Kirsten's Corner

Meiji Period Mixed-Metal Letter Opener with Birds


A classic, mixed-metal Japanese page turner, or letter-opener, made in 1870 during the early Meiji era. The page turner measures 11-1/4 inches long and is 1 inch at its widest point. It has a nice combination of mixed metal alloy, brass, silver and copper. This kind of technique was historically used in Japan to decorate Samurai swords. This was a traditionally mastered art that due to its popularity spread to other decorative arts. A row of birds perched on a bamboo branch has been etched with elegant restraint and beautiful line-work onto the smooth rounded blade. The handle of the page turner has a bamboo pattern, which has been carefully crafted, folded, and finally hand woven safely with silver thread. On one side is a wild pheasant male made in a warm copper metal, and on the other side is its mate. Flowers decorate the handle on both sides. On the lower left of one side we can see the artist's signature in Japanese script. All the creatures have been so beautifully crafted, its really a pleasure to admire with your eyes and hold in your hand. The letter opener also has some nice contrasting colors, which has been created by the varied use of metals.

This letter opener or page turner is a lovely collectible item, with particularly beautiful Japanese classic motifs of natural flora and fauna. It also makes a wonderful gift or desk item, in great working condition with a beautiful patina.

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