cloisonné gourd bottle is very unusual, To try to make it fit my understanding of what I have read about the nine different types of cloisonné the Japanese developed between 1870 and 1910, during the turn of the century, it is 'brocades and motifs using goldstone enamels'. I think it is Chinese maybe. The website where I retrieved this history lists nine types of Japanese cloisonné and various combinations of the same. The metal looks like brass, but it is not magnet attracting. It is too heavy to be tin. but does not look like and is too heavy to be bronze so most likely a mixed metal or gold enameled brass. If I am naming this wrong please let me know but I believe it is the type as discussed below in the article, '3. the stippled foreground with clear graduated enamels and applied cloisonné motifs'. Or, number then which is 10. 'and various combinations of the above'. The background does look like gold foil. The color looks like 22k gold in color only like we see on most jewelry from India, and definitely does not look like spray paint, if anything the s. It has a ground type surface around the wired cloisonné which is mentioned in several of the descriptions of the 'nine different types of cloisonné' below, including wired cloisonné in relief, on ground. This may be ground painted in gold enamel or perhaps a gold infused enamel., as the bottom of the double gourd-shaped bottle is the same blue material we see on other Japanese cloisonné pieces. It is decorated in a brocade of mixed metal arabesque designs surrounding the butterflies, it was not made for export as the sizing is not in exact inches. At first, I thought it was some inexpensive painted metal piece but the more I looked the more I realized I was profoundly incorrect, and we are probably letting this go for a song. Would love to hear any opinions or knowledge with those who have a good understanding of all the different Japanese cloisonné works as this seems to be a nice piece. It is in excellent condition with no damages.
SIZE Height About 4 inches or 10.4 cm, Diameter at widest about 3 inches or 7.62 cm
From the previous website I.D. Cloisonné, the Important Japanese period 1880-1920
By 1880 and after, export demands exploded. China's cloisonné production increased significantly for the European and American markets. Quality suffered, due to the mass produced, sloppy workmanship of these decorative and utilitarian items. Motifs became more mundane and repetitive, with much copied traditional subjects, and symbolic nature motifs. The market was flooded with smoking implements, decorative objects, figurines, and small dinnerware accessories.
For Japan, this period of 1880 to 1920 became the golden era of Japanese master cloisonné craftsmen. After participating in International Exhibitions, bringing to France, in 1867, their first cloisonné exhibits. With the years and their increased mastery, entitling them to prizes for their superb cloisonné items, Japan became the most sought-after exporter of cloisonné, replacing China. Pieces were designed and created over many months in the master's studios. Keeping the quality very high and the demand high as well.
The irony is that after Japanese cloisonné was internationally recognized and praised, creating a huge demand for more pieces for the middle classes, this triggered a huge production from Japan with much less refinement and shoddy workmanship. Eventually causing a backlash and the downfall of some of the more reputable makers. Demand for their exclusive and very pricey masterpieces declined with their studios closed by the 1920’s. That's why there such a difference in price between Chinese and Japanese cloisonné produced during that short 40-year period. Even today, these Japanese masterpieces have values in the $20,000 to $50,000-dollar range or more.
While Chinese cloisonné remained traditional, staying with their tried and true motifs and renditions. Japan's cloisonné craftsmen created at least 9 new types of cloisonné between 1870 and 1910, applied to free-standing objects:
1. the black opaque and glossy wireless cloisonné background with fine cloisonné motifs
2. the translucent enamel over relief ground without cloisonné, often red
3. the stippled foreground with clear graduated enamels and applied cloisonné motifs
4. the brocades and motifs using goldstone enamels
5. the moriage cloisonné with heavier relief enamel applied motifs on smooth wireless ground
6. the elevated cloisonné with relief cloison motifs applied to a translucent wireless ground
7. the cloisonné applied to ceramic bodies
8. the graduated opaque wireless cloisonné motifs
9. the plique-a-jour cloisonné
10. and various combinations of the above.