A rare set of hand-painted Japanese playing cards was among the more unusual of lots featuring in the Japanese Works of Art sale on Tuesday 21st May, selling for £3,750.
The set comprised 416 individual cards and had been identified as hyakunin isshu playing cards by Sir William Wilkinson, a notable card collector whose own collection is now in the British Museum. A similar set from the John C Weber Collection are currently on loan to the Metropolitan Museum, New York.
Two composite suits of Japanese armour from the collection of Sir Henry Norman (1858-1939) of Ramster Hall also drew considerable interest. Sir Henry Norman was editor of the Pall Mall Gazette which, in 1887, sent him on an interviewing tour around the world that was supposed to last six months but was actually extended to four years. He visited Japan at that time and, on his return, wrote a number of travel books including The Real Japan. The armours sold for £8,125 and £2,750 respectively.
Continuing the miltaria theme was a Japanese Tazuke-rye School inlaid matchlock carbine of massive proportions, finely decorated with gold and silver wire inlays. Large carbines of this type were typically mounted on castle walls to guard against invaders. They were also used on ships as assault weapons to blast through door hinges and to launch incendiary arrows to set fire during sieges. This example sold for £12,500.
For the results of this sale please click here.