Antiques in Perspective

eBay Changes

There has been much discussion on various Social Media platforms about the “crazy” new Category changes that eBay introduced in mid-October 2021 – if you are an eBay seller of anything that could be classified as used / datelined – collectable or antique – then it is likely these changes have been an utter nightmare – especially if, as a professional seller, you have hundreds of items already listed on the selling platform. If you are a buyer then you will almost certainly have had some really unlikely eBay search results emailed to you. In several instances some of the emails that I received promised me that over 10,000 new items had been added to my searched for items, overnight – only to find – on clicking the links – that eBay was unable to find ANY of items it had promised.

From what I can see – some of the changes may, in the long run, improve the ability of some buyers to find the items that they most want to find, as the searches seem to rely far more heavily on keywords (tags) and descriptions than before… because, let’s face it, that is all eBay has pretty much left us with. However, that assumes that what buyers most want to find is correctly identified and listed and that, in turn, relies on all sellers knowing exactly what they are selling. This may work well with a dishwasher – where the make is known, the model number accessible and the condition (new / used or working / or for parts) may be clear. But, eBay is full of sellers who only know that they are selling a pretty plate/vase/ornament that they found in Granny’s attic and they think is old and eBay now demands that they are specific – that they give all the item’s details which many will simply guess at, rather than leave blank… So, what is clearly meant to be an aid for sellers, may end up with far more unsold items than ever before. This is predictable as a plate which says Georgian on the back (e.g. a pattern or range name) will be added to the “Georgian” category and items that say nothing will just go into the huge mix of new and old items in the parent Pottery and Glass category, so finding it, as a buyer, may be problematic and the irritation of buyers actually looking for items made in the reigns of any of the Georges will rise exponentially, as they will have to plough through acres of modern decorative items and will have to spend far more time searching than is sensible.

In my opinion, the changes to existing listings have been quite bizarre. For example, all the pottery listed, at the beginning of October, in the French category has now been moved to Plates – regardless of what it is or whether it is brand new or not. Ditto all Country specific listings – yep – they are all in plates, apparently…

There is so much more I could moan about, but there is little point. It is extremely unlikely that eBay will change – however, if you are a UK seller or buyer and would like to express your angst over the changes – then please write snail mail to:-

Mr Murray Lambell, eBay, Hotham House, 1 Heron Square, Richmond upon Thames, Surrey, UK, TW9 1EJ

If you are based in the USA – please use this Corporate address (rather than the Customer Service address):

Jamie Iannone, President/CEO, eBay Inc, 2065 Hamilton Avenue, San Jose, CA 95125 United States

One of the suggestions that we would recommend everyone requests is that a new category for Antique Pottery and Glass is added – not least as that will separate old from new.

So What has Changed?

Meanwhile you might want to be forewarned where you are now looking to buy or sell on your next visit to eBay – should you ever want to buy or sell there again (and with the ease of buying online from local auction houses using sites like www.the-saleroom.com , some won’t) here are the main changes from the US and UK ebay sites – (the largest files are around 7-9Mb)

UK October 2021 eBay Category Changes – 201 pages (2250 changes)

You can download the full UK eBay category changes list as a .csv file (will open with Excel etc) from the following link

The FULL list of Categories on the UK eBay site from October 2021

(463 pages of categories and sub-categories)

You can download the full UK category list as a .csv file (will open with Excel etc) from the following link

US October 2021 eBay Category Changes – 282 pages (2857 changes)

You can download the full US eBay category changes list as a .csv file (will open with Excel etc) from the following link

The FULL list of Categories on the US eBay site from October 2021

(598 pages of categories and sub-categories)

You can download the full UK category list as a .csv file (for use on Excel etc) from the following link

Please Share - thank you:
Antiques in Perspective, blue and white, Vietnamese

1485

The other day, I was staring at a blue and white dish on the shelves near the fireplace and started to wonder what was going on in the world when it was made. It dates from the late 15th Century which is far too wide a period for anything but a cursory look, so I decided to take a year that I already knew a little about…

1485 started on a Saturday.

Leonardo da Vinci was starting on designs for his Ariel screw – a prototype helicopter and began a series of designs for other flying machines. He was a talented military engineer as well as an accomplished artist.

Leon Battista Alberti’s life work (that took him from 1443 to 1452 to put together), was finally published (after his death). De Re Ædificatoria was the first book on Architecture ever printed.

