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Antique Porcelain Age Signs
Porcelain age signs give us an opportunity to determine whether a ceramic item is really antique or recently made. Age characteristics can be fake, but the average age faking can be detected by knowledgable collectors or dealers.
If a piece of China shows no visible age signs at all, we consider it as recently made. On the other hand, if there are too many age signs present it is necessary to carefully check in detail to make sure the item is not a fake.
But, you need to be aware that the age signs of ceramics are different from those of other antiques. You cannot come and decide age because an item looks old or gives the feeling of age.
See also Faking the Age of Porcelain
Easily recognizable porcelain age characteristics
Discoloration and Glaze Deterioriation:
Glaze and decoration do not get discolored under normal circumstances with porcelain, even over extended periods of time. An exception are items that have been in the soil or sea for long periods of time.
Ming bowl with its
glaze almost gone
With shipwreck porcelain that has been in the water for less than 200 years, many items are still in superb condition now and may show little discoloration.
Shipwreck items that have been in the sea for several hundred years often have little or no glaze left. Without its protective cover gone the decoration color of porcelain can change. With blue and white porcelain often a diluted blue color and overall white appearance is the result.
Crackles may be another exception. The crackle lines can turn yellowish brown with age.
Discolored crackles can
be a sign of age
But careful, crackles can be and are created artificially since ancient times, and lend themselves for making an item look old. It is necessary to always check carefully whether the porcelain age signs are genuine or made to deceive unsuspecting buyers.
In fact the Ge wares of the Song dynasty (960-1279) were made exclusively with crackles as decoration. Such wares were made throughout the history of Chinese porcelain.
Shown below is the crackled surface of a Ming dynasty jar.
These are not artificially induced crackles.
Iron residue contained in the clay moves slowly to the surface of the ceramic body over a long period of time, forming small rust spots. On rare occasions these may be larger, but mostly they appear as tiny spots.
Rust spots may look black to the eye if small, but are light brown if larger.
Glaze contractions can be a porcelain age sign, but not in the sense of the porcelain having "aged". Instead, they are rather symptoms of kiln conditions at the time of manufacture. Glaze contractions are found in early porcelain, as for example in Ming dynasty porcelain, but also in items made as late as the early 20th century.
They can be considered as "indirect" porcelain age signs, an indication of the production environment at the time the porcelain was manufactured.
However, it might be preferable to think of them as a sign of the manufacturing period or era, when kiln conditions were such that glaze contractions developed on porcelain.
The absence of such contractions when there should be some for the period concerned might mean that an item is not of the period (i.e. made later).
Many porcelain items of the 18th century do not show glaze contractions. If an item looks as if it were from the 18th century, but has glaze contractions, we need to evaluate whether these could be fake.
Glaze contractions are small spots where a hole or recess appears on the surface of Chinese porcelain. They have a relatively simple explanation.
From the end of the Ming dynasty and beginning of the Qing dynasty (17th century) the kilns were able to control quality better. By the Qianlong period, in the second half of the 18th century, quality was at its peak and many defects had virtually disappeared.
However, after the Qianlong period internal strife and the opium wars, etc. were cause for a decrease in quality. This would have been mainly due to the loss of skilled kiln workers who may have not been paid or fled to avoid harm.
One of the main causes is some oily or fatty substance sticking to the clay surface before the glaze was applied. The glaze covers that substance but not the body itself.
In the high temperature of the kiln the adhering material evaporates as it has a low point of evaporation or combustion.
Recesses in the glaze
This leaves a spot without glaze on the body. The melting glaze will flow into that empty spot sometimes depending on the glaze thickness of the surrounding area the empty spot may not or only partially be filled. This results in a concave spot or miniscule hole in the glaze.
Chinese porcelain exceeding a certain age normally shows some glaze contractions. If there are none at all on the whole body or bottom, better check carefully for rust spots or other age signs. The item may not be that old if nothing at all is found. Always also check also the bottom and inside of vessels. See firing faults.
Wear of on-glaze decoration:
Gilt and other "on-glaze" decoration normally shows wear if a porcelain item has been in actual use rather than on display only.
Presence or absence of certain colors:
The presence or absence of certain colors in the decoration can be indicative of the period of manufacture. As such these can be used in the same way as other porcelain age signs.
Keep in mind that some colors were not available until later in the Qing dynasty, or were only used during certain periods, or for certain items. Certain colors were available for decorating porcelain only after materials or techniques were developed, later on in the Qing dynasty, which made it possible for the colors to remain visible after firing in the kiln.
A Potted History of Chinese Ceramics
You can’t talk about Chinese ceramics without taking a very long journey through the dynasties. Porcelain, often considered to be the finest expression of ceramic art, has transcended time and space, and to this day modern people still refer to their beloved porcelain as "china" or "fine china".
The art of Chinese ceramics started developing during the Neolithic period. In the late Neolithic period, the invention of the potter’s wheel allowed for more uniform vessels and more intricate designs. This, in turn, led to one of the early Chinese potters’ most magnificent works, the terracotta warriors found in the tomb of the first Qin emperor, Qin Shi Huang, in modern-day Xi’an.
