2010 Convention

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania!

Although the INCC convention traditionally starts on Thursday morning, the official board meeting is held on Wednesday afternoon. After the cocktail hour, the Hospitality Suite opened for early registration, joyous reunions, Nippon chit-chat and snacks. The Dixieland Club, as usual, hosted an extremely sumptuous buffet. Totally sated, we then headed out to each other’s rooms for buying, selling and lots more talk of Nippon.

Thursday morning brought our General Meeting and a brief orientation for our four first-timers. Dick Bittner ran this meeting with his usual efficiency. The decisions that were made at the board meeting were introduced and discussed. All the present board members were introduced and the results of the election were announced. Jeff Mattison, our present President-Elect, will be President next year. Tom Sarkus will be President-Elect and follow him in 2012. Lisa Thomka will be Vice-President and Rella Clock and Marie Latizio will be the two new directors, succeeding Cheri and Bob Zangmeister, who will become Secretary and Treasurer, respectively.

The 2011 convention will be held in Carey, North Carolina. We have been to that Embassy Suites before and it was quite comfortable. The following year, we will try a new venue – Greenville, South Carolina. Bob Schoenherr, as usual, did a masterful job of obtaining the best possible arrangements for us.

oct2010-12 the meeting, the Hospitality Suite was once again open. A lot of chatting and chewing went on there.

Thursday afternoon, Jeff Mattison presented a program based on three of the earliest publications concerning Nippon. These were all spiral-bound, soft-covered books, that the early collectors delightedly snatched off the shelves. They were all published in the early 1970’s and contained varied amounts of information (and misinformation), but lots of pictures.

The Lima book had its highest priced vase on the cover …. a whopping $150.00. We may laugh now, but in the 70’s that was quite a stretch for collectors. This book noted 51 Nippon marks and did have a price guide. Jeff read some interesting tidbits from the price guide to us.

oct2010-11The next book was the Robinson book, subtitled ‘Nippon – What’s That?’. The quality of the printing and the pictures was superior to the Lima book.

Florence Myers’ book was next. Mrs. Myers did rate the marks and also provided interesting comments about the various pieces.

In addition to the three books that Jeff wittily discussed, there were two other books from the 1970’s. One was by Gene Loendorf, which was another paperback and one by Irene Stitt, which was a hard covered book that contained information and pictures about Japanese porcelain in general, but also had chapters on Nippon and Noritake.

The next program, presented by Dick Bittner, covered the re-design of our INCC website. In line with current technological progress, we will have private access for members. Dick is also planning on having the editions of the INCC Journal added to the website. There are new galleries, depicting the many types of Nippon, and we got to see a variety of the pictures available on them. There are application forms available for new members and membership renewal forms for the rest of us. We will be able to pay by check (the old way….. snail mail) or by Paypal — for the technically able. Your membership confirmation receipt will be sent to you by email. All the updates, along with ones to come, will move the website into the 21st century.

Jeff Mattison asked about how to improve and sustain the club. The web site will certainly help. But, we really need new members. He also mentioned that the programs were hard to arrange. However, next year we will have three different anniversaries to celebrate. The INCC will be thirty years old. The “M in wreath” mark will be one hundred years old and the Nippon mark will be one hundred and twenty years old. If all that doesn’t inspire a lot of programs, it should certainly inspire a lot of champagne.

Jean Roberts asked how prospective new members can find our website. Some discussion followed.

Some brief talk about local clubs included some speculation about restarting the Florida club by having a meeting during the winter. We also discussed the new brochures and where to hand them out. Other topics included: Should we email members once a month? Should we have an auction preview on the website? Should we go on Facebook or YouTube? And, should we open the auction to the public?

Later, the Silent Auction was held during the breaks between Thursday afternoon programs.

oct2010-13Thursday night’s buffet dinner was enjoyed by all. Following dinner, the Ugly contest was held. Then, the beautiful, quilted wall hanging, hand made by Jess Berry, was auctioned off.

Friday morning, bright and early, check-in began for the auction. Once again, Doris Myers did a masterful job dragooning help and overseeing the proceedings. The balance of the day was left for members to make their own plans. Many spent that time touring the rooms again. Most of us re-convened again at the hotel’s cocktail hour and then some headed out of the hotel for dinner.

Saturday morning was supposed to bring an interesting program concerning the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. However, most mysteriously, our speaker never showed up. Weeks later, Jeff Mattison learned that she had left the company and never bothered to inform us.

The INCC is not so easily flummoxed. Instead of Frank Lloyd Wright, we had Lisa Thomka, a much better choice! Lisa gave a report on the Strategic Planning Committee meeting of the previous day. This committee has been formed to find ways of improving the INCC for the benefit of our members. They are discussing what our most important issues are and how to plan to solve our problems.

Membership is one of our major problems. The committee and the members present talked about how to raise the number of members and how to increase attendance at the convention. Technology appears to be how younger people (and some of us more senior members) communicate. So, our website seems to be doing us a lot of good and is bringing in new members. We also discussed what individual members are willing to do to help the club. As in any other organization, some people work hard, some people complain and some people sit by and hope others will do it. We need to find ways to help more people contribute to the club; every little bit helps.

The decline of attendance at the convention is a problem for us. We agree that we need more promotion within the area the convention will be held. Should we let non­members into the rooms or the auction?

The lack of a sufficient amount of new members was also brought up again. There was some talk about the fact that Nippon was not as readily on display at shows and stores as it once had been. How can you interest someone in collecting an item that they do not see? Also, there seems to be much less demand for the lower-priced pieces. Most of us started out spending a little and learning a lot. How can we encourage people to see that every piece of Nippon is a quality piece of Nippon?

