18th-Century Silver Inlaid Bronze Guanyin
Appraised Value: $15,000 - $20,000 (2013)
IMAGE: 1 of 3
Appraisal Video: (2:23)
Bonhams & Butterfields, SF
GUEST: I acquired it from an estate auction in a little town, in Jerome, Idaho. It was a couple's estate, and he had been raised in China. It was one of those auctions that you wish you could go back and do all over, they had such wonderful things. There were other beautiful things as well as her, and they sold before I could even bid on them, so I hurried and bid on her. (laughing)
APPRAISER: What was the presale estimate for the piece?
GUEST: $2,000 to $4,000. They had a presale on it.
APPRAISER: I see. So this is the goddess Guanyin. It's cast of bronze with inlaid silver details, particularly in the clothing of the figure. Signed on the back, it says, "Yu Tang Shisou." Now, Shisou was a Chinese, late Ming dynasty, we think, a monk who actually instigated casting a lot of devotional Buddhist pieces, particularly Guanyin pieces. She sits in a pose of royal ease. She holds a scroll and is seated on a rockwork base with what they call a kalasa, or a vase, on her other side, which are all attributes of Guanyin, the goddess of mercy. It's one of the traditional stereotypical poses of this deity. This type of inlay was copied up until the end of the 19th century. I think this piece is 18th century, sort of cast in the middle of the period, not really in the late part of the tradition. Her face is really quite beautiful and classic 17th, 18th century. So it was estimated at $2,000 to $4,000. Well, guess what? Now it would be worth somewhere between $15,000 and $20,000.
GUEST: (laughing) My goodness! At auction. Oh, my goodness. If it went up for auction today... 15 to 20?
APPRAISER: What did you pay for it at this auction?
GUEST: I paid $350.
APPRAISER: You did extremely well.
GUEST: Right, I think so too, and I'm sure happy.
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