This letter was mailed to me, the picture I received later
My name is Judd Green. I live in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.
My father, of the same name, served as a United States Army officer in Korea during the Korean War. One of his jobs was to hire Korean civilians for jobs. One of the men he hired was named Kim Sang Soon.
Mr. Soon was hired as the head cook at the Entertainer's Hotel in, I think, Seoul, Korea. My father died in 1981 but before his death he told me the story that went with a very old vase that was given to him on October 16, 1951 by Mr. Soon.
My father was due to rotate back to the US and fellow officers, enlisted men and all the civilians he gave jobs to threw a going away party for him. A band that played at the party was called The Rhythm Kings. After the party Mr. Soon approached my father and handed him a vase. He told my father it was to thank my dad for saving his life and the lives of his family by giving him a job.
My father told me it would have been an insult not to take the vase so he packed it and brought it home with him. When he unpacked it, he found a 2-page letter inside written by Mr. Soon in his own hand.
The letter says, quote:
Now I like to report to you about history of Chinese made flower base which I gave you on 16 Oct. 1951 at the party for you by the Rhythm King. My grand grand father went to China by order of Korean King the Lee Dynasty as the ambassador to China, and the Chief Staff of the Army of China gave this flower base to my grand grand father. The name of the General is Lee Hong Jang in Korean pronunciation who is very famous in history. My father gave this flower base to me with this story and I took it to my best curio of my family keeping it with me all the time. And I had to go down to Pusan as the refuge when the Chinese Communist pushed down to the Capital in month January 1951. I show this one to a professional curio collector to find out how it is old and valuable. And I found it is about 3 or 4 hundred years old and how and it is very expensive. Now I'm very happy to present this one to you upon your kindness to me. I'm no sure how it's valuable but that is the best one I have. Please take this to your home and put in your living room.
Kim Sang Soon
My father kept this vase until he died and it was then passed on to me. I have kept it for all these years along with the original letter from Mr. Soon.
The vase is approximately 6" high, 7' wide and has two small handles on the top, one on each side. It is wrapped in brown leather that looks like it was indented all over. It also has a very intricate design of inlaid mother-of-pearl all around the vase going about half way down. It is a striking piece and I have never seen anything close to it and I've been looking for 40 years.
A long time ago a curator from the Indianapolis Museum of Art looked at it and told me it appeared the vase was Chinese in origin and that the leather wrapping and inlaid mother-of-pearl design was most likely put on after it came back to Korea. The curator said the design of the pearl indicates Korean royalty. I am looking for a direction to go in authenticating the vase and determining its value.
Obviously, if General Jang can be located in the history books, I believe this vase would be of considerable interest to someone, possibly a Korean art collector or Chinese art collector. I have photos that I could forward you along with a copy of the letter if that would help you assist me. Any assistance you can be would be appreciated.
Thank you for your time.
Dear Mr Green
You can find more Li Hung-chang (18231901) as his Chinese name is on http://www.britannica.com/bcom/eb/article/printable/7/0,5722,49207,00.html
A memory of him at
http://park.org/Taiwan/Culture/Arts/first/english/frstsite/anti08/ (last sentence)
Some cartoons on
a picture of him at:
At least you have something to go on. Might be of importance to sell letter and vase together, but as I said, I am trying to get more information.