Buying and Selling Antiques| Antique Dealer with 25 years experience reveals insider secrets of buying and selling antiques and collectibles


Imari, the beautiful and colorful Japanese porcelain is a very popular collectible today. It seems like everyone wants at least a touch of oriental design in their home. And the bright red orange and cobalt blue colors seem to go with so many decorating styles. If you haven’t considered collecting Japanese Imari porcelain, you need to at least think about it.Imari

What Is Imari

Although Imari was fist produced in the early 1600’s, the most popular and plentiful Imari comes from the nineteenth century. As I said, it is a porcelain ware produced in Japan. It gets its name from the port of Imari in Japan, where it was shipped to all parts of the world, especially the European countries.

Originally, Imari was produced in only a blue color. But as production techniques improved the popular red orange and cobalt blue, as well as green and gold were added to the color palette.

Some English manufacturers also tried to produce some porcelain wares with the red orange and cobalt blue colors. But the Japanese Imari porcelain remains the most popular and is the easiest to find. When we shop in England, you can easily find Imari at any of the big markets. If you would like to find a more detailed article on the history of Imari, you can find it here.

Different Imari Pieces

The three  main Imari pieces that you will find are plates, bowls, and vases. The plates are the most popular and most plentiful. The easiest to find are plates, with the 8.5 inch size being the most plentiful. On the plates and chargers, be sure and examine them closely, many of them have tiny nicks around the rims where they have been displayed on the wall with wire hangers that did not have the plastic tips on them. Be sure your hangers have these plastic sleeves on them to prevent chipping.

Antique dealers often would ask me, what should we buy? If you have read other posts on this site, you know we took people on buying trips to England. So I would always tell them that we sell at least ten plates for every vase or bowl we sell. It is just so much easier to display plates. They can be hung on walls, placed in hanging plate racks, and also displayed on easel displays. A large Imari charger hung on a wall and surrounded by smaller plates makes a dramatic display.

ImariHaving said that, the Imari vases with the tops, which are harder to find with the tops, are quite striking. They come in all sorts of sizes, so you can make a very interesting grouping. And a grouping incorporating all of the different pieces and sizes can really add a touch of elegance to the top of a sideboard, table, or mantle.

Where to Find Imari

Depending on where you live, it can be very difficult to find Imari locally. You can always find Japanese Imari on EBay, Ruby Lane, and other antique internet sites. In my hometown, Dallas, a very European city when it comes to antiques, you can find Imari many places at quite competitive prices. But now that we are living in Alabama, it is much harder to find. That is the nest advantage of the internet, no matter where you live, as long as you can get a connection, you can literally shop around the world. This really helps if you love things that are not readily available where you are living.

When shopping online, be careful of reproductions. The Chinese have become experts in reproducing almost anything. Up until a few years ago, I had never seen an Imari plate in the shape of a fish. Then all of a sudden, they were everywhere. I looked on eBay and found several of them, all coming from China. I can’t tell the difference form the original and the reproductions, they are done very well. If this doesn’t bother you, that is fine. But now these are everywhere, so be careful. The same can be said for other unusual shaped dishes. It is a shame, but when anything becomes very valuable because of its scarcity,  someone will try to reproduce it. Just be as educated as you can, shop reputable dealers, and then make your own decisions. Below is a video of Imari showing more examples than I could show in the images, it also has a couple of Imari marks.

Here are some good reference books on Japanese Imari that you should find helpful:

Title The Story of Imari: The Symbols and Mysteries of Antique Japanese Porcelain Imari, Satsuma, and Other Japanese Export Ceramics (Schiffer Book for Collectors) Classic Japanese Porcelain: Imari and Kakiemon Imari, Satsuma and Other Japanese Export Ceramics
Author Goro Shimura Nancy N. Schiffer Takeshi Nagatake Nancy N. Schiffer
Binding Hardcover Hardcover Hardcover Hardcover
Edition First Edition Enlarged 2nd
ListPrice $40.00 $49.95 $35.00 $49.95
NumberOfPages 208 203 96 204
PublicationDate 2008-06-01 1997-11 2003-09-12 1999-10-01
Title The Story of Imari: The Symbols and Mysteries of Antique Japanese Porcelain Imari, Satsuma, and Other Japanese Export Ceramics (Schiffer Book for Collectors) Classic Japanese Porcelain: Imari and Kakiemon Imari, Satsuma and Other Japanese Export Ceramics
Price $21.52 $8.29 $80.00 $37.28
Reviews Read Reviews Read Reviews Read Reviews Read Reviews
Link More Info More Info More Info More Info

I hoped you have read and seen enough to increase your interest in Imari. The next time you are out antiquing, keep your eyes out for some of the brightly colored Imari pieces.

