Thursday 29 July 2021

How to Identify Antique and Vintage American Glassware Styles


How to Identify Antique and Vintage American Glassware Styles

With eye-catching colors and an alluring array of shapes and patterns, antique glassware offers a unique decorative accent that recalls craftsmanship from decades past. While collectors of vintage glass often purchase these pieces for display, many others maintain them for everyday use.

Glassware produced from the late-19th through the mid-20th century is considered the pinnacle of glassmaking and thus one of the most popular eras to collect in the market. Vintage glassware encompasses many types of decorative and functional objects including glasses, plates, vases, and bowls. They range from simple and affordable to ornate and extravagant. As a starting point for new collectors and seasoned enthusiasts, this guide compiles the most notable styles.

The History of Antique and Vintage Glassware

Although glass objects have been produced as early as the Bronze Age, the more modern technique of cut glass dates back approximately 2,000 years. Glassmakers would hold a cooled piece of glass to a grinding wheel to carve fine grooves, intricate patterns, and compelling designs. The Italian city of Venice became a leader in the craft, as they molded glass into elaborate drinking glasses and introduced colorless forms of glassware.

The “American Brilliant” era of the late-19th century into the 20th century witnessed significant developments in the glassmaking industry. The rise of pressed glass made it possible to mass-produce glassware, leading to the creation of some of the most recognizable styles including carnival glass, elegant glass, milk glass, crystal glass, and Depression glass. Other advancements such as uranium glass were crafted throughout the 1930s before falling out of popularity during the Cold War.

Fenton Glassware

Fenton Glass Company was one of the most prominent glassmaking companies in American history and led to many of the styles discussed in this guide. Drawing inspiration from Tiffany Studios and Steuben Glass, the firm introduced carnival glass in 1907 before going on to create over 150 different patterns in this style. Over the years, they have produced a variety of glass types, including the carnival, opalescent, and milk, as well as other styles like custard and chocolate. Fenton pieces are popular with collectors for their wide variety of glass styles, signature designs, and the fact every Fenton piece is made by hand.

A row of multicolored glass vessels of varying shapes and sizes

Collection of Seven Fenton Glass Vessels. Sold for $350 via O’Gallerie (September 2019).

Fenton glass ranges from bright pieces to twisting spiral collectibles. Items made from 1973 onward are distinguished by an oval-shaped Fenton raised logo. Pieces produced before 1973 were marked with stick-on labels that likely tore away, making it necessary to do further research to verify the maker. Colors, design, and motifs can also determine the value of Fenton glassware. Ebony vases can sell for hundreds of dollars, while some cranberry and carnival glass can sell for thousands of dollars. Despite the high cost of a few rare examples, you can find Fenton glassware for less than $100 each, with many selling for as low as $10 to $20.

“Hobnail” glass, which featured a uniform bumpy surface inspired by Victorian design, was one of the most famous Fenton glass styles. Fenton-made milk glass before 1958 was also distinguishable for its more transparent appearance in comparison to other milk glass. Fenton also saw success with their signature line of glass pieces with ruffled edges called “crests.”

Types of Antique and Vintage Glassware

Antique and vintage glassware is highly sought-after today for its rich history and sheer variety of colors, patterns, and styles. The process of determining the value of these collectibles can be complicated and requires careful research and comparisons. You’ll need to consider colors, condition, patterns, makers, and overall design characteristics. Below are some of the significant vintage glassware styles, explained.

Art Glass

Art glass refers to the innovative work of glassmakers who experimented with new techniques and designs at the turn of the 20th century. Their artistry gave way to an assortment of handmade objects like vases, bowls, bottles, paperweights, and even marbles. Demand for art glass declined in the United States after the Art Nouveau era before experiencing a resurgence in the 1950s and 60s.


Many glassmaking companies such as DurandTiffany Studios, Quezal, and Steuben stood at the forefront of the movement. While designs and techniques varied between companies, many examples of art glass  featured iridescent qualities, vibrant colors, and nature-inspired patterns. Art glass is generally sought-after by collectors, but the maker of an individual piece can impact its value. Makers can be identified by examining company marks and signatures located on the bottom of the glassware. However, since reproductions are common, it’s essential to study the marks, colors, and styles of genuine art glass to properly identify the maker of a piece.

