Wednesday 31 March 2021

Your Ultimate Guide to Selling and Investing In Pokémon Cards

 Looking to invest short and long term with the safest cards on the planet? Pokémon cards are on a blistering pace that shouldn’t plateau for years. The facts will have you on eBay in a matter of minutes. With prices shooting to the stratosphere, are you curious to see what your old cards collecting dust are worth? This Ultimate Pokémon Guide is your compass to buying and selling vintage Pokémon cards today and for the future.  

For more information on what Pokemon Cards are worth you can read our Pokemon Card Value and Price Guide.

(Note: all values listed are valid as of date of publication)

Why Invest in Pokémon?

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Pokémon cards are the premier non-sports cards to invest in today. The original 1999-2000 sets have been on an upward trajectory for over 5 years, with 2020 being the mega increase, thus creating a cultural demand similar to the 1999 release. 

  • Pokémon is the highest-grossing media franchise ever. Recently the company hit $105 Billion. 
  • The Most Valuable English card, 1st Edition Charizard in PSA 10 Gem Mint has soared from $50,000.00 in July 2020 to a recent record-breaking purchase by the rapper Logic for $225,000.00 
  • Pokémon Trading Card sales have topped $10.25 Billion. 
  • The buying demographic is between ages 24-36. This group will continue to make more money annually and have a higher spending threshold. The next 20 years should be meteoric. 
  • Since March 2020, prices have changed in part due to the pandemic. Being stuck home has caused a major demand in collecting and opening original sealed packs. Pokémon Cards have exploded. 
  • Grading companies have been overloaded, unable to meet the demand in a timely fashion causing graded cards on the market to surge. The trajectory from January 2020 was for cards to double in price over the year, not quadruple. 
  • Original Pikachu cards have increased up to and beyond 1,000% in the last 10 months. The most famous Pokémon has become the new go to character for collectors. 
  • Japanese Pokémon cards are 24 years old. With the 25th anniversary near, predictions are all the original cards will see another massive surge. 
  • A 1st Edition Box recently sold for $198,000.00 at auction, doubling in value while many of the 1st Edition Base cards have stayed around the same price from before the record sale.

High-End Pokémon cards are being viewed as modern art, with the price tag for a pristine 1st Edition Base Charizard at $220,000.00 and climbing if you can get one. Due to correlations to Magic the Gathering, the prices today should increase steadily over the next 5 years. Outside of the economy crashing, Pokémon is very safe. 

Demand for original cards has consistently increased since 2010, but due to awareness, and points mentioned previously, there has been a fearlessness from buyers to set records. All year, record sale after record sale for high-end Pokémon Cards. The fear of missing out on today’s price is real.

Set Your Goals

  1. Budget 

It’s imperative that you set a budget and know when to stop buying. Winning auctions can be addicting and it’s easy to go overboard fast. Monitor recent sales. Know how much you’re willing to spend to acquire the desired card.  

  1. Decide your financial goals with the hobby

Why are you getting in? Are you an enthusiast who wants to collect for long-term profits or are you trying to make money fast?  

There are many routes you can go when investing in Pokémon Cards and there is a quality card for every budget. Starting out at $10 card purchases works in the long term. Buying the rarest cards under $20,000.00 for a quick profit has been a major play in 2020. 

Understand Different Card Buying Strategies

  1. Long Term Investing

With 1999-2000 Pokémon cards, the long term investing would be towards Mint raw cards and Near Mint graded cards. Graded cards have been on a blistering pace the last 12 months. Lower grades of the most expensive cards or PSA 8 and up for the rest of the 1999-2000 cards are great long-term investments.   

  1. Flipping

Flippers will buy a card with the goal to make a profit on it ASAP. Education is what sets the flipper from the casual collector. They know the sales, population reports and what cards are coveted by monitoring the market. If a card takes off, flippers often look to capitalize. If you only know the main Pokémon characters and not much else about the cards, flipping is probably not for you. You have to study sets, know errors, sales, population reports and have a deep understanding of why cards/sets get hot. All of this is covered here. 

  1. Collecting

Pokémon cards are all about collecting. Gotta Catch Em All is the slogan and for good reason: children aimed to have every card. In 1999, having a binder with complete sets was a major deal. Set collecting isn’t much different now, with gem mint and lower graded complete sets becoming all the rage once again. Pokémon battling and collecting were the essence, but today collecting dominates. One of the phenomenons with Pokémon cards is the overwhelming nostalgia and lack of willing sellers due to attachment to the cards. Many collectors value their cards well beyond the current prices and it’s shown with a limited supply of high-grade 1st Ed Base holograms available. Being out-priced is becoming more apparent and some collectors are flipping cards to finish sets and upgrade. 

