Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Chinese Elephant found in a North Shore House, Fine 18th C. Qianlong Bamboo Carving of an Elephant

Chinese Elephant found in a North Shore House, Fine 18th C. Qianlong Bamboo Carving of an Elephant

Over the years many interesting things of terrific quality have come from old estates here on Boston's North Shore. We are always seeking collections and single items.

From Shanghai to Beverly Farms

Chinese Elephant found in a North Shore House, Fine 18th C. Qianlong Bamboo Carving of an Elephant
18thC. Qianlong Period Carved
Bamboo Elephant
This particular carving was found in the library of a large house in Beverly Farms, Massachusetts over 10 years ago, collecting dust stuck behind some old books in the library . The family's great grandfather had  worked as a Diplomat for the United States Government following the Open Door Policy put forth by then US Secretary of State John Hays in 1899. These were the golden years for collecting in China., Post Imperial and Pre Mao! They later moved back to the North Shore settling in Beverly during the early 1930's.

From 1899 to the 1920's years Asia saw a large influx of foreign diplomats entering China to build relations and to keep an eye on investments made there by many nations while the country went through a series of leaders and economic turmoil. While westerners lived much of the time like royalty, the rest of China was heading into an uprising and major political turmoil.

Also during this time well to do Americans, many from New England, serving there built large houses and furnished them with superb examples of Chinese antiques being sold at bargain prices due to the weak economy. Many fine collections were begun during this time, much of brought/sent back to the USA  through these three decades.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Downsizing on Bostons' North Shore, its a Cultural Challenge

A Few Thoughts on Downsizing

Frequently the topic of Downsizing comes up over the course of the year with people in our area. We get the usual call from someone here on Boston's North Shore, either in Gloucester, Machester By The Sea, Hamilton, Wenham, Essex or perhaps Marblehead. You can feel the dilemma in their voices. Its always a hard thing to get into when you're along in years. As i said in the title here "Downsizing on Bostons' North Shore, its a Cultural Challenge" , for many they might feel they are selling their own heritage. 

On occassion a call comes from one of the old Yankee families who sound on the phone like something out of "Upstairs Downstairs" or the an old Cary Grant movie.

    Downsizing on Bostons' North Shore, its a Cultural Challenge
    McKim, Mead and White Architects, "A Summer Cottage"
  • NOTE: Around here, and in a few other spots around the country, the house they are moving out of can often be one of the  6,000 plus square foot Archs built during the early 1900's known affectionately as "Cottages". Why they are called that is the original Summer Houses were always called Cottages regardless of size. The famed New York architectural firm of McKim , Mead and White helped coin the term "back in the day". Its also not uncommon that the house is now in it's third or even forth generation within the same family. Always bear in mind, Old Yankee Boston Families NEVER take anything to the dump. I know that comment sounds odd, but in 30 years I've learned its as close to one of life's few truisms as I've ever known. So the place is likely stuffed, much of it great and some of it pure junk.  I know, my own parent's house in Marblehead still had paint cans left over from when they painted their FIRST house in 1952, along with broken power tools that haven't worked since the Korean War as well. We sold the house in 2006.

Get Added To Our Search Engine! Get Found On EBAY

Get Added To Our Search Engine! Get Found On EBAY

Get Added To Our Search Engine! Get Found On EBAY

If you're an Antique dealer on eBay and you're using this site to hunt for and sell things to make a living on that massive site, perhaps you might want to have your user name included in our Search Index of Favorite Sellers which is built into our searches on Its just one way we prioritize the best of category. It can either be in an eBay Store, Buy It Now or Auction Items or any mix of all of them.

Get Listed!!
We don't charge for it or anything, we just like keeping the index up to date and interesting. So let us know, send an email to include your user name a little background about your business and that's it.

Regardless of what kind of antiques you specialize in or if you're a generalist and sell: Chinese Antiques, European Decorative Accessories, Fine Art, Prints and Engravings, American or Art Glass, Silver, Jewelry, Oriental Rugs, Textiles. The list is pretty much endless.

If you're not listed on Bidamount contact us...and Get Added To Our Search Engine! Get Found On EBAY

Get Added To Our Search Engine! Get Found On EBAY

So drop us a note to say hello and include your user name etc. You can never have too much viability, the more the better!

We're here to help you. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Selling an Asian Art Collection on Boston's North Shore

Asian Art and the Estate Process; Hamilton, Manchester-By-The-Sea, Beverly Farms and Gloucester

The changing Asian Art market and how it might affect you could be good and maybe bad. Perhaps this might help you reach a great result.

The Task of the Estate Executor

The most difficult task facing a family member or executor when settling an estate is how to maximize the returns on the sale of personal property. Its even more difficult when facing the disposition of Antiques and fine art from China, Japan, Korea and Southeast Asia.

Over the last 20 years the demand for antiques and art from China, Taiwan, Thailand and Cambodia
has jumped exponentially. Despite the near collapse of the American furniture market, with the exception of ONLY the very rarest pieces,  Asian art has done the exact opposite.