Some of the most notable art glass comes from Louis Comfort Tiffany’s award-winning and famous line of “Favrile” iridescent glassware. Pieces from this top-shelf company often go for thousands of dollars on the market. Art glass collectors also favor works from Steuben Glass Works, which featured colors like gold, brown, red, and green in their iridescent glass. Durand vases, in particular, are famous for their “King Tut” pattern of coiled glass that ranges in price from $2,000 to $3,000.

Carnival Glass

The first carnival glass was introduced in 1907 as an economical alternative to Tiffany’s Favrile. Since it was inexpensive to make, consumers often refused to pay high prices, which caused them to be given away at carnivals as prizes (hence its name). By 1925, carnival glass fell out of favor in the United States before experiencing a revival in the 1950s, when collectors began to seek out its decorative qualities.

Carnival glass is known for a multicolor sheen that changes colors when viewed at different angles—the result of spraying the hot glass with metallic salts before firing. The swirly “oil slick” appearance incorporated glimmers of color like black, purple, blue, and green. Factors like age, item type, size, colors, and condition affect the value of carnival glass. Pieces dating before 1940 are more valuable, as are complete sets of items and larger objects. Colors like ice green (which is sold for over $16,000) and marigold are rarer and highly prized.

Fenton, an influential American glassware company, was credited with the creation of the first carnival glass piece. They were known for detailed scalloped and crimped edges that outlined many of their creations. Fenton’s strawberry scroll, a sweeping pattern featuring raised strawberries, is exceptionally rare and desirable in the antique market.

Crystal Glassware

While similar in appearance to standard glassware, crystal is a high-quality glass crafted with lead. Wealthy collectors were attracted to crystal for its light-reflecting qualities, and it became a popular serving option during the 19th century. Crystal produced during this era is considered antique by collectors, while those created after World War I are generally regarded as vintage glassware.

Because of its lead content, crystal glassware is stronger, heavier, and smoother than standard glass. The quickest way to identify crystal is to examine its look and sound. When held up to the light, crystal should reflect light and cast soft prism-like rainbows. Tapping genuine crystal emits a musical “ping” sound. Well-known crystal manufacturers typically marked the bottom of their wares with a signature or company name, which can help determine their value. Another factor is appearance: the more intricate a piece’s cuts and stems, the more value it holds.

The value of older and more highly decorated crystal glassware can range between $1,000 and $4,000—sometimes even more, depending on its condition and design. The most famous crystal glassware came from Waterford during the “American Brilliant” period, recognized its for “bright glass,” rhythmic patterns, prism-shaped stems, and elaborate cuts.

Depression Glass

The stock market crash of 1929 led to the creation of inexpensive Depression glass. Its lower price point made it accessible during the Great Depression for entertaining guests, everyday use in kitchens, and overall brightening homes during a bleak time. Although it is of lesser quality than other forms of antique glassware, Depression glass still attracts collectors with its vibrant colors and ornate patterns.

Large service of blue glass tableware

Blue Royal Lace Depression Glass Collection (128 Pieces). Sold for $675 via Mebane Antique Auction (March 2020).

Depression glass was produced in varying hues, some very light in color and others opaque and iridescent. Etched details, opalescent trim, and geometric shapes were the hallmarks of this favorite glass style. Because of lesser-quality production techniques, Depression glass often featured imperfections such as air bubbles, raised rough spots, and heavy mold marks. These “common” flaws, however, do not affect its value and are some of the attributes specialists look for to verify its authenticity. Value is also dependent on the pattern, color, object type, and condition. Intricate patterns, uncommon objects, pink and green pieces, and well-kept items are generally more valuable. It’s also important to uncover any “critical” damage that can impact the value of a piece. To do so, run your fingers across the edges and hold the glass up to a light source to look for cracks and chips. While it’s common to find Depression glass for less than $10 to $15, more intricate patterns and unique items can be significantly more valuable.

Jeannette Bottle Works was one of the primary producers of Depression glass. They were recognized for creating a variety of dinnerware, including the unique color ultramarine and cherry blossom pattern. “American Sweetheart” is another favorite Depression glass pattern, notable for its sunset pink hue and etchings of scrolls. Pitchers and salt-and-pepper shaker sets in this pattern can bring in $350 to $750 per piece.