How To Find the Value of Your Cards

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Taking your old cards out of the closet and researching to find their current value is the most common way people are getting back into Pokémon. When trying to figure out a card’s value, make sure to follow these steps:

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Step 1. Find the year of the card. Check the bottom year(s) of the card.

Step 2. Find the set the card belongs to. If there is no logo on the right side, it’s Base. Every other set has an indicator. 

Step 3. Identify the card with the name and number in the set. 

Figuring Out What Pokémon Card To Buy

1st edition
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1st Edition Base 

  • The grail set, Charizard is on fire with a recent sale topping $225,000.00.
  • The graded population on this set is low, and the demand has become astronomical.
  • The last Sealed Box auction ended at $198,000.00.  
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Shadowless Base Set

  • Identical to the 1st Edition cards except they don’t have the 1st Edition Stamp. 
  • The Shadowless set is just as rare / more rare than the 1st Edition set.
  • Gem Mint Charizard has a much lower population and the price hovers around $90,000.00. 
  • Shadowless is the only other set with the Red Cheek Pikachu Error card.
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Base Unlimited

  • The Unlimited Set Boxes are over $35,000.00.
  • Gem Mint Charizard is around $30,000.00.
  • This set had 6-8 times the print runs compared to 1 print run each for 1st Edition and Shadowless.
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Jungle Set

  • 2nd Expansion set
  • 1st Edition Boxes worth over $25,000.00
  • Each Holographic card has a non-holographic version
  • Only expansion set where every holographic card has a no symbol version. 
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Fossil Set

  • 3rd Expansion Set
  • 1st Edition Boxes Over $20,000.00
  • Each Holographic card has a non-holographic version.
base set2
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Base Set 2

  • Combination of Base & Jungle sets.
  • Boxes over $25,000.00
  • PSA 10 Charizard valued over $8,000.00
  • Having the original Charizard artwork will always keep this set in demand. 
team rocket
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Team Rocket

  • The 5th set, Team Rocket pays homage to the villains of Pokémon: Jesse, James & Meowth.
  • 1st Edition Boxes over $20,000.00
  • 1st Expansion set to have Charizard
  • After Base Set, Team Rocket is arguably the hottest Gen. 1 set to collect. 
gym hero 0
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Gym Heroes

  • Focuses on 1st 4 Gym Leaders: Brock, Misty, Lt. Surge & Erika
  • 1st Edition Boxes are at $15,000.00
  • PSA 10 1st Edition Moltres is valued over $4,500.00
gym challenge
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Gym Challenge

  • Focuses on Final 4 Gym Leaders: Sabrina, Koga, Blaine & Giovanni
  • 1st Edition Boxes are valued over $20,000.00 
  • PSA 10 Charizard is valued over $5,000.00 
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Promo Cards

Pokémon had numerous promo cards: E3 promos, Black Star Promos and Prerelease promos. They were available at events, in magazines, by mail request and one was available with a VHS film. Due to scarcity, some have skyrocketed and the demand is increasing rapidly.  You can read more about Black Star Promos in this article.

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Complete Sets

Serious collectors always value sets. The challenge of putting together any complete original set gets tougher by the day due to demand. For example, there are only 12 complete PSA 10 Base 1st Edition English sets currently, with the last sale fetching $129,500.00 in July 2020. Set collecting is a crucial aspect of the Pokémon community; even filling a binder with every card is an accomplishment that will make you money over time. Money isn’t the biggest driving factor; the desire to hold cards you coveted as a kid outweighs all other aspects and provides further proof that prices will continue to skyrocket.

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Sealed Packs

Hands down the safest way to invest in Pokémon has been buying sealed packs. The opportunity to pull a Charizard or rare card is enough to make people rip packs open to display or send cards in to get graded. Blister packs are the safest way to get un-weighed packs (packs can be weighed to determine if a hologram is or isn’t in it). There are lots of ways to tamper with packs so make sure to read the risks involved further down.

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Owning any original English sealed box has become a major accomplishment. Multiple boxes make you a rock star. A clean, sealed box is one of the ultimate investments moving forward. As noted earlier, a 1999 Base English 1st Edition Box fetched $198,000.00 recently at Heritage Auctions. That’s almost triple from the last public sale in 2019.

