Chinese Cloisonné Vessels
My parents bought them, oh, probably in the early 1950s. My mother had never attended too many auctions before that experience, and she raised her hand not realizing that she was bidding on these three pieces.
Oh, no. And she bought it.
And she bought them.
Was she happy?
This is really a history of enamel work in China. The smallest one on this side was converted into an inkwell, so we know this was not the original shape because they didn't use inkwells like this during the Ming Dynasty. This was made sometime before 1644, probably in the late 16th century, and I bet that this actually had a very tall, slender neck that came up this way and it was a different shape than you see here today, because the cover, in fact, is an 18th-century cover, not a 16th-, 17th-century, so it was mixed and matched. Now, we're going to move over here to this one. You've got two types of enamel work: typical cloisonné, with the prunus blossoms, and at the bottom is champlevé-- two different techniques. I think that this actually, at one time, had a Chinese mineral tree in it with jade leaves and hard stone branches that would have come up, like, this big, and that the little flowers are indicative of that... that that was the use. This was made in the Qianlong period, somewhere between 1736 and 1795. Now, finally, this is the... really, the most interesting of the group. This is also cloisonné, and it's copying a form from an ancient bronze shape made in China during the Shang Dynasty, which is somewhere around 1500 B.C. to 1000 B.C. And they knew they were copying a form from that period because this is the shape. It's called a jue-- j-u-e-- and if you turn it over on the underside, you'll see that there, in fact, are stylized archaic characters meant to remind one of that earlier period when the writing was very, very much in the formative stage. The workmanship on this is absolutely stunning, and it's fantastic. If you look at the mask, exquisite quality. The gilding is exactly what you want to see. It's mercury gilding, beautiful workmanship. The cloisonné design itself is this repeating key fret pattern. You can't get better quality than this. Unfortunately, it's been damaged, and the discoloration at the top is from wax. They actually used wax to repair it. Now, to give you an idea of the value on these, this, I think, is worth somewhere around $2,000 to $3,000, maybe $2,500 to $3,500. This is worth in the $7,000-to-$10,000 range. If this were not damaged, we'd be looking at something at $15,000 to $20,000. With the damage, it's going to bring the price down a little bit, but I'd say probably about $7,000 to $10,000. So you've got a really wonderful example of three different types of workmanship from two different periods, the Ming Dynasty and the Qing Dynasty, and I'm delighted to see them.
Executive producer Marsha Bemko shares her tips for getting the most out of ANTIQUES ROADSHOW.
Value can change: The value of an item is dependent upon many things, including the condition of the object itself, trends in the market for that kind of object, and the location where the item will be sold. These are just some of the reasons why the answer to the question "What's it worth?" is so often "It depends."
Note the date: Take note of the date the appraisal was recorded. This information appears in the upper left corner of the page, with the label "Appraised On." Values change over time according to market forces, so the current value of the item could be higher, lower, or the same as when our expert first appraised it.
Context is key: Listen carefully. Most of our experts will give appraisal values in context. For example, you'll often hear them say what an item is worth "at auction," or "retail," or "for insurance purposes" (replacement value). Retail prices are different from wholesale prices. Often an auctioneer will talk about what she knows best: the auction market. A shop owner will usually talk about what he knows best: the retail price he'd place on the object in his shop. And though there are no hard and fast rules, an object's auction price can often be half its retail value; yet for other objects, an auction price could be higher than retail. As a rule, however, retail and insurance/replacement values are about the same.
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