Louis XVI-style Blue Porcelain Bowl
Appraised Value: $300
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (3:22)
Books & Manuscripts, Decorative Arts, Furniture, Pottery & Porcelain, Silver
GUEST: Well, my husband and I like to go to garage sales and auctions and that sort of thing. We actually found this at an auction in Washington. We were looking around at the items at the estate auction and we saw this and it was like, "Ooh, we want that, it's just beautiful." And so we decided how much we were willing to spend, set that limit, and actually that was our last bid, but we got it for that, so here we have it today.
APPRAISER: Now, when it was sold, how did they describe it to you?
GUEST: A blue bowl.
APPRAISER: A blue bowl. (chuckles)
GUEST: Yes, that was it.
APPRAISER: What kind of estate auction was this? Was it a big house...
GUEST: It was a huge house, and they were auctioning the house and the property and everything like that off as well.
APPRAISER: Okay. It is a Chinese porcelain here that has European bronze mounts on it. At least, that's what it's emulating, is a Louis XVI style bronze-mounted porcelain bowl. Now, this bowl was originally made probably around 1780, at least the design of it. So it's a very impressive bowl. And as you look at it, when you get it out on the table, you're like, jeez, you could put a whole apple tree's worth of fruit in here. Now, as you take a little closer look at it, were this to be about 1780, these types of bronze mounts would actually be what we call gilt bronze, or bronze that has a gold coloring on it. And typically that was done through what we call mercury gilding. And it's actually a very dangerous process that they don't do anymore. Now, that's a bit of a clue, because this isn't actually mercury gilding. And then you look at the porcelain and while it is what we call crackle glazed along here-- see that fine little crackle here-- a lot of the enamel sit on the top of the porcelain and it's very nicely made, but, again, it doesn't have the softness of the porcelain you would expect to find around 1780. And the quality of the bronze casting here, it leads us to the conclusion ultimately, that with these nicely cast bronze mounts here, that it's a modern piece. This is emulating a much earlier piece and it's supposed to kind of fool you. Now, in terms of how it was cataloged, they could probably even have said a bronze-mounted blue porcelain bowl. There's nothing wrong with that. Where you have to be careful are in these estate sales where the material that they bring to the estate is not really from the house. It's what we call "salting a sale." Some auction companies will bring in a group of modern Chinese porcelain pieces, modern Chinese furniture, looking like older pieces but are not in fact older pieces. Obviously you should buy what you like, but you should always be wary of how a piece is cataloged. How old do they say it's supposed to be? You know, if they don't give any age at all, ask. As an auctioneer, I'm there to answer questions from people who are interested. Now, you paid...
APPRAISER: $500 for it. $500 is probably about $200 more than I think it's worth. It's about $300. Now, this is a very nice and impressive piece. I think you ought to love it, but always be wary when you're buying at estate auctions.
GUEST: Okay. Thank you.
This website is produced for PBS Online by WGBH Boston. ©1997-2015 WGBH Educational Foundation.
ANTIQUES ROADSHOW is a trademark of the BBC and is produced for PBS by WGBH under license from BBC Worldwide.
WGBH and PBS are not responsible for the content of websites linked to or from ANTIQUES ROADSHOW Online.
PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.