Quinn’s in suburban Washington, DC to auction revered 60-year Mang netsuke collection, Dec. 7 Netsukes -- those 'small wonders’ of the Asian art world -- were collected for 60+ years by the late Jack and Helen Mang. Their premier estate collection will be auctioned by Quinn's on Dec. 7.
News-Antique.com - Nov 29,2012 - FALLS CHURCH, Va. – Netsukes – the miniature carvings used in Japan as ornamental fasteners on boxes and silk robes – have been a high-end niche collectible in the United States for many decades. Intricately detailed netsukes have won the favor of a number of distinguished collectors, including the late diplomat Jack A. Mang and his wife Helen Randall Mang, whose estate collection will be auctioned at Quinn’s Auction Galleries on Friday, December 7, 2012.
The Mangs were longtime residents of the nation’s capital and founding members of the Washington, DC chapter of the International Netsuke Society (INS). Their door was always open to fellow collectors, who regarded Jack and Helen as the ultimate resource for information on netsukes. Some traveled from as far away as Europe and Hawaii to visit with the Mangs and view their fabled collection.
In an Isabel Cunningham article about the Mangs, which appeared in a 1983 issue of the INS Journal, the author wrote that the couple “combined discriminating taste, conscientious scholarship, delight in sharing with others, and never-failing interest in all aspects of netsuke collecting.”
Quinn’s Auction Galleries’ president, David Quinn, said the Mangs spotted their first netsuke in a New York shop window in 1950. “They were fascinated by the exquisite workmanship on such a relatively small piece. They bought a gold lacquer inro cord with netsuke on that particular day, and a 60-year collection was born,” Quinn said.
The auction catalog’s cover lot is an 18th-century Kyoto school ivory netsuke of a crouching baku – a mythical beast whose name means “eater of bad dreams.” The carving incorporates all of the baku’s distinctive physical characteristics – a long snout, two tusks, clawed feet and the body of a horse with flaming posterior. Measuring 2¾ inches long, it is expected to make $15,000-$20,000 at auction.
A latter-18th-century ivory netsuke of a dragon emerging from an alms vessel amid a vapor cloud was fastidiously carved to render the effect of a heavily scaled body from neck to tail. The piece was purchased from Joseph U. Seo in 1955 and will appear at Quinn’s auction with an estimate of $8,000-$10,000.
Another dragon netsuke that collectors may find appealing is a carved-wood example that clutches a white glass ball in its claws. Created circa 1833-1843 by Kaigyokudo of Osaka, Japan, it is artist-signed under the tail and commands a presale estimate of $7,000-$9,000.
A mid-18th-century bone netsuke, also Kyoto school, depicts a perplexed older Immortal, known as a sennin, grasping a mokugyo (drum) and looking skyward in the character’s typical pose. The piece comes with provenance from the collection of F. Meinertzhagen, who described it as “probably the best netsuke in bone that I have seen.” Part of the Mang collection since 1959, it carries an auction estimate of $12,000-$18,000.
Carved in the mid-19th century by Yoshinaga Miura Kanjuken, an ivory netsuke of a standing Dutchman with a karako (small boy) hoisted onto his right shoulder is 3 3/8 inches tall and artist-signed on the