Wu Tsai Vase, 1722 - 1750
Appraised Value: $6,000 - $8,000
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (3:01)
GUEST: I know it's an Asian vase. I think it's fairly old, but I'm not certain about that. I acquired it from my father's estate, and I have no idea where he bought it.
APPRAISER: Really? Hmm. It's a ware called Wu Tsai. In Chinese the word "wu" means five and "tsai" means colors. It's talking about this polychrome decoration that's on this vase here. There are a number of these things that are actually 20th- and 19th-century copies. The original vases were made in the Ming period, which is 1368 to 1644. This vase was made a little bit later. It was made between 1722 and 1750, which is a period spanning two different reigns-- the reign of Yung-Cheng and the reign of Ch'ien-Lung. And one of the things that identifies that on this vase is particularly these flaws that you may have seen on the foot rim.
APPRAISER: There's something about porcelain from this period of time that the porcelain itself on the body of piece is absolutely perfect. But then all of a sudden when it comes to the foot rim, there are these flaws that are there. No one understands why they had any kind of control over them, that only allowed them to show there, but that's where they show on these pieces. The other thing is, the porcelain that's here is extremely smooth, almost like talcum powder.
GUEST: Yeah, okay. Mm-hmm.
APPRAISER: And that's typical of 18th-century paste. In the 19th century, it becomes gritty and sandy, because they're taking less care in the refining process. Then there are other things about this vase. You start looking at particularly this orange area, these flowers which are lotus flowers. There's an area where there's a yellow line around them, and that was originally entirely gilded.
GUEST: Oh, really?
APPRAISER: If you look over the surface of this vase, you can see where the sizing was that that gilding was on. But there isn't a trace of gilding left.
GUEST: Oh, so it's been worn.
APPRAISER: It's been worn off, which is a sign of age. And then generally, if you look at the vase overall, there's incredible amounts of wear, and it's absolutely uniform. It's inside the mouth of the vase, across the whole thing, which is what you'd expect of a vase that's going to date from 1720 to about 1750.
GUEST: So is that like a patina for a vase?
APPRAISER: It is a patina for a vase. If it was marked, it would have been much more money. And usually there would be a reign mark called a "niin hau" that's on the bottom of the vase. But still, considering this vase, and considering the strength of the market now, about $6,000 to $8,000 on this vase.
GUEST: Oh, my goodness. That's a surprise.
APPRAISER: It might have been $20,000 to $30,000 if it were marked.
GUEST: If someone had marked it, huh?
APPRAISER: Yeah. If it was a 19th-century piece, it wouldn't even be $500 or $600.
GUEST: That's amazing. I had no idea. I thought maybe a couple thousand.
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