Early in the spring of 1485, Tai Mountain (Taishen), the highest point in Shandong province of China, was stricken by a series of earthquakes that echoed a huge earthquake 3,200 years earlier – the first to be recognised as an earthquake and written about, anywhere, worldwide. The ancient earthquake was recorded because it happened just after the Chinese Ruler Fa died. It was considered a significant and foreboding event and, indeed, his son the 17th Ruler of the Xua Dynasty was the last of that dynasty to rule (although Jie managed to reign about 52 years, nearly 5 times longer than his father, Fa, so the effect wasn’t immediate).

Taishen © Xiquinho Silva : CC-BY-2.0

By 1485, Graf von Abensberg (b.1441), Niclas, was a frequent tournament champion. His greatest real battle was the Battle of Singen in 1462. After a row between the sons of his liege lord, the Duke of Bavaria (Albert III), he made the mistake of arresting the younger son, Christof, at the behest of the older son, Albert (the heir, later Albert IV). Christof was eventually released and it was believed that the matter was settled, however a simmering resentment against Niclas remained. Fourteen years later, on February 28th 1485, Niclas, now in the employ of Albert IV, was returning home having just led a successful, almost bloodless campaign for the Duke. He was travelling, on horseback, with only a few companions, so was unable to defend himself when Christof, leading a large force of his own men, ambushed him and, despite his surrender, had him murdered.

Anne Neville (b. 11th June 1456), widow of Edward of Lancaster and co-heiress (with her sister) of the vast estates and wealth of her father (Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick) had a short but politically significant life. Her first marriage, when she was about 14, made her Princess of Wales and was arranged to call an end to the war between Lancaster and York (now known as the War of the Roses). As the only son her husband, Edward, was in line to succeed his father Henry VI, but he died at the Battle of Tewkesbury aged 17. Her sister, Isabel, married George, Duke of Clarence. Following Edward’s death, Anne married George’s brother, Richard Duke of Gloucester (better known as Richard III). This was a huge political and financial coup for the Plantagenet family, bringing both Neville Heiresses into the family. On March 16th 1485, the day she died (possibly of Tuberculosis or possibly, as later Tudor rumours suggested, poisoned by her husband), there was an eclipse. The second unusual natural phenomenon of the year.

Richard III and Anne Neville from the Rous Roll (courtesy of Wiki Commons)


In June, 1485, Matthias of Hungary took control of Vienna and made it his Capital.

Between June and August, outbreaks of Sweating Sickness started in England. It spread very quickly and was used by the Earl of Derby (Thomas Stanley) as an excuse not to join Richard III in his battles against the Welsh upstart Harri Tudur. There has been much speculation on what caused the virus and if it was similar to Hantavirus. There is also some speculation whether the Plantagenet dynasty would have ended so badly, if Derby and his forces had fought alongside Richard.

On the 7th August, the Duke of Albany, Alexander Stewart, died in France. The son of James II of Scotland and brother to James III and John, Earl of Mar, he led a very tempestuous life. As the Earl of March he maintained the border between Scotland and England, aggressively. Suspected of plotting with the Earl of Mar to steal the Scottish throne, they were imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle. Mar died, but Alexander escaped. Much piqued by his arrest and imprisonment, he teamed up with the King of England, Edward IV and with the help of Richard, Duke of Gloucester invaded Scotland. James was captured and brought to Edinburgh where he, in turn, was imprisoned. Alexander agreed to be pronounced Regent. However, he had second thoughts and released James. Their relationship, never trustful, continued to deteriorate until Alexander was forced to flee. Initially he went to Dunbar, but on the death of Edward IV, his staunchest and most powerful ally, on 9th April 1483, he took refuge in England. He tried a second invasion of Scotland in 1484 but was beaten back (though James spared his life). He escaped to France where he joined the court in Paris. He enjoyed court events joining in most sporting activities, however, he died after an accident at a jousting tournament, when it is believed a Splinter pierced his eye.

August 22nd  1485 Harri Tudur’s claim on the English throne culminated in the Battle of Bosworth. Richard III’s erstwhile glorious military career ended in ignominious defeat, making the victorious Harri, Henry VII. Ever cunning, Henry marked his victory as being a day earlier, August 21st so that all who opposed him on Bosworth Field could be declared traitors. Richard was the last English King to die in battle. He was unceremoniously buried in the grounds of Grey Friars Priory in Leicester. His tomb marker was eradicated during Henry VIII’s reign when the “English Reformation” caused the dissolution of many religious institutions and monasteries. Unexpectedly discovered a few years ago and identified through DNA, he was reburied in Leicester Cathedral in March 2015. Among the many others, on both sides, who died on August 22nd 1485, the following were listed: John Howard, 1st Duke of Norfolk (b. 1430), James Harrington, Yorkist, Richard Ratcliffe, John Babington (High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and the Royal Forests), Robert Brackenbury, Walter Devereux (8th Baron Ferrers of Chartley) and William Brandon (b.1456). A few days later on August 25th William Catesby was executed for his support of Richard III.