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Artist Autographed Cards

Pokémon artists have become rock stars as well. Mitsuhiro Arita (Charizard & Pikachu Base Set artist) signed cards have soared in value and created a whole new market for collectors. Illustrations on the cards have also become a major part of collecting and the sales are staggering.

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Error Cards

Error cards have shown to be major value opportunities for collectors. There are many error cards, such as the Red Cheek Pikachu in the 1st Edition and Shadowless sets. 1st Edition cards, the stamp itself can be grey, which is highly desirable. There is a ghost stamp 1st Edition Pikachu where the 1st Edition logo is barely noticeable: this card is a grail. In 1st Edition and Shadowless there is a Vulpix with a Green Dot on its butt.

Variables That Can Affect a Card’s Value

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1. The Grading Company

PSA is the king of Pokémon card grading with BGS a close 2nd. Both companies command top $ for their graded cards and have proven that grades do matter in the Pokémon realm, with a BGS 9.5 1st Edition Charizard selling for nearly $73,000.00 in July. 

2. Supply of the card (Population reports)

Pokémon cards have low populations compared to sports cards. The number of graded cards can be the biggest indicator of value, but some cards, such as Pikachu or Charizard, have insane demand regardless of populations. Supply is outmatched by current demand, and after two decades since these cards were produced, that won’t change. Check the PSA 1999 Pokémon Game Population report to get more info on how limited the Base set cards are. 

3. Buying Raw vs. Graded

Thanks to modern technology, getting clear photos of cards is easier than ever. That said, until you hold a card, you don’t know how clean it really is. Graded cards are the safest indicator that you’re getting what you want. When buying graded cards, think of the price paid for the grading and that there is no wait time besides shipping. There is much less risk buying graded cards, but raw (loose cards) can be the best bet to make profits faster. You never know what you can find in a binder someone is selling, but be careful and do your best to inspect those cards.  

4. Surface, corners, edges, creases & centering

In the process of card grading, the most important aspects are the surface, corners, edges and how well the card is centered front and back. For Pokémon cards, are there any scratches on the holofoil? Do you see whitening on the edges? Are the corners nicked? Grading is subjective with individuals determining what a card is valued at, based on its condition.

5. Your negotiation tactics

How you negotiate will go a long way in collecting and flipping. Knowing market value, monitoring auctions, and making offers when possible are great ways to limit risk and help you score deals. Never be afraid to message a seller, feel them out and potentially make a long-term outlet for purchases while building trust. Networking is a major component.

6. Nostalgic elements

Pokémon culture is wide-ranging, with the Pokémon Go app, video games, movies, TV shows, merchandise, and more, everyone knows something about Pokémon. Pikachu is as recognizable as Hello Kitty, Pokémon is unisex, and the cards are a major component for the culture. This won’t change. The cards are a major part of Pokémon Lore and will continue to be the biggest aspect of nostalgia moving forward.  

Best Channels To Buy Pokémon Cards

1. eBay:

The safest online marketplace to buy and sell Pokémon cards. Check sales for a quick look at where cards are at price wise. Check seller reviews and buy with confidence from high rated sellers. eBay is the largest online marketplace and is your best chance to locate inventory. When searching for cards, look at items nearest you, and contact nearby sellers, potentially creating a local network. It saves on shipping and more. Load up your watch list to get faster alerts when cards sell or are pulled. 

2. Facebook groups & Instagram:

Look for feedback from sellers to check legitimacy, these are great places to score deals and build relationships within the collecting community but beware of scams. 

3. COMC:

Marketplace designed to help you buy individual cards, specializing in set collecting.

4. Mercari:

Popular marketplace to buy and sell cards. When hunting for low population cards, it’s important to utilize all options. 

5. Card Shows & Stores:

If you can find a show or store with vintage Pokémon cards, go. You get the chance to look at cards in person, check sales online, network and decide what’s of value. You never know what you can walk away with.


Shill Bidding

“Shilling” is when a card bids for an overly high price, but the sale never gets completed. Bidders often times will try to manipulate the market this way, to pump the value of their own identically or near graded cards. Check recent sales and bidding history on a sale to identify if it’s legit or not. There is a number rating next to buyer’s names in the bidding history. Often times it’s safe to trust the highest bid from a legitimate account. 

