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How Do I Choose Quality Antique Chinese Vases?

Genuine antique porcelain is very expensive.
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  • Written By: Solomon Branch
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 14 October 2014
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Antique Chinese vases make an elegant addition to just about any home, office or business. Finding good quality antique Chinese vases can be challenging, but following a few simple rules can help determine if the vase you are examining is the real thing or not. While finding an antique Chinese vase that is well-made is important, you should also choose one that will suit your needs both visually and practically.

The antique Chinese vases made before the 19th century tend to be of higher quality than ones made after that period. A good test to verify if the vase was made before the 19th century is too run your fingers along the bottom of the vase. If the bottom feels rough or uneven, it is not particularly good quality and was probably made in the last one hundred to two hundred years; not very old by Chinese standards. If the bottom feels smooth, it is most likely of higher quality and an antique over several hundred years old.

Another simple way to check antique Chinese vases is to look at the quality of the enamel and glaze of the vase. Higher quality vases will have smooth colors, and they should blend will together. Quality enameling and glazing will have held up fairly well over the centuries. While truly antique vases tend to have cracks and imperfections, many vases were of such good quality they may still be in near-mint condition.

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While checking the vase for markings that indicate the dynasty and time period they were created may help, many times the markings will not be accurate. This does not necessarily mean the vase is not a true antique, but vases of older eras are often worth more than newer ones, which leads to dates being falsified. There is also a high incidence of counterfeit Chinese vases made, and some of them are indistinguishable from the real thing.

To help verify authenticity and good quality, checking online and in libraries for books on antique Chinese vases can help. They often have pictures and dates of manufacture as well as appraisal of quality. To be truly certain a vase is a genuine antique Chinese vase and is the best quality, check with an expert on the subject. Antiques dealers in general are good sources, although finding one who specializes in Asian art is best. If you can’t have the dealer or expert look directly at the vase, take pictures of the vase from every angle to show to them.

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