On September 12th Ivan III, the Grand Duke of Moscow and self-declared ruler of all of Rus (Russia) conquered the Grand Duchy of Tver as part of his campaign to consolidate the Russian states. At one point, his domain encompassed all of Northern Russia – from what is now Finland across to the Ural Mountains.

Grand Duke of Moscow Ivan III of Russia. Picture from “Tsar’s Titulare – (Public Domain courtesy of Wiki Commons)

Also in September on the 15th , in Southern Europe, Pedro de Arbués was attacked in Zaragoza’s La Seo Cathedral, in Spain. He died two days later. Pedro was a Spanish priest who became a senior official of the Spanish Inquisition (which is difficult to comprehend when, while achieving his doctorate in 1473, he was serving as a professor of Ethics aka Moral Philosophical Studies). Tomás de Torquemada, who was appointed Grand Inquisitor in 1483, made Pedro (and another priest) Inquisitors Provincial for Aragon. Despite wearing armour (including a steel helmet and chainmail), Pedro was attacked while kneeling at the altar. Regardless of who may or may not have been responsible for the attack, it was used by Torquemada as an excuse to kindle what became a popular movement against the many wealthy Jewish families living in Spain – even those who had converted to Catholicism. This anti-Semitic movement was long-lasting. In 1664, Pedro de Arbués was beatified (the first step towards being made a Saint in the Roman Catholic Church) and just over 200 years later, in 1867, he was canonised (added to the Canon of Saints).

On October 30th 1485, Harri Tudur, Second Earl of Richmond, was crowned Henry VII in Westminster Abbey and the Tudor dynasty was established. Ironically, much of the early spreading of Sweating Sickness is blamed on this event as huge crowds came to celebrate the coronation. The ceremony also marked the reunion of Henry and his mother Margaret Beaufort after 14 years apart. According to the Bishop of Rochester, she cried copiously when the crown was placed on Henry’s head.

A few days later on November 2nd a year’s Truce was agreed between the warring factions in a long running dispute between the Bretons and France in a conflict now known as La Guerre Folle or Mad War. The truce failed to bring any peace as hostilities began again, in June, before the Truce officially ended and carried on until 1488 and was finally finished by a strategic marriage between Louis of Orléans (who, pardoned for his participation in the war as a minor, later succeeded Charles VIII) and Anne Duchess of Brittany.

On December 16th 1485, Catherine of Aragon was born in Alcalá de Henares, Castille. She was betrothed to Prince Arthur when he was eleven. He was ten months younger than her and was already Prince of Wales, Earl of Chester, Duke of Cornwall and heir to the throne. The intention was to forge a close alliance with Spain against France – the Hundred Years’ War between England and France had only ended a generation earlier in 1453 after 116 years of conflict. The marriage plans had started when Arthur was barely three years old. They married in 1501.  Less than six months later he died of the Sweating Sickness that was still rife. The sickness could kill within 24 hours of the sweating starting and was still common until around 1551, when, after five major epidemics since 1485 and many minor outbursts, it finally faded away. Arthur was only 15 when he died.  Catherine also contracted the virus but survived. She always stated that the marriage had never been consummated. A year later, plans were made by Henry VII for Catherine to be married to Prince Henry, now his heir. Catherine was the first known female ambassador in European history becoming the Ambassador for the Aragonese Crown to England in 1507. She married Henry in 1509 not long after his coronation. An intelligent and educated woman, she was a huge asset to Henry in his early years as King. She even served as England’s Regent in 1513 (while Henry was in France) and was influential in the victory of the English over the Scots at the Battle of Flodden. Although Henry sought to divorce Catherine (wanting to marry Anne Boleyn) their marriage was never officially annulled. Pope Clement refused to sanction the annulment, leading Henry to declare himself the Supreme head of England’s Church through the Act of Supremacy in 1534. In 1533, Catherine was banished to live out her days in Kimbolton Castle and Henry went on to marry Anne. Catherine died of cancer in January 1536 – to much national mourning. Anne was executed four months later. Catherine’s daughter, Mary, became queen in 1553.

“A Castilian Princess” believed to be a young Catherine of Aragon – painted by Juan de Flandres in 1496 – oil on wood from the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain (Public Domain courtesy of Wiki Commons)

Many, many more events occurred in this year of change in Europe and across the world – but, maybe their stories are for another day.

