Edo period Japanese lacquer casket – £40,000 at Sworders.

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A 12in (30cm) casket – one of two lacquer boxes in a lot estimated at just £200-300 – was identified by bidders as part of a rare group of early to mid-17th century export wares.

Although the Edo period is characterised as the era of self-imposed semi-isolation after the relative openess of the Momoyama, the limited international trade in its art continued to have a great impact on the west.

Assuming an architectural form, this casket was decorated in gold hiramaki-e, takamaki-e and nashiji techniques on a black ground in transitional style with pavilions in landscapes, flowers and grasses, and mounted with copper gilt fittings. One sliding side opened to reveal a secret drawer.

In remarkably good condition for a piece of its type and date, it sold well above estimate to a Hong Kong buyer bidding via the internet at £40,000 (plus 23% buyer’s premium).

The sale took place on May 17.