Chinese Export Porcelain And Decorative Art, A Relative Bargain
Chinese Export porcelain and decorative art are perhaps the least expensive they have been in over 20 years. While it's true, generally speaking, Chinese art, porcelain and antiques have risen strongly in the last few decades, the same cannot be said of Chinese export objects. Prices have in many areas plunged due to a lack of demand.
So if you're a collector, a serious one that is, you should be pleased, you can expand your collection at a lower cost. If you're an "investor-collector", sorry you missed the peak by a decade or two.
So whats going on?
A Little Background on Chinese Export Porcelain and Decorative Art
Prices of porcelain and objects which resulted from the Chinese trade era of the late Ming (1368-1644) and Qing Dynasty (1645-1912) have been in the past driven predominantly by the interest of western collectors. Most of whom live in Europe and the United States. Additionally, interest in Chinese export wares and their values have been historically tied inexorably to a broader range of non-Asian antiques and art.
Objects resulting from the China trade from it's earliest days were viewed by people of wealth and taste as a must-have and key elements of home decor. They were considered by many the ultimate in luxury objects, in addition to tea, silks and spices. China and its culture were a topic of absolute fascination among westerners. After all, China and "The Orient" was very mysterious and exotic to western eyes and a vast contrast to life in Europe or America.
So, what happened?
The Rise and Fall of the Antique American and European Furniture markets.
During the Americana and European antique furniture and decorative arts boom of the 1970's to 2000, China trade objects enjoyed considerable interest among collectors. Demand was strong, prices rose year after year. During this time, much scholarship was done, collections were built and the trade in Chinese Export porcelain and decorative art flourished. Exotic objects made for the west were all the rage. After all, as a collector, you couldn't have a finely decked out Federal era dining table without an appropriate service of export porcelain on it. A great Chippendale chest would have looked naked without a fine early 18th C. Kangxi or Qianlong vase or bowl adorning it. For the very well off collector, many bought en masse custom Armorial or historically decorated examples or with western or Christian scenes depicted.
Then came the collapse. By the end of the 1990's interest in antique western furniture began to diminish. Well known dealers who made the market began dying off or retired, collectors began selling off or died as well. The demand faded and as things came back into the market, demand was just a lot less. All collecting cycles go in boom and bust rotations.
Meanwhile, starting around 1985 as China's economy began to expand, demand for "Chinese taste" objects (items not made for export, but for China itself) began to increase. As China's economic growth expanded, demand ramped up rapidly for these items. So, as one group of objects went up in demand the other began eventually to go down.
Good GREAT NEWS!
If you love Chinese Export porcelain and decorative art and Chinese objects in general, rejoice.
With the "Export Market" in its current state some great buys of superbly executed examples can be bought at reasonable prices. It's also important to bear in mind, many pieces which are classified by most folks as "Export" are not truly export but were exported in large amounts though initially intended for the domestic market.
Recently Christie's had their January "Export Porcelain Auction" in New York City, many of the pieces included were not in fact "Export" at all and realized relatively modest amounts.
Below are a number of lots which recently sold on eBay and were included in the BidAmount Weekly News Letter. Also some great values! For under $2,000, many for under $1,000.