A selection of pieces from the Hoi An Hoard Auction October 2000, held at Butterfields in San Francisco

Now, the story of the blue and white dish that started this musing on 1485’s events.

The dish was made around 1485 (give or take a few years either side) in the kilns of the Red River Delta (possibly Chu Dau) in Vietnam (previously called Annam). The kilns were first discovered in 1983 and have been subject to several excavations to try and discover the sort of pottery that was made. Enough sherds have now been found to establish the origin of any whole pieces discovered, but up until the early 1990s very few had been found.

Enter the fishermen, who in the 1990s started hauling pieces of old pottery in their nets. Before long, they were deliberately dragging nets with hooks in them to dislodge pottery from the mud in which it was embedded. Eventually, it was established that a late 15th Century cargo ship carrying a huge amount of freshly made Vietnamese ceramics had been wrecked in the South China Seas. Because of its location, it is quite possible that the cargo was heading for Ayutthaya. Ayutthaya was the second capital of Siam (now Thailand). It was founded in 1350 and flourished until it was destroyed following a 14-month siege by the Burmese in 1767. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The Vietnamese Government knew little about the wreck until two antique dealers were arrested at Da Nang airport with luggage filled with artefacts from the wreck. Buried 230 feet down, the site cost c. US$14 million to excavate over four years. Over 250,000 ceramic pieces were recovered (around a 330,000 artefacts were recovered from the wreck legally and illegally). Six Museums in Vietnam now house permanent exhibitions from what became known as the Hoi An Hoard.

The bulk of the remainder was sold over several days by Butterfields in San Francisco (which included an online auction that lasted for several days, so that the pieces could be sold worldwide, a real novelty for such a prestigious sale in October 2000) – the total event, on and offline grossed more than $2.8 million.

I had huge fun trying to win bids – although it was dreadfully frustrating as I was outbid so many times – but that is where my dish originated – from a Vietnamese kiln at the end of the Plantagenet reign to California at the turn of this millennia and thence to me.

________________________________________

I am grateful to the following websites for the comprehensive background information I was able to draw on for this article

https://www.englishmonarchs.co.uk/

https://www.circaa.com

https://www.britannica.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org/

https://www.dummies.com/

https://military.wikia.org/

and lastly…

Please Share - thank you:
Chinese, decoration, Imari, Meissen, Porcelain

Cross-Cultural Influences

For centuries the Chinese porcelain industry had been the envy of Europeans who wanted the prestige and wealth that mastering the secret to porcelain manufacture would bring them, but it wasn’t until the turn of the Eighteenth century that Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus (a German scientist) first developed a form of hard paste porcelain. By the time Tschirnhaus died  in 1708, Johann Friedrich Böttger (an alchemist) had already developed the paste into what is now known as Böttgersteinzeug (a red stoneware). He was employed by King Augustus II of Poland and Saxony (1670–1733) who set him up in a laboratory in Albrechtsburg Castle (Meissen) in order to develop the recipe into a commercial paste. The castle was chosen, so that the secret of the paste, once a commercially viable formula was developed, could be closely guarded. The Royal-Polish and Electoral-Saxon Porcelain Manufactury was also established and started manufacturing porcelain in 1710.

The factory at Meissen soon started producing a white bodied clay that was recognisably white porcelain. The earliest pieces were marked AR for Augustus Rex then KPM with Crossed swords (from Augustus’s crest) and then after 1722 the Crossed sword mark without the KPM was used as the main identifying mark to indicate Meissen Manufacture (as it still does).

The designer, Johann Gregorius Höroldt, who stayed with Meissen for 50 years from the early 1720s developed many of the colours and delicate designs that now make early Eighteenth Century Meissen both recognisable and extremely desirable. However, the prime influence for Meissen’s earliest forays into porcelain was the highly sought after Chinese porcelain that had originally sparked the race to make porcelain.