16 Responses to “Imari”

  1. William Minehan says:

    I have a Japanese Imari Charger that has been in my family for at least three generations. It is aprox. 16″ in dia. and 3″ deep.

    I do have photos of it if there is a way I can email you the photos.

    I am selling all I qwn in preperation for moving to Asai in about one month. I am interested in knowing the value of this Charger and if you know where I may sell it in a relativly short time.

    Thanks for your time,
    William Minehan

    • Chuck says:

      Hi William,
      I will be happy to look at photos of the chager. You can check on eBay and see waht similar Imari chargers are currently selling for. Where do you live? You can sell it to a dealer but they can not pay what an individual will pay because they have to make a profit

  2. Frances E says:

    Hello :
    I have 2 4’1″ Japanese Imari Vases that I would like to find out the value and possibility of selling.

    Thank you,

    Frances E

  3. SANDRA says:

    I have a Charles Sadek I 10″ KO Imari Plate with Japan Stamp on back blue oranges an green blue in the middle birds around edges I know my Aunt bought it about 30years ago for $275.00 can you tell me is this about what it would be worth

    • Chuck says:

      I’m sorry, not familiar with that particular style. There are so many and my knowledge is limited on most oriental antiques.

  4. Kim says:

    I have a set of octagonal Imari bowls in my family for several generations. Very heavy, mostly blue, greyish white,red, and a little green with much gold trim. There are no markings on the bottoms. Can you tell me who might be interested in acquiring or providing more info? thank you!

  5. Kathleen says:

    Do you know where in Los Angeles I can get a reasonable and reliable appraisal on an Aoki Arita Imari ware charger and a small dish whose mark I have not yet identified? I am in the Los Angeles area. I know the items are worth something, but probably not enough to merit spending a lot for an appraiser.


  6. I have a complete dinner set of Gold Imari. Mine are Green and Gold with Pheasants and Flowers on them.My set includes large.dinner plates.salad plates .small pot creamer sugar bowl very large.serving.platter.Ipurchased in Japan in 1967.They are in excellent condition.not one chip,never used them.i would like to sell them.If anyone is interested pleas email. I can send very detailed pictures. Thank You Laura Ormonde

  7. Candelaria Miranda says:

    Hello, I have numerous collectible plates I would like for you to see and give me an estimate on each if you can.

    • Chuck says:

      I am not a good person to ask for collectible plates, we have never dealt with them. Check eBay for values.

  8. Bonnie Thompson says:

    I have six hand painted Gold Imari Chargers that were acquired from Caesars Palace Las Vegas. Some of the Chargers have Caesars Palace Hand Painted Japan on the back but others just have hand painted Japan on the back. All are in very good condition. They have no chips or cracks but some do have a small amount of wear. Do you know an approximate value and where I might be able to get a fair price for them?

  9. Jill Peterson says:

    Hi, I have quite an extensive collection of Imari that my parents brought back from Japan in the late 1940′s. I am interested in selling part, or all of this collection. I am able to take pictures if there is any interest, or if you can refer me to someplace/someone who buys such collections.
    Thank you for your time and talent.

    • Nancy says:

      Hi. I am a LA-based writer/editor for the Japanese magazines, and currently looking for Imari collectors who lives in LA for the special Imari story of the one of the most popular magazines in Japan.
      If you can refer me to an Imari collector, it would be very appreciated.
      Thank you for your cooperation.

  10. Cassie lovell says:

    I have a satsuma japenese hand painted vase the large one has floral setting colors blue red orange, two japenese women with a cat. I have pics. I,need to know how,much it’s worth and where i,may can sell it at here in Alabama. No cracks. Or chips repairs or anything ..

    • Chuck says:

      I am afraid that is a market that I would not be able to help you find the value. You could look on some of the internet antiques sites such as Ruby Lane or even eBay and see if you find items similar to yours to get an idea on value. But then trying to find a buyer is different. I would say the item is of interest to a relatively small market and trying to find a dealer to sell it to would be difficult.

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