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READERS' FEEDBACK: Occupation: Japoner/Japonner

DearREADERS,
WOW, within just a few hours, you've added so much to the understanding of this occupation listed in a 1910 US Federal Census enumeration. The original article on this topic is found at: http://www.dearmyrtle.com/06/0716.htm

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From: April Hoover (an Electrician's daughter)
DearMYRTLE,
Japaning is a process used to protect metal. The metal is dipped in lacquer or varnish and baked on (cured) in a japaning furnace. This results in a thick glossy finish. You might recall this type of finish on old sewing machines and scissor handles. As far as your reader's ancestor in the electrical works, the cast iron cases of the electrical motors being produced were probably Japaned to prevent them from rusting and that what the guy did for his daily bread.

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From: IKPharo@aol.com
DearMYRTLE,
"Japanning" was a term for a high gloss, multi-layered furniture finish, if I recall my Art History correctly.

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From: FamRSearch@aol.com
DearMYRTLE,
I had assumed it dealt with a person who created lacquered objects. They some times have stuff on the antique road show that they call Japanware that is lacquered with a number of layers of varnish. Here is info from a site that gives a history of Japanware (in English or Welsh!!). Website: http://www.japanware.org/history.asp

"The term 'Japanware' is used to describe objects which have been finished and decorated in a particular way. A ‘Japan’ finish can be created on lots of different materials. 'Japanning' means the finished, decorative surface and not the article itself.

In the 6th century the Chinese developed a way of applying different coloured varnishes onto items of furniture. Part of the process involved baking the items so that the layers of varnish or lacquer became much harder than ordinary painted surfaces. This lacquering process often involved decorating the object with designs. [...]"

Julia Coldren-Walker
PS I was the Rev War expert on the Ancestry chat room many moons ago.

NOTE FROM MYRT: THANKS, Julia, I do remember you! :)

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From: Karen Stuart
DearMYRTLE,
Because the person worked at an electrical works, it may refer to some technique of varnishing used for insulation. I'm more familiar with the term as it relates to decorative arts: a technique of varnishing that was applied to furniture, boxes, screens, etc., imitative of goods produced in Japan. Very popular, and often very beautiful. Search "japanned" at http://images.google.com for some pictures.

From the Yahoo encyclopedia; http://education.yahoo.com/reference/encyclopedia/entry/japannin

From Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lacquerware#Japanning
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Art_of_Japanning

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From: Mac1
DearMYRTLE,
The definition you have as #1 is probably the correct one. In the past lacquer was used as an insulation in electrical motors and other devices. The coils of the motor, for instance, was dipped in a vat of lacquer, dried, and then touched up by hand. When the lacquer dried hard, it kept the windings from moving and wearing from the magnetic forces.

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From: HOWARD HICKMAN
DearMYRTLE,
A Japaner is probably someone who applied Japan Black. It is a black varnish that was used as an insulator on small diameter wire for electrical purposes. Electronics do-it-yourselfers in the 1940s and earlier used "enameled" wire. Some of it was coated with a black enamel.

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From: Margmcdo
DearMYRTLE,
I believe it is a painting process that gives an oriental look to a cabinet. I have a cabinet [61" high x 42" wide] that has had the process done. It seemed to have been popular in the 1920s.

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From: Marlena Amalfitano
DearMYRTLE,
Japanned items were usually black metal, either with a high gloss to resemble Japanese lacquer work or with a dull finish and embellishments something like tole ware. Early sewing machines had a Japanned finish, with glossy back and gold scrolling.

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From Lavonna,
DearMYRTLE,
I went to Cyndi'slist.com in the Old Occupation's section.
Japanner: Applied Japanese style black hard varnish. "Japanning".

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From: IMOJC1@mcleodusa.net
DearMYRTLE,
I believe the occupation of Japaner/Japanner derived from the insulating varnish that was put on electrical wires used in manufacturing electric motors, windings, magnetic coils etc. Thanks for all your hard work and sharing of knowledge of genealogy. I save every newsletter and then when I have a large amount I save them to CD for future reference.

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Dear, DearREADERS,
I especially love it when you share the source for your thinking, i.e. your dad's experience as an electrician, an art history class, a cabinet you own, Cyndi's list, a wiki, etc. That helps others understand how you arrived at your conclusions. That is just the sort of audit trail we need when attempting to understand unusual terms. The same is true for documenting the source of the lineage assumptions we make when climbing our family trees.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
DearMYRTLE,
Your friend in genealogy.
http://www.DearMYRTLE.com


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