For example, one of the best known patterns that Meissen produced in the early days of the factory was the blue and white onion pattern (Zwiebelmuster) aka as the bulb pattern. It is believed that the decorations that bordered the original Chinese dishes were actually peaches or pomegranates (used on marriage and birthday porcelain as wishes for fertility and longevity) . The “onion/bulb” was a European interpretation of the pattern. (You can see more examples of the pattern by googling Meissen Onion Pattern and there is more info on Höroldt here http://www.getty.edu/art/collection/artists/997/johann-gregor-horoldt-german-1696-1775/ and on the pattern here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Onion)

Late 19th Century Meissen “Onion” pattern – in a re-working of the original early 18th Century Pattern

Seeking inspiration from the Chinese originals was not restricted to Blue and white – the rise in popularity of Chinese Imari porcelain (underglaze blue and white with overglaze red – often gilded) also captured a Meissen decorator’s imagination. An example of this cross-cultural exchange is the following piece. The first two illustrations are of an 18th Century Meissen tea bowl in the style of an earlier Chinese Imari piece. It is distinct from the Chinese Imari, with its dark cobalt/ almost black blue underglaze and its 14 spiraling lobes with an added purple pigment that became popular on later more extravagant Meissen pieces.

18th Century Meissen Tea bowl from the Peter M Schwarz Collection (used with permission)

This small tea bowl uses a pattern style that will be very familiar to collectors of later 18th Century porcelain from the Worcester Factory, although the pattern predates by over 50 years what became known as the “Queen Charlotte” pattern (after a visit to the Worcester factory by George III and his popular wife, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz c.1777).

Base and mark of an 18th Century Meissen Tea bowl from the Peter M Schwarz Collection (used with permission)

Not long after this pattern was introduced by Meissen, 18th Century Chinese makers were either commissioned to copy the Meissen pattern or were asked to make replacements for it. This early Eighteenth Century Tea bowl and Saucer copies the Meissen pattern so faithfully, it even mimics the Meissen mark. Although I am sure that there are many others, so far I have only seen three Chinese copies of the Meissen pattern, one is late Eighteenth Century, but the remaining two are earlier and almost identical to the Meissen original – the first was sold at Bonhams in 2017 as a reference piece from the superb Brigitte Britzke Collection (a well-known collector of Meissen) and the other is illustrated below from my own collection.

Visual Portfolio, Posts & Image Gallery for WordPress

Please Share - thank you:
antique, British, decoration, Dutch, Pottery

Dutch Decorated Creamware

For over a hundred years European countries sought for ways to create a fine hard paste that could compete on an equal footing with the popular porcelain pouring in from China via the Tea Clippers and Dutch Trading Ships. The problem, in the UK, was that the key ingredient was Kaolin that gave whiteness to the finished pottery and elasticity to the wet clay making it more malleable and finer that earthenware – although by modern standards Kaolin, on its own, lacks plasticity . Very few natural deposits had been found until the middle of the eighteenth Century, when William Cookworthy found deposits of Moor stone and Growan Clay in Cornwall.

Cookworthy immediately started to experiment from his Plymouth based pottery and by 1768 he had patented a formula that mixed the Growan Clay with other more traditional clay mixes and another new ingredient commonly called China stone or Petuntse (a feldspathic rock) that gave the fired clay translucency. Plymouth was, therefore, the first producer of what we now call British hard paste porcelain, inherited in turn by Bristol and then Worcester.

The patent, however, left other potteries now competing with white Plymouth porcelain in addition to Chinese porcelain and Dutch tin glazed delft ware. Even though Kaolin was discovered in Staffordshire they were forced to develop their own pastes and formulae from their own local clays, until a collaborative group of potters bought Cookworthy’s patent in the late eighteenth century.

Dutch Decorated Sacrament Creamware Plate

One of the most distinctive of these interim pastes we know as Creamware. Made with finely powdered clay, it was more malleable, smoother and easier to work on than Delft clay that was powdery and brittle and easily broken (relying to an extent on the strength given to it by its tin glaze). The more delicate and creamy warmth of the fired clay coming from potteries like Leeds lent itself to the bold colours favoured by Dutch decorators. Strong, but very light next to Delft, Creamware was exported in quantity as blanks to be decorated in Holland and Dutch decorators came to the UK to work in the potteries. Leeds is particularly notable for its success in this field and its wares were extremely popular in Holland.

Please Share - thank you:
antique, British, English Imari, Porcelain

English Imari – Lord Nelson Pattern

Admiral Lord Nelson ordered so much of this pattern from Chamberlains, Worcester that it is now named for him. Key features of this English imari pattern are the animals that hide in its borders. Coalport also made this pattern and there are several variants. Dating from c.1805-1815 here are two Coalport examples – with close-ups of the animals

