This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V24", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
The Museum of Kew has recently been enriched by a very fine collection of Japanese lacquer-work. The collection, which was obtained especially for the Museum by the Acting Consul at Hakodate, under instructions from H. M. Charge d'Affaires at Tokio, is extremely complete, and illustrates the whole process of manufacture. Thus, for instance, there are specimens of the trunk of the Varnish tree (Rhus vernicifera), showing the deep cuts through the bark, made in a horizontal manner and close together, by a sharp, gouge-like instrument, which is also shown, as well as several other instruments used in various branches of the collection of the lacquer or its preparation. There is also a neatly made pot for holding the lacquer as collected, constructed from a simple joint of a large Bamboo stem ; a large series o lacquer as collected from the stems or as prepared, and a complete set of tools, such as fine and coarse brushes, made of human hair, rat's hair, etc, spatulas, burnishers, and a series of colors used in decoration. Besides these there is a very fine and instructive series of lacquer-work, from the earliest stages to the most highly finished examples, some of which are of great age, one, for example, being 120 years old, and of exquisite workmanship.
The processes through which good lacquer-work passes are both tedious and numerous; the results, however, are wonderful accuracy in every detail, many of the designs, especially those representing plants and flowers, being worked with so much care as to be in many cases botanically correct; this is particularly the case with the gold work on wood, both flattened and raised. The collection is all the more valuable because it is said that good lacquer-work is becoming more and more scarce, the demand for cheap articles in the European markets being so great as to induce lacquer-workers to turn their attention to the class of goods which meets with a ready sale, to the neglect of the more costly and consequently more carefully wrought. The value of the collection is also increased from the fact that a very elaborate account accompanies them descriptive of the collection of the juice from the Varnish trees, its subsequent manipulation and final application. - J. R. Jackson, in Gardener's Chronicle.