How to identify Chinese antiques?

Chinese porcelain has been in existence for at least five or six hundred years. This article contains some basic tips on how to verify if your antique piece is genuine, and not a reproduction or fake item. However, it is always recommended to contact a specialist (such as our own) who have years of hands on experience in order to make an accurate judgement.

Reproductions of antique porcelain were have been being made in ancient China for hundreds of years. The earliest known reproductions are from Song Dynasty, they are copies of the porcelain that was manufactured at the more widely known kilns. In the Yuan dynasty, the most well known of reproductions are copies of Jun wares and Ding wares. In the Ming and Qing Dynasty, reproducing antiques porcelains became increasingly more and more popular, and their ability to replicate antique porcelains greatly increased. Sometimes it can be very difficult to determine whether an item is, for example, a real Ming piece or a reproduction made during the early Qing dynasty.

TThe definition of a reproduction as opposed to a fake:

The difference between a reproduction of an antique item and a fake antique is mainly its "intent". A reproduction is a newer copy of an ancient type of porcelain. They are made with the intent of recreating its beauty intent. Sometimes, these antique reproductions were even ordered by high-ranking court officials. Many of them reached a high level of artistry which also makes them very valuable.

Fake antique porcelains are made and sold with the sole intent to deceive and they usually are made to look old. They were very common in the early 20th century and were created purely for monetary gain, not the intent of recreating its beauty. It is often subjected to acids, oils, tumbling and/or sandblasting to mask the distinctive appearance of new work, which is part of the reason why they are worthless.

So how do we verify if an antique piece is genuine and not a reproduction or fake item?

First, we can judge from their artistry. Often the counterfeiters are not artistic so even they are produce the exact same piece as original one, they are still not be able to copy the artistry. And because they are fake, you can easily to find the trace of them trying to imitate the patterns from the original piece.

Second, Chinese porcelain has spawned various excellent porcelain types in different periods. Every period has its own uniqueness and character. For example, the reproduction porcelains of Kangxi period from Guangxu period is almost identical as the original copies from Kangxi period, but we can still can tell the differences from the shape, glaze and minute bubble holes. You can also identify by the material. For example, Famille-Rose porcelain gets its name from the pinkish hue that characterises the pieces. This colouring is created by adding colloidal gold, tiny fragments of gold suspended in water, to the glaze which leaves porcelain highly coloured with a crystal appearance and a very hard glaze with a notably translucent quality. On the other hand, the forgers coloured porcelain with chemicals which leads to a dry and uneven color look. Another example is the colour blue on the blue-and-white porcelaines. The distinctive colour in blue-glazed pottery and porcelain comes from cobalt ores and different types of cobalt ore and methods of application determined the distinctive feature of the shades of blue that appeared on blue-and-white porcelain ware. Therefore, sometimes you can identify the age just by this distinctive colour.

Lastly, you can also identify from the mark and wear as well.

Chinese porcelain has a very long history, countless kilns, a glittering array of shapes, glazes, periods, and so on. It is impossible for anyone in a short span of a lifetime to learn all aspects of Chinese porcelain history. It requires years of study and hands on experience in order to understand the historic known kilns, their characteristics & styles in order to make an accurate judgement, that is why we are here for you. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.