Fake Cards

When purchasing loose cards, make sure to research what you are buying, check the indicators (years, artwork) to make sure you are not getting scammed. The fake Pokémon cards are easily spotted, you can see through them, although there are some impressive forgeries of Charizard and the Illustrator Pikachu. 

Re-Sealed Packs

First off, check whom you are buying packs from. Ratings, reviews, make sure the seller is legitimate. Packs can easily be resealed and if you don’t know how to look, you can easily be scammed. Ask for as many pictures as it takes to see the entire pack, look at the top and bottom of the foil to see if there are any discrepancies, such as the foil looking different in one spot, and check for how crumpled up the pack is to indicate if the cards inside have been damaged. 

Weighing packs

Assume every Booster pack you buy is weighed. If it says Unweighed, it’s almost certain to be a light pack. Light packs won’t contain a hologram. Heavy packs will. When listed as heavy, make sure to tell the seller you intend to open the pack upon arrival, which will ensure they send a legitimately weighed pack otherwise they face ramifications of bad reviews, refunds, and can be labeled a scammer. The safest way to purchase individual packs is in Blisters. Blister Packs are sealed in plastic and cardboard, they can’t legitimately be weighed or tampered if sealed. Sealed packs get more limited by the day because people won’t stop opening them. Nostalgia is a major factor. Also, the dream of pulling a perfect Charizard or Pikachu can’t be overstated.

The Future of Pokémon Cards

Given this is vintage, the original high graded cards, sealed boxes and packs are scarce. The probability for further profits is strong. Due to demand, desire and drive, the Pokémon Game appears to be safe. Over $10 Billion in card sales since 1996 is staggering. 

Long term investing has paid off in a short term for collectors in 2020. So far, the only people losing are the ones who sell too soon. It’s a winning proposition due to Pokémon culture being bigger than any competing market. They flat out win. Television, video games, cards, it's still going strong. The children collecting today know all about the original cards and they covet them. Can you name the top 10 sports cards to own pre-1980? The children collecting today can name the top Pokémon Cards from 1999. 

During this recession, prices have only gone up. That was bound to happen regardless, but the speed at which prices have soared is impressive. The only concern moving forward is liquidity drying up, but that would impact the entire card market and more.   

The first generation of collectors is dropping record money on these cards because all the indicators show Pokémon is still wildly undervalued. The new investors who research and make rational decisions should see major profits moving forward. If you are selling, make sure you pay close attention to detail. 

Sunday 21 March 2021

Later Chinese Bronzes of the Song to Qing Dynasty


Later Chinese Bronzes of the Song to Qing Dynasty

Later Chinese Bronzes

later chinese bronzes

Kangxi Gilt bronze

Later Chinese Bronzes, Dating Them and Their Values

Later Chinese bronzes of the Song to Qing Dynasties up until around the 1970's got very little to no attention from scholars or collectors on a wide scale. The dating and understanding them was of little interest, especially in comparison to the ancient examples from the Shang, Zhou and Warring States eras until fairly recently on the collector-scholar spectrum. This lack of attention did not curiously include religious bronzes tied to figural examples of Buddhism.

Prior to the Song Dynasty (960-1279 CE), bronzes in China were primarily viewed and appreciated purely as ritual objects. Examples from the Song to Qing dynasties were created as works of art based on old forms as well as new shapes based not only on earlier bronzes but contemporary shapes adopted from popular ceramic types.

During the late 19th and early 20th C., later Chinese bronzes were bought and sold as low-priced curiosities and were sent to the west in massive numbers and sold only as "Asian" or "oriental decor".  Most were sold with no information other than the obvious regarding it's shape, use, and material used. i.e. "old Chinese bronze incense burner", "dark Chinese bronze vase" .

A few years ago we did another post on this topic a few years ago with additional images. Click HERE.  You can also see additional images in the Bidamount reference section of the Ulrich Hausmann Collection sold at Sotheby's  you can see the catalog here.

Additional fine examples can also be found in The British Museum collection linked off the Museum link from the Bidamount Home Page or by Clicking Here. 

Images and Information From Sotheby's, Later Chinese Bronzes From The Collection of Mr And Mrs Gerard Hawthorn 03 DECEMBER 2015 || HONG KONG

Auction results with lot notes.



