Learn Chinese Antiques

How to sell your Chinese antiques and art works?

Many families have heirlooms and such passed down the generations.  Overtime, these objects become antiques and accumulate great value. Some people like to keep these antiques in the family, and some prefer to sell it; it is a personal choice.

Antiques may include things like furniture, paintings, jewelry, keepsakes, – anything you could think of. Amongst these is one of the most commonly sought after type of antiques – ancient Chinese items.

There are a host of problems and obstacles associated with selling Chinese and other aged items, altogether. If you have had heirlooms passed down the generations in the family and ever wanted to know their monetary gains, you must have come across some of these problems:

  • You are completely unaware of the value

Many people are unaware of the value of old things they have at home; this is absolutely normal. Overtime, the knowledge of the item gets lost along the way because it fails to be passed down or forgotten by the owner.

If you are in such a position, there’s no need to worry. There are many ways to know about the worth of your antique.

Contacting an expert in that area is a great idea. You can also buy books or search at the local library. Particularly for Chinese antiques, you can just get in touch with industry specialists at BuyChineseAntiques.

  • You do not know how to sell it

Some people are interested in selling the antiques because of their great monetary value for different reasons. However, they do not know where to sell it, how to sell it. The antique can become a burden to bear for the owner especially if it occupies a lot of space.

 

  • You do not know what the Chinese inscriptions mean

Somewhere along the lineage, one of your great-great-great relatives must have travelled and bought a Chinese souvenir. Since then it has been passed down the generation and accumulated great value. You want to find out more information on it but language is a barrier.

In a case such as this you can always get in touch with a company like ours. We will give you all the information you need.

  • You are afraid of being conned

Unfortunately for many, this is a big concern. Hiring the wrong dealer can mean a great loss for you. You could be given the incorrect information and end up selling your antique for half its worth. The buyer on the other hand could have made a profit of thousands of dollars.

Being conned is a valid concern and one must always be wary. Get appraisal from only a reputed company.

You may be interested in knowing we provide FREE professional appraisals for all manners of Chinese antiques – right at your doorstep.

  • You do not have a buyer

This is perhaps the most prevalent concern: finding a buyer. While there are many antique enthusiasts, it is a tight knitted community and finding an interested buyer can be difficult. Moreover, sometimes you have to search for a long period of time.

Options for selling your Chinese antique

When it comes to selling, an antique owner has the following options each with its pros and cons:

  • Auction

Auctioning is excellent choice for getting good prices for your item. The biggest drawback, however, is the commission that goes to auction houses. the figures can be anywhere from 30% to 50%, leaving the owner in loss.  

Additionally, payment is sent back after 1 month in most cases.  A highly unfavorable scenario for people who want quick payment.

  • Antiques dealer

In theory this is a good option but there are a lot of potential risks involved. For instance, many dealers do not have sufficient knowledge. Your dealer might not know a lot about the Chinese object you are selling. Due to this ignorance you run the risk of selling your antique at low price.

On the other hand, your dealer might con you by giving you wrong information and sell the piece to someone with a profit of over 100%. In the end, you will be at a loss.

Avoid such undesirable circumstances by only contacting trustable dealers.

 

  • Consignment store

These provide you the opportunity to display your materials until someone buys it. You could opt for it but consignment stores usually charge up to a 50% commission. Waiting time may be anywhere from months to weeks. The lack of instant cash does not make it a very good idea for some.  

  • Estate sales

Estate sales sell items very cheap. Your great-great-great grandmother’s porcelain could be sold for extremely disappointing prices.

The options above are not always suitable. All have their pros and cons, but the chances of not getting your antique’s worth are great and that is why we are here for you.

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.

Category of Chinese arts and antiques

i.               Painting

1.      Traditional

2.     Contemporary

ii.        Calligraphy

iii.       Porcelain

1.     Imperial

2.    Domestic

3.    Export

iv.        Pottery

v.         Jade and stone

1.    Jade

2.    Spinach jade

3.    Jadeite

4.    Agate

5.    Amber

6.    Lapis

7.    Turquoise

8.    Soapstone

vi.        Bronze

1.     Ancient Chinese Bronzes

2.    Bronze censer

3.    Other bronze object

vii.       Cloisonné

viii.      Metalwork

1.     Silver

2.    Gold

3.    Tin

ix.        Lacquer ware

1.     Cinnabar

2.    Lacquer

x.         Wood

xi.        Furniture

xii.       Glass

xiii.      Textile

xiv.      Buddha

xv.       Thangka

xvi.      Scholar’s objects

xvii.     Watch and clock

xviii.    Rubbing

xix.      Ivory, rhino horn, coral

 

 

 

Marks on Chinese Porcelain

宣德(Xuan De) 1425–1435
大 明 宣 德 年 製

(Da Ming Xuan De Nian Zhi)

1 2
成化(ChengHua) 1464 – 1487
大 明 成 化 年 製

(Da Ming Cheng Hua Nian Zhi)

