This example is yet another representing scores of new porcelain and pottery items exported out of the country of China in the recent past. 'Satsuma' products appeared almost as soon as Internet sales platforms became available to Chinese manufacturers. Chinese ceramics makers have historically preferred to make copies of pottery and porcelain articles resourced from their own country's long and gloried history in that medium. However, in association with a dramatic rise in prices for authentic Japanese Satsuma and collectors avidly seeking that particular type of item, rest assured American reproduction wholesalers would not miss the opportunity to order some replicas of same to be made for stock. Once Japanese Satsuma became a good bet for profits in the 1980's, fakes were ordered, made and sold. See also item #2007RP000120 listed here in this shop to view similar Satsuma style candlesticks which are also are marked 'Royal Satsuma,' though their particular mark does not include the name of the factory in Chinese, making them initially, perhaps, a bit more difficult to identify as to country of origin.
Sometimes items bearing the mark shown in this listing will be described as a Japanese mark by a seller, which can be an honest mistake since many Westerners are unable to tell the difference between Japanese and Chinese writing. Others who may know full well that what they have is
Chinese-made, not Japanese, may represent their item to be only 'Satsuma Style'. Most will also generally suggest the item was created back in the 60's or 70's, to give it the cache of having some age to a potential buyer. But that is incorrect. Items bearing this particular mark were not made prior to the 1980's and so all are by definition contemporary. They are not 'vintage' - they are not 'old.' The writing below the 'Royal Satsuma' mark reads, "Zhong Guo To Ci Jin Pin" In English, "China Pottery Porcelain Fine Products."
The red stamped mark on the bottom of this piece says in English,
"HANDPAINED Royal Satsuma." While it is possible some dots of enamel moriage decoration could have been applied by hand, it is actually likely pieces of this type are being entirely decorated by machine. The underlying image is mechanically printed on the surface and then the additional colors overlaid on top. So HANDPAINED, which may have been intentionally misspelled as it literally means nothing, is apt. Nothing about this item suggests the careful hand or individual expression of a skilled artist was involved in its making. Note how the blue geometric design that is supposed to be part of the surface decoration of the robe worn by the gentleman in the center has shifted off the robe and to the right. It lies instead outside of the outlines of the robe's underlying design. That overt mistake suggests an entirely machine decorated piece that was slightly out of position when passing through to have colors mechanically applied all at once. In addition, dots of moriage have been applied over gilt highlights, and appear elsewhere on the piece where they do not belong. An artist would never have painted an item in this fashion as they would easily have been able to see where to apply the enamels to the pre-printed primary design.
Even though the figures represented in the decorative design appear to be Japanese, the mark on this piece is unmistakably Chinese. Satsuma is and always has been an entirely Japanese-made pottery. It was never originally made in China or anywhere else, only Japan. If the mark you see on the bottom of a piece indicates it was made anywhere other than Japan, it cannot be Satsuma. Printing the word 'Satsuma' somewhere on an item cannot make it something it is not.
All Chinese made 'Satsuma' marked items are contemporary fakes with no current collector value. In addition, if a mark on such an item also happens to include a statement such as, "For Decorative Use Only" that would be an indication the glaze used to make it likely contained lead or a similar substance no one would want to ingest even in very small amounts. Items marked in such a way should never be used in food service.
The pooled glaze that can be observed on the interior of this covered dish suggests a high probability leaded glaze was used in its making, though no permanent mark indicates this in reference to food use. Yet lidded boxes of this type typically can be employed for holding things like mints or candy on a side table for guests.
Lead glazed ceramics imported today which should be marked to prevent accidental ingestion of that substance may bear a permanent warning on bottom like, “Not for food use. Item may poison the food." or "For Decorative Purpose Only" (as seen on the Royal Satsuma marked candlesticks mentioned above). But such items may also have entered the U.S. recently with such warnings applied only via a paper label, rather than as part of a permanent marking. While a glued-on paper warning label remains affixed there should be little fear that a buyer would use an item so marked to store something edible, or that they would use it at the table. But though some new items with lead based glazes may be properly represented to a first buyer as ‘only for decoration,’ those who may buy that same item on the secondary market later may not ever know a paper warning label was once present on it. Becoming familiar with the look and feel of these types of new fakes and reproductions can be an important consideration for that reason alone.
Once the paper warning label on the bottom of a lead glazed item has fallen off or been removed it is possible for it to pose a health risk to the consumer. And some less than reputable sellers of items bearing such labels do remove them prior to marketing the pieces because the labels make it easier to tell the items are not really antiques. The reproduction wholesalers importing fake Satsuma and other items made with lead-based, potentially hazardous glazes or paints, could put a stop to that practice by requiring the manufacturers from whom they order stock to permanently mark any item which might pose a potential hazard. But it would appear some consider it more important to instead ensure a fake will be able to appeal to wholesale buyers, who want an item to be able to fool collectors. The so-called 'antique' dealers who remove paper warning labels from hazardous fakes they bought brand new are the crowd that keeps the maker's of new fakes and reproductions in business. Somehow it fails to be figured into the equation that an eventual buyer should always be warned of the possibility a danger could exist.
This dish measures 6 1/4 inches long, is 4 1/2 inches across, and it is almost 3 inches high with the lid in place.