Chinese Antiques to get electronic ID cards

microchipAntique enthusiasts may soon be able to stop worrying about ending up with counterfeit items, as the planned introduction of an electronic identity card to help them to distinguish between genuine pieces and fakes.

Without damaging the antiques, the electronic ID card – a chip that can barely be seen with the naked eye – will be inserted in the pieces’ seals or stamps.

“A scan of the chip will show whether the piece is genuine or a fake, in addition to all its information, such as its name, author, and its transaction records,” said Sun Tingting, a business assistant at, a website that trades antique art.

In addition to paintings and calligraphy works, the computer chips can also be inserted into porcelain items and other pieces, Sun told the first day of the Seventh China Beijing International Cultural and Creative Industry Expo.

As the market for antique art gains momentum, genuine and counterfeit pieces often get mixed up, which has scared off many potential collectors.

However, the electronic ID card is expected to have a positive impact on the market by further improving standards.

“The chip will serve as a guarantee to build trust between the contracting parties,” Sun said. “And this is especially important for the online art trade.”

Each chip costs about 100 yuan ($16), she added.

According to Sun, the electronic ID card is an identification system, which will be based on the so-called Internet of Things, and will work by inserting unique radio-frequency identification, or RFID, chips into each piece.

The Internet of Things refers to a way of managing uniquely identifiable objects and their virtual representations in a Web-like structure.

The new chips have obvious advantages over the conventional certificates and technologies being used now.

“Unlike traditional bar codes, the chips are resistant to water, oil and other chemicals,” she said.

However, promotion efforts for the chips are facing difficulties, as some collectors believe that the chips can ruin the works of art.

“The chips are so small that they can hardly be seen with the naked eye,” Sun insisted.

“Also, currently we only apply the electronic chips to works of modern and contemporary art. We’ll only expand application of the chips in future when the technology is more mature,” he added.

Sun said they have started cooperating with some artists since last year, and have been gradually improving the chip.

Chen Duo, a landscape painter, has protected two of his paintings with the electronic chips.

The chips safeguard the interests of buyers and sellers, Chen said.

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