Kinkōzan Sōbei VI (1824–1884)
Kinkōzan Sōbei VII (1867–1927)
Real name Koboyashi Sobei
Kinkozan is a ‘given’ name of family Kyoto Awataguchi potters with the name Koboyashi. The family was very active in pottery manufactury in
Kyoto from 1645 up until 1927. In the 18th century the third Koboyashi was granted by the Shogun to bear the name Kinkozan. Note that Kinkōzan Sōbei VI (1824–1884), was the sixth generation of a family with the name Kobyashim but that it
was only after two generations that the Kinkozan name was granted to this family. That makes that Kinkozan VI also is known as Kinkozan IV, and his son, the last Kinkozan as Kinkozan V.
Kinkozan Sobei VI and his son Kinkozan Sobei VII were responsible
for the most productive years during Meiji and Taisho period from 1872 until 1927 when the factory was closed. The most important production of the Kinkozan factory started in 1875, when Kinkozan VI started to export his ware, especially to America. After
his fathers death in 1884 his son Kinkozan VII, who was only 16 years old at that time, took over the family business. It was under management of Kinkōzan VII that the Kinkozan factory became one of the largest producers and exporters of Satsuma ware
and some of it was of the highest quality possible. However, it also produced large quantities of low or average quality wares as well. Kinkozan was not only a good businessman, but also an ambitious and openminded craftsman who tried to improve his ware
by experimenting with all kind af new styles and techniques and eager to learn by inviting westerners as the German chemist Gottfried Wagener tot cooperate with him. In 1896 he established with Shofu Kajo (1870-1928), the Kyoto City Ceramic Research Center
to research and innovate new production techniques and set up a trainingschool where many students later became famous for their ceramic works.
For his quality work Kinkozan factory was working with the best artist in this time. Among them were
Gassan, Fuzan, Ituzan, Kozan, Seizan, Sozan and many others. Suwa Sozan, a potter who worked as artistic director for Kinkozan from 1900-1907 was maybe the best of them, he created true masterpeaces for Kinkozan, but did the same for Yasuda and for his own
studio what he started in 1907. In the same time there was another Sozan, a painter about whom is nothing known but who was an exceptional artist, able to create wonderful depictions, no less as true works of art on sometimes very tiny objects. (see: Sozan Prominent Makers -2 )
Note that Kinkozan VII was born in 1868, and took over the business
in 1884. So all his work must be dated from 1884 or later and all the Kinkozan signed pieces before must be from Kinkozan VI or ancestors.
It is likely that the Kinkozan factory was closed in 1930, a few years after the death of Kinkozan VII in
1927. Gisela Jahn, mentions with regard to Kinkozan VII also a Kinkozan VIII, and the closure of the factory in 1930 ("the factory finally closed soon after the death of KInkozan VIII in 1930" p. 99, Gisela Jahn: Meiji Ceramics), and also
Irene Stitt mentions that "The family continued until the eight generation" (p. 58, Japanese ceramics of the last 100 years). According to the Kinkozan family, what is likely the beste source, the last Kinkozan was Kinkozan VIII who for a short
time succeeded the management of the Kinkozan factory, until it was closed in 1932. He was not very successful, and it is very rare to see a piece with the mark what was registered by Kinkozan VIII in september 1929 at the Department of Commercial Trading
Registration as Number 36166. It's therefore likely that all Kinkozan ware what is on the market can be dated from before 1927.
Besides his Kyo satsuma ware, Kinkozan also produced a more (modern) western line, with influences from
late Victorian and Art Niveau style. Some of them are signed with his regular Kinkozan mark, but he produced and reserved this kind of ware mostly under the brandname, "Royal Nishiki Nippon" a special line apart from his regular ware. According
to Kazuhiko Kimura and Kohtaro Aoi (Collectors Guide For Old Noritake and Japanese Antique Porcelain with Western Style, p. 231) the Royal Nishiki Nippon Mark was registered by Kinkozan VII in 1909 as no. 36163. He also registered (as no. 36162) the
mark what was used for his Kyo Satsuma products.