There is so much that can be said about this, some of which is straight forward, some of which is very subjective and arguable, etc. After correspondence with Hojo and research I first bought the new Seiko kettle from Yahoo Japan. I prefer the Yamagata style of kettle to Kunzan's offerings, aesthetically speaking. After following Ebay for a year and not finding anything that was both the quality and price I wanted I contacted Hojo (Email him for a full price list and present availability and he'll send it to you. When I was corresponding with him he had very few in stock and there was a wait time of 3-6 months with prices starting around $250 dollars for a 0.9L Shin Tama Gata Itome kettle or $210 dollars for a Tetsubachi Gata Arare 0.9L kettle.). I agree with his general supposition, that buying a new kettle, one that I personally get to break in, from a well known caster, without any faults or risks, is a good path to take. It bypasses what tst mentioned in his post about being let down by purchasing an old or vintage kettle. In Taiwan and here I have seen quite a few used kettles in pretty run down shape. So, buying a used kettle online, without being able to touch it was less appealing to me.Pig Hog wrote:What do you reckon are the benefits of buying new over used and vice versa?
EDIT: apart from the two used Nanbu tetsubin I'm watching on eBay, I'm very tempted to buy one new, from Hojo, yet also fairly reluctant to find out how much they cost!
I watched Artistic Nippon's stock as well and just didn't find any pieces that really spoke to me in the price range I wanted to spend. I went on Rinkya and their fees for access to Yahoo Japan were too expensive. I then tried Jauce.com and have been really pleased with their communication, relatively low fees and shipping options, and their service. I purchased multiple items and had them all held at Jauce's Japan storage facility until I was ready to have them all shipped over. The shipping was cheaper this way (combined) and I could take my time to find a kettle. The same Seiko kettle I found through Jauce.com on Yahoo Japan sells for more than double what I paid (including the fees and shipping) on Rikyucha.com. So I saved a lot of money by being patient, researching what I wanted, and finding it myself on Yahoo Japan.
I kept my eye open for a nice antique kettle. In Taiwan I searched too but teaware in Taiwan right now is really expensive, more expensive than the states, due in part to, and this was often discussed and reported to me throughout the island by sellers and artisans/teachers/chayi people, the demand for status tea items in China. Shinichi san at Rikyucha.com also relayed this to me, saying that the market of good kettles is being bought in Japan by mainland sources as well. In Taiwan, the same antique kettle (for that matter, any older Japanese teaware) I could buy here in the U.S. on Ebay or through Yahoo Japan sells for twice to three times what it does here right now, even given the relative proximity of Taiwan to Japan. I visited a lot of places during my last five week trip to Taiwan and everywhere was more or less the same.
I finally bought my antique kettle through Kuraya in S.F., as a matter of irony, while still in Taiwan, when my wife went to S.F. to personally inspect the kettle and take photos for me (Amazing wife! ) at Kuraya.
I like both kettles and I enjoy the process of breaking in the new Seiko kettle. However, the small antique kettle is in immaculate condition and has a really wonderful balance in the hand, a simple and elegant style, and a richer charm/presence than the new, but also nice, Seiko kettle. It also, sincerely, affects the water quality more positively than my Seiko kettle,which is still developing as a new kettle.
I still watch Ebay and haven't seen too many good, reasonably priced pieces come through lately compared to what I can buy on Yahoo Japan.
I hope that helps!