The Chinese and Asian Art Forum. For Fans, Collectors and Dealers.
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Best Chinese porcelain restorer in USA?
I realize this is somewhat of a subjective questions, but I'm interested in knowing whom I can contact regarding the restoration of a very nice imperial piece of porcelain. I'm in Florida, but I'd be willing to travel to hand deliver the piece.
I know that the major auction houses offer in-house services, but I'm not sure if (yet) I want to sell it right away, privately, or at auction, so I'm weighing my options.
At this point, I think having the piece restored might give me some flexibility as to which route I choose down the road.
I don't know if this is relevant, but it might help to say a little more about the item. It may be that restorers specialise in certain areas of style, age etc and you will want the best person for your requirements.
I agree with Julia, plus we all want to see it, because who doesn't like seeing some Imperial porcelain!
I understand, but the auction house might not be too happy about me posting photos of the piece.
Here's a portion of it.... I think the quality is self evident.
@greeno107 Very cool, and thanks for sharing a bit of it. It does look like it must be quite lovely. I have never dealt with a major auction house so I was not aware that posting a picture on a forum like this in advance of a sale would be a problem. My logical brain would tell me that it seems like it would just be a proactive way of advertising the sale which would only serve to help generate more interest and help the sale in the end. But there must be other aspects of the process I am not aware of. At any rate, I hope to see the rest of it at some point. Would you be comfortable in confirming if I am correct in guessing that it is a Yongzheng bowl? John
Good eye! Large charger.
This piece has never been up for auction - old collection. So, there is a natural 'buzz' among top collectors when something new and beautiful suddenly appears that auction houses like to tap into to get high results. They also like to be the ones to 'discover' the piece.
If all goes according to plan, look for it in NY in March.
@greeno107 Very cool. Now I can see the perspective of a plate. How big is it? I have a Yongzheng Armorial charger that is about 14 inches.
My charger is like this one in size and quality:
Wow, that's enormous! Both in size, price, and presence. Boy would I love to see something like that up close. If I was in your shoes it would probably be hard to not just sit around looking at it all day. And of course being paranoid that something bad might happen to it. I'd probably have to quit my job just to stare at it and guard it all day. 😟. Ah, the challenges of owning Imperial porcelain! It must be a rather exhilarating and terrifying process. Please keep us posted and let us know how things go with your repair and the eventual sale. And congratulations, however you ended up with it. (Would you dare tell us that story, or would that be against the pre-auction rules as well?) John
Well, best I leave the specifics of how I found this piece out of the public eye, but let me say that I think it is possible for anyone to find great pieces if they are 100% committed.
I'm a first generation 'picker' - neither of my parents had money, nor any serious interest in art or antiques. I fell in love with Japanese woodblocks in the 1990's (because they were beautiful and cheap to buy), but only as a hobbyist / collector. I started buying and selling Chinese antiques in the late 2000's on Ebay for extra $$$, because I lost my bank job after the great recession.
I knew nothing about Chinese porcelains, or any other type of antiques, but I was fortunate enough to have clients that owned antique shops and galleries that shared some of their knowledge.
Online forums, like this one, were a great resource for teaching about how to authenticate (but they never tell you how to find them).
I studied Christie's and Sotheby's sales... at least 1-2 hours each night. I think Peter Combs has it right on the money with his YouTube videos that review upcoming and past sales.
I visit the best shops to find things to see and occasionally buy. Quality begets quality.
I also visited thrift stores - not as much in hopes of finding a lost treasure (although it has happened), but to see the abundance of copies and fakes that are flood the market.
You have to commit to remembering what you see, and what you don't see in the market.
I approached everything I bought as an education experience. What was right with the piece? What was wrong with the piece? I let my buyers teach me, too, but within reason...they sometimes hold strong beliefs about authenticity that don't match up with reality, and end up buying fakes or late copies.
The most important things I learned along the way was that with Chinese porcelains to be genuine, EVERYTHING has to be right about the color, style, mark, and quality of the porcelain. One thing is off....it's not genuine, or at least not period. Imperial works are that exact, and more!
Finally, Chinese art has an almost mystical beauty that transcends culture. Genuine pieces, especially imperial pieces, always seem to cause a visceral reaction when you see them... I can't tell you how many times I've found myself saying, "how did they do that? AMAZING!"
In roughly 10 years, I have found/owned 3 imperial porcelains, including this one. However, I've found hundreds of other fine period pieces, plus furniture, paintings, bronzes, buddha, etc. along the way.
Finding good Chinese antiques is a teachable skill, but it requires study, self control (especially if you are quick to buy before being 100% sure the piece is real), and consistency.
You never know when the piece is going to show up in a sale, so you've got to be ready to jump in your car, drive for hours, sleep overnight, weight in line in the blazing sun, or rain, or snow.
For me, I have no regrets. I'm already on the look for my next great treasure!
Best of luck!
Hi Greeno, that looks great. Won’t the damage reduce the value considerably, or is it only a few rim chips? I know a good restorer, but he’s located in Europe.
Yes, with the damage it probably won't sell for the millions like a perfect piece, but it's not impossible.
In 2016 I sold my first imperial piece, a Qianlong / Yongzheng falangcai mallet vase, and it had a thumb sized break and some loss on the mouth. Brought 2.2 million in Beijing, but it was quite an ordeal getting paid.
@greeno107 Thank you for sharing some of your journey and process. I'm only about two years into my new love of studying and collecting Asian antiques so your story is inspiring and confirms many things I have already come to realize and feel myself. As for finding things, I have begun to learn a few tricks, although I know there is much more to figure out, and I know that the commitment piece is the most important part. It is fun to see how much I've managed to learn, but I am still ignorant about most things. I can be a bit impulsive as well, or prone to hopeful thinking when i come across something I think might have potential but yet I don't have exact knowledge about. I also believe that I have passed up on some things I had the chance to buy that might have been very good hidden treasures but at the time I second guessed myself. Like you say, I am always looking at it as a learning experience and am on to discover the next one. Thanks again for being so open and helpful. John
There are real scholars who are very generous with their knowledge. I'm not being modest by saying I am just a student of Chinese art. I see myself as mostly a treasure hunter, not a scholar.
Take photos of the pieces you've found, whether they turn out to be good pieces or mistakes. I often look over photos of my past purchases as a way of 'sharpening my knife', reflecting on what it was that made me want to buy the piece in the first place, and how my eye for detail compares today to the past.
I am encouraged that this year, despite all of the terrible hardships people have had to endure, that opportunities to find and buy some great pieces still are about.
Best of luck to you.
@greeno107 Other than this forum and studying the auction houses, are there other online places to access the knowledge of and interact in dialogue with those scholars you mention that you have learned from and could recommend for myself and others?
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Kangxi vases, Kangxi dishes and chargers, Kangxi ritual pieces, Kangxi scholar's objects, Qianlong famille rose, Qianlong enamels, Qianlong period paintings, Qianlong Emporer's court, Fine porcelain of the Yongzheng period. Chinese imperial art, Ming porcelain including Jiajing, Wanli, Xuande, Chenghua as well as Ming jades and bronzes.
The BidAmount Asian Art Forum | Chinese Art
A free Asian art discussion board and Asian art message board for dealers and collectors of art and antiques from China, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and the rest of Asia. Linked to all of the BidAmount Asian art reference areas, with videos from plcombs Asian Art and Bidamount on YouTube. Sign up also for the weekly BidAmount newsletter and catalogs of active eBay listing of Chinese porcelain, bronze, jades, robes, and paintings.
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