Satsuma Pottery Has Been Made in Japan Since the 1600s

By Anne McCollam

October 20, 2017 3 min read

Q: Enclosed is a picture of a vase that has been in my family many, many years. As an avid reader of your column, I recently noticed a question about a similar vase. It got me wondering about my vase, which has a long history in my family. It originally belonged to my great-grandmother, who passed away at the age of 99 in 1981. It is in mint condition and decorated with dark-green, yellow and gold colors. It stands 15 inches tall. On the front is a scene with a mountain, a house, trees, a warrior and gold. The back is very plain. There are handles on each side at the top. The only thing I find odd is it doesn't have any marking on the bottom to help identify the maker.

If you could please tell me anything about my vase, I will greatly appreciate it.

A: You have a Satsuma-style vase that was made in the late 1800s. Satsuma ware has been made in the Satsuma province of Japan since the 17th century. Early pieces were decorated with simple designs of scrolls, animals and flowers. By the 19th century, pieces included warriors, royal figures and raised designs of white dots called moriage. In the 1800s and 1900s, large amounts were exported from Japan to the West. Many Satsuma vases were not marked until after the Mckinley Tariff of 1890 was passed. It required objects that were imported to the U.S. to be marked with the country of origin.

The value of your vase would probably be about $75 to $125.

Q: I have enclosed the mark that is on the bottom of a German beer stein. It is in the shape of a bear. The head forms the lid, which is attached to the base with a hinge. Also included with the mark is the number-letter combo "5L."

What can you tell me about the maker, vintage and value of my stein?

A: You have a figural beer stein that was made by Reinhold Merkelbach. He founded his pottery in 1843 in Hohr-Grenzhausen, Germany. His family came from a long line of potters beginning in the 1600s. The "5L" marking indicates that the stein holds 1/2 liter of fluid.

Your stein was made around 1900 and would probably be worth $175 to $275.

 Satsuma pottery has been made in Japan since the 1600s.
Satsuma pottery has been made in Japan since the 1600s.

Address your questions to Anne McCollam, P. O. Box 247, Notre Dame, IN 46556. Items of a general interest will be answered in this column. Due to the volume of inquiries, she cannot answer individual letters. To find out more about Anne McCollam and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

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