Amita Co. artists: Minai, Torahiko Kanamori, Takeshi

Konoike, Yokichi [鴻池與吉]

A silver tea set by Y. Konoike

Yokichi Konoike, an art and crafts dealer of precious metals, was born in 1848 in Edo (present Tokyo). He graduated from the Yokohama Municipal High School, known as "Y school" (Y校, ワイこう). In 1890, already trusted by local customers, he noticed that there were no silverware dealers in Yokohama that foreigners would praise. The same year Konoike left Tokyo, took all his experience as a silversmith he acquired over the years and moved to Yokohama to found "Y. Konoike" fine arts workshop (鴻池美術店). The main silver ware factory remained in Tokyo, under the responsibility of a well-known metalsmith Eisho Kurokawa (黒川栄勝). In addition to the main factory in Tokyo, Konoike opened two smaller factories in Yokohama. At the time of its opening, the company began selling products that appealed to the tastes of the US Navy sailors, making the first stage of its development.

A silver flask

After the Russo-Japanese War, the demand for silverware greatly increased. At that time most of the demand for such items came from Tokyo. Consequently, Konoike started to develop sales channels for products aimed at Japanese people and occasionally advertise in newspapers and other media. The art silverwork, purchased at the Konoike's workshop, was given as a gift by the Ministry of the Imperial Household to all the attendants of Prince Arthur of Connaught visit to Japan in 1906.
Known as a manufacturer and seller of precious metal works of art, his products not only met the demand in the city, but over the years he expanded his business to include overseas orders, and has become one of the most famous shops in Yokohama. Konoike's company produced tea sets, vases, bowls, toilet sets, cigarette cases, writing sets and other items of everyday use. In London his products were retailed by Liberty & Co.
Yokichi Konoike's belief was to compete on quality rather than on price, even if the profit is low; the trust and recognition will increase with time.

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