Home > Antiques/Antiquities, Chinese, Education, International > THE SKYWARD CHINESE ANTIQUES MARKET


Todd Sigety of Appraisal Workshops wrote “The Chinese Furniture Market” summarizing Victoria Maw’s article “Chinese Fortune” in the Financial Times. As China’s population of millionaires has now reached 1.4 million, there are currently many mainland Chinese collectors who are interested in buying back exquisite 17th and 18th century Chinese art and antiques. This group of collectors has evolved quickly within the past decade or so, and has had the effect of allowing antiques to attain unparalleled selling prices, while also shifting the antiques market to attend more to China than to Europe and the United States. Many Asian antiques dealers in the United States have gone out of business due to a high demand for first-rate furniture from Chinese collectors, as well as  from expensive shipping costs. As many eager Chinese collectors are buying Chinese antiques, the surviving Western antique dealers are struggling to find pieces for prices they can afford.

According to Maw’s article, there are three magnificent types of wood that only the highest quality of antique Chinese furniture comes in:huanghuali, which is a yellow-toned rosewood, zitan, which is a purple-colored wood, and jichimu, which has a grain resembling bird feathers. Furniture carved from these precious types of wood have skyrocketed in value — now selling for over ten times more than their previous value. There are other types of wood that  you might consider if interested in purchasing antique Chinese furniture with out an exorbitant price, such as walnut or nanmu. However, it is advised to purchase furniture with caution, as out of all of the different types of wood and pieces of furniture, only a tiny fraction of these pieces were made in the same era and with the quality of the workshops that made pieces from the three precious huanghualizitan, and jichimu woods.

On a different level, we see an abundance of provincial furniture, pieces made from old wood, sometimes partially old, sometimes artificially aged, sometimes lacquered, often of elm and pine — handsome furniture but beware of age. Some of the pieces are fairly inexpensive. We have recently come across a number of these provincial pieces sold in Tokyo at Chinese antique stores — an indication that these pieces are less expensive and more available than antique Japanese furniture — and also less expensive than Korean renditions of Japanese furniture and Chinese renditions of Japanese furniture. Not too long ago, I have seen a step tansu marked as made in Korea with an asking price of $ 4,000.

The website URL to the online article covered by Appraiser Workshops can be accessed here: <http://appraiserworkshops.blogspot.com/2012/07/the-chinese-furniture-market.html>

The website link to the original full-length article from the Financial Times can be accessed here: <http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/92f0777a-cc12-11e1-839a-00144feabdc0.html#axzz21lM0Itb1>

The website link to the Cabinet carved from Zitan wood sold by Sotheby’s can be accessed here: <http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/2011/arts-dasie/lot.35.html&gt

The picture shown is of a portion of a quarter-panel cabinet carved from Zitan wood from the Qing Dynasty, and sold by Sotheby’s for € 2,528,750.

Best regards

Elisabeth and Natasha
The China Coast

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