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Takahashi Birds
NOW AVAILABLE: The definitive book on Takahashi birds!  Authors: Carol Takahashi and Julie C. Carroll  For pre-orders go to Collector Books at http://www.collectorbooks.com/items/item_detail.php?item_num=8289

Created by Yoneguma and Kiyoka Takahashi, these marvelous wood birds are miniature works of art.  The Takahashi family were among many Japanese-Americans confined in Poston Camp, AZ after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

While in the camp, they participated in a craft class where they learned to carve and paint small birds and after release (3 1/2 years later) they turned this craft into a family business that continued for 40 years.

Yoneguma carved the birds out of white holly wood, starting with a jig saw, then smoothing and sanding the bird.  When done, Kiyoka painted the birds (using  an Audubon bird book for reference) with watercolors using fine camel hair brushes.  10 coats of lacquer were then applied.

A good day's production was 10 birds.  The birds were mostly sold via word of mouth, though a couple of department stores (such as Gump's) carried them.  Production was mostly lapel pins, but earrings were also made.  Price on the birds in the early days was $2, but in the 1980s, the birds sold for $40.

Initially more than 100 species were made, both male and female, but eventually about 25 different birds were offered regularly for sale.

Some birds created before the 1970s have the initials K.T.; after 1970, the initials K&Y.T. with the date appear.  Some are dated without initials.

There were copies made in the 1970s; these can most easily  be identified by the manner in which the pin was attached.  The Takahashi birds use small push pins while the repro pin backs are screwed into the wood.
Date(s): April 9, 2006. Album by Cathy Gordon. 1 - 55 of 55 Total. 35686 Visits.
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Are you still interested in buying birds for your collection?  I have both a male and a female cardinal.   They have come to me through a good friend's family's estate, and I'm pretty sure they are genuine.
Gweneth Abernathy , Sun, 8 Oct 2023 7:22PM
I am collecting Takahashi original pins and am tdsrying to connect with other collectors to trade or sell duplicates.  If you can let me know who I can contact or anyone reading the Guest Book have duplicates or pins/pin sets they would like to sell, I would be honored to include in my own family collection.  I am here is Virginia and never see any pins at estate auctions or in antique stores.
Cathy Bayliss, Sun, 28 Jul 2019 1:21PM
I was a friend of the Takahashi family. I spent time in their home in Garden Grove, CA and I was friends with the sons. The largest bird carved was a Scissor-tail flycatcher. Mr. $ Mrs. T. made it as a gift for Cindy Butterfield who now lives in Arisona. It is over 8 inches long. I have 30 birds and I know that the most expensive was $35 at the time. I asked Mrs. T. if she would do a Wood Duck for me. When it was finished she made it a gift. Lovely, kind people. Tim Kraushaar Seal Beach, CA
Timothy Kraushaar, Fri, 16 Mar 2018 9:24PM
My first Bird Pin was given to me by my girlfriend Mary Yashioka in 1946.  She and her family had been in an internment camp in California where her family learned the art of carving and painting little birds pins.   When she came to my school in Lawndale California in 1946 we became best friends. She gave me a little bird pin that was resting on a twig. Her father had carved the little bird while they were in the camp. I loved my little yellow bird pin.  It was so beautiful.  It was taken from me in 1970 during a home break in.  I was devistated. It was taken from hand, but it will always remain in my heart.
When I found out about the Takahashi Bird Pins In 2012 I started my flock.  I now have about 60 Takahashi Bird Pins and looking for more to add to my beautiful flock.  I treasure them with all my heart.  What a wonderful tresure the Takahashi's left us to love as they did.
Thank You, Mr & Mrs Takahashi.  Your art will live forever and give so many such joy. We Honor You.
Sherry Olson, Fri, 25 Jan 2013 6:28PM
I have two Takahashi birds that belonged to my Grandmother many years ago - they were her treasures and she wore one or the other always, so they hold very special memories for me. I knew they were special, but did not realize just how special until I started researching them on the web. I now have them framed, with the history of their creation, and how my Grandma acquired them "around WWII time-frame and how everyone was wearing them" in my Grandmother's writing on the back of the frame. My only problem is, I'm not sure which birds they are. I believe one is a bluebird, but don't recognize the second. I love both of them, though, and will always treasure "my Takahashi birds."
Vivian Ryan | vrrambette2@gmail.com, Sun, 21 Aug 2011 2:08AM
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Takahashi hummingbirds except for the bottom one.

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Takahashi Northern Cardinals -- female on right.

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Takahashi pheasants:  top: ?  Bottom: Lady Amhearst pheasant (from card)

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Takahashi [bird type?]

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Takahashi bluebirds.

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Takahashi chickadees -- TL: Chestnut-backed  TR and BR: Black-capped

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Takahashi painted bunting

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Takahashi parakeet

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Takahashi painted bunting.

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Takahashi redpoll

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Japanese POW-carved American robin

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Takahashi Western screech owl

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Group of 4 birds that are not Takahashi birds.  All have the pinbacks with screws.  Details are not so finely painted as a Takahashi and the lacquer isn't as shiny.

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K.T. signature.  Note the correct pin attachments -- small push-pins.

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Pin back of bird copied to look like a Takahashi.  According to Carol Takahashi, any bird with screws holding the pinback is NOT a Takahashi.  These were made in the 1970s.

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Another knock-off --  bluejay

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Sold on eBay: Baltimore oriole

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Sold on eBay: Canada goose

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Comparison of two blue jays.  Top is knock-off, bottom is Takahashi.  Some difference from the front:
- coloration, and paint on the T is more sophisticated in style
- wing on the K-O has some relief while the T is smooth
- branch on the K-O is straight while the T is crooked and more natural

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Back comparison of the knock-off (top) and Takahashi (bottom).  Most important thing to note is the use of screws to affix the pin back on the KO versus the push pins on the T.  The T is signed, but this was inconsistent.

According to Carol Takahashi, her grandmother only put her initials on "hte best" birds.

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My Takahashi bird tree made by my honey for my birthday.  Still plenty of room for more birds!

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Another view of the bird tree in its corner -- real wood trunk!

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Takahashi owl

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Takahashi Green Kingfisher

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Takahashi roadrunner.

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Takahashi ?

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Takahashi female Scarlett Tanager.

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Takahashi Goose

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Takahashi robin.

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Takahashi red-headed woodpecker.

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Takahashi Blue Jay with reddish belly feathers.  Marked K.T. 1980.

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Takahashi Golden Crown Kinglet

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Takahashi gray owl.

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Takahashi Kingfisher (facing right).

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Takahashi Lady Pheasant marked K.T. 1981.

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Takahashi Ring-Necked Pheasant marked K.T. 1981.

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Takahashi Meadowlark marked K.T.  1981.

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Takahashi pink Cockatoo marked K.T.

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Takahashi Female Thrush.

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Takahashi Male Thrush.

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Takahashi Wren marked K.T.  Unusual with its cocked head.

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Takahashi Rivoli Hummingbird marked K.T. 1982.

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Takahashi male Fairy Wren

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Takahashi blue jay earrings


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Takahashi Stellar Jay

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Unusual mark of bird's name.  Rarely found.

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Takahashi Quail

Rare, larger size.

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Back showing KT initials, which were used on the birds considered to be of the highest quality.

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