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Moral dilemma of buying chinese antiques at discounted price.
This is a dilemma I've encountered in the past am I sure many of you had to deal with this:
Fine chinese antiques were inherited by the children of a wealthy family. They have no idea about the items they were given and are looking to get rid of them quickly. You ask them the price and their answer is 5% of what you think this would sell at an auction. Would you pay the asking price or offer more?
Paying the asking price isn't technically the same as stealing as they got what they wanted and are happy to get rid of them, yet you wouldn't want the same to happen to you if you were in their shoes.
unfortunately I have never encountered that case. I mostly see the other extreme: people think they have inherited great values and are offering awful items for hilarious prices. Ebay is full of them. If I was being offered something too cheap I’m afraid I would use the opportunity without further scruples. If they suspect their items could be valuable they could offer them to an auction house to sell or have an appraisal made.
I posted some pictures from a Estate sale with prices on the Chinese antiques under the other topic...("what did you find/buy lately").....now I am very new at collecting Chinese antiques....so I am still learning what to look and or look out for.......but I thought the antiques at 50% off the ticketed price on the last day was somewhat affordable.......I purchased a few items I thought were very reasonable.... so much so that I couldn't believe it.....but I don't think the person pricing the items knew what some of them were.......I felt that way about the Moon Flask on the other page it was approx. $300 at 50% off.....it was large 18 inches......in great condition....but I din't buy it....because I wasn't sure about its age......whether it was antique or vintage......or a more recent reproduction.....but getting back...... I guess you could offer more money if it makes you feel better
If the family is wealthy, you might assume they are educated enough to know that they can easily get their items appraised. I might be more inclined to think that they knew the items were copies and were trying to off-load them.
It would be different if the people were elderly or the family not well-off but you always have the option of giving them some of whatever you make or donating a portion to charity. However, if I were buying them as a collector, I might not be able to afford to pay more.
I think you need to assess the situation in the light of your personal integrity and values. We are all different and will see things differently. You just need to make sure you are comfortable with what you do and sometimes, you simply have to ride your luck; if you are really not happy doing so, there are ways to soothe your conscience if it is bothering you. Of course, if were friends of mine, then I would say "let me see what I can make and we'll split the profit."
It is rather like when you read of people who find old vases in charity shops that they then sell for hundreds of thousands: that is a moral dilemma for me. What would I do? If it was a significant amount, I hope I would make a decent donation back to the charity.
In Canada and in the US (i assumed) there is very few chinese antique experts. In many cases, the called "experts" are the ones who gave them the 5% value appraisal.
They are paid by the number of appraisals they do and simply don't have the knowledge or care enough to research it.
Hi Alesia, a large moon flask reduced from 300 to 150 could never be old., the price would go into the thousands. You did well to skip it.
The overlook of the flask makes me believe it is not old. Probable date late 20th century.
The figures are a bit clumsy along with the badly configured bat. The butterfly is not right imo. Genuine painted butterflies are, as Giovanni once posted always painted fanciful and beautifully expressed unlike the presant example. The figures are also a bit crowded in the center for my liking . Finally, I don't like the way the foliage is portrayed/painted.
the tag on the piece says vintage Chinese piece. So they knew what they had to me it up to you
to know what you’re looking at and to me it like Bying form good will or thrift stores your not going
to tell them it worth more. You got to remember you’re going to bye
things are not worth what you paid for it are they going to give you your money back no.
Hi all -
Although the images blur when attempting to enlarge I would agree with Mark's and others thoughts on the moon flask, not very old and, at best, late 20th century ... IMO ...
Regarding the original question posed:-
As with Birgit, I have never really encountered this but, as mentioned by others, it very much depends on ones own morals and integrity. What I have encountered in the auction houses and, occasionally, with general dealers, are objects that are incorrectly dated which can, for those who know, work in ones favour. Should one make this known at the time to the auction houses or dealer - or keep quiet ...?!
What I'am sure many here have encountered/seen a great deal more often are objects attributed to a specific period/date or even described as 'mark and period' which, either from the images supplied or upon close close examination, are totally wrong. I viewed one of the provincial Asian Art London auction sales a few days ago where many of the ceramics, some catalogued as 'Imperial mark/period' and carrying very high estimates, were obviously incorrect and fakes. Again, should one make the auction house aware of this - or say nothing ...?!
A good friend, who has 40+years experience as a dealer then collector, viewed with me. His personal thoughts, when discussing this question, is 'one say's nothing' for, ultimately, it is down to the so called house 'experts' to research, describe, catalogue and estimate the objects and, in the end, it's down to the individual whether they believe the 'object/piece' and, if so, whether they then bid ...
The above response is fine for those who have acquired the 'knowledge' to discern the real from the fake, and/or have others they know/trust to discuss the pieces with ... But it's rather more difficult for those just starting out, trying to learn and, unfortunately, have no one else to talk to ...
I experience this dilema regularly, not with Chinese antiques but in general as a dealer. There really is no one-size-fits-all answer to this, you have to play it by ear. I will say however that sometimes people distrust honesty! I can think of two occasions where I have told a person that their items are worth more, that I will give them double what they ask for, only to have them decide to keep the items. That’s fair enough, until you find out that they’ve sold them to another dealer for just a little bit more than you offered! Unfortunately, the honourable route doesn’t always work both ways. When you plant that seed of doubt, they automatically NEED to get another opinion, when the other person offers them around the same (they usually tell the new dealer what they’ve been offered) they trust his/her opinion more than yours. Sometimes, they come back to you with the new dealer’s offer, then you find yourself in a bidding war.
What I find works best is to pay them what they’re asking, and then give them extra as a gesture of goodwill for inviting me to buy the items, stating that it’s on the condition that if they ever want to sell anything else they give me a call and that they will recommend me to their friends. This way, you can give them more which appeases your conscience, but it doesn’t make you ‘the bad guy’.
As I said, it’s slightly different in every situation, but as a general rule, pay them what they’re asking. There has never been a time when information on the value of things is more accessible, some people just can’t be bothered to go to the trouble of finding out.
As someone else said, you can always pay what they want and after you’ve sold them go back and say ‘I did really well on the sale, so here’s a cut of the profit’. But don’t go back too soon even if you sell them immediately, leave it a few months or it will look like it was too easy for you to make money on their items.
Best of luck
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