Elegant Glass

While pressed glass techniques of the 1920s made it easy to produce inexpensive glass, a few companies were determined to continue creating high-quality glassware. Produced through precise handiwork by skilled craftspeople, this glassware, known as “elegant glassware,” was notorious for luxury prices and was often sold in high-end stores.

Similar to vintage Depression glassware, elegant glass features varying colors and intricate designs of flowers. The primary difference is dependent on how the pieces were created. Whereas Depression glass was produced with molds (and thus are more raised in appearance), elegant glass designs were etched and have a more recessed look. Objects were often hand-pressed, hand-molded, and hand-blown. As with other styles of vintage glassware, value is determined by  assessing the pattern, color, age, and object type. Items such as candle holders can run for around $16. However, an entire collection of elegant dinnerware in one color and in the desirable “American” pattern can cost thousands of dollars.

Cambridge Glass Company, Imperial Glass Corporation, and Fostoria Glass Company were some of the leading elegant glass companies at the time. While Imperial was known for their Candlewick line of glass beaded pieces, Fostoria’s distinct clear-colored geometric glassware was hugely popular during the era and with collectors today.

Kitchen Glass

Kitchen glass was a branch of Depression glass also produced during the Great Depression era. Similar to Depression wares, they were inexpensive to make, and their economical price made them popular to use in kitchens and dining, which gave them their name.

Kitchen glass was made in a variety of glass types such as Delphite, Fire King, jadeite, and Platonite. Delphite is an opaque blue glass used for novelty items and tableware. Fire King is an opaque green glass that was re-popularized in the 1990s by Martha Stewart. Jadeite, while similar to Fire King, is a lighter opaque green glass that recreates the look of the mineral jade. Platonite is a white glass that many people commonly associate with kitchen glass items, often used in refrigerator dishes, shaker sets, milk pitchers, and mixing bowls. Prices for kitchen glass have stabilized over the years with standard objects like dinner and salad plates running between $8 and $15. However, rare items like ball pitchers, measuring cups, canisters, and large mugs are often sold for in the hundreds.

Jeanette Bottle Works was also one the notable makers of kitchen glassware. Known as “Jennyware,” these objects were often made in pink, clear, and ultramarine colors. Platonite was used in a rare kitchen glass line called Ovide Platonite, featuring black Art Deco elements that created a dramatic contrast with the white glass. Moderntone, a simple banded pattern, was also used in many kitchen glassware.

Milk Glass

Opaque glass, commonly known as milk glass, reached the height of its popularity in the 19th and early 20th century when it was produced as a more economical option to European glass and china. Like other glassware, milk glass underwent a revival in the 1940s and 1950s and has been considered an “evergreen” collectible since.

Despite its name, white wasn’t the only color produced: opaque black, pink, and green were some of the more expensive variants of milk glass. Generally, pieces dating from the mid-19th through the early-20th century  are considered the most valuable. Referred to as “old” milk glass, these objects showcased motifs such as dolphins, animals, birds, and ships, and featured molded edges resembling latticework. Older pieces usually have an opalescent quality and bear sharp mold lines and silky, smooth texture. Old milk glass also possesses a signature “ring of fire;” a halo of iridescent colors around the edge that appears when the piece is held up to a light source.

Most of the milk glass collectors encounter today were produced by American manufacturers such as Westmoreland, Kemple and Fenton. Patterns such as Westmoreland’s “Beaded Grape” (which featured grape motifs and beaded edges), and Fenton’s “Silvercrest” hold plenty of value in the vintage market. Atterbury & Company was also another major milk glass maker, known for incorporating animals into their designs.

Over the last two centuries, antique and vintage glassware have experienced a range of rapid growth, sharp decline, and renewed interest based on social, political and economic trends. Today, as with all collectibles, understanding common makers and the hallmarks of their designs enables collectors to make more informed buying decisions. Antique and vintage glassware, in particular, have many value determinants such as colors, designs, and object type that impact their value and sale price. Familiarizing yourself with these features will give you a better sense of the nuances between makers, types, and eras. Whether you prefer the top-shelf beauty of art glass or the iridescence of carnival glass, you can be sure to find a beautiful piece to add to your collection.