150,000 — 200,000

LOT SOLD. 1,180,000 HKD
the deep rounded sides rising from a short foot rim to an everted mouth rim, the exterior cast and chased with a continuous scene of Wang Xizhi watching the goose, and Meng Haoran watching the prunus, all amidst a wondrous landscape laden with pavilions, jagged cliffs and large overhanging pine trees, all between two silver-inlaid key-fret bands bordering the mouth rim and foot rim, the countersunk base inlaid in silver wire with a four-character bingchen nianzhi cyclical date
9.3 cm., 3 5/8  in.
The quality of the gold and silver inlaid decoration on the wine cup is reminiscent of that on the finest cast works of Hu Wenming. However, his workshop specialized in incense-related objects and is not known to have made wine cups. The current wine cup appears to be closely related to the shallow bronze dish illustrated by Paul Moss, The Literati Mode, Sydney L. Moss, London, 1986, pp. 294-295. That dish demonstrates the same subtle and fluid variation of depth in the relief, which in combination with the skillful use of the different surface coloring gives a strong three-dimensional impression.

It is also somewhat related to an unusual and rare lian shaped incense burner by Lü Cizhou from the Water, Pine and Stone Retreat Collection, sold in these rooms, 8th April 2014, lot 219.

Clearly, the inlaid bowl is the work of a late Ming bronze workshop. From the small number of extant dated Hu Wenming vessels, it is possible to speculate that the bowl is more likely to emanate from the early 17th century, making 1616 the more probable date. For a Hu Wenming-marked bronze pou (dated in accordance with 1613) from the Dr and Mrs Peter Plesch Collection and later the Water, Pine and Stone Retreat Collection, see the example sold 4th April 2012, lot 188.

later chinese bronzes



Estimate 30,000 — 50,000
LOT SOLD. 375,000 HKD
finely cast with a compressed globular body rising to a waisted neck, all supported on a low foot, the sides set with two lion-head handles cast in high relief, the base with an apocryphal kaishu inscription in a recessed panel reading Daming Xuande wunian jiandu gongbu guanchen Wu Bangzuo zao (‘Made for the Board of Works under the Supervision of Wu Bangzuo in the Fifth Year of Xuande’), the patina of a variegated warm caramel-brown colour
19.7 cm., 7 3/4  in.
The inscription is one of a series of apocryphal ones stating that Wu Bangzuo, the Minister of the Ministry of Works in the 5th year of the Xuande reign, supervised production which tend to appear on late Ming and Qing incense burners.  Whether or not such an inscription appeared on any Xuande period bronzes is unclear, as there do not appear to be any credible extant examples, but it became a standard late Ming or Qing designation. For a related example, see Paul Moss and Gerard Hawthorn, The Second Bronze Age. Later Chinese Metalwork. Sydney Moss Ltd., London, 1991, cat. no. 46. See also a bronze incense burner stand with this inscription from the Water, Pine and Stone Retreat Collection, sold 8th April 2014, from the collection of Ulrich Hausmann.

Later Chinese Bronzes

later chinese bronzes incense burner

Late Ming to Qing Synasty

ming bronze mask

Ming to Qing bronze detail.

ming bronze seal mark


Estimate 40,000 — 60,000 LOT SOLD. 325,000 HKD
of unusual proportions, reminiscent of a stylized table, the rectangular form elegantly raised on four feet below sloping sides, set with a pair of flat-topped handles, the underside cast with an apocryphal six-character Xuande mark, the surface of a deep chocolate-brown color
across the handles 18 cm., 7 1/8  in.
The form of the current incense burner boldly cast of straight rectangular form supported on four tapering legs, is rare, and reminiscent of furniture from the late Ming to early Qing dynasty. For a Yongzheng mark and period bronze incense burner of similar 'table-form', in the Palace Museum, Beijing, see Classics of the Forbidden City. Splendors from the Yongle and Xuande Reigns of China's Ming Dynasty, Beijing, 2012, p. 265, pl. 145. The Palace Museum incense burner differs from the current example in that it is cast with straight legs set at right angles to the body, and is preserved with its original stand.
early qing bronze

Early Qing Bronze

early qing bronze seal


Estimate 40,000 — 60,000, LOT SOLD. 93,750 HKD
finely cast supported on three bracket feet divided by a cusped fringe, the stout body accentuated by raised fillets below an everted mouth, the base cast with an apocryphal six-character Xuande mark in a recessed panel, the patina of an attractive reddish-brown color
width 10 cm., 3 7/8  in.
Ulrich Hausmann, the scholar, and collector of later Chinese bronzes, discusses Xuande reign-marked bronzes from the late Ming dynasty in his essay, 'In Search of Later Bronzes', ed. Paul Moss, Documentary Chinese Works of Art in Scholar's Taste, Sydney L. Moss Ltd., London, 1983, p. 232:"The end of the Ming dynasty, for many a period of decadence and decline, saw a surprising variety of new creations and proves to be a much underrated period which produced fine and often highly original metalwork. Many pieces show an uninhibited display of differing designs and unusual shapes which probably make this period the most individualistic of all the later periods. Because of the diversity of appearance, sometimes rather fancy, many of these pieces are wrongly ascribed to the eighteenth century, rather than one hundred years earlier".

With its unusual but highly pleasing circular form, punctuated by raised fillets, this simple, yet highly tactile and pleasing incense burner fits perfectly into Hausmann's description. It is indeed a highly original and finely cast piece from the late Ming dynasty.

The enduring question as to which of the vast production of bronze incense burners cast with Xuande reign marks are indeed of the period and which are apocryphal is discussed by Gerard Tsang and Hugh Moss, Arts from the Scholar's Studio, Hong Kong, 1986, pg. 150, where it is concluded that the textual evidence is unreliable, and that 'accurate identification ... must therefore rest largely on the wares themselves'.

circular ming bronze

Circular Ming bronze

circular ming bronze

Seal marked base, Xuande Apocryphal mark


detail qing bronze beast

Detail Qing bronze beast

Estimate: 100,000 — 150,000 SOLD. 600,000 HKD

cast in the form of a mythical beast resting on its hindquarters with its head turned sharply to one side looking over its shoulder, the beast fantastically envisaged with armor-like scales, a serrated spine, and limbs covered in stylized flames, its mouth wide open in a ferocious expression, the cover solidly cast and modeled as a smaller beast nibbling on a hind leg, the vessel with two apertures along the back of the larger animal, patinated to a rich chocolate-brown color
height 13.2 cm., 5 1/8  in.
later chinese bronzes

Chinese mythical bronze beast, early Qing Dynasty

Chinese mythical bronze beast, early Qing Dynasty

Chinese mythical bronze beast, early Qing Dynasty


Estimate 100,000 — 150,000
LOT SOLD. 2,960,000 HKD
heavily cast of compressed globular form, elegantly formed with broad rounded shoulders below a small lipped rim, the flat base centered with a six-character mark reading Xuehai Tangzhuren zhi ('Made for the Master of the Xuehai Hall') within a recessed panel, the bronze richly patinated to a deep brown color
14.2 cm., 5 5/8  in.
This elegantly cast vessel is notable for its form, after a Buddhist alms bowls. Among later bronzes, alms bowls were converted into incense burners for the scholar's studio, although more commonly found with two ring handles on the body. This is a more elegant version of the type, intricately cast with an apocryphal six-character Xuande reign mark.For a gold-splashed bowl, also with an apocryphal Xuande six-character reign mark, in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, see the exhibition Guan cang yadiao ji Ming, Qing tonglu tezhan / Special Exhibition of Ivory Carvings and Ming and Qing Incense Burners from the Museum's Collection, Kumamoto City Museum, Kumamoto, 1997, cat. no. 178. See also a plain bronze bowl of this type, attributed to the Ming dynasty, published in Paul Moss and Gerard Hawthorn, The Second Bronze Age. Later Chinese Metalwork, London, 1991, pl. 45.

Compare also two other examples of bronze alms bowl incense burners, both from the Water, Pine and Stone Retreat Collection, a small Yongzheng reign-marked example sold 8th April 2014, lot 203, and a gold-splashed vessel inscribed with the mark baoyong ('for treasured use'), sold, 8th April 2013, lot 117.

ming to qing alms bowl

Bronze to Qing to Ming Alms Bowl.

seal Bronze to Qing to Ming Alms Bowl.

Sela Bronze to Qing to Ming Alms Bowl.


Qing dynasty bronze foo lion, 18th to 19th C.

Qing dynasty bronze foo lion, 18th to 19th C.

Estimate 20,000 — 30,000 LOT SOLD. 60,000 HKD

sturdily cast as a mythical beast standing foursquare, with jaws agape and teeth bared, its horned head forming a hinged cover to allow access to the interior, the beast with finely delineated mane and tail flying behind, all above a well modelled stout body detailed with stylised markings
19.2 cm., 7 1/2  in.
later chinese bronzes

Qing dynasty bronze foo lion, 18th to 19th C.


Estimate 400,000 — 600,000 LOT SOLD. 1,187,500 HKD
of archaistic lian form, the cylindrical body supported on three cabriole feet, the exterior centred with a band of three raised ribs, all between two raised bands of triple-ribs encircling the rim and above the feet, the base cast with a six-character reign mark within a recessed panel, the surface with an attractive reddish-brown patina suffused with light brown speckles
diameter 12 cm., 4 3/4  in.
It is extremely rare to find Qianlong reign-marked bronze incense burners of this form, designed for daily use, as opposed to the more commonly found garniture vases produced for temples. Its rich reddish-brown patina and exquisite tactile quality rank it amongst the finest examples of its type in private hands. For two other incense burners of gui form cast with closely related Qianlong six-character kaishu marks in the Palace Museum, Beijing, see Classics of the Forbidden City. Splendors from the Yongle and Xuande Reigns of China's Ming Dynasty, Beijing, 2012, pp. 268-269, pls. 148-9. See also a burner of fangding form, also from the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated by Chan Hou Seng (ed.), Views of Antiquity in the Qing Imperial Palace, Macau Museum of Art, Macau, p. 52, pl. 1. An almost identical lian vessel cast with a Xuande six-character reign mark, from the collection of Ulrich Hausmann, was sold  8th October 2014.The specific form of this lian vessel appears to derive from the Xuande Yiqi Tupu ('The illustrated register of vessels from the Xuande era')(fig.1), the Ming dynasty work on Xuande bronzes that was widely available in the Qianlong period. The prototype for all lian is from Han dynasty cosmetic boxes found in tombs of high ranking members of the aristocracy. For a gilt-bronze prototype of similar form, with the same horizontal fillets, see the example in the Smithsonian Institution, Gift of Arthur M. Sackler, S1987.341a-b. The aesthetic of the current vessel is more restrained, lacking the ring-handles and cover, and with plain, cabriole feet where the Han dynasty example has separately cast miniature bears comprising the feet.
Qinglong bronze incense burner

Qinglong bronze incense burner

Qianlong bronze mark

Qianlong bronze mark


Estimate  100,000 — 150,00 HKD  LOT SOLD. 125,000 HKD
of archaistic gui form with a compressed globular body supported on a flared circular foot rim, the body skilfully beaten-up from copper sheet, boldly chased in relief on each side with a pair of confronted four-clawed dragons reaching for a 'flaming pearl' all set against a punched ground, the upper band with a frieze of auspicious emblems and a scrolling band of foliated lingzhi stems around the footrim, the shoulders surmounted by a pair of mythical animal heads issuing handles, the base centred with a mark reading Hu Wenming zhi within a double-lined square
19.5 cm., 7 5/8  in


Acquired at Portobello Road Antiques Market, London, 1991.


A closely related incense burner by Hu Wenming, from the Water, Pine and Stone Retreat collection, was sold in these rooms, 8th April 2014, lot 240. It shares the same archaistic gui form, skilful use of chased and beaten registers of decoration and is flanked by similar taotie mask handles, but differs from the current example in that the central decoration is of bird-headed kui-type dragons, as opposed to the more conventional dragons found here.

Compare also another incense burner illustrated by Gerard Tsang and Hugh Moss, 'Chinese Metalwork of the Hu Wenming Group', Handbook, International Asian Antiques Fair, Hong Kong, 1984, p. 46, fig. 9.  The difference in the designs of the dragons on all three incense burners suggests that these designs were beaten into the copper freehand, rather than around pre-formed moulds. If moulds had been used, there would seem little point in producing an almost identical incense burner with a slightly different design. These three incense burners, therefore, play an important role in our understanding of the techniques of the Hu Wenming workshop.

Examining and learning how to date later Chinese bronzes requires a lot of time and exposure to authenticated examples. Today the market is filled with millions of modern copies of very good quality, as well as some fairly convincing examples made during the Republic period.  While many good examples were made from the Song Dynasty through the Qianlong period, many more were also made after 1900 right through to today.  So take your time and look at as many as possible.

Wu Wenming Bronze

Wu Wenming Signed Bronze, Ming Synasty

Wu Wenming Bronze signature

Wu Wenming Bronze signature

Later Chinese bronzes in a Kangxi period painting

later chinese bronzes

Painting, Kangxi period. A Beauty with Chinese bronzes and porcelain objects.

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