Chinese Celadon Charger, ca. 1400

Value (2015) | $15,000 Auction$25,000 Auction

My great-grandfather was Baron Patrick Surcouf, He was the French provincial governor of Cambodia and Laos, I think around the '30s. So I have a couple stories that have been passed down through the family of how exactly this came to be, one of which that it was actually unearthed and given to him by a government official in the Cambodia or Laos area, and then the second was that they actually purchased it there and it had originally been used as a dish for food for an emperor, and that it would actually change color if the food had been poisoned. It would alert them to the fact that there was poison in the dish, so, I'm not sure if any of those have any merit but those were the stories that have been passed down.

Okay, the color green was the first clue, aside from the size and the shape, that this in fact is from China. This was one of the types of wares we call ceramics wares, that were made for export from China to various parts of the world, mostly Southeast Asia and often to the Middle East. And one part of the story, that this was made for food, is absolutely accurate. This was a large serving dish. This particular color and this style of decoration was associated with one major kiln site in China which is called Jaejoong, which we know today as Hangzhou, but Jaejoong province. They made green wares, which we call celadons, and I'm absolutely certain that some of these were used in the imperial household. This dates most likely to the 14th century.

Oh, wow.

Which is the very beginnings of the Ming dynasty, and I say that because of the shape, this kind of fluted interior, and if you look here, it's hard to see, but there's a flower in the center that's impressed into the surface.

I noticed that.

A little bit of a decorative element. I'm going to turn this around so that we can see one of the other clues that we have on origin, is this kind of foot where you have the ring here on the base, the glazed foot. This is a little bit more unusual than most, the way the glazing is done, and it's possible that the story that you had, that this was buried, was also true.


But it's also possible that it was purchased in the marketplace and it was given.


Because this would have been considered, even 70, 80 years ago, a very nice object. What makes this one particularly good is the large size. It's almost 18 inches in diameter. It's hard to make a large ceramic object, because the clay, which is malleable, bends, so to keep that from splitting and cracking and having fissures that make it unusable is difficult. Now, one of the things you've heard about the color green being protective and so on, it's kind of mythology. You want to venture any idea on what kind of value this is?

I honestly have no… I have no idea.

Well, you might be surprised, then, if I were to say this was worth somewhere between $15,000 and $25,000.


At auction.

Wow, that is very surprising.

Appraisal Details

Lark Mason Associates
New York, NY
Appraised value (2015)
$15,000 Auction$25,000 Auction
Tucson, AZ (May 30, 2015)
Asian Arts

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