Beginners Mistakes


We all have to start somewhere right? I would hate to start over from scratch. I lost a fortune but was lucky enough to be able to afford it (Second business) but most people are not so fortunate. My advice if your thinking of buying Chinese antiques to either resell or collect is to specialize in one subject. Pick an area your passionate about and read everything you can lay your hands on. Only buy from auctions or dealers that give a money back guarantee should the item turn out to be fake. Make sure the auction or dealer you buy from states the period of the piece before you purchase ANYTHING.

Over the years I have received many emails like the one below. I have bolded the phrases you need to pay attention too.

(Guy is talking about a vase he own) It’s previous owner had it in his family for around 30 years. This gives it a known history of early to mid 20th Century. Also xxx xxx who I am sure you are aware of dated it 1850-1910. The vase also has several significant age signs such as paint contraction and clear oxidation both on the foot rim and lid. You have dated it with great certainty as late 20th Century so should be most grateful for your reasons in doing this. The more the better as I will want to share your expert knowledge with others. The jar is manifestly hand painted, evidenced with brush strokes and idiosyncrasies of paintwork, the enamels are thick and it is also hand painted under the glaze. If you could also send me a few images from your collection of similar or identical modern jars that would also be really appreciated. Look forward to your reply

The guy had read a little online about how to IDENTIFY OLD CHINESE PORCELAIN or something along those lines and convinced himself his vase was old, its a common beginners mistake, I did it many times. I used to really convince my self something was old (ha ha still doing it) as I had a vested interest and I knew better no matter what more knowledgeable people were telling me. Basically I was right and they were wrong.

Point of the story as I have come to learn is all of the following (The vase also has several significant age signs such as paint contraction and clear oxidation both on the foot rim and lid (&) The jar is manifestly hand painted, evidenced with brush strokes and idiosyncrasies of paintwork, the enamels are thick and it is also hand painted under the glaze) means nothing no more as the fakers have advanced leaps and bounds making the old, tried and tested ways of identifying old porcelain redundant.

Three-inch Golden Lotus – Han Chinese

Irv Graham

It is said, for example, that the practice of foot binding originated among court dancers in the early Song Dynasty (960-1279). Another legend dates to the thirteenth century and tells of the fame of the dancing girls with tiny feet and beautiful bow (bound) shoes at the tenth century court of the Southern Tang kingdom (937-975) in South Central China. It has been estimated that by the early nineteenth century up to 40%, and possibly more, of Han Chinese women had their feet bound. In 1644 the Qing Dynasty came to power in China. The new Qing rulers belonged to an ethnic group known as Manchu. Manchu women, contrary to the Han, were officially forbidden to bind their feet.

“Three-inch golden lotus (三寸金莲)”, “lotus” is a metaphor, but the “three-inch” is not. In ancient times, women had their feet tightly bound at the age of four or five to control further growth. Depending on their sizes, feet were granted different titles: All bound feet were called “lotus”, but those bigger than four inches were “iron lotuses”, four inches were “silver lotuses”, and the three-inch ones were called “golden lotuses”(about eight centimeters), which was apparently the highest ranking.

Smaller feet helped women to gain a better prestige and marriage. As an old Chinese saying says, women conquer the world by conquering men, and men conquer women by conquering the world.

The walking posture of small-foot women was considered graceful and noble. The Chinese believe that the most beautiful walking is wonky willow-like, which displays the feminine charm. Therefore, tottering of foot-bound woman is attractive and elegant.

Further Reading

Photograph of Zhou Guizhen, a Chinese woman with bound feet (2007).

Chinese Social History – Original Antique Photographs

Marquis Chi-tse Tseng
Chinese: 毅勇侯【(湖南湘鄉)】曾紀澤 (劼剛)
Also Known As: “Marquis Tseng”
Birthdate: 1839 (51)
Death: 1890 (51)

Immediate Family:

Son of Zēng Guófān 曾國藩 and 歐陽氏
Husband of 劉氏 and 賀氏
Father of 曾廣璇; 曾廣珣; 曾廣銘(殤); 曾廣鑾; 曾廣鐊(殤) and 1 other
Brother of 曾紀第; 曾紀靜; 曾紀耀; 曾紀琛; 曾紀純

Marquis Zeng Jize (Chinese: 曾纪泽; pinyin : Zēng Jìzé; Wade Giles, Tseng Chi-tse) (1839 – April 12, 1890), one of China’s earliest ministers to London, Paris and Saint Petersburg, played an important role in the diplomacy that preceded and accompanied the Sino-French War (August 1884–April 1885).

Zeng was appointed minister to Britain, France and Russia in 1878, and lived in Europe for seven years (1879–1885). He made his name as a diplomat in 1880 and 1881, by renegotiating the infamous 1879 Treaty of Livadia with Russia. The resulting Treaty of Saint Petersburg (February 1881), which reversed most of the Russian gains of 1879, was generally considered a diplomatic triumph for China.

Zeng’s duties as minister to Paris were dominated by the confrontation between France and China over Tonkin that eventually culminated in the Sino-French War. Zeng’s denunciations of French policy in Tonkin began softly enough in April 1882 after the capture of the citadel of Hanoi by Henri Rivière, grew more insistent as French ambitions became clearer in the summer of 1883, and reached a climax immediately after the Son Tay Campaign in December 1883.

Further Reading

Every Pieces Tells A Story

Irv Graham

This Kangxi Rouleau vase depicts a legend that dates to 3rd-century China. The central figure, a young man called Pan’an, was the man all the women in the neighbourhood were crazy for. He was very elegant, very handsome, almost like a rock star. In this vase, he is richly dressed, with a fan and hair ornament. But his health was quite fragile, which is why he is being carried in a chariot.

On the balcony and in the windows, elegantly dressed women can be seen throwing fruit to him. At the end of his walk, according to the legend, his chariot would be full of fruit. You can find many representations of this story in the 18th century. That said, depictions on vases of Pan’an — who remains a famous character in China today — are relatively rare.

Read more…