Monday, 13 January 2014


 By special request of Crowbard, I've put up a further blog entry on Saturday's Mystery Object, to illustrate the fabric outer case (or bag) for the Japanese tinder lighter. I've consulted Ann on this, and she says that the material for the bag is woven, with some embroidery in metallic threads. The material from which the bag is made, is very old (and now very fragile) silk. The above photo shows the back of the bag which would have rested against the quilted armour.

The above photo shows the front of the bag with its protective iron work showing.

The above photo shows the back of the bag again with the tinder lighter above it, attached to the bag by an articulated silver strap (almost like a modern watch strap).

Two further points, Crowbard :- I'm not at all sure about your description as the rarest known specimen. I think it's possible, even likely, that there are as good,  if not better ones known in Japan. You know how the French keep their better wines to themselves, and export the lesser ones to us?  Well, I should think the Japanese may have done  much the same with their antique artifacts when there was such a craze for them following the publication of The Mikado.

My other point is dating the item. You could well be right about it being a little earlier than eighteenth century. The problem is that they are not well known (or illustrated) in the books on the subject., and when one is illustrated in a reliable book (see Caspall's  Fire and Light in the home, page 37) whatever date the writer decides to give to the illustration (in this case late 17th/early 18th Century) is then copied into subsequent books, regardless of more recent information. This, coupled with the well known conservatism of Japanese artisans before Commander Peery reopened Japan to the West in 1852 (I think), makes the dating of Japanese antiques problematical at best .

I hope this helps.  Warm Regards, Mike.


Crowbard said...

Yes, thank you very much indeed Mike. It is a very handsome piece of work. I'm intrigued by the two cords on the upper front of the bag, they appear to be interacting draw-strings and probably shouldn't be used due to the apparent fragility of the fabric channels they run in. I find it hard to visualise how they work and what the result of their operation would have been. Am I missing the obvious again perhaps?

Crowbard said...

Hi Mike,
I think I've finally got it! The dark blue drawstring closes the neck of the bag after the tinder lighter has been tucked inside it. The larger capacity of the bag allows space for the tinder and other small necessities. Perhaps the yellow cord is a belt-loop?

Mike and Ann said...

Hello Crowbard. I think you've got it right regarding the blue cord. It does appear to have been a drawstring. I'm not so sure about the smaller yellow cord. That appears to have been stitched into position on the upper part of the outside of the bag. It appears to serve no purpose, save, possibly, decoration.

Mike and Ann said...

With reference to your comment received a few minutes ago, you might well have been right ten or fifteen years ago. I rather fear that in the present economic climate those conditions no longer seem to apply............Pity!
Next time we meet - or indeed natter on the 'phone, if you remind me, I'll tell you the full story of the item since 1949/50, when it changed hands for three shillings and sixpence (I was not involved in that deal, I hasten to add).

Mike and Ann said...

P.s. It has now been locked away again, I'm told, in a very secure environment.