3
弘治(Hong Zhi) 1487-1505
大 明 弘 治 年 製

(Da Ming Hong Zhi Nian Zhi)

4
正德(Zheng De) 1505–1521
大 明 正 德 年 製

(Da Ming Zheng De Nian Zhi)

5
正 德 年 製

(Zheng De Nian Zhi)

6
嘉靖(Jia Jing) 1521–1567
大 明 嘉 靖 年 製

(Da Ming Jia Jing Nian Zhi)

789
隆慶(Long Qing) 1567–1572
大 明 隆 慶 年 製

(Da Ming Long Qing Nian Zhi)

10

11

萬曆(Wan Li) 1572-1620
大 明 萬 曆 年 製

(Da Ming Xuan De Nian Zhi)

12

14

13

 

An Introduction to Chinese Porcelain

 

One thousand years before Europeans learned to make porcelain, the Chinese were producing exquisite examples of what they call taoci. Taoci can be translated two ways, meaning either “pottery” or “porcelain”. Chinese clay and stoneware products with no compact sinter are considered “pottery”, whereas “porcelain” refers to clay and stoneware items baked under higher firing temperatures with a more compact sintered matrix.  Because traditional Chinese porcelain has developed over many hundreds of years, it is important to supplement academic indexes with both conventional identification techniques and technological advances when classifying taoci. The following paragraphs identify markers specific to important developmental periods of traditional Chinese porcelain and can be used as guidelines for novice collectors.

 

Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 C.E.)

 

In the early Tang dynasty, celadon and white porcelain were unglazed and globular in form with a flat bottom. As the period progressed, a small number of footed vessels were produced and firing after glazing became more common. Typical forms from the Tang Dynasty period include zoomorphic vessels, multi-mouthed bowls, vessels with petaled rims, sancai or tri-colored porcelain, and roped vessels. The most common ornamentations include applied motifs (such as dragons and phoenixes), incised floral tendrils and figural work, geometric patterns, stippling and crosshatching. The Yue kilns can be credited with making the finest Tang Dynasty celadon porcelain, and are best known for using a compact matrix in combination with fewer blow holes in order to produce a clean and evenly-distributed glaze. Spur marks, resulting from matrix supports, are commonly found both within and on the exterior of vessels from this period. Matrices should be translucent or opaque and yellow, yellow-green, grey, or light grey in color.

 

North and South Song Dynasties (960 – 1127 C.E., 1127 – 1279 C.E.)

 

Longquan celadon was the most commonly produced type of porcelain during the Song dynasties, typified by pieces from the Jincun kiln in Longquan County, Zhejiang Province. The matrix for Longquan celadon can be either white or black, with white being the most common. Longquan celadon made from a white matrix should have flint-red or cinnabar edges. A lime glaze, characterized by its dark color and translucence, was used primarily during the North Song Dynasty. A lime base glaze is most commonly found on vessels produced during the South Song Dynasty.

 

Yuan Dynasty (1271 – 1368 C.E.)

 

During the Yuan dynasty the Longquan porcelain industry continued to develop. Kilns from this period produced a greater number of large pieces than they had previously. Common ornamentations from the Yuan dynasty include incised motifs such as the cloud-dragon, lychee fruit, peony, chrysanthemum petals, and lotus leaf, molded appliques, decorative borders, and geometric patterns. Narrative scenes were also very typical. The painting style used during the Yuan dynasty was evocative, but very free-form; it is common to see decorations escaping their borders. The primary glaze used during the Yuan dynasty was blue and white. The glaze could be applied either as blue on a white matrix or white on a blue matrix. The latter is the most common method, while the former was used mostly on larger vessels and plates with petaled rims. Vases from Gao’an County exemplify “traditional” Yuan dynasty blue and white porcelain. Compared to examples from later periods, Yuan dynasty blue and white is of higher quality.

 

Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644 C.E.)

 

An imperial porcelain factory was established at Jingdezhen at the beginning of the Ming dynasty and quickly took over as China’s capital for porcelain production. The kilns at Jingdezhen produced a large number of imperial wares, all stamped with the reign mark of the emperor they were produced under. Many innovations were made during the Ming Dynasty that have since become representative of fine period porcelain, such as doucai (contending colors) and wucai (five-color) vessels. In the late Ming Dynasty, the porcelain industry shifted toward export pieces and household wares and the quality declined. Household wares from the period often featured a grey glaze with an unglazed, rough foot.

 

Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1912 C.E.)

 

Porcelain production reached its highest point during the Kangxi, Yongzheng, and Qianlong periods of the Qing Dynasty. The factory at Jingdezhen continued to be a leader in porcelain production. Due to strict imperial regulations and distinct formulas, the quality of pieces made at Jingdezhen was much higher than those produced by other period factories. Blue-and-white wares were still very common. The most important contribution made to Chinese porcelain during this period, however, was the creation of opaque over-glaze enamel colors. These colors allowed for varied hue gradation, which has become a hallmark of fine Qing dynasty porcelains.

How to Identify High Quality/Value Porcelains

Methods