Prices for authentic "mark and period" porcelain, bronzes, jade carvings and other objects from the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasty's have reached nearly stratospheric levels compared to prices just a few decades ago. The 18th C.  vase that in 1985 was worth $4,500 today can command $40,000 to $100,000, a pair of white jade boxes worth $12,000 a couple decades ago today can command over $300,000.

Manchester Massachusetts collection Chinese porcelain
F. Gordon Morrill Collection, 2003 Estate Auction
Sold for $5.8 Million, Doyles NY
A few years ago in 2003 the estate of  F. Gordon Morrill of Manchester-By-The Sea, Massachusetts was being settled.  Mr. Morrill had begun collecting Chinese art back in the 1950's, he had a good eye and bought what he liked. What he liked was pretty amazing.

When he passed away the family smartly went to an advisor, who got them every dime the collection was worth. It wasn't a good lawyer or family accountant, but a specialist in Asian art.

It was an important decision then and an even more important one today. Calling a local auctioneer, getting some rates, establishing time tables isn't nearly enough any more. The reason is a bit surprising.

Up until a few years ago, placing these objects with good quality photos and accurate descriptions in advertisement, mailers and on the web for a local estate auction was all it took to reel in buyers feeding China and Asia's near insatiable appetite. Then came the fakes

Friday, May 25, 2012

Asian and Chinese Antiques on Boston's North Shore

Asian and Chinese Antiques on Boston's North Shore

For over 30 years we've bought and sold what seems, in hindsight, today an unimaginable variety of Chinese, Japanese and Korean art all discovered on Boston's North Shore. Some of it came from  Manchester, Beverly Farms, Prides Crossing, Marblehead, Salem, Hamilton, Wenham here in Gloucester and many places within an hour's ride.

The question we are often asked is, why is so much of it here? Why is their such a concentration of fine Chinese porcelain, great jade carvings, dragon robes, carpets and bronzes in this particular area?

The answer is a simple, origins of wealth and the region's very long history.

Asian and Chinese Antiques on Boston's North Shore
Ming Dynasty "Hundred Boys Jar"
Collection PEM, Salem, MA

Boston's North Shore's most important economic foundation started in the 18th C. with Maritime Trade. Salem Massachusetts ( few miles from here) was for a time the wealthiest city in America.  The shipping families living there with names like  Derby (America's First Millionaire), Cabot, Codman, Crowninshield, Lewis, Pickering, Devereux, Forbes and many others were the catalysts for econmic growth initially in America. Their initial fortunes were made plying the waters of India, Batavia, Japan, Macao and numerous spots along the Chinese coastline. Some of these ships earned as much as $100,000 in one trip, which was a vast fortune in the 1700's.

From these trips the near 180 ships form Salem alone brought back not only Spices, silks, cotton and gold creating wealth beyond imagination but artifacts as well. The influence on taste in this region was enormous. Much of the material culture brought back over decades formed what was the start of the Peabody Essex Museum "PEM" in Salem, Mass. Today the PEM is probably the finest China Trade and Maritime museums in the world and serves as living time capsule looking back to those days as well as welcoming new ideas and art.  Through the incredibly generous donations of local benefactors, the Museum has expanded many times and in recent history arranged to move an entire stone house from China to the museum dating from the Ming Dynasty. Many of these donors are to this day the later generations of the original museum merchant founders.

Peabody Essex Museum Collection, Salem, MA
Early 18th C. Ladies Imperial Gold Silk Robe
PEM , Salem, MA

Through those years, coupled with the accumulation of additional fortunes made in Banking, Railroads, Farming, Manufacturing and smart investing generation upon generation have continued the interest in the Far East and have continued collecting. During the late 19th and early 20th C. additional vast fortunes were built and acquisitions of fine art from all over the world resumed with abandon.

While many of these priceless treasures have thankfully been given to the Peabody Essex Museum, as well as The Museum of Fine Art Boston, many remain tucked away being enjoyed in local houses and on occasion lent to exhibitions when they are needed. Also on occasion for what ever reason the time comes to perhaps settle an estate or to simply "downsize" we get a call to help bring the items to market. Most recently that market has been in mainland China and Taiwan.

That's the story in a nutshell, if you ever find yourself in the area make a point to visit the Peabody Essex Musuem in Salem, MA. Its worth it and tells the story much more detail than I can here.

Feel free to email or call with any questions about your own Bamboo Carvings, Chinese Silks, Porcelains or Jades or their values.

Thank you for visiting ~ Peter Combs
Gloucester, MA 978-283-3524

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Gloucester Summer Camp, via the Gloucester Museum School

As a married dad with four children here in Gloucester, Massachusetts, I know how important it is for many parents to find great Summer activities that will send the kids off in the morning smiling and bring them home each night tanned and enthralled with their experiences during the day, while being assured they are in great and able hands all the time. 

With that in mind I must say something about this GREAT DAY CAMP! I know my kids have all gone FOR years!!!

If you live in the Cape Ann Gloucester, Massachusetts area, or are planning on visiting for the part of the Summer with your children, HEADS UP!! Kid Activity opportunity!! 