Sunday 11 July 2021

Collecting antique maps how to guide and blog!

 Collecting antique maps how to guide and blog!

  • “Geography helps explain man’s relationship to man’s environment, and maps are visualizations of that relationship.” – Steve Kovacs

    It’s a daunting task, providing the visualizations of humankind’s relationship to the environment. However, maps have been doing the job, and very well, for centuries. Just ask any map collector.

    Steve Kovacs, owner of an online map gallery and Jasper52’s Maps expert, said there’s a lot to discover from map collecting that isn’t immediately obvious to the beginning collector. We spoke with him to gain insights from his 5+ decade study and appreciation of geography and maps.

    How is the collectible map market at present?

    The map market has largely rebounded from the slowdown experienced by nearly all antique markets following the financial crisis of nearly a decade ago. There is now a robust interest and demand for a range of antique maps, from rare finds to more common maps.

    Engraved map of the inhabited part of Virginia, containing the Province of Maryland and part of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and North Carolina, original first edition hand-color in outline by state, with the title within a fine rococo cartouche, August 1753, by Joshua Fry and Peter Jefferson. Used by French naval and military commanders to plot strategy during the French and Indian War and the American Revolution. One of only four known examples of a first edition. Provenance: personal collection of esteemed French cartographer Jacques-Nicolas Bellin. Sold for $256,250 during the Spring 2017 auction at Arader Galleries. Arader Galleries image


    How are maps generally categorized or defined? 

    The most common categorization is by the geography depicted, of course — such as US maps, Asia maps, maps of Texas, etc. Another way collectors think about maps is by type, such as pocket or folding maps, wall maps, atlases, books with maps, maps of early exploration of a specific region, railroad maps, and so on. Some collectors separately categorize city maps, bird’s-eye views and pictorial maps, which became more common in the early 20th century.


    What are some specialities with map collecting?

    As with many other collectibles, collectors tend to follow their passion and will stamp their individual interest onto their collection. With that said, there are some more commonly followed themes. For some, maps are works of art, especially pre-19th-century maps full of vignettes and allegorical figures. These collectors will collect maps based on aesthetics and perceived artistic value. Many collectors will focus on specific geography that is relevant to them, such as their residence, heritage and so on. Similarly, some collectors will focus on a particular period of time, e.g., pre-18th-century; or a specific map type or theme, such as maps from the US Revolutionary war. Often collectors grow into being generalists, meaning they’ll collect all types of maps.

    1848 Mitchell map of Asia with vivid original hand coloring and an inset of Australia. Estimate $135-$150. Jasper52 image

    Which features/elements of maps impact value and prompt collector interest?

    As with other forms of art and antiques, there isn’t a rigid formula that helps to define value or potential interest. Value is typically a function of uniqueness, desirability, rarity, age, map size, cartographer, artistic impression, which includes coloration; and condition. The first map to capture a specific geography is likely to be more valuable than a later rendering of the same area. There are maps that just generate lots of interest, and thus are more valued by collectors. Age correlates modestly with value, but there are maps from the 1600s that routinely sell for well under the price of some maps from the 1800s. Condition is very important, especially for maps that are more common. Ultimately, value and interest will be driven by collector demand, which in turn is influenced by the elements previously mentioned.


    Are there particular types of maps that are more available and/or affordable?

    Printing and papermaking technological advancements took a huge leap in the 19th century. As a result, map production became less expensive and the supply of post mid-19th century maps became larger. Many maps of this era are very affordable — such as maps by prolific cartographers including Tallis, Colton and Mitchell. However, there are much older maps that are very attractive, cover virtually all geographies and have sufficient supply to warrant lower prices — Belin’s maps from the mid-1700s are examples of this.

    Nouvelle Carte du Royaume de Bengale, engraved map of modern Bangladesh and the Ganges delta, by cartographer Jacques-Nicolas Bellin, 1760, is one of 101 maps featured in the Antiquarian Maps of Asia auction to be presented by Jasper52 on Sept. 2. Estimate $50-$60. Jasper52 image


    What are some of the places to find maps? What factors should people consider when looking to purchase an antique or vintage map?