Following this extremely lively discussion, the Nippon rarities table appeared. The first item to be shown provoked interest because there were varying opinions as to what it was. The picture was part of the Hunt Scene, showing a man on horseback. Some thought it was a trivet, although it was actually too thin to be a trivet. Others thought it was a tray insert or a flue cover. We also drooled over:
A small bolted urn with flowers which probably was a salesman’s sample An unusually-shaped piece of coralene
A 15-1/2- inch vase with a gold background
A coralene vase with a very rare sailboat
A scenic toothbrush holder
Some figural animal samples
A ferner with the Noritake/Nippon mark that had a metallic finish
A vase with a portrait of a Japanese prime minister accompanied by a letter from Mr. Keishi Suzuki identifying him
A spectacular 28-inch bolted urn on stand depicting the arab on a camel scene
A ladle with drainage holes in it
An impressive turquoise vase with silver overlay marked with the RC mark
A sardine dish with underplate
A fantastic display of matching 10-inch and 14-inch blown-out plaques including the Moose, a horse’s head, some dogs and the adorable children by a tree
A blown-out fisherman tankard
A pair of blown out Egyptian candlesticks
A cloisonné-like mantel set, including a vase and matching candlesticks
And 3 Japanese Woodblock prints depicting scenes of ancient Japanese life.
Naturally, we all coveted every single piece on that table. A rare display indeed!

Next up was a new program called “Favorites and Souvenirs”. This was a Show and Tell type program and provided us with a look at an interesting assortment of objects. Jerry Service had a moriage decorated compote with the Washington, DC decal. There were several small pieces with that decal on display also. Dick Bittner had some small pieces that depicted Mt. Rainer and Lake Washington. Ken Schirm had interesting Washington, DC pieces, and Bob Schoenherr had a plate with the Seattle skyline and a plate with Mr. Rainer/Lake Washington.

The favorites were next, but first several members of the group described some favorite pieces that they didn’t bring. Then we began the display of favorite pieces, most of which would have been right at home on the rarities table.

Dick Bittner had a squat vase with a white cockatoo
Mary Ellen brought along a lovely vase with roses.
Rella Clock had a gorgeous bolted vase with top and bottom handles.
Doris Myers shared her blown-out winter scene vase with a tan Wedgwood border.
Nat Goldstein had a vase with a tan wedgwood border (you wouldn’t think they were as rare as they are) and a pretty scene.
Lenny Taylor had a Coralene and cobalt vase with fancy handles, flowers and lots of gold.
Jeff Mattison displayed his bisque-finish winter scene vase.
Everyone sat, green with envy, awaiting the next program.

Miyoko Davey came from New York to deliver the final presentation of the day on Japonism. Mrs. Davey collects better quality antique items that have been influenced by Japanese design. We saw pictures of the many things she has acquired over her 30 years of collecting. There were many different magnificent things in her collection. In addition to the Nippon, there was French art glass, a Tiffany lamp (to die for), Steuben and other art glass and other Japanese antiques. She discussed how Japanese art has penetrated and influenced many other art forms including the French Impressionists. Her collection will be on exhibit during May 2011 at the Mitsubishi Museum in Tokyo. Here is what she will say in the introduction to the exhibition catalog:

INTRODUCTION AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSSo often, something which means very little at the beginning, develops into something meaningful. This was certainly true with me. When I started to look for a dinner set for daily use, I found vintage or antique porcelains better in quality and less expensive in price. Quite often, these sets included some small items such as a coffee cup and saucer or lunch plates with Japanese designs. Those side items with Japanese motifs gradually accumulated and my interests expanded endlessly. After almost thirty years, with my husband, the present collection was made. Generally, Japonism is very well known in the western world. What surprised me is that Japonism design affected not only impressionist painting and expensive avant-garde objects, but also many articles used in every day life by people of moderate income. Examples include silver plated napkin rings and door knobs. Japonism penetrated daily life for such a long time, at least thirty years. Understanding this, I feel great satisfaction when I find a Japonism cup and saucer with no kiln name in the New York street fairs and flee markets. This shows how Japonism was popular. Collecting Japonism is fairly easy to start if one has the interest. There are many opportunities available, even with a small amount of money. But what I like to emphasize is that one can expand life’s pleasure by collecting something that we, as Japanese, should be proud of. In order to realize these exhibitions, it took so much time and cooperation from many people and institutions. Teikyo University Associate Professor Masayuki Okabe, supervisor for our Japonism exhibitions, has been our chief advisor for more than ten years in guiding the Japonism exhibit to fruition. Sankei Newspaper, one of the major newspapers of Japan, understood our intention to illustrate the powerful and wide spread impact of Japonism in the Western world and showed its interest in international cultural exchange by taking financial responsibility. Furthermore, Matsushita Electric Works Shiodome Museum, Shizuoka City Art Gallery and Shiga Prefectural Museum Togei no Mori all showed their understanding and energetically cooperated. Our sincere appreciation to the American Embassy and others who helped these exhibitions successfully materialize.

Saturday night brought us to the closing banquet. The food was good, the company delightful and everyone had a fun-filled time. Many desirable items were raffled off, as usual, with most of them having a close tie-in to Nippon or Japan. Thanks to Nat Goldstein and his go-get-‘em selling team for doing their usual excellent job, helping to raise money for the club.

The last thing to be raffled off was Gloria Addison’s beautiful, hand-made afghan. And after hopelessly waiting for many, long, frustrating years—you’ll never guess who won it!

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