Rare find: Late 18th / Early 19th Century Export China – Canton Export Porcelain

Well, here it is. It isn’t come too often that I come across things that I’m explicitly researching. It makes me wonder how long I’ll have to wait before I see something like this at this price again. A lot of research work remains to identify the order but this is something very special.


This is a beautiful small bowl from a larger service that I picked up recently. Because it was unidentified and damaged, it went a lot lower than something like this has any business being priced. There are deals to be had if you look!

How does one identify these? Well, with experience the eye begins to notice things. For the form, fineness of the porcelain and other features, I’d guess it’s somewhere between 1770-1820. With the crest on the front, this would have been a special order placed and then fulfilled by the old porcelain factories in and around Canton.

I’ve yet to make out the letters on the shield, but I’ll get there! There certainly does seem to be a coat of arms or family crest present but I’ve not seen any reference to a two-dove crest. We’ll see. Time and research will tell on that front.


I’ve been listening to some antiques podcasts recently that discuss antiques with esteemed collectors and one of the things that stood out was the recommendation to buy things that were damaged if they were rare enough. I believe this piece qualifies. Time will tell.

How badly was it broken? Bad. Somebody full on shattered this guy and it had to be put back together.


This is also a sign, though. It is likely that a piece of fine china worth repairing is a valuable one. I’d imagine the repair happened sometime in the late 19th or early 20th century but I’m not an expert on repair evaluations.

That’s the cool new addition to my collection! I’ll update once I’ve discovered the identity of the order. Now you know what a good chunk of my free time will be devoted towards! See you in the library.

Busy busy busy!

Well, it’s getting closer to winter so the seasonal work has been real strong. Don’t worry! I haven’t been avoiding antiques, I just haven’t had the time to post about them. I’ve actually added some amazing things to my collection in the past few weeks. Sales have been really generous and I’ve found some awesome artwork that, once verified, should be properly valued at or above five hundo! Woo. Perks.

I think this week I’m gonna go pickup a special book that I’ve had my eye on for a while. A decent piece has left my collection so it’s time to add a more expensive one! 😀 We’ll see if it’s still there – usually the stuff I buy doesn’t get bought by other people.

Busy busy.

Well, it’s getting to that time of year. The sales are slowing down and my job is starting to pickup with the school-year. I wasn’t sure what I’d end up doing with this site when I started it. I had sort of hoped I’d use this chance to open a retail outlet but I’m just not ready for that and with less and less time, oh well. Maybe next fall! We’ll see. That doesn’t mean I am going to stop blogging about collecting! I hope to do more of that than ever.

What I’m reading and Amazon affiliate.

Hey everyone!

Since I’m getting more and more into this whole internet collection sharing thing, I’ve signed up for amazon affiliate. Cool, huh? It makes it far easier for me to reference and share what I’m reading with you! And if for whatever reason you need the book, you can buy it through me and help offset the costs of running my site!

So this is a test post. Apparently the wordpress engine and amazon referral are not working together well. I’m going to add a couple different links to a book I’m reading now to see how they look. Anyone with feedback on the subject, i.e. how they’ve been successful in referring people or anything really, let me know!

The book is Chinese Export Porcelain in the 19th Century: The Canton Famille Rose Porcelains from the Alma Cleveland Porter collection in the Peabody Museum of Salem.


Mottahedeh pickup recently.

Have been loving porcelain more and more these days. It’s a great time to be collecting porcelain as the prices are extremely wonky. Most shops cannot sell their inventory at the prices they deserve to fetch. This means there’s great bargains to be found!

Last week, I picked up this early to mid 20th century Mottahedeh plate diplomatic service export china plate. Mottahedeh Co. started in the early 20th century and is a sort of national pottery co for American luxury pieces. They make museum pieces, government pieces and more. Here is the clam shell piece that I picked up:

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These wares were made through the 20th century and Mottahedeh is a luxury brand still producing today. They have one outlet in the metro, I should go checkout their current prices! I bet they’re sky high. Markets are weird. Anyway, this clamshell dish features the old style eagle reminiscent of the 19th century export porcelain that the U.S. was ordering from China. I have seen a similar pattern in a famous collection from the 40s. Person I bought from had identified as a 1910 pattern.

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It was pretty cool to find this. I had just been working on my understanding of porcelain and learned about these types of wares a few weeks back. Stumbling upon it was quite the day! I don’t see diplomatic service ware too often. I did see another piece at a nice antique mall in St. Paul. Maybe I’ll go back for it if I find a new home for this one. For now, it’s a cool piece of my collection. 🙂

A pair of mysterious cloisonne.

