Obtaining Asian-Chinese Antiques Appraisals
By: plcombs, Asian Art | Dealers-Appraisers-Auctioneers
185 Main Street, Gloucester, Massachusetts 01930 | 978-283-3524
If you've ever been in the position of settling an estate as an executor or have inherited art or antiques from a relative, you probably found yourself also seeking an appraiser. Either for settling the estate or for insurance purposes. For the most part, appraisers are fairly easy to find through an attorney or via a local auction house.
Most antiques and art can be readily evaluated by any number of qualified people in most communities, with one glaring exception, Asian-Chinese Antiques Appraisals. While many people do know enough about general antiques and fine art appraisals, very few in the United States are qualified or know anything at all about Asian works of art. It's a whole other world.
NOTE: The values of Chinese antiques have risen dramatically in the last 20 years. Getting highly accurate descriptions with regard to age, type, origin, rarity and value is more critical than ever before.
Accurate Asian-Chinese Antiques Appraisals Requires a Specialist
In addition to us, in all of New England, I know only three businesses qualified to perform appraisals of Asian Antiques."
Why do you need a specialist? Here are several of the biggest reasons.
Three reasons why you need a specialist.
- First, as I mentioned above, the current prices of most antique objects from China have risen more in value than any form of art in the world. From porcelains to silks, jades, bronzes to paintings, you name it and it has gone up, up, up. The lovely old 18th C. blue and white Chinese bowl that was worth perhaps $800 in 1990, today could be worth anywhere from $6,500 to $20,000. A old vase your grandmother bought in the 1960's at auction for $350, today could easily be worth anywhere from $15,000 to over one million dollars. A couple years ago an auction was done in NY which included in the catalog copies of the original invoices from 1959 to 1968. All were bought at higher end London and NY dealers. The result was staggering, pieces which were bought for anywhere from $200 to $ 700 realized $125,000 to $700,000 each. Even pieces bought much more recently have also had massive leaps in value. Having accurately done Asian-Chinese antiques appraisals at the ready have never been more important.
- Second, due to the rapid rise of Chinese art and antiques, forgeries of very fine high end rarities have flooded the global market. Billions of dollars worth are today on the market. (yes billions) Never before has having a good well written Asian-Chinese antique Appraisals prepared.
- Third, If you happen to have something appraised by a local non-Specialist and opt to sell it, the chances of it bringing it's true value is very unlikely. Most often these items get sold directly to a local dealer for the appraised LOW value or less or get dropped into a local auction house who will have no idea what it is or how to sell it.
The average antique appraiser hasn't the skills or knowledge to differentiate between the authentic examples and the reproductions. As a consequence, they all too often identify rarities as later copies or are just not familiar with the market resulting in incorrect low values. They aren't dishonest, most often they are erring on the side of caution while being un-willing to admit they are over their heads and simply do not know. If they aren't Asian Antiques Specialists, have them do the rest of the appraisal and get one to do the Asian aspect of the appraisal. The cost is usually about the same and could save you a great deal of money and heartaches later.
The 2.2 Million Dollar Yard Sale Mistake
The Sung bowl illustrated here is a glaring example of how badly things can go wrong, it sold for 2.2 Million dollars in 2013. This bowl was bought at a yard sale in 2007 in New York for $3.00.
It obviously had never been appraised by an expert previously and most likely passed through several estates in the last 100 or so years. When the last owner decided to sell it, they took the time to speak to experts in the field. It was a Song Dynasty Ding bowl with lotus leaf decorations. Sotheby's had estimated it at "only" $200,000 to $300,000. They are experts, this example only illustrates how even they can be off a bit in this fast rising market. What would a local appraiser in your town have valued it at? Probably around $150 to $250, maybe even as having "No resale value."
Even Museums Make Costly Errors
A few years ago a well-known New York Museum, who's focus is not Asian antiques opted to sell off a small donated collection given by a benefactor in the 1950's. Sadly for them they did so without doing any research or contacting a specialist appraiser. They had no idea of the value and wrongly assumed the collection was apparently nearly worthless. Consequently,they consigned it to small local auction firm. The auctioneer was actually an acquaintance of a secretary at the museum who suggested him as a convenient outlet as they had so wrongly assumed a lack of value.
Each piece illustrated here (and 23 more) had all been bought from C.T. Loo & Co., probably the most famous dealer of the 20th C. of Chinese and Asian Art. Despite bearing his famous gallery tags, they let the things go without speaking to an Asian Specialist. The entire grouping of over 30 items sold for under $2,000.
I know the story because we bought them all over a phone line with nearly no competition from any other bidders. The pieces ranged in age from the Tang Dynasty 8th C. to several 18th C. Kangxi and Qianlong Imperial wares. A little research beforehand could have raised several hundred thousand dollars for the institution if they sold it properly. From time to time, even museums fail to get a good appraisal for their Asian-Chinese antique objects.
DO, spend a little time looking around for a Specialist if you can't call us
How to find a specialist who can prepare Asian-Chinese Antiques Appraisals
First, try and get some names of people who offer to do Asian antique appraisals. Check their websites, blogs, Linkedin profile's and by all means ask friends.
Go to Google to see how often, if at all, their names comes up when referenced to Asian or Chinese Antiques. If their website has virtually no Asian material (it should be 90%) move along to another person.
Ask questions, lots of questions. How long has he or she been a Specialist? How long have they been in the antique business? How long have they been in your area? Are they well known as Asian Dealers and Specialists. Most dealers of Asian antiques who know what they are doing, have been in the business for decades and do nearly exclusively business in this category of antiques only.
It takes three times as longer to become knowledgeable in Asian art than any other category, so look for longevity.
Do you need an Asian-Chinese Antique Appraisal?
If you need your Chinese or Asian art appraised, let us know.
We are located here on Cape Ann in Gloucester Massachusetts and can be reached 9 to 5 Monday through Friday of via email.\ or just call us up at 978 283 3524.
Even if you're not in the New England area we can be of assistance. We do know qualified experts across America as well as in the European Union whom we can recommend. We do know who to use and more importantly who not to use.
If you would like to contact us we'd be happy to answer your questions and offer advice on how best to proceed. If you need our services as an appraiser or adviser we can do that too.
Below is a brief video looking back over the things we've had the pleasure of buying, selling and appraising during the last 35 years.
Coupled with a few songs by Vivaldi.
Chinese Objects, from the archives of plcombs Asian Art, Gloucester, Massachusetts