Late 18th-Century Chinese Blue Glass Bottle Vases

Value (2006) | $4,000 Auction$6,000 Auction

GUEST:
Probably six years ago, my brother-in-law had seen an article that there was an auction up in Birmingham, and he wanted to know if I wanted to go over and look, and try to buy a couple shotguns.

APPRAISER:
Mm-hmm.

GUEST:
So I just rode over with him, had no intention of buying anything. And they brought out these jars and I wasn't even listening, really, to what they were talking about. But what caught my interest is when the guy that was with the auctioneer says "I'm going to excuse myself from the stage, and I want to come and bid on these." So, it kind of piqued my curiosity, I guess. So I, I waited until they were about to slam the hammer, and I raised my hand up, and the next thing I know, I was the proud owner of these two blue jars, and my brother-in-law was kind of looking at me like I've lost my mind and...

APPRAISER:
That happens at auctions.

GUEST:
Yeah.

APPRAISER:
So you paid a couple hundred dollars for them?

GUEST:
I think about $200.

APPRAISER:
And what have you done with them since then?

GUEST:
They're still in the original box. I bring them out occasionally and show them to visitors, you know, show them my expensive blue jars here--

APPRAISER:
Yeah.

GUEST:
--and put them back. That's it.

APPRAISER:
Okay.

GUEST:
They've been at my house ever since.

APPRAISER:
The first thing is they're glass, and it's a very thick glass.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
And this particular shape is called a bottle form. This kind of glass, this very intense, deep, dark color blue was created in China during the late 17th century and the early 18th century. So these are Chinese.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
And the question is, are they old or are they...

GUEST:
Yeah.

APPRAISER:
...not.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
So let's take a look. On the base we see there's a square and it's got four characters. And these four characters are important, because they tell us this was made during the reign of the Ch'ien-lung Emperor.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
Which dates from 1736 to 1795. All handmade, hand-polished, hand-blown. Beautiful quality, very nice, and it's really unusual to find a pair.

GUEST:
A pair.

APPRAISER:
So that's good. And the other thing that I noticed immediately is, there's a lot of chips on the base.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
And... there's a big chip here on the top.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
And you've watched the ROADSHOW enough to know that chips and cracks are...

GUEST:
No good.

APPRAISER:
They're no good, that doesn't help anything. On very thick pieces of glass like this, these chips, although they're unsightly, they don't really affect the stability and the overall integrity of the object.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
And if they're shallow chips, those can often be polished out.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
Now, I don't advocate doing that on this. Because these are fairly deep chips. And they certainly affect the value.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
But, so I would say, in the current condition of these, conservatively, and I'm going to give you an auction estimate.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
And you can roughly double this for retail purposes, what you'd have to pay in a shop.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
At auction, these would sell for $4,000 to $6,000.

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
As they are now. Okay?

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
That's a lot of shotguns.

GUEST:
Yeah, it's a shotgun.

APPRAISER:
Okay. Now, if they were...

GUEST:
I hope my brother-in-law is watching.

APPRAISER:
I hope he's watching, too. Now, if these were not chipped...

GUEST:
Yeah?

APPRAISER:
$12,000 to $18,000.

GUEST:
Wow. Phew. That's fine.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Lark Mason Associates
New York, NY
Appraised value (2006)
$4,000 Auction$6,000 Auction
Event
Mobile, AL (July 08, 2006)
Period
18th Century
Form
Vase
Material
Glass

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