Soroban dating from around 1900
This wooden 21-place soroban, all in one color, has a warped frame. Here an aesthetic construction without stabilizing back bars was preferred. The resulting lack of stability, however, prevented the success of this model in the long term, as it did not stand up to continuous use. In Japanese culture one values objects that are well made and long lasting and can be handed on through the generations. The older an object is and the more distinguished the earlier owners were, the more valuable it is in the eyes of its present owner – as, for example, with musical instruments in Europe. Thus one comes across many old sorobans that have been repaired. An artistically repaired and fully functional original instrument is preferable to a new one in traditional Japan. Nor is any attempt made to try to hide such repairs. It is possible that the darker beads on the seventh rod from the right (representing millions) are the result of a repair, especially as sorobans are usually built strictly symmetrically. As the sides of the frame are abutted end-to-end, this instrument was built in the traditional Unshu way.