Collecting Authentic Antique Chinese Porcelain, a few basics
Learn to Collect Well and Wisely
Collecting authentic antique Chinese porcelain and art of any kind well and wisely requires many things. First, the variations in the kind of collection(s) you can build are obviously endless. Chinese art and more specifically porcelains and pottery offer a range of opportunities from which to study and appreciate covers several thousand years of Chinese history.
If you're reading this, your spark of interest is already there. Perhaps you've been learning and collecting for some time and are at a crossroad in your interests. Deciding what to buy personal decision, with no right or wrong way to collect. Its a matter of personal taste when it comes to shapes, forms, colors, place of manufacture or cultural use.
Collecting well and wisely means learning to be selective about what you acquire. Building a collection representative of your own taste or personal aesthetic is essential, work only with dealers who understand you. As time goes by let go of things you've outgrown or no longer find to be of interest. Buying fine authentic antique Chinese porcelain requires constant study and dillegeance.
Not surprisingly most collectors go through phases of interest as they refine their obsessions. Many collectors today of fine Qianlong Famille Rose or Ming blue and white started with common forms of export porcelains like Canton and Famille Rose from the 19th C. .
Buy Only What You Really Like
Buying things, whether they are high end or less expensive objects you're not in love with is a waste of time. They pay few dividends of enjoyment and in the end will be just a bore. If you're doing it as an investment only you might eventually make money, but you will also make a lot of mistakes as your knowledge will lag behind serious students and collectors. Collecting requires a real passion and appreciation to be successful. If you want to invest, buy real-estate or stocks.
Finding Fine Chinese Porcelain and Antiques on BidAmount
This site was built with the idea in mind of helping collectors and dealers find the best items available each week on eBay. To that end the most effective resource here is most likely the "BidAmount Weekly News Letter" page. On it you'll find offerings from good Ebay sellers who for the most part specialize in antiques and very often only Asian antiques. Further down the page you'll find additional searches and links to reference materials, news feed links about eBay and much more.
The "News Letter Page" is updated every Saturday night for the following week, and to let you know it's been done we send out quick eMail each week linked to the page as soon as it's ready.
A quick video to explain more about this site and how it works.
A News Letter sign up form is at the top of this page to make things easy.
A Word About Books and Reference Material, Find Them Discounted or Used
For me, a big part of the fun in collecting Asian antiques are the reference books. We happily have many books, piles of books, shelves of books, they are all useful. All of them scouted out with the same enthusiasm as the objects explained within them. I learned back in the late 1970's just how much fun they are to find and own, and not the least of which the education contained in therein. Today we have hundreds of them, all well used, some dog eared and worth every penny.
Most collectors start with pretty standard generic books on a given topic, within a short span of time each new book becomes more focused on specific areas, and yes with higher prices per tomb to go with this specialized information. Building a library of narrowly focused books on the topic will propel you in your quest to understand and collect authentic antique Chinese porcelain.
A few tips on books. Whenever possible buy "used" books, you will save a fortune . If you're not planning on attending an auction buy "Post Auction" catalogs, they can usually be bought for half their original price.
Click Here To Find a Good Book!
and some more Books!
Or Click Here To Find More Good Books!
The Market In China Is Changing
For the last 20 years in China, collecting has become a multi-billion dollar a year business. In recent years rhe primary focus has been on flashy mark and period pieces from the Ming and Qing dynasty's. Resulting in the 38 Million dollar Chicken Cup and Qianlong vases selling routinely above the one million dollar mark. Today, that focus is changing as rarer overlooked earlier examples are coming into vogue being recognized as much better values and simply more interesting to the experienced collector. Resulting in escalating prices for Song, Liao and more scholarly objects from these much earlier periods. Ming and Qing pieces aren't likely to plummet in values, but a bit of leveling off in prices is long overdue.
Finding Chinese Porcelains, Reliable sources
The issue facing all collectors is how to find good reliable sources from which to draw upon to build a collection within their financial boundaries.
If you have been collecting for ten or more years you probably have multiple sources beyond the local antique shops, auctioneers and yard sale announcements upon which you rely. You may be getting items regularly from the larger firms like Sotheby's, Bonhams and Christie's. Do not overlook medium size auctioneers like Doyle's NY and Skinner's in Boston. All have their advantages and disadvantages.
