Japanese Emperor Hirohito’s gold gift to Scottish banker being sold
A SET of gold sake bowls given to a Scottish banker by Japanese Emperor Hirohito is set to fetch thousands of pounds at auction in Edinburgh next month.
John Rae, from Aberdeenshire, had played a crucial role in negotiating funds for Japan following the Great Kanto earthquake of 1923, in which more than 142,000 people died.
He was presented with the Imperial Order of the Rising Sun – 2nd Class, the highest honour permitted to non-Japanese nationals and also received the precious sake bowls.
The Edinburgh Assay Office, which specialises in precious metal hallmarks, has confirmed that the bowls are “constructed of gold with a fineness greater than 999 parts per thousand.”
The Imperial gifts will be sold along with Mr Rae’s archive at Bonhams’ Asian Art Sale in Edinburgh on 15 November, when they are expected to fetch at least £8,000.
Ian Glennie, Bonhams’ head of Asian Art, said: “These are Imperial gifts, and could go back to Japan where they will appeal to the higher echelons.
“We might also expect interest from collectors of Imperial items, banks and museums.”
The Scottish seller, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “John Rae was from Aberdeen, and was one of the top bankers in the country.
“He left the bowls to his daughter when he died. I hope they find a good home.”
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