Moving into the Sui and Tang dynasties (581-907 AD), some of the most popular ceramics were the famous sancai, or three-color wares, and the celadons, which were glazed in jade green color.
Porcelain was first introduced to the western world through the Silk Road. One of the earliest mentions of porcelain by a foreigner was included in the Chain of Chronicles by Suleiman, an Arab traveler and merchant, during the Tang dynasty in 851 AD, who wrote: “They have in China a very fine clay, with which they make vases which are as transparent as glass water is seen through them. The vases are made of clay.”
During the Song dynasty (960-1279), porcelain was named after the place of its production, and featured subtle yet elegant glazes with graceful shapes, upholding the esthetics of Confucianism, which emphasized simplicity.
Next came the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368), the period when porcelain was mass-produced for the first time. In 2005, a blue and white porcelain jar produced during the Yuan dynasty in Jingdezhen in Jiangxi province, the “Porcelain Capital of China”, was sold for 230 million CNY (around 33 million USD) at an auction in the UK.
Jingdezhen continued to be a center of porcelain production during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), when porcelain advanced to even to higher levels, especially during the reign of the Xuande Emperor (1426-35), when manganese was introduced to perfect the underglaze decoration. Prior to the use of manganese, the cobalt used for decoration had a tendency to bleed in firing. Xuande porcelain is considered to be the finest among all Ming dynasty production. The significant shift towards a market economy during the Ming dynasty also marked the first time that Chinese porcelain was exported around the world on any significant scale. Blue and white porcelain from Jingdezhen was particularly popular in Europe, as was the fine white porcelain from Dehua in Fujian province (known as “blanc de Chine”).
From the late Ming dynasty to the early Qing dynasty (1644-1911), porcelain became more colorful with the introduction of five-colored wares. These embellishments consisted of flowers, landscapes, and other scenes, and became very famous in the West.
The end of the Qing dynasty was a period of political turmoil, which negatively impacted porcelain. However, many places in China still produce porcelain with traditional elements and according to traditional methods, while a number of talented young artisans are fusing age-old techniques with modern designs.
Much like when it was first discovered in the West in the Ming dynasty, Chinese porcelain is still highly sought after by buyers and collectors for its fine quality, bright colors, and “exotic” designs. While shopping for ceramics can be fun, note that if you’re looking to buy more valuable pieces (especially purported “antiques”) it pays to do your research beforehand.■
Consider visiting Jingdezhen, the "capital of porcelain," or customize any of our tours with a stop at one of China's many popular ceramics markets. Contact our travel specialists now to start planning your trip to see fine porcelain in its birthplace.
Burnished Amphora with Bronze Fittings, China, Late Warring States Period-early Han Dynasty, 476-221 BCE
Burnished Amphora with Bronze Fittings, China, Late Warring States Period-early Han Dynasty, 476-221 BCE. Estimate $12,000 – $15,000. Photo Artemis Gallery.
This boldly modeled and very large ovoid shaped amphora is embellished with unusual bronze appliques. This wonderful modernistic shape which mixes well with modern art is a bit of a mystery since usually Chinese art forms are repeated dynasty after dynasty. This shape was only used during the Late Warring States period through early Han Dynasty. Some theorists suggest import by foreign peoples, but the only comparable shape is a bronze version of much later date from Japan. It is a spectacular piece if displayed on a pedestal. We can help the buyer find an appropriate pedestal for its enhancement. Wide strap handles. Flared neck has 3 linear bands around exterior and concentric circular combed bands on interior of neck. Bottom has cross hatching. Size: 12-1/4&PrimeH.
Provenance: Acquired by present owner from an old New York collection.
Green lead glazed tripod jar, High Tang period, China, 684-756.
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Another striking difference between Chinese and Japanese ceramic work, particularly in jars and vases, can be found by examining the interior of the piece. First, there are differences in texture. In the Chinese style the texture is completely smooth, while the Japanese style favors a texture like that of an orange peel. Second, there are differences in the colors used on the interiors of the pieces. The Chinese style is almost always turquoise in color, whereas the Japanese style uses navy blue, dark yellow, gray or green.
Chinese Jar with Green Glaze - History
"Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art Including Important Sancai Glazed Pottery from the Collection of Alan and Simone Hartman "
2001-03-20 until 2001-03-20
New York, NY,
Tuesday, March 20, will mark the beginning of Christies spring series of Asian art sales at Christies Rockefeller Center. The sale offine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art will commence the Asian week with bravura, offering many highlights including an important massive bronze ritual wine jar and the world-renowned Alan and Simone Hartman Collection of Tang Sancai pottery.
Ming qi, or articles of the spirit, were objects such as vases, jars, ewers and figures specifically created to accompany the deceased on their voyage into the afterlife and often vividly reflected the social and cultural atmosphere of the time. By the Tang Dynasty (618-907), such tomb accoutrements constituted a large part of the ceramics production. The most refined ming qi of this period display the masterful application of sancai, or three-colored, glazes that cover the objects with vibrant shades of green, blue, orange and brown. Whether a brilliantly colored vessel, a gracious court lady or a serene buffalo carrying a sleeping boy on its back, these pieces possess a powerful presence and a timeless appeal.
