How to identify Chinese antiques

Chinese porcelain had already been in existence for at least some five or six hundred years, and this article contains some basic tips of how to verify if your antique piece is genuine and not a reproduction or fake item. But of course, being an expert of authenticating an antique porcelain like our specialists still needs over decades of hands on experience in order to make an accurate judgement.
Reproductions of antique porcelain were already made in ancient China and the earliest known reproductions are from Song Dynasty, they are copies of the porcelain that was manufactured at the more widely known kilns. And in the Yuan dynasty, the most well known of reproductions are copies of Jun wares and Ding wares. Especially in Ming and Qing Dynasty, reproducing antiques porcelains was getting more and more popular, and their ability to replicate antique porcelains was also getting stronger, sometimes it could be very difficult to determine whether an item is, for example, a real Ming piece or a reproduction made during the early Qing dynasty.

The 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 were made with the intent of recreating its beauty intent. Sometime, these antique reproductions were even ordered by high-ranking court officials and Many of them reached a high level of artistry which also makes them very valuable.

For the fake antique porcelains, on the other hand, 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 20 century and they were done purely for monetary gain which lose its intent of recreating its beauty. It oftentimes subjects the reproduction 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. Oftentimes the counterfeiters are not artistic so even they can produce the exactly same piece as original one, they are still not be able to copy the artistry. And because of 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 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.

Last, 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. Therefore, 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, and that is why we are here for you. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.