The History of Chinese Antique Collections in New England is a long one
If you've lived in New England for any length of time and spent a bit of that time learning about the regions material culture you no doubt have encountered Chinese art and antique furnishings. Often it seems to blend in so well you are almost unaware of it. A visit to houses in the region belonging to old Yankee families more often than not will likely have mixed in with their decor.
Chinese marble top tables, 19th C. Canton plates and serving pieces sit quietly in cupboards and on sideboards. The upholstered furniture, drapery and carpets will often have a Chinoiserie style or influences, if it is in fact not from China originally to begin with.
In our area we fortunately have the world renowned Peabody Essex Museum (The PEM). Established in 1799 as the East India Marine Society, established by sea captains primarily from Salem at a time when Salem Massachusetts was one of the most active global trading ports in the world. The Marine Society became a sort of repository of objects and curiosity's brought back from around the world through trade as well as a sort of hall of records from these trips. From these roots, the museum grew and grew.
Today much of the PEM's holding's are in a word "Asian-centric". Including a massive collection of Chinese as well as Japanese porcelains, paintings, silks, furniture, silver and carvings. The history of this institution is very much a reflection of New England's culture itself.
Movie Time! Chinese Antiques Found in New England
Below is a brief video of just a few things from China which have come through our doors as dealers directly from houses located here in New England. They range from Ming to late Qing and even republic period objects. They will give you some idea f the diversity to be found here in our region of Chinese objects.
Estates and Old Collections of Chinese Antiques, where they might come from
Chinese antique collections in New England can be found often in the most unlikely places. A few years ago we encountered a terrific
collection in a small town in New Hampshire, the current owners were the grandchildren of missionaries who had live in China during the 1890's for fifteen years, it was quite an experience. They were selling the house and reached out to us for advice. The items were very valuable as it turned out, much of it dating to the late Ming and early Qing dynasty.
Westerners living in China during the later part of the second half of the 19th C. and early 20th C. often became near fanatical collectors. During this time the economies in both China and Japan were desperate for foreign currency. As a result, treasures were gladly sold to in huge numbers in order to gain some economic relief. Much if not most of its was brought back when the time came to leave, as shipping back then was very inexpensive.
Love Those Storage Lockers
In another instance, we were asked to a storage locker facility to see things that had been carefully packed away since the 1960's.
The family had long connections back to the China Trade days and had packed away numerous objects from their grandmother's house. The items in storage as it turns out were the surplus objects from her estate. After seeing all of this and explaining the high values to the family, they in turn asked us to see what had been kept in their own homes since then. It was of even better quality. Today, several items from this collection are in museums, including the PEM.
The fascinating history of Chinese antique collections in New England was the catalyst for our getting involved in the antiques business during the 1970's, I cannot imagine doing anything else.
About, plcombs, Asian Antiques and Art
We are and have been dealers, appraisers and brokers of fine antiques for over 35 years. We are a family business with offices located at 185 Main Street in Gloucester, Massachusetts. We are not a SHOP in the classic sense, the world has changed through technology consequently having a shop is no longer the most effective way to sell fine art in the world today. When it comes to Asian art success is all about having a Global customer base.
As a result we have evolved since the early 1990's to a global business. We sell primarily only Asian objects, with over 6,500 collectors and dealers as clients around the world.
Today our customers are in Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, London, Rome, Antwerp, Paris and scattered across the US. It works well primarily because we are and have been a trusted source in the business for decades. We are discreet and handle things quietly for all our customers. If you think we can be of service to you in handling the sale of one item or a large collection of Asian art and antiques give us a call or send an eMail. If you've been talking to an auction house and getting estimates of values, call us for a second opinion. You might be very surprised.
Thank you for visiting and we look forward to hearing from you.