18th-Century Chinese Tonkin Gilt Bronze Censer
I think it's an incense burner from the Qing dynasty.
How long ago did you purchase the object?
This past December in Hollywood, Florida, at a household sale.
Have you had it recently appraised?
I tried to look it up on the Internet, and $800 to $900 maybe.
It is a Chinese gilt bronze censer. There's a pierced cover with a fu dog finial. There are cartouches to the body. These stylized handles are based in archaic bronze form, and then it's terminating on three S-shaped legs with masks to the knee. When I first saw this, I thought it was a little odd. One thing not typical of Chinese 18th century decorative arts is this punched motif. You can vaguely see a punched leaf or foliate sprig. There are some little odd characteristics as well. These lapped bands are not overly incised. Usually, it would be incised to show a lotus. These shield-shaped cartouches with the raised foliate sprigs are a little unusual for 18th century gilt bronze censers. Overall, the quality for an 18th century piece is a little sloppy, it's a little less than refined. Having said that, all of those oddities are completely consistent with where this is from in China, and that is Tonkin. Tonkin is northern Vietnam. It was part of the greater China during the Qing dynasty, and there are a few examples of metalwork coming from that region. They were particularly known for their metalwork. All of those examples I've seen in person have had patinated bronze with gilt bronze cartouches or highlights. This is the only piece I've seen that is completely gilt bronze. So for that reason, it's quite scarce. How much did you pay for it?
I bought it along with a couple other items, a couple paintings and household goods, and I paid $1,500 for the lot.
If this was a mainland China, Peking gilt bronze censer from the 18th century Qianlong period, it would be crisper, cleaner, a better example of metalwork. Its value would be around $8,000 to $10,000.
This is one of the rare times on the Antiques Roadshow I say this is a little inferior in an eye of 18th century high point decorative arts, but it's scarce, it's very scarce. So I would think in a retail setting, it's probably worth around $20,000.
Holy cow. (laughs) That's amazing. I would not have guessed that at all. That's quite amazing.
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