Please Share - thank you:
antique, Chinese, Imari, Italian, Porcelain

Chinese Imari

Continuing on the Imari theme – I thought it might be interesting to look at closeups of a couple of pieces – and at the pitfalls of collecting – this pair dates from around 1720 – they are not quite the same as each other – the reds are slightly different, the level of gilding is different, the underglaze blue is differently spaced – so different ends of the factory? different artists? or maybe one is a replacement. See the reference piece on Gotheborg also shown below. Be careful though as this is a pattern that was copied with surprising accuracy by Doccia between 1760 and 1800 – so I include a dish from the Victoria & Albert museum online collection (black Background) dated by them as just pre 1800 which has Doccia’s marks on the back BUT a) not all Doccia is marked b) Doccia was one of the earliest European manufacturers to produce a convincing hard paste porcelain that is quite hard to differentiate from Chinese export pieces unless you have handled a lot – I have a piece and it was wrongly attributed by several experts including a well-known Auction house until I went to a specialist Museum in Cambridge (and a major auction house) who both recognised it.

Below a Doccia plate from the V&A Museum – late 18th Century

http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O278556/plate-doccia-porcelain-factory/
Please Share - thank you:
antique, blue, blue and white, British, Cups, English Imari, Imari, Porcelain, white

Picture Postcard Pattern

Several factories are known to have used this decoration and research is still continuing – reference pieces include these two teapots.

Teapot 1 Originally from the Godden Reference Collection now in the Author’s Collection
Teapot 2 From the Author’s Collection

Both teapots have been under scrutiny from acknowledged experts and both are still the objects of study.

Teapot 1 first appeared in print in Goddens’ Porcelain Maunfacturer’s book (here attributed to Cambrian Pottery, but later put into a “problem” Category as you can see below).

What makes attribution so difficult is, oddly, not the lack of pattern numbers or maker’s marks, though, clearly these don’t help. What makes it hard is the non-conformity of style, paste, design, glaze, shape and pattern between these pieces and other contemporary named pieces.

Current thinking is that Teapot 1 is probably A & E Keeling (formerly known as Factory X). Its hybrid paste and format putting it 1795-1800

Teapot 2 appears in Michael Berthoud’s second Teapot reference book (A Directory of British Teapots) as Plate 608 however the attribution to Turner is speculative and open, still, to debate (especially by at least one Turner collector).

Even more difficult to identify, it has also been suggested that it was an experimental piece of porcelain – certainly no other with this combination of spout and handle is known in hybrid paste. At one point it was mooted that it might be a Haynes experiment involving Rogers – but no corroborative documentation has been found.

My belief is that one of the teabowls and the saucer below may well have been made by the same factory as Teapot 2 (if not decorated by the same decorator).

Please Share - thank you:
antique, Chinese, Jade, Stone Carvings

Advice Sought

A Collector based in the Costa Blanca area of Spain has just approached us for advice on how to sell these interesting and well provenanced Chinese Artefacts – so your help is enlisted – what is the best place to put these items – if you have an Auction House or are a Dealer, are any of these items that you could help with? The largest object is very, very heavy – the purchase receipts are dated 1989. Please comment here or email  editor@antiquesreview.com or contact us @AntiquesRev on Twitter if you are able to assist

Please Share - thank you:
antique, blue and white, Chinese, Cups, Porcelain

Chinese Blue & White – The Cup

The wealth of designs on Chinese Blue and White Porcelain is astounding and is far more broad than one might expect, from Turner’s version of the “Willow Pattern”. My joy in collecting Chinese Blue and white is to explore the diversity – and small coffee cups are an inexpensive way to build up a substantial base for research (and a nice display)

These late 18th Century Chinese cups are all hand painted, all blue and white and all very different different

  

Even these two cups from the same set are, obviously, painted by two totally different artists

These three cups are all of buildings. The first is a striking attempt at a Church – described but not seen. The second has bricks which I have not seen before on Chinese Porcelain and the third is so classically what the English expected, on their blue and white, that it could almost be a copy from an English Transfer Pattern.

The four bridges on the following three cups are, again, all different; yet the three willow trees are surprisingly similar. Note the superior quality of the painting in the centre cup to its fellow on the left. NB The fourth bridge is in the background of the third cup!

Three Cups and a bunch of Flowers!

Embellished with English Gilding and high detail

And Finally

A Sense of Humour and the wonkiest buffalo ever!

Please Share - thank you:
Indonesian, Kris, Malay

The Kris

by Michael A. W. Griffin

The sinuous blade on display was definitely a Kris – the mystical and lethal, traditional weapon of the Malays. The stallholder in Needham Market issued a warning. “There are many copies and I can’t really tell, but I think it’s a good one”. ‘It’ was a beautiful example, in the sort of condition which told that it could have been a cosseted antique or a ceremonial wedding Kris preserved by a family proud of its tradition.

