Cabinet hardware shop - Tokyo

Display case with workshop beyond.

A recent visit to the Tokyo shop of a traditional Edo sashimono maker (see Mogami Kougei) led to questions about where the delicate hardware comes from that adorns many small cabinets and items that sashimono makers create. It was no surprise to find out that there was a small shop nearby that sold only such hardware. Mr. Saito Ichiro is the owner of Saito Shoten and has been both making and selling such hardware for many years. 

The only sign is located inside the shop...

This shop carries pulls, handles, hinges, knobs, escutcheons, fasteners, and other small items generally scaled for furniture. Most are solid cast brass with some being plated, others not. 

I was looking for handles and pulls for small drawers and was real happy to see some of the samples. But we soon found out that not all pieces displayed on the sample boards around the shop were still available. In fact, Mr. Saito rapidly pointed out those that were in stock. This trade too has not escaped the slow decline caused by decreasing demand and the disappearance of traditional craftsmen. 

One of many sample boards.
But here are some examples of what he did have. These are sand cast brass that is polished and then lightly plated with silver. Over time the silver wears and the brass peeks through, and both oxidize to a darker color. They are not meant to look like Gorham's best, nor be polished by anything other than the hand of the user. 

Ring pull is about 3/4" across.

These pulls are fixed to the drawer with what I will call light gauge cotter pins of soft steel. The pin is attached to pull, a decorative washer is slid up the pin to the pull, and then the pin is passed through the drilled hole in the drawer front and spread on the backside of the drawer.  Handles have soft steel wires cast into the handle. These two heavy gauge wires pass through the holes in the drawer front and are bent over inside to secure the handle. Prices for these 5 pieces above and below range from 4 to 6 USD each. 

Small handles. They are about 1.5" wide. 

The image to the right is the rough casting prior to being separated, polished, plated, and mated with pins and finish washers. Mr. Saito has such castings made by local foundries and then does much of the finish work himself - for some of his inventory. 

Conclusion? This hardware beats what I saw at another hardware shop in the area. All those traditional looking pulls and handles were painted die cast metal. Not suitable for any nice creation you might make or restore.