Earlier I wrote about my trip through Chicago and some of the wonderful things that I picked up down there. One of the truly spectacular pieces that I found at an estate were these Chinese cloisonne. They were quite the mystery when I found them. A good mystery, One that I was quite happy to come upon. Here are some pictures and then I’ll start to break down what there is to interpret from the pieces.


Late Qing Dynasty Chinese Fish and Heron Cloisonne Vases

At first glance, I was stunned by their beauty and shape. They were inexpensively priced, so it wasn’t a hard decision. When you shop a lot and collect a lot, you tend to not inspect cheap things so thoroughly at free for all sales. Here are some more photos to get a better idea of the imagery in your head.


Side view

They are decorated top to bottom. In fact, when I was carrying them one time I realized that the entire shape is a fish. That’s where I’ll start, somebody has made this in what I would consider a cheeky manner. If you count the form itself, there are six fish on each face of the cloisonne. There are the two at the top, then there’s another pair underneath the wave and the one being grabbed by the heron. I’m not 100% certain about the species of the fish but I suspect that it is a type of carp native to East Asia and some of China. They could be different species – the artisan has used different colors to represent the same parts of their bodies between them. I.e. one has a blue tailfin when the other has a red tailfin. It could be a decorative difference but it’s good to note.

The bird is native to East Asia. It is a red-crowned crane, one of the rarer cranes. Both the crane and the fish are frequently used as symbols of good fortune, which would make sense with their combination here. I believe the flower is a lily but my knowledge of flowers is mediocre and especially when they are rendered on cloisonne. Guesses there are much appreciated!

For cloisonne, the colors are quite unusual. They have faded with age and aren’t the brilliant renditions of rich color that comes with contemporary cloisonne. The strange seafoam green as the base is a color I’m not sure I’ve ever seen on cloisonne. The water-blue is wonderful. The main color, this deep red, is one that always keeps me coming back to the south of China and items made for Southeast Asia. Though I bought it in Chicago, I’ve begun to wonder if Southeast Asia was not its initial destination.

The last figure I’ll note, because I could keep going but it’s not necessary at this point, is the small little guy hiding at the bottom. The “hidden figure” is what has given me my best hopes of identifying the piece and possible a maker. It would take me through a chase down into the wayback machine but I believe I’ve confirmed my suspicions about the item. I managed to find a similar red cloisonne item bearing traits reminiscent of this piece. And that piece was signed. However, that’s where it becomes more difficult because why would this one not have been signed? Who knows. Seeing that other piece, one of the few pieces I’ve seen that matches the colors, the unusual motifs and even had its own “hidden figures” is the best comparison I’ve come upon. It validates a conclusion that the other  information points towards, that these are made between the end of the 19th century and the early quarter of the 20th century most likely for export to Southeast Asia

Hope all is well, friends!

Chinese and Japanese collection

I love being an antique collector with modern technology. What becomes possible for the amateur collector was only possible for large budget auction houses of the past. Here I’ll make a little “catalog” of the collection that I’ve put together for a theme auction. Many of the pieces I’ve very recently acquired as I’ve been learning a lot about the market in my free time. Keep in mind that I auction things at rated prices and not starting with no reserve. Thanks for reading and viewing! 🙂

Chinese Antiques:

Great pieces. One of the few that I’ve discussed with a true expert in the field. The pair were made off of the same model. Take a look at it. I’ve had these in my collection for a while and I suspect I’ll hold onto them for a while longer. That’s okay, the work into them is beautiful and they’re enamel on copper with extra detail and effort put into coloring the flowers. Not the typical cloisonne.

Blue and white double happiness ginger jar. Unmarked but with strong signs of age. Would be a great decorative addition to any space. I hear blue and white is coming back from a few different fronts.

Our first piece of thai export market porcelain. We’ve been learning a lot more about this type of export china because of our locality. I believe there is quite a bit here but I’ve yet to find a truly extravagant example like some of the museum pieces I’ve seen. Here is a humble, yet smart porcelain tazza.

Early 20th Century Chinese Vintage to Antique:

This is a nice copper matchstick holder made for the tourist market in the early to mid 20th century. It isn’t too big but it really packs a punch in its style, which is almost a repousse manner.

Nice vintage to antique famille rose Chinese bowl. Flower and panel scenes typical of the style.

One of my favorite pieces here, this is a small porcelain jardiniere made in blue and white. Found this little guy hiding in a garage. Will be happy to have it go to a good home where it will be appreciated! 🙂

Vintage urn, my suspicions upon acquiring was that it was around 1960-70. The finial has actual wear and there is serious oxidation under the lid. It could be a bit earlier but I would be surprised of that.

With a 6 character mark, I’m fairly positive that this is an early 20th century porcelain ware. Maybe still an antique by 2017 as a starting point.