 

The abundance of curios for sale from, and in South East Asia can be confusing. The casual buyer, seeing a poorly plated Kukri offered alongside a replica samurai sword, near a Bornean hilang or Malay kris might dismiss all, without further thought, daunted by the task of authentication.

Allegedly over a thousand years old, the Kris is supposed to have been the successor of daggers made from the bones of stingrays and it figures in stories of the Mahajapit Empire of the 13th century. It also appears in tales of the early Malaccan Sultanate, in particular the Hang Tuah legends, which feature acts of heroism and chivalry. Hang Tuah, the hero, was a bodyguard of the Sultan Mansur Shah who rewarded his bravery by presenting to him, the kris of a vanquished enemy. The name of the famed weapon was Tamin Sari. It is now the property of the Sultan of Perak.

Unlike most foreign daggers, the Malay hilt appears bent, to provide a four or five inch “pistol grip” facilitating its use as a thrusting weapon. Balinese or other Indonesian hilts are usually straight. The woodcarving represents Hindu deities. Local carvers work freehand on the hilt but the sheath, traditionally made from finely grained “ornamental wood”, is rarely carved. It will be polished and may be decorated with silver or ivory trim. There are relatively recent examples of ivory hilt, sheath and trim but these are usually modern “bridegroom ornaments” and they probably became popular with Asian carvers, due to the increased availability of African ivory. Amongst the historic weapons are regional variants where Arabic, Quranic quotations may be displayed on the blade. These were etched or engraved, then filled with silver. There is a smaller defensive kris, which has a curved (six inch), one-sided blade. Its name in Malay might remind you of the spurs of the fighting cocks – Lawi Ayam. It has been fascinating to meet a number of Malay ironsmiths in workshops as far apart as Trengannu and Brunei who still make a few ceremonial Kris for weddings and national display. All these craftsmen have a fund of ‘Kris’ stories, from those featuring the legendary Hang Tuah, to the more contemporary about ‘The Father of Malaysia’, Tungkhu Abdul Rahman. If you travel east, intent on buying in village markets, it would be worth learning some Malay language. Being able to discuss the history and mystery associated with the weapons will help your price and extend to you folklore, hospitality and, with luck, some of the mystery and fascination of the antique Kris.

A Kris is made in three parts. The blade, usually over twelve inches long, is wrought from iron. When red-hot, it is heated, beaten and drawn, then laminated with different iron ores often including meteoric metal, until the sinuous shape begins to form. It is filed and shaped into an uneven number of curves and small steps in the laminations serrate the edges. Not all Kris have curved blades  these were functional weapons and not simply ceremonial.

Unusual blade with eleven twists as opposed to the conventional nine
Unusual blade with eleven twists as opposed to the conventional nine

Bone handled straight edged Kris (Early to mid 19th Century)
Bone handled straight edged Kris (Early to mid 19th Century)

The flat finish, usually given a ‘damascene type’ appearance, is sharpened to warrant the description “sharp as a razor.”

Caution – The modern welding, forging process, often includes pieces of hardened metal from vehicle parts – even bicycle chain – offering a superior alloy.

A modern, crudely wrought blade
A modern, crudely wrought blade

However, the early iron from Persia, with meteorite additives, added mystery as well as strength.

Rare thirteen curve blade
Rare thirteen curve blade

Unlike most foreign daggers, the Malay hilt appears bent, to provide a four or five inch “pistol grip” facilitating its use as a thrusting weapon. Balinese or other Indonesian hilts are usually straight. The woodcarving represents Hindu deities. Local carvers work freehand on the hilt but the sheath, traditionally made from finely grained “ornamental wood”, is rarely carved. It will be polished and may be decorated with silver or ivory trim. There are relatively recent examples of ivory hilt, sheath and trim but these are usually modern “bridegroom ornaments” and they probably became popular with Asian carvers, due to the increased availability of African ivory. Amongst the historic weapons are regional variants where Arabic, Quranic quotations may be displayed on the blade. These were etched or engraved, then filled with silver. There is a smaller defensive kris, which has a curved (six inch), one-sided blade. Its name in Malay might remind you of the spurs of the fighting cocks – Lawi Ayam. It has been fascinating to meet a number of Malay ironsmiths in workshops as far apart as Trengannu and Brunei who still make a few ceremonial Kris for weddings and national display. All these craftsmen have a fund of ‘Kris’ stories, from those featuring the legendary Hang Tuah, to the more contemporary about ‘The Father of Malaysia’, Tungkhu Abdul Rahman. If you travel east, intent on buying in village markets, it would be worth learning some Malay language. Being able to discuss the history and mystery associated with the weapons will help your price and extend to you folklore, hospitality and, with luck, some of the mystery and fascination of the antique Kris.

