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Japanese Antimony Ware

Antimony is a soft silvery grey metal element which is easily cast or stamped into form.  In Japan it was used to produce decorative metal ware, most commonly small boxes or dishes, often with highly detailed designs.  The items could also be plated to resemble silver, and some silvered examples look very convincingly like solid silver having that distinctive warm tone.  Antimony is far denser than silver however, so weighing in the hand is usually an easy giveaway.

Japanese antimony items come in quite a range of colours due to plating or alloying and can be from silver, through gold tones, pewter, reddish bronze and browns.  Antimony is also a very soft metal like lead and can easily be dented and usually bent back into shape with little negative effect.  Japanese items may also be made with antimony alloys which can be significantly harder and more like copper in terms of resisting knocks.  Due to the softness items often exhibit some dents and knocks.  Plating can also be worn away easily and finding examples which just have plating remaining in crevices is not uncommon.

Currently the market for these items is quite small, and prices are consequently very reasonable.  As far as I am aware there are no reference works specifically for the subject, if one is produced this often leads to a big jump in interest and value.  If you like this type of item, it is currently a good time to put together a collection as even the high quality pieces are affordable for most. To check our stock of these items you can click here.






Japanese silvered antimony trinket box with cast pictorial lid, Taisho period.


Japanese antimony hinged lid trinket box decorated with a tiger to the top.  Worn silvering leaving a pewter tone underneath, Taisho or early Showa period.
japanese antimony candlestick A scarce antimony candlestick with copper plating.  It has designs of entwined dragons and an open column, Taisho period.