Chinese Red Lacquer Carved Vase, ca. 1880
Appraised Value: $5,000 - $8,000
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (3:20)
Lark Mason & Associates
GUEST: It's been mine for about 30 years. And it was given to me by my father. And he purchased it in 1963 from the local auction house.
GUEST: And this is one of a pair that was in the winter palace in Peking. The other one, we have no idea what has happened to it.
APPRAISER: To begin with, this monumental-size vase is called an "elephant vase," and that's because the elephant handles, and you often find this shape in very regal, impressive kind of locations, so it's natural that it could have been in the palace. That's something that would not surprise me. It's unusual to see it in lacquer in that lacquer is a very time- consuming process to create. Lacquer is from the sap of a tree and the different layers are applied thinly, one on top the other, and it takes about two to three days for each layer to dry. So for a vase like this, there probably are literally hundreds of layers of lacquer. So the time it took to construct this would have been considerable. Now, what are the clues about the age? One of the first things that we notice, aside from the sort of chipping around the edges... You see the chipping that's here? ...and the other losses that occur at various locations, is there's no mark.
APPRAISER: So without a mark, what we have to base our dating upon is... the design. One of the first things that struck my eye is the lappets, which are these shaped forms descending from the neck, and the lotus decoration is deeply cut, but not terribly finely cut. It's not as fine quality as I would have expected to see on an 18th-century vase. That and the lack of presence of a mark on the base doesn't necessarily mean it wasn't in the palace, but it does probably indicate that this was not an 18th-century vase, but rather something created in the late 19th century, about 1880, made for the palace, and still a fine-quality object. Now, the problem with this vase is the condition.
APPRAISER: And we looked at a couple of things on the base where there's some problems there. And I'm going to point out another; the deer antlers here are missing and I'm going to spin it around and there's some quite severe damage running right through here through the skyline... and right here. Somebody has put in plastic wood or something to try to make a repair and it's very clumsily done.
GUEST: Yes. It was done before '63 and the sales slip does say that it had been repaired.
APPRAISER: And in 1963, it was $500 was the cost, right?
GUEST: Yes, yes.
APPRAISER: Okay. Now, up until fairly recently, something like this with damage as extensive as this is and dating from the late period would not have been worth very much money, but what's happened is the Chinese market has grown, so this has some value. If this came up in an auction sale today, even with the damage, we would expect to get somewhere between $5,000 and $8,000 for it.
GUEST: I see. Thank you.
APPRAISER: Had it not been damaged, this would have been in that sort of $50,000- $70,000 kind of range.
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