Vintage 1950's Japanese Embossed Gold Mt. Fuji Temple & Sailboat Memory Lighter
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Vintage 1950's Japanese Embossed Gold Mt. Fuji Temple & Sailboat Memory Lighter:
This is truly a beautiful piece, which boasts some of the finest, high detail engraving that I've seen in my many years as a collector of vintage lighters. This piece belonged to my grandfather. At the front of the lighter is a beautiful scene depicting Mt. Fuji in Japan. The etching is deep, and the tarnish on the lighter adds to the beauty of the mountainscape. I have always thought that the natural tarnish on the top lid actually resembles dark clouds hovering above the mountain's peak. In the foreground on this piece, Japanese temples are depicted. The design boasts a lovely aspect of contrast, as the temple to the left is plain, clean, majority silver - whereas the tall temple on the right is complex, boasts a multitude of etchings, and is embossed with gold tone. The trees surrounding the temple (likewise) are embossed in gold in their etching.
Perhaps my favorite element of this vintage lighter is its range in hue. There are parts of the lighter case that are still a vibrant silver, and others which are heavily tarnished - almost appearing black. Some of the etchings reveal only the silver of the case they are carved into, other etchings a beautiful, yellow gold tone.This piece is at its most spectacular when exposed to a strong light source. When exposed to the light, the embossed gold tone elements of this lighter are stunningly radiant. Sometimes the light catches this old lighter at the perfect angle, and its features almost appear to glow in a gold, warm light.The lighter has a lovely feel. When you run a fingertip along its surface, you can feel its sharply defined etchings. This variation in texture gives this already substantial piece a multitude of character and mystery.
I have always loved the difference between the front, and back, of this vintage lighter. Whereas the front is high detail, finitely carved, and full of depth - the back of the lighter is beautifully simple. At the back, two Japanese sailboats (defined only be their tall sails) float atop a calm sea. Again, the natural tarnish at the back of the lighter has the appearance of a dark sky - and while the sea is calm, the now "tarnished" sky gives an wonderfully ominous expression to the sea surrounding the two little sailboats. At the bottom right of the back, there is a carefully inscribed Japanese symbol. Unfortunately, I have not been able to decipher the symbol's meaning. Perhaps another more educated in the Japanese language than I.
At the bottom of the lighter, is a cleanly stamped (though surrounded by tarnish) "MEMORY." Fitting, as this lighter depicts Japan at a point in time long in the past.
The insert is the one that came with the piece. It is not functional as of now (the flint will not spark when struck) but this insert could be quite easily repaired, or swapped out for one in working order. As for wear on this piece - well, the majority of the wear is aesthetic (in the form of tarnish throughout). The only sign of structural wear would be a loose lid. The top lid (though attached) will move to the left or right when opened if pressure is applied. This is due to the fact that the hinge on the lid (on one side) is no longer attached. Despite this, the lid still functions. The lighter still "clicks" closed like a Zippo would, and there is very minimal gapping in the closure.
Overall, maybe I am just biased, but I find the work on this piece to be quite beautiful. I love the additional of the gold tone within the etchings, as well as the mix in design from that of complex (the front) to simple (the back). However, I must say that my favorite element of this piece is the natural wear and tarnish - which (in my opinion) has made the vintage lighter something totally unique. That being said, if a "cleaner" look is to your liking, this lighter can be polished up to a radiant shine. I did not do so myself for the reasons noted above, and because I figured I would leave the decision up to whoever this lighter ends up with next.
~If you have any further questions, or would like to see any additional photos, please do not hesitate to reach out in the form of am email. I will get back to you promptly.