©M A W Griffin 1999

Bent Garuda Handle - The traditional poisoned man in pain
Bent Garuda Handle – The traditional poisoned man in pain

Another version of the Garuda Handle and blade
Another version of the Garuda Handle and blade

Detial of the Garuda Handle
Detial of the Garuda Handle

 

Please Share - thank you:
Porcelain

Letter to the Editor – Small Vases

Dear Editor,

Please could you tell me how old these vases are? All I know is they were given to my Grandmother about 60 years ago by a friend. I have been offered US$90 for the pair should I take it or should I keep them.

RP

(name and address supplied)

Dear RP,

The vases appear to be in excellent condition, they were made on the continent (Europe), like the figures in the letter from MG. They date from between 1895 & 1910 so they are about a hundred years old. I think, if you have decided to sell them, that the offer is more than fair. I would suggest that you “grab the money and run”

Editor

Antiques Review.

vase vasebase

Please Share - thank you:
Pottery

Letter to the Editor – Figurines

Dear Editor,

I was delighted to find your site and look forward to reading future issues. With this message is a picture of a pair of small figures which I inherited. I know they are at least forty years old but wonder if you could tell me anything about them? Are they likely to be valuable? I really don’t want to sell them but it might be silly not to.

oldpair

Best of luck with your new publication.

Yours sincerely,

MG Spain.

(Name & email address supplied)

Dear MG,

Thank you for your contribution and best wishes.

As far as I can see your figures appear to be hand painted, unglazed earthenware & I would guess are over a hundred years old – possibly continental. They do not strike me as being fantastically valuable and I would suggest that you keep them until you can get them checked by an expert.

If there are any marks underneath, perhaps you could email a photo of them to me it may help to date the figures and show where they were made.

If any one has more information, opinions or ideas, why not email me and I will post the info on this page.

Ed

Postscript

MG has emailed me a photo of the bases.

pairbase

They appear to be made from an orange toned clay. I think they are German and date from about 1880. Sadly the value is still not high, but they are odd enough and old enough to be worth hanging onto!

Ed

 

Please Share - thank you:
Porcelain

Letter to the Editor – Vase

Dear Sirs,

I have the following urn vase (see pictures).
Please let me know what it is, when made, and the possible value

Regards,     B

Mark underneath
Mark underneath

Ornate vase
Ornate vase

Thank you for your question – Its certainly an interesting piece.

The mark and general appearance seem to be consistent with pieces from the Rodolstadt Volkstedt area (Germany, Thuringia). I believe the mark is that of

Triebner, Ens and Eckkert 1876-1894

and as there is no other mark on the base I would suggest that it dates between 1877-1886

As far as value is concerned that is a little trickier assuming there is no damage – it would depend on where you are selling it and how. As a dealer in the UK (where the provincial market for decorative Volkstedt pieces is not that good) I would probably price it at around #250 – #300 – particularly as I would expect it to be part of a larger set.

In the US where large decorative 19th Century pieces seem to be more popular I would price it higher at around $700 – $900 as a private seller I would seek the advice of your local auctioneer or even join the discussion board at http://www.porcelainsite.com/   which, whilst it is a source of modern Volkstedt porcelain, also has a discussion forum for older pieces their identification and, I believe, value.

 

Please Share - thank you:
Porcelain

Dear Editor – Saucer

Dear Sir,
I have in my possession a small, crudely painted, blue and white shallow dish. It looks Chinese, but the porcelain isn’t the right texture. There are three little cannon balls in the pattern and trees with a pagoda and a hut on islands and on the left of one is a tiny fisherman, sitting fishing. Although it was covered in soil when found, it is in excellent condition. Can you please tell me what it is and if it is valuable?

Pamela

(Address Supplied)

Dear Pamela,
Please, hold the bowl up to a strong light. Does the porcelain look slightly greenish with the light behind it? If it does, you may have a very rare pattern on what sounds like an early Worcester Saucer. The presence of the fisherman adds a great deal of rarity to the cannonball pattern. I will put my full report up on the website for you once I have had your reply, but I think it safe to tell you that there is a possibility your piece is worth at least £250, possibly a lot more. Whatever you do with the saucer, please make sure that you send photos of it to the Dyson Perrins Museum. They might make you an offer but, at the very least, they will be able to authenticate it for you.
All the best,
The Editor.

Please Share - thank you: