"Must have" books on Chinese Porcelain
After surfing your web site and a good deal of thought, I have decided to begin a serious study of Chinese Porcelain. I love the beauty and craftsmanship of the porcelain and also the challenge of learning the marks and history.
I live in San Antonio, Texas which is a major retirement area for military officers as well as having 5 large military bases. These people travel the world from duty station to station and as a consequence an amazing assortment of items turns up here every week from the Garage Sales, Estate Sales and in the Antique Shops.
In three years I have yet to meet a local dealer who could decipher anything more complicated than a Noritake China mark so I would greatly appreciate it if you would recommend what in your experience are the top three must have books on Chinese Porcelain.
Again, I thank you deeply for taking the time to share your expertise. It is truly appreciated.
Here are a few suggestion
Thank you for your kind words about my web page.
Considering your specific local market, - I believe - you must first of all get one book about Japanese porcelain. The reason is simply - much "Asian looking" porcelain is actually Japanese and not Chinese.
- The first "must have" is therefore "Imari, Satsuma and Other Japanese Export Ceramics" by Nancy N. Schiffer. If possibly, I think you should go for the second edition.
- Next "must have" is "Chinese Export Porcelain in North America" by Jean McClure Mudge. This will give you a very good understanding of the history of Chinese porcelain in relation to North America. The pieces illustrated are mostly very rare collectors items and not likely to be found at garage sales, but on the other hand, if you do - this collecting hobby would suddenly turn very profitably.
- The third book would be a free choice between "export porcelain" and "Chinese taste" pieces. If you would go for "export" you should look for "Collecting Chinese Export Porcelain" by Elinor Gordon.
More on Chinese porcelain
If your interested is more in Chinese porcelain the options are innumerable. There are literally thousands of interesting books out there. If I were to mention some of the best anyway, here are a few, depending on your interests:
- "The Golden Age of Chinese Archaeology" from a very recent exhibition held in San Francisco. University level understanding of what Chinese Art is all about. Twin brick sized exhibition catalogue. Not that many illustrations, but the text is first class.
- Chinese Blue and White Porcelain, by Duncan Macintosh, London, 1994. The title says it all.
- Chinese Ceramics, by Rose Kerr, London, 1998. For serious interest in Imperial Chinese porcelain.
- Chinese Ceramics, A New Comprehensive Survey from the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco
by, He Li, New York, 1996. General reference book on every area of Chinese Ceramics. Twin brick size and a "must have" if you are planning to spend more then $1,000 on Chinese porcelain.
- Chinese Ceramics in the Topkapi Saray Museum, Istanbul Regina Krahl, et al., London, 1986. A seriously important book and a collector's item in itself. A "must have" if you are interested in and really want to understand early Ming blue and white.
- Chinese Glazes. Nigel Wood, London, 1999. If you are aiming at a "collection" of Chinese porcelain and really want to know this subject, this is definitely a must together with the He Li book above. If you are planning to buy 10 books on Chinese porcelain, this should be one of them.
- The Chinese Potter, Margaret Medley, London, 1976. This is today an old book but the author is a good writer and with her excellent grasp of the subject this book will not be outdated in a long while.
There is no end to this, the number of possibly book is almost unlimited and when working my way through only these I realize it would be a full time job to keep a list of the 100 best books on Chinese porcelain updated ... I might give it a try ... Until further - I hope this gives you at least a start :-)
Thank you for your interest.