    Antique maps are generally available at auctions, from map-specific dealers and at some antique book dealers, as well as general antique stores, especially in tourist destinations. As one would expect, prices tend to be lower at auctions, where less business overhead needs to be covered by the price. Dealers have acquired knowledge and expertise, which transfers to credibility for serious collectors. Given the importance of reputation in specialty or niche businesses such as antique maps, most places selling or auctioning maps will give the buyer a fair deal. When looking to purchase an antique map, I would suggest focusing on the item itself first – will it fit your collection? – then on value.


    What is the price range that beginners should expect to pay as they begin their map collection?

    The amount of money a collector is willing to spend is a highly personal decision. With that said, a collector can start with excellent maps under $100 and add to his or her collection as maps of interest are available within their given budget. As the collection grows, many collectors gain confidence in their understanding of antique maps and tend to invest in more expensive, rarer maps, often exceeding $1,000 in price. The key is to have fun and enjoy your collection. Finally, I should add that a collector will also need to determine whether they plan to keep their entire collection or will they rotate their maps, selling some off over time.


    What are some of the condition factors that can impact the collectability of maps?

    As noted previously, condition is very important, as with other antiques. Condition statements typically focus on the map itself and less on the margins. Discolorations, foxing (small spots caused by impurities in the paper stock), mold or water stains/spots, toning (yellow/browning of the paper stock), tears/splits, missing portions, and excessive folds are examples of quality defects or poorer condition. As common sense would dictate, the poorer condition is somewhat ‘forgive’ for rare maps, but more-common maps in poorer condition will have a lower value. Finally, there isn’t a universal condition-grading system; rather, most dealers rely on giving an opinion of the map’s condition, although some will also use their own grading system.

    Lot of three maps of Russia in Europe, and Russia in Asia, featured in the book The History of Russia containing Russia in Asia: Part of Russia and Independent Tartary: Russia in Europe Showing the Terretorial Acquisitions Since the Time of Peter the Great, by cartographer John Tallis, 1851. Hand-color in outline map is illustrated with six portraits/scenes that include czars. Estimate $225-$250. Jasper52 image


    How did your interest in maps develop? What do you enjoy most about maps? Is there a map you’ve come across or have within your collection that is considered a favorite?

    I was drawn to geography from an early age, as geography helps explain man’s relationship to man’s environment, and maps are visualizations of that relationship. In many ways, maps tell stories. I most enjoy maps representing early explorations, such as early maps of the Americas or Asia. In those days, cartographers felt compelled to use their imagination to make an educated guess of part of the topography pictured… and they tended to get this only partially right. One of the first maps I received was a Christmas present from my wife and shows the area of the world that my family comes from. Of course, that one won’t be for sale!

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Friday 2 July 2021

Invaluable Guide to Buying Chinese Art and Antiques


Invaluable Guide to Buying Chinese Art and Antiques

Lot 156: Pair of Chinese enameled porcelain plaques, Qing Dynasty, Doyle New York (March 13)

Chinese art, with varieties as expansive as its history is long, is among both the most daunting and rewarding categories to collect. From delicate porcelains, intricately carved jades, and serene ink landscape paintings to regal robes, brazen stone lions, and fantastic dragons, these artworks are imbued with historical traditions and motifs from as early as 10,000 B.C.

“As China becomes a more powerful force in the world, more and more people have become interested in Chinese antiques,” says John Schofield, head of the Asian Arts Department at Eldred’s. “In our experience, items with the most provenance are most sought after.”

Many pieces of Chinese art were accrued by missionaries and travelers, passed down through generations, and then disseminated across the world – often without recognition of their value. This, in turn, resulted in extraordinarily rich backstories. As awareness grows, the market becomes more competitive.

The destruction of many historic artifacts in the 1960s and 1970s paired with the overall delicacy of the materials means that well-preserved, authentic Chinese antiques are increasingly difficult to find. While age might leave artifacts fragile or damaged, time has also embellished Chinese works of art with enduring beauty and relevancy. These works of art make timeless and compelling additions to any collection, small or large.

Elements of Chinese Art & Antiquities

Ancient artifacts and modern works alike show great deference to Chinese history. Art and antiques almost always refer to historical symbols or philosophy. To collect Chinese art, one must first understand the references that exist in each piece.

Pair of Large Chinese Foo Dogs, polychrome glazed pottery, circa 1860, 17 x 14 x 7.5 in.,
Susan Silver Antiques


The meanings behind these recurring elements have withstood the test of time and appear frequently in paintings, ceramics, sculptures, and garments. Below is a short list of imagery to look out for:

  • Dragons are used to represent ultimate power and high rank.
  • Longevity is often displayed with a circular, abstract butterfly-like pattern.
  • Peaches are very commonly depicted in Chinese art, and are representative of immortality.
  • Amber is used as a symbol of courage, once believed to be the manifestation of a deceased tiger soul.
  • Lotus flowers often reference the Buddhist tradition, in which they are symbols of purity.
  • Peonies are regarded as symbols of wealth and virtue.
  • Fish are symbols of wealth as the Chinese word is a homonym for the word for “abundance.”
  • Lions or Foo Dogs make appearances in Chinese art as guardians of the household.
  • The Phoenix, which is believed to never harm living creatures and only appears during times of peace, is the symbol of benevolence and of a perfect marriage between emperor and empress when paired with the dragon.


Chinese philosophy, characterized by the importance of individual good deeds to achieve greatness, is often described in calligraphy, painting, and illustration. Confucianism heavily focuses on the individual’s familial duty. This philosophy has been passed on to modern times, so depictions of family are particularly common in Chinese art. The reverence towards teachers and learning also led to many depictions of Confucius in Chinese paintings.

Doing good deeds in order to attain transcendence gave birth to philosophies such as I-Ching and Taoism. Taoism, well known by the iconic yin yang symbol, is particularly present in ink paintings. Taoism is characterized by the belief in the unification of opposites such that one element is necessary for the other, and when one element becomes the strongest, it subverts itself to its opposite.

Taoism’s emphasis on opposite forces is frequently illustrated in art through symbolism such as one black and one white fish swimming around each other, and the juxtaposition of the dragon and phoenix. The two are very different in temperament, but symbolic of the perfect marriage. The implied balance of dark versus light, nature versus civilization, and reality versus perception are also examples of oppositions that reflect this philosophy.

Pair of Buddha Figures from Nepal or Tibet, bronze, 19th century, 15.5 x 10 x 8 in.,
The Emporium Ltd.

Tibetan Buddhism, which made its way over to China in the 2nd century A.D. during the Yuan Dynasty, is a very important genre of Chinese art. Like Confucianism, there is a strong reverence to the teacher. The Buddha motif is manifest in paintings, vessels, and sculptures. Often, Buddhism is represented by a symbol – as a wheel of dharma, victory banner, conch shell, lotus flower, parasol, treasure vase, pair of fish, or an endless knot. Sculptures of Buddha and affiliated deities, as well as paintings and tapestries, are used as domestic decorations to bring peace and blessings to a dwelling.

Types of Chinese Art & Antiques

Vintage Deep Green Teapot, Hetian jade, Qing Dynasty, 7.5 x 5.5 x 4.7 in.,
Quan Rong Gallery


Perhaps the most widely collected object within the realm of Chinese art is the vessel, which includes snuff bottles, hand-painted porcelain vases and potsteapots, and plates.

Snuff bottles, which were used to carry powdered tobacco for the purpose of remedying ailments such as headaches, are typically no larger than the palm of one’s hand. Most often, snuff bottle collectors prefer those that were created and used during the Qing dynasty (1644-1912). These usually have two parts: the main container used for carrying tobacco and a cap with an attached spoon. Snuff bottles are most commonly made of glass, but can also comprise of jade, porcelain, amber, or metal. The rarity of the material, as well as the beauty and intricacy of the decoration, represented status and wealth during the Qing dynasty. Today, snuff bottles are created as souvenirs.

Like snuff bottles, vases, pots, teapots, and plates were made out of materials including clay, jade, bronze, and porcelain. Porcelain was not commonly used until the Song Dynasty in 960 A.D., after which artisans mastered the blue and white painted porcelain popular today. Ornately painted bronze vessels called cloisonné were developed in the 14th century. Cloisonné is characterized by soldered strips of gold or silver on metal with enamel and jeweled inlays.