A fun, colorful plate from the 30s or 40s.

An early to mid 20th century famille rose style large vase with great scenes. It has some enamel damage but is in decent condition for its age.

Retro China – mid to late 20th Century Vintage:

Strangely enough, one of the heavy hitters of the collection. Found recently, these cinnabar cloisonne combo vases are a rare pickup from the mid to late 20th century. Features cherry blossoms and a lotus flower on the back.

Another interesting find, this vase features more people than any I’ve ever seen. I wouldn’t be surprised if this piece of pottery had over 100 people on it. I assume that it’s a festival make from the mid to late 20th century. It was acquired from the estate of a couple who worked a long time for an airline co.

Another acquisition from the same estate as above. This ceramic pillow was a great addition to our collection. We date it to the same time as previous piece, it may have even been bought at the same location.

An interesting piece of our collection, this was acquired years ago. It’s a ruffled white and blue glass piece made by a studio in china, ca 1960. It has a ground pontil mark, which is quite unusual for this type of ware. This is an antique of tomorrow.

Beautiful modern cloisonne that will sit somewhere stylishly. White, blue and teal for those that are into that.

A good example for the difference between modern, contemporary cloisonne and the antique wares. Look at the brilliant colors that you only see on modern pieces.

A bit earlier. This pickup is classic “retro china.”

Kitsch 1980s export china porcelain tea cup, very fine and light

Resin or resinwood decorative molded vase. I was skeptical at first as it isn’t the quality of the antique pieces but it does fit in rather well with the other pieces.

Modern chinese brush box. It’s a great piece with a wonderful look.

Japanse Antiques:

Sometsuke Edo period Japanese Cup. Have seen it labelled as a tea cup, soba cup, water cup and more. Lovely period styles underneath the light glaze. Condition is less than perfect with a slight crack but truly a great piece with age. Bought from a good estate.

Purchased from the same estate as the Edo period cup, this charger is from a bit later in the 19th century. It is a wonderfully decorated piece and it is much more intricate than others I have seen from the period. Imari Sometsuke again. Is blue and white getting stronger? We’ll see!

More unusual pieces. This polychrome imari bowl is late 19th or early 20th century. It has strange dragons. They look like they want to fight.

Marked Nippon, this piece dates to the turn of the 20th century. It is imitating the European style for export china during the period. The piece itself is marked hand-painted.

Retro Japan:

Brush pots are in. I’m not 100% sure why, but I know that they are. The market for them looks really strong right now. We’ll see how this one does. I added it to my collection recently.

Another recent addition to the collection, this unusual piece is vintage japan.

Another vintage piece, this Imari ware porcelain jardiniere features a wagon.

Cute modern dotted Japanese cups or bowls.

Hope you enjoy!


I started a new job so things have been a bit busier and I have less time for collecting but that’s okay! I’m hoping it’ll help me focus on higher quality but we’ll see. The job comes with a lot of seasonal flux, so it works out well. The antique hunting season will slow down here in a few weeks anyway.

That being said, I’ve had some great finds recently that I need to get online here so people can enjoy them! Hope all is well!

Moving on along!

As my title line says, 2017 is a weird time to be a private collector. With most of my collection for sale, there are times when things get off to a roll. Yesterday was a great day. It started with a couple small bids on some collectible electronics and a lowball bid on a piece of sculpture. Good start, right?

I went out to go shopping knowing that there was some good money on the backend. It was still the weekend and I live in the city, I think I go to a lot more garage sales than most other collectors.  They’re great once you accept the majority are junk. There was also a historic home that was opened up and I figured I’d pop in to see what was there. Well, it was a good sale. They had the nice stuff, stuff that I wish I had thousands of dollars to buy. So it goesss. One day.

I spent more than I needed to but I got some beautiful stuff to line up for my asian items auction. Here’s a preview of the stuff that’s going in that auction. We’ll see how it goes! Nothing extraordinary on this run. It’s all good stuff, though. Here’s a quick preview:

Well, the day got even better when my wife and mother-in-law came back with fresh cookies and peppers to cook for dinner! That was a great surprise. I had done quite a bit of work with getting new inventory online and we were both getting hungry at that point. Made a vegetarian influenced version of sloppy joes and it turned out quite well. Yum.

After dinner, I went back to some work and got some good gaming time in that I had been hoping for all week. Then eBay lit up. Woop. That low ball offer was replaced by a more serious collector who gave a realistic offer. I accepted because I enjoy moving things out of the collection, even if I am somewhat attached to the item like in this case.

This statue made by Robert Voigt in 1968 will leave a big hole in the house where it was. I’m glad to send it off to a new home. It sure was great to own it for a while. I still have a piece of pottery by Voigt from a near year and some artwork that I believe he did that is unsigned.