The Collection of Tang Sancai pottery of Alan and Simone Hartman contains several extremely rare and important examples of Tang ming qi. Among the outstanding figures from the Hartman collection are three court ladies whose sensitive modeling and beautiful coloring endow them with a marked grace and charm. The coquettish young girl holding a lotus (estimate: $170,000-200,000), the regal seated lady with phoenix headdress (estimate: $120,000-150,000) and the elegant lady holding a mirror (estimate: $170,000-200,000) offer an intimate and remarkably vivid view of Tang Dynasty court life. Among the ming qi depicting animals are a lovely blue buffalo carrying a sleeping boy (estimate: $80,000-100,000), a powerfully built boar covered in a deep orange glaze (estimate: $8,000-12,000) and a wonderfully animated lion biting at its leg (estimate: $35,000-45,000). One of the striking features of the vessels is the modern simplicity of their forms. This is exemplified in an ovoid vase glazed in brown, green and orange (estimate: $20,000-25,000) and a tall ovoid jar vibrantly colored in oranges and greens ($10,000-12,000). In the hope that this well-balanced collection will be kept intact, Christies will take the unusual step of first offering the forty-eight items in a single lot. Only if need be will the collection be offered individually, lot by lot.
A second highlight is a highly important massive bronze ritual wine jar, Fanglei dating from the late Shang (ca. 1600-1100 BC) /early Western Zhou dynasty (ca. 1100-1256 BC) (estimate on request). Masterfully cast with brilliantly conceived combinations of imaginary creatures, including coiled dragons and horned masks, this magnificent wine jar appears to be one of the largest known examples. The jar also bears a pictogram, indicating its purpose and its commissioner.
Dating to the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127) is a rare russet-splashed black-glazed truncated meiping (estimate: $60,000-80,000), while the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) is represented bya celadon cong-form vase covered in an exquisite bluish
green glaze (estimate: $40,000- 60,000). The selection ofQing porcelain (1644-1911) includes an extremely rare famille rose yellow-ground hexagonal vase, Yongzheng four-character mark and period (estimate: $60,000- 80,000). Equally exuberant in color and form is a rare pair of Imperial enamel, gilt metal and glass cache-pots oflingzhi fungus dating to the Qianlong period (estimate: $100,000-120,000). Auction: Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art including important Sancai glazed pottery from the Collection of Alan and Simone Hartman March 20 at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Viewing: Christies Galleries, 20 Rockefeller Plaza March 13-19
Discover over 150,000 works of contemporary art. Search by medium, subject matter, price and theme. research over 200,000 works by over 22,000 masters in the indepth art history section. Browse through new Art Blogs. Use our advanced artwork search interface.
A sampling of Jim Beam Decanter prices on eBay, Spring 2013.
- Fox Decanter Speckled Silver Coat with a Turtle Behind Back (rare sample?)
Auction Price: $3350.50
- Spiro T Agnew Elephant Decanter w/Scroll
Auction Price: 799.
- Red Coat Fox
Auction Price: $599.
- Dulcimer Decanter KY Musical Festival
Auction Price: $488.
- White 1957 Chevy Belair Decanter
Auction Price: $375.
- Ducks Unlimited Loon Decanter
Auction Price: $333.
- Palumbo Fruit Company 1929 Ford Model A Pickup Truck
Auction Price: $199.
- Angelo's Liquors Red 1957 Corvette
30th Anniversary/1961 - 1991
Auction Price: $175.
- JR Ewing Decanter w/Music Box
Auction Price: $172.50
Chinese ceramics are famous for their high-fire glaze. Produced by firing at high temperatures, this glaze was used in the proto-celadon ceramics of the Shang Dynasty (1600–1046 BC). The low-fire lead glaze technique began more than 1000 years later. This article reports on the analysis of newly discovered low-fire glazed pottery vessels, and argues that the two lead-glaze types—monochrome and polychrome glazes—were not only different varieties of decoration, but also followed different recipes and represent separate technological traditions. This study extends our understanding of the origins of Chinese low-fire polychrome glazed pottery.
Dating - Hall China Marks
The marks shown below are the primary company marks used by Hall China, 1915 to present, primarily on collectible dinnerware, teapots and accessories. Marks from 1903-1915 are not included because those marks are mainly on earthenware's, not Hall's later craze-proof pottery.
Please keep in mind that these are the general marks. There are many variations which could include pattern names, line names, private labels, copyright and trademark symbols and other additions or deletions.
The marks shown here are black line drawings. Actual marks can be blurred, smudged and can appear in many colors including gold. Although most Hall China was marked, there are always some exceptions.
"Made in U.S.A." may or may not be present.
Backstamp, "Made in U.S.A." may be present outside and below the circle.
introduced 1932 Usually appears as gold backstamp but also in various colors active through the late 1960s.
ca. 1936 to mid-1970s
Backstamp exclusively for dinnerware. Slight variations used for large institutional firms such as Jewel Tea and others.
The most widley used backstamp for current production.
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