Tang Dynasty Ceramic Horse Sculpture
Appraised Value: $30,000 - $80,000
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (2:35)
Bonhams & Butterfields, SF
GUEST: My husband was flying out of the Pacific right at the start of the Korean War, and he flew into Tokyo, found it at an antique shop and bought it on installment. Every time he went in, he carried seven cartons of cigarettes to the man in... in the antique shop, and that went on until he was about to be transferred back to the States. And he paid off the balance in cash. I don't know how much it was.
APPRAISER: What year was that?
GUEST: That was 1950.
APPRAISER: I understand that you were at the Antiques Roadshow before. When was this?
GUEST: It was in Atlanta, about 1997. I saw Mr. Lark Mason, Jr., and he was doubtful about the horse, so he advised me then to have it authenticated. And so, he pointed me in the right direction, and I took the horse to Chattanooga. A lady there drilled holes in him, and I sent it to England, and they sent me back the fact that it is real.
APPRAISER: Now, thermoluminescence tests are really, really important to get for pieces of this type. This is a test that Oxford Authentications does in England. Basically, they take a core sample from the belly and two or three other places... Right underneath here.
APPRAISER: Usually underneath the head of the piece. And then they irradiate those samples with light. And then they calculate the decay of the photons, and that rate of decay indicates to the scientist when the piece was last fired.
GUEST: Hmm, okay.
APPRAISER: So for Tang Dynasty examples, these tests are pretty foolproof.
APPRAISER: So it's really a boon for a collector to have a test of this type done for these pieces.
GUEST: Well, I'm so glad.
APPRAISER: These Tang Dynasty horses are really quite rare, for its massive size, and also the fact that it's a three-colored glazed example. The ownership of these steeds was a matter of great prestige during this period. And so models of these were buried when the noble person actually died. If you had come to us in 1999 with this authenticity certificate, we would have told you that the insurance value would be about $100,000. Now, in 2007, the market's gone down a bit. It would be about $80,000 insurance now.
GUEST: Wow, that's still very good.
APPRAISER: It's great, isn't it?
GUEST: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
APPRAISER: Thank you very much.
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