Skinner

Auctioneers and Appraisers

Japanese "Mermaid"

Auction:
2170
Lot:
168
Sold for:
$705$600

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Auction:
Sale #2170 - 2170
Location:
Bolton
Date / Time :
May 03, 2003 10:00AM

Description:

Japanese "Mermaid", mid 19th century, comprised of a fish tail attached to a monkey's head and body, lg. 10 in., in Japanese wood box with cord holes, with a manuscript note inscribed This beautiful creature, a genuine Japanese Mermaid, is said to have been caught on the north-east side of the bay of Yedow, on the coast of Japan, about 23 1/2 miles from the Capital, and brought in by some poor fisherman who had it finely preserved, as will be seen by its fresh and lifelike appearance.

Provenance: By descent through the family of Franklin Blake (1837-71). A native of Massachusetts, Franklin Blake was the brother of a Worcester mayor and had attended school in Newton before going East in 1859 for China. He then became head of the firm of Augustine Heard & Co. in Bangkok, and ten years latter went to Yokohama in the same capacity, finally settling in Higo and it's port Kobe. According to a newspaper obituary which accompanies the lot, he was one of the men responsible for the opening of Kobe to foreigners. According to family tradition, after his death, his belongings were returned to Massachusetts and this artifact was among them.So-called Mermaids were sold to tourists, both gullible and humorous, throughout the Far East in the 19th century. Going by the note with this example, Mr. Blake was the latter.
Estimate $300-500

Keywords

Franklin Blake, head , Massachusetts, Yedow, poor fisherman , Japan, China, mayor , Kobe, port Kobe, head of the firm, Augustine Heard & Co., Bangkok, Far East, Mermaid