Antiques from China and other Asian countries have been bringing strong prices at auction. The expanding Chinese economy has created many collectors looking to acquire everything from vintage wine to modern art. Many Chinese collectors seek antiques from their homeland that previously made their way to the United States and other countries throughout the world. Japanese, Korean and other Asian artifacts are also in demand.
As you’d imagine, with a rich history lasting 1000’s of years, the opportunities to collect Asian antiques are almost endless. Items that collectors seek include: jade, bronzes, other metalwork, architecture, jewelry, coins, stamps, cloisonné, netsuke, snuff bottles, Samurai swords, Satsuma, porcelain, ceramics and furniture.
Some of these terms may not be familiar to you. Cloisonné is metalwork covered with enamel. The enamel designs are separated by brass or other metal strips. Netsukes are small ornamental carved figures, often made of ivory, used to hang small belongings from a sash. Traditional Japanese clothing held no pockets. Satsuma is a type of pottery from the Satsuma region of Japan that began being produced in the late 18th Century or late 17th Century. Satsuma is a yellowish color often decorated with Japanese figures, dragons or other designs.
Most of the rules of thumb that apply to other antiques also hold true with Asian antiques. Age is an important factor. However, with artifacts available from well before the Pilgrims arrived in America, the age of antique is measured by different guidelines. Better crafted, more intricately detailed work should bring higher prices. Materials are important when examining your Asian pieces. Well made pieces created from silver and jade can command a premium.
There are some guidelines that may be helpful when determining how old your Asian antiques are. The McKinley Act of 1890 required that a tariff be placed on imported goods. In March of 1891 all goods imported into the United States were required to be labeled with the country of origin. Porcelain objects were marked China during this time and Japanese objects were marked “Nippon”. A 1921 law required that the words “Made in” be added and that Nippon be changed to the American name for the country, Japan.
If you are a collector, you need to careful. The website antique-chinese-furniture.com has an article titled “The Brutal Truth about Buying Chinese Antiques on eBay” where they warn potential buyers how “this fraud riddled business works”. Exports of antiques from China are tightly controlled and it is not a good source for collectors. They surmise that 90% of the Chinese “antique” items on eBay are fakes.
It may be difficult for collectors, but there are great opportunities for sellers. If you have Asian pieces that you know to be real antiques, there are plenty of willing buyers. Selling them might finance a trip to Tokyo or the Great Wall of China.
We will have a Yixing Chinese teapot from the 18th or 19th Century in our January 29th auction. Visit our website www.centralmassauctions.com to see the photos of that and other items in this sale.
Contact us at: Wayne Tuiskula Auctioneer/Appraiser Central Mass Auctions for Antique Auctions, Estate Sales and Appraisal Services www.centralmassauctions.com (508-612-6111), email@example.com