Learning to recognize real Chinese porcelain.
Chinese Porcelain and Pottery
Authenticating real Chinese porcelain or “How can you tell the difference between fake Chinese porcelain and original, antique Chinese porcelain?” This is probably the question we hear most from people interested in buying and selling antique Chinese and Asian porcelain on eBay.
TO learn more nothing is better than looking at AUTHENTIC examples, including the feet. Check our Image Archives under RESOURCES at the top of this page or visit our blog at plcombs.blogspot.
The first thing we need to be clear about is that all you need to know about antique Asian and Chinese porcelain and ceramics requires far more space than we can dedicate to the subject here on this website. Learning how to distinguish an original from a fake requires lots of research as well as working hands on with both new and antique Chinese porcelain. The more you familiarize yourself with the differences between ancient and modern production methods and materials, the better you will know how to tell what’s new and what is antique as you handle the pieces. Our library alone has no less than 400 books on just Chinese ceramics and most of those books deal only with objects made since the Sung period. We have lots more volumes on Japanese porcelain; not to mention the piles and piles of auction catalogs. Explaining glazes, pastes, colors, shapes, the execution of marks and many other details just isn’t possible without writing a few books— lots of those are already out there for anyone who wants to pursue the subject in detail. To get started, you might want to take a look at our image pages (Note: link here) for photos of period, antique Chinese porcelain that include detail shots of decorative elements and marks from period wares.
All that said, here are a few basic rules for spotting a fake listing right off the bat on eBay and other internet sites.
A Few Tips on Authenticating Real Chinese Porcelain | Pottery
- Any antique Chinese porcelain purporting to be Imperial, Ming, Sung, Tang, Jin, Yuan or older than 120 years that is being sold on Ebay USA from a location in China (and this includes Hong Kong) has a 99.9 % chance of being a total fake. There are virtually no exceptions. This includes Buy It Now listings as well as auction items.
Please don’t email us telling us how you bought a pair of 16 inch Qianlong mark and period Famille Rose vases of eBay for $300 from a reputable dealer in China. While they may be very convincing, they are brand new. This doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t enjoy them for what they are—great decorative objects.
- eBay is flooded with brand new copies of antique, Chinese Imperial porcelains that are being represented as originals. We can assure you they are not. 99% of all antique Chinese
porcelains on eBay with Kangxi, Yung Cheng and Qianlong marks are late 19th C. or 20th C. or just out right fakes. They are not of the period indicated by the mark.
- If a Chinese porcelain listing on eBay or eBay Live does not clearly say Mark and of the Period, it is not period. Oftentimes, buyers represent antique Chinese porcelains as “Marked” with an imperial seal that means it was produced in an imperial kiln or commissioned by a certain emperor— Yung Cheng, for example. Saying an object has such and such a mark means nothing because these marks are easy enough to recreate. Always ask if the buyer is certain it is a period piece and what the return policy is before you bid. Also check the sellers COMPLETED listings, if they have Mark and Period items week after week..they very likely sell fakes.
- If a listing doesn’t mention condition, ask before you bid.
- Certificates of Authenticity are not worth anything (ZERO). Lots of dealers mention them in their listings; anyone can print one and top dealers do not provide them. Top dealers will, however, be more than happy to provide you with the provenance, or history of where the object came from. Bear in mind though that even the best dealers can’t always trace the exact history of every object, and some of the best pieces come from odd lots at live auctions, yard sales and grandmothers’ attics to name just a few places.
- Always get a written condition report and ask for more photos for all ebay Live auctions. Most auctioneers rarely include condition reports in the listings, and the photos are generally too small or of poor quality.
- No reputable museum will ever assign a value to an object and they are forbidden to do so. If a listing states that a museum appraised the piece, it is a lie.
- Not so long ago, some dealers were listing very rare examples of antique Chinese porcelain at absurdly low prices. Their argument was that they were trying to get to know people and establish a loyal customer base on eBay by selling pieces at bargain prices. If you run across anyone on the internet that makes this kind of statement, run for your life no matter how good the objects look. We can assure you that no one wants a customer so badly he would sell you a $350,000 bowl for $99.00 plus shipping. Dealers in China know what these objects are worth and the likelihood that they would try to sell their inventory here at a discount is zero when there are thousands of collectors in China who will pay premium prices for all types of antique Chinese porcelain.
- In a new twist on eBay and elsewhere, some dealers are selling brand new pieces as Republic Period circa 1915. These objects are often represented as late 19th C. mark and period examples and often have Qianlong marks in particular. Be careful because a lot of these pieces are turning up on the internet and in the antique Chinese porcelain market.
- Pay very close attention to what the listings don’t say. Many eBay Live auctions contain dozens of fakes, even from well-known auction houses.
- Dealers are also importing fakes and listing them from here in the US. Just because the piece is in the US doesn’t mean it’s not a fake.
Just because a piece is being sold on eBay doesn’t mean that it’s a fake, however. Many dealers in Asia do buy fine quality antique Chinese porcelains on eBay US and eBay Europe to supply the rapidly growing numbers of wealthy collectors in China. If you want to have some fun, try to figure out who they are and put them on your watch list to see what they are bidding on here in the States and in Europe. We know of several who sell reproductions on eBay US but buy period pieces to sell in the Asian market. Trying to learn the ways of authenticating real Chinese porcelain | pottery takes years of practice, but stick with it and in time will become easier and easier.