Investing in Chinese Porcelain

I immensely enjoy reading your articles. It is really commendable for what you are doing, like sharing your knowledge with everyone. Probably you will say, because love of work.

I am practically new in the area of Chinese porcelain even if I have some knowledge of European porcelain. Since you are a prominent authority in Chinese porcelain I would like to ask you few questions.

I understand that there are many fakes or recently manufactured products. But what I understand even the originals are not scarce, say 18th century and even 17th century blue and white dishes, probably we can cover the oceans with them.

Despite all this, would you recommend them as an investment or which ones you do in short consider Chinese porcelain investments?

If the answer is yes, then please explain. Would I also be correct in assuming that the Chinese have been using the same substances for hard porcelain since the day one until present?

The reason I am asking all these questions is because I might be doing some investments. Finally, do you have any chart reflecting the prices of Chinese porcelains since at least from say 1900 and on?

Your cooperation in this subject will be well appreciated. Thank you in advance.

I would personally advice against "investing" in Chinese Porcelain, but...

Thank you for your interesting questions. I will try to answer your questions one by one and add a personal comment on the "Investment" question.

Generally speaking, what kind of Chinese porcelains might be a good investment, is not a question of age but rather a question of quality. The "best" of anything will always appreciate in value much faster than average or low quality pieces.

This is because the simple rule of supply and demand. However big or small the demand might be for anything in the future, there will always me more interest for good pieces then for bad.

On the other hand, to know what is good or bad in Chinese porcelain is only really possibly if you are a collector by heart. Most dealers would most probably suggest that specifically their stock of merchandize would be the best possibly investment.

Now, it is actually only you yourself who could judge this, and that decision - I feel - must be made against a background of a personal interest.

As for your question, if Chinese porcelain was made of the same substance since the day one, this is in some way correct. The porcelain paste of Chinese porcelain, was probably natural clay up until the Song dynasty. Only when the need arose while making the Yuan and early Ming wide chargers came the need for mixing the porcelain clay with Kaolin to achieve a greater firing stability of the clay. Not that the possibility of mixing Kaolin with porcelain stone was not known earlier. There was just no real need for it until then. After the Yuan dynasty until the present we could say that the porcelain paste has been unchanged. The details - I feel there is no need to go into - but naturally there are variations and exceptions all along the way.

As for any chart, reflecting the prices of Chinese Porcelain, I don't know of any recent, but as for those I have seen it could be read out that the development has been more stable for "Chinese porcelain" over the years then most other "investments", probably because Chinese Porcelain is an art form which is recognized and collected world wide. If the times were bad in one corner of the world, the times might have been better somewhere else.

This, I would say, is still very much the case, causing unpredictable fluctuations depending on the local taste. The one thing that will develop better then anything else is Imperial Mark and Period pieces. Unfortunately this is also the group of pieces where the fakers have concentrated their efforts, which - I would like to stress - might cause unpleasant surprises in the future.

As a summary - Chinese porcelain is most certainly a good investment provided that this is not your sole interest. I use to say - if you take care of your collection, your investment will take care of itself.

Jan-Erik Nilsson

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