As opposed to Western paintings, which are typically made on canvas or other woven fabric, Chinese paintings predominantly exist on silk or rice paper. The most well-known examples are produced with water-based inks and depict stylized yet intricate visions of nature, people, animals, and more. Works in this category tend to be small to medium-sized in the form of a horizontal or vertical scroll, a fan shape, or a flat sheet. Paintings often fall in a lower price range compared to other Chinese antiques.

Set of Four Scholars Screen Paintings, gouache and ink on linen, 1850, 23.75 x 42.25 in.,
Pagoda Red


Chinese sculptures, like paintings, depict many things such as people, animals, mythical creatures, Buddha, and more. They can be made out of clay, bronze, glass, or stone. Collectors all over the world are particularly interested in the use of jade in sculpture.

Jade, used for both tools and also for ceremony since Neolithic times, is characterized by a translucent white and green color. There are both hard and soft versions of jade – hard jadeite and soft nephrite. The most sought-after type of jade in Chinese art is white jade, sometimes referred to as “mutton fat” jade.

Tips for Buying Chinese Art Online

You can now easily buy Chinese art and antiques from online marketplaces like Invaluable; however, you may not have the chance to inspect the object in person before you purchase it. Follow these guidelines to ensure you are getting what you want:

1. Examine Condition & Provenance

Prior to making a purchase, always be very diligent to inquire after the condition of the object and from where the object was acquired.

Many of these artworks have already undergone significant repair. Sculpted details on ancient statues may be worn down over time from handling and some pieces have been adhered together. Watch out for details like this to inform the value of your potential purchase. Consider the extent and quality of the repair work when deciding how much the artwork is worth to you.

Provenance research also adds value and credibility to artworks. Works may have been passed through generations of a family or belonged to someone important years earlier. Understanding the history of the work is just as important as analyzing the quality of the piece.

As the art market for Chinese art grows and works fetch higher prices, stolen and counterfeit works are also appearing in the market. Trust your instincts. If the research behind a work isn’t airtight, don’t buy it. “Nearly all auction houses have open exhibitions when you can personally inspect items and ask questions to the firm’s specialists. Ask a lot of questions!” reminds Schofield.

2. Register to Bid Several Days in Advance

Each auction house has its own registration requirements. For example, on Invaluable, you must register to bid with each auction house on the platform and be approved. The entire process is straightforward, but is better done a day or two in advance of the sale.

3. Familiarize Yourself with the Terms and Conditions

  • How does the auction house handle taxes?
  • Will a buyer’s premium be added to the hammer price?
  • How will the item be shipped?
  • How much time do you have to pay for the item?
  • How do you contact the auction house or dealer with questions?

4. Ask Follow-Up Questions

If you have any other questions, ask them. If the answer is not satisfactory to you, do not bid or buy.

5. Research Past Prices

Make sure your bid is competitive, but not so high that you’d be significantly overpaying.

6. Don’t Bid Unless You’re Sure

All sales at an auction are final. For larger items, the auction house will provide a list of good art handling or shipping companies.

7. Take Care of Your Works

Like any investment, maintenance plays a substantial role in value. In order to best enjoy and preserve your purchase, take care of your work based on its age and medium.

While contemporary snuff bottles, vases, pots, teapots, and plates might be attractive works to include on your kitchen table, older vessels are significantly more fragile and will likely not hold up to frequent handling.

Most Chinese paintings have been executed on delicate papers or silks. Over time, silks and paper can yellow, become brittle, and begin to tear and fray. Generally, these paintings are best preserved when displayed away from direct sunlight. A cool, dry place with limited light is ideal. Natural body oils, like those from your hands, can hasten the yellowing of fabrics and papers. Therefore, it is best not to handle work with bare hands.

Limiting the amount of time you put a Chinese painting on display also helps to protect the work from light damage as well as dust, but when storing never fold a work even if it is on a fabric. When not on display, store the painting in a cool, dry, dark, and pest-free environment.

Lastly, if you are unsure of how to best take care of your purchased artwork, ask a specialist.

How valuable are you vintage Barbie dolls?

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