I have been an antique dealer for the last twenty years. Every antique dealer is looking for a hot ticket item and Chinese Ceramics is it. With items regularly selling up in the hundreds of thousands or millions.
I have been studying the identification and understanding of Chinese porcelain for the last five or six years and I can honestly say it is by far the hardest subject there is to learn. There are literally thousands of years of Ceramics to study, with marks done after the fact in honor of previous emperors and fakes such as the master faker Samson.
Understanding Chinese Ceramics Marks.
Why then if there are so many items marked with the incorrect mark for the period and so many fakes do we need to know these marks? There are a couple of reasons,
- If you are very lucky and find a Chinese object that has the correct mark on it for the period it was made. This is known as Mark and Period or Mark of the Period and can increase the value of an object ten or more times than an unmarked example.
- If you have a vase that on the surface looks to be Kangxi or earlier, In both body and decoration, however, it has a reign mark for the Qianlong emperor then again you know it can not be a Kangxi example and is a later and at the best a Qianlong copy of a Kangxi vase.
- ninety percent of Export porcelain from china was not marked, so if you have a piece that the potter felt was worth a mark you will want to know what that mark reads.
I have a short video on Youtube showing how to read Chinese reign marks.
How to date Chinese ceramics.
Dating Chinese ceramics is a combination of the following criteria.
1. looking at the main body, Is it a porcelain, pottery, or stoneware, what color is the porcelain or clay?
2. Looking at the glaze, is the glaze clear or does it have a hint of or full color, Does it have things like orange peel?
3. Looking At the decoration, and the colors used. some colors were not in use until specific periods, the tone of the color also changed throughout time, the style of the painting, ( loosely drawn or tight outlines ) facial features, and adornments.
4. Looking at the shape of the object, some shapes were used in certain periods. There are periods that arc back and copy the same shape from earlier periods and this is known as a revival piece. ( if a vase had a shape of a Kangxi period but the porcelain was grainy it would then help you to place it in the revival period of the late 19th century as an example.)
Book Review Marks on Chinese Ceramics by Gerald Davison.
This marks book by Gerald Davison is a credit to the study of Chinese Ceramics. And in my opinion, this book is a must for any collector or dealer within this area. It represents a life’s work with hundreds of pages containing thousands of marks. This is by far the most comprehensive guide to understanding and reading marks on Chinese Ceramics I have ever come across.
There are a few publications of this book however we are very fortunate that the author has released a new edition in 2021. Older versions of his book are available on online book stores for as much as $4,500. this new run of the book is on offer right now for just £60 plus postage and I will enter the link below for you to obtain your copy while you can.
The link to buy your copy is here: https://www.chinesemarks.com/product/marks-on-chinese-ceramics/
Before you go over to purchase your copy of this book, I just want to say that this is not a paid promotion I am sharing this because I feel it will help my subscribers and anyone who visits my website. I am also running a 100% free competition to win a copy of this book on my youtube channel if you would like to check that film out.