Personal Effects, Aug. 19

Question: Hey Jerry, tell me what kind of good deal I got for my cloisnay dish. Got it at a local thrift store and paid 50 cents for it. Is it Japanese or Chinese? It’s in excellent condition and has no marks. It’s about 4.5 inches across. Thanks for all your articles. Keep going.

Answer: What a great piece and you did get a great deal. However, it’s not Japanese or Chinese, it’s from India. This little pin or trinket tray dates to the 1920s – 1930s. You can tell this from the colors and design.

At one time, it likely had a paper label or sticker that has long since been washed off.

AND, it’s not cloisonne. It’s an enamel decorated pin tray. The word cloisonne comes from the French word cloisons, which means compartments. And that is what these artists did, they created walls, tiny little compartments, from brass or copper and filled them with powdered enamels. These pieces were then fired at a high temperature, hot enough that the enamels melted. Then it was ground down to the top of these walls and polished to reveal the intricate patterns of now melted enamel glass.

I think that your piece is double difficult as it didn’t have any walls. The artists just applied the powder free- hand.

It’s easy for lesser examples to have runs, bleeds and mistakes. This piece is just perfect and it’s beautiful.

Value? I think that in a nice store that carried a lot of Oriental decorative arts that it would be priced at about $30. You did well for a 50-cent investment. Be careful with it. Though it’s metal, if dropped, that enamel can pop, chip and craze. Thanks for sharing it.