Anyway, things are going well. Website isn’t where I want it to be but that’s alright! I have less time because I’m busier than expected and that’s good! Here’s a photo of my top shelf before the Voigt statue heads out. Cheers, y’all!


Art Deco: From buildings to ceramics

If you follow me on Pinterest, you know that I love art deco architecture. The style we know as art deco is said to originate in Paris ca 1920. Personally, I think there’s evidence of a general movement towards art deco a bit earlier around the world but that’s a different discussion altogether! Art deco is up and coming in the antique world. It’s quite affordable to get into the pieces. In 5-10 years they will all be real antiques, so it’s not the worst time to get more into art deco. But! Telling art deco from midcentury can be hard! Especially if you’re younger and you lived through neither of the two periods traces. 😉

So, art deco. Art deco begins where art nouveau leaves off. Art nouveau, to summarize it quite vulgarly, is an over-romanticization of the styles of the 19th century imbued with a newfound fondness for nature and bright colors. Art nouveau isn’t really my market… I pay attention when the prices are low enough but I haven’t set out to learn more on the subject. Soon I will and I’ll post about it! Sorry to so quickly bastardized it for these present purposes.

And just as I’ve gotten off subject, so too did the stylists of the 1910s and 20s. They were too busy paying attention to the quickly changing world of art to keep up with the exhaustive nature of art nouveau. There are some areas of absolutely amazing blending between these two and there exists a sort of naturalized art deco that’s near the end of art nouveau. There’s a strong vein of this influence in American art pottery around 1910 but you see it in painting and architecture. If you look enough, there’s even a good connection between the arts & crafts period and the later art deco period. Hey, off track again!

What is art deco? Art deco is a commitment to using simple shapes, lines or forms to create complex, pronounced design. This represented a marked shift from what was largely a floral or natural ornamentation used in the previous periods. Though it seems quite a dramatic shift, art tends to strongly influence commercial goods and the art deco period is no exception. One nice part about the art deco period is that since the world was a lot less commercialized than it is now, the commercial production of these objects isn’t nearly as soulless as it is today. That being said, I’m sure many artists of the time viewed it with a similar distaste as many of ours do today when companies copy their work.

My familiarity in artists of the period is Piet Mondrian. Mondrian left a treasure trove of writing along with his painting work and I went through a lot of his work during college. I would guess from his writings that the surroundings of art deco architecture would be good changes to the environment. And while architecture is a bit different than a lamp, I think that with sufficient vintage we can view the two as more similar and especially useful in seeing the form. What Mr. Mondrian would think of the bourgeois nature of selling art, antiques and artifacts is a different story… Anyway, let’s start with architectural art deco. The Chrysler building in New York City is a great example here.

You can see the way the simple forms play on the traditional shape of the building. The same thing is done to other objects as adornment.

Now, I’ve actually seen small commercial copies of lamps like this that probably happened right at the end of the period. They would also happen again in the midcentury modern period. It is important to differentiate between the two as they are different eras. MCM takes, borrows and build upon the art deco tradition just as the artists of the 50s and 60s take, borrow and build from the artists of the early 20th century.

There are key differences.

  1. Art deco tends to be simpler than MCM
  2. Art deco focuses a bit more “finishing” the design, more concern with symmetry
  3. Art deco pieces are typically made of a high quality
  4. Art deco pieces are older and will have more patina
  5. Art deco pieces tend to be made in USA or Europe
  6. Art deco isn’t necessarily a revolution on “what the object is” it’s more for decoration

That’s enough on art deco vs midcentury modern. Number 6 leads me to where I wanted to go next. With the midcentury period, there’s a strong undermining in the necessity to design something any which way at all! Phones distort, chairs become non-symmetrical things out of Dali paintings and other strange things happen to the objects themselves. The difference can be no more visible than in something I picked up this past weekend.


How funny is that? I was not expecting to find something that would illustrate this prior to writing this post. What do we have here? Well, I purchased this in farm country and it’s a well used butter crock made by Ruckels in Illinois ca 1930. It has a strong art deco design to it with the pattern of three block lines. Now, I realize this probably seems pretty standard to most people unfamiliar with crocks or antiques. “It’s just some lines” you might say. However, the lines change everything. It gives us a good date. Makes it easier to identify a maker. They actually say quite a bit. This is a great period piece and worth a solid amount. Without those lines and the same age, the item would be worth less than half what it is.

So, there’s no “revolution” going on in the concept of a crock here. It’s solid art deco with lines used for adornment. Most art deco pieces were still meant to function in much the same manner as the objects that came before them. They were just adorned differently.

Thanks for reading!