Buying from top dealers and major auction houses is a pretty crowded place to buy and very competitive. These higher end sources are reliable and convenient, however, the costs often limit buying frequency. They do however allow the less experienced buyer to learn a great deal with assurance in the authenticity of what they are buying. The dollar costs however can be daunting.
All of this said, do get to know some specialist dealers, do visit the big auction houses, buy the auction catalogs (buy them post sale for 75% off) and spend as much time as you can in Museums with good collections.
Today, all of the better auction houses put online FOR FREE their full catalogs, which in general are very well written, have loads of scholarly information and exceptionally well done photos. Take advantage of them, every dealer and collector with any experience already does, and for good reason. Knowledge is power.
It's also important to know, that much of what does end up in major galleries and auction houses passed through the "trade" much further "downstream". On many occasions, they've been sold at the source for pennies or nickles on the dollar and ultimately sell for a small fortune. Many dealers, including us, have over the years placed things in NY, London and Hong Kong Auctions which were bought for peanuts. (a few hundred dollars) They then sold for a thousand times over the original cost. Will this happen to you? It could, but requires a level of skill not generally within the grasp of the typical collector.
You might never buy the 2.2 Million dollar bowl for a couple bucks on a Saturday morning while out "yard sale'ing", those are long odds. However, over time, you will find terrific items for your collection. Objects that might have cost you $20,000 at Christies can be bought for under $1,000 with a little diligence. This is very do-able.
Now for the Elephant in the room. "The Only Asian Stuff on eBay is Fake"
How many times have you heard that?
Well, it's not at all true if you know which sellers to follow, I call them the other 2%.
At any given time there are over 430,000 items on the mega-site listed under Asian Antiques and under Chinese Antiques around 260,000 listings. The vast majority of the listings are either outright fakes or honestly mis-described by part time sellers muddling through their listings doing the best they can to describe them. When you get enough experience, you get some real finds from those mis-described listings, often good Chinese things are listed as Japanese, English "soft-paste" or even as Dutch Delft. (but be careful, just the same)
Finding the "Other Guys"
Then you have "the other guys", and these are the ones you want to follow, they are the other 2 %.
Nearly all of them are Professional Dealers, they know their stuff and combined have anywhere from 1,000 to 3,000 legitimate pieces for sale or auction at any given time on the site. Most sell via auctions and with little or no minimum selling prices. Their listings are generally very accurately described, accompanied by numerous good quality photos with reliable "condition reports". These sellers gather their inventory through assorted venues, from small local auctions, antique shops,Antique shows, estate tag sales, by referral through other dealers and "boot sales" aka "flea markets". Many have decades of experience, many have worked previously in Museums, large auction houses and galleries. Some, even run high galleries now and sell on eBay for cash flow under another name than the one they are known for.
Get to know these Dealers, ask questions, you can build some great relationships and in time be the first to know when something is coming along you might want to buy.
NOTE: As examples of what you might find, the early Qing dynasty Transitional Period Wucai (Circa 1650) food pot illustrated above was sold on the site by us. As were the examples above it...all real, all good quality and for a fair price.
NOTE: Many very high end dealers also buy inventory for their galleries in London, Paris and New York off the site with surprising regularity, though they hate to admit it openly. I know, because they buy from us all the time and have for many years. (no, I am not going to name them...that's talking out of school). Trust me they do.
Find the 2% of Legitimate Chinese Porcelain Dealer's on eBay
We have made the task of finding these needles in the haystack, the Professional Asian Dealers, much easier. A few years ago, we gathered the names of all the dealers we know who use eBay, built a list and then built this website for them. We also update it regularly.
So simply go to the HOME PAGE here, let it load and start looking. There are over 125 sellers located in the USA, Canada, Netherlands, France and Great Britain. none at in Mainland China. We've picked them because they sell AUTHENTIC Antique Chinese objects, including porcelains.
Lastly, NEVER , ever buy anything from sellers in Mainland China. Hong Kong has many fine dealers, as does Taiwan, but steer clear of the rest of China. It's illegal to export antiques from the mainland, so rest assured anything being sold from there is a copy-fake. Also, be careful of anyone NOT on our site, they are very likely also selling fresh fakes imported right in from China...not matter how good some of them look, they are copies.
What kinds of things can you Find on the site?
Below are some images of things sold there from the recent past...many by us and many by our friends around the world. Enjoy looking. All of these items were previously featured in our weekly BidAmount Newsletter (sign up, its FREE from the Home Page)