The Gloucester Museum School Project Adventure Summer Camp is preparing for Summer 2012 and taking applications!

Check out their website..really take the time, you'll be glad you did.

Rowing the Long Boats
Rowing on the Annisquam River,
Musuem School Island Camp
in background
The Camp is designed for kids from the First Grade right through 13 years of age. This year they will be offering: Junior Sea Camp, Adventure Sea Camp, Sr. Sea Camp, EXPEDITIONS 2012 as well as a CIT program. They are all great and fun.

Its called the Island Camp for a great reason, the Camp is based on a wonderful island along the Annisquam River in Gloucester (which is really not a river but the part of the ocean running along the west side of Cape Ann.)

Annisquam River
Every Summer Jeff and Joanne Crawford for the last 20 plus years have run Cape Ann's Museum School day camp. aka "The Island Camp".   Jeff and Joanne along with their staff of young adults, most have been with the camp for the Summer themselves for many years, will provide activities and experiences your child or children will cherish forever. The camp is a licensed 501(c)(3) non profit and has been in operation since 1978.

Activities always include plenty of swimming, rock climbing, boat handling, dory rowing, exploring salt marshes, marine science, trust building exercises. All of the programs are geared in an age appropriate way based on the abilities of the kids and their experiences.

Its a great series of programs, conducted in one of the most beautiful places on the east coast.

If you do not know much about the Annisquam and Gloucester, start with these images...CLICK ME

Have a wonderful Summer! Yes the GMS is on Facebook too!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Buying Chinese Imperial Porcelain or Kangxi, Qianlong Era Material on Ebay?

Buying Chinese Imperial Porcelain

Chinese Fakes Flood The World, including Ebay

Buying Chinese Imperial Porcelain or Kangxi, Qianlong Era Material on Ebay?

Click Here to visit our other site...It's free and it works.., the only real time search site devoted to finding Chinese and Asian antiques on eBay

As of this moment May 17, 2012 listed on Ebay are over 128,000 items being sold under the category of "Asian Antiques", 128,000!  The problem is an obvious one, 90% of them are not Antique or even semi antique, they are of course brand new.

Finding out you've bought fakes can be very discouraging if you're trying to start a collection and you're filling it with reproductions from Jhingdezhen or Chaozhou basing your decisions on how much they look like the one in an old Christies catalog or a picture from some reference book, especially ones written prior to 1985. The terms and characteristics used in those books for authenticating Chinese Art have been copied almost perfectly by the pros in China.

Reproduction Imperial Chinese Bowl
Fake Youngzheng
Mark and Period Bowl

 How good are they? Well here are a few of the more common MODERN copies of 18th C. pieces, both are marked Yongzheng Period (1723-1735).
The blue and white bowl at a glace is pretty good looking to the average buyer equipped with a modest amount of experience, the fact that its coming from a seller in China is the first big tip off. Dealers in China DO not sell Mark and Period Chinese Bowls on Ebay...

Fake Youngzheng
Mark and Period Bowl Base
The second bowl is a Famille Rose example, also with the mark of Youngzheng, done with a square seal.

Its not Ebay's fault really, after all how do they hire enough people to vet the site along with the hundreds they already have holding back the onslaught of other reproductions of Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Ralph Lauren, Gucci, Feregamo and dozens more. These take precedent as not doing something about it will result in lawsuits over Copyright Infringement..and no one wants to get sued.

Chinese reproduction 18th Century bowl
Fake Yongzheng
Mark and Period Bowl

If you've bought any of these please do not email me saying they are authentic, they aren' get over it now. Its a drag, and yes you might have paid a few grand for them and no you probably cannot get your money back if its been more than a couple weeks, if it hasn't been that long, this is your lucky day. Open a dispute IMMEDIATELY with Ebay and send it/them back.

So the question becomes can you buy with any certainty an object on Ebay's Asian antiques site that is Antique?

The answer is yes you can, but its not easy. On Ebay their are a variety of very good dealers located in the United States, the UK, France and the Netherlands around maybe 50 all together. Many of them have things for sale all the time, and others prepare one or two significant listings a month with a few dozen good things. So you have to keep an eye on them regularly.

Overall they are your best bet for getting real Asian antiques. In addition they are also a good source for building direct relationships with for buying items not on Ebay. After all, most of the material placed on the site is not of the premium quality material better suited for the higher end of the market. That said, some of it is quite excellent and way above what you're going to see searching local antique shops on weekends.

Finding these better dealers is of course the trick. One way to do it is through Its a site we built with searches written to exclude most of the less favorable sellers and focuses on the ones we know tend to have the better items. Some are dealers we know, others are ones we don't know personally, but have over the years done business with and some are folks who consistently have good offerings. On the right side of each page in are a series of category's that expand drop down search menus. Simply click on one, a new window will pop open on Ebay itself.  Scroll around down through it and have fun, if you do not see anything that strikes your fancy, close it and click the next search and so on...from there you can "Add To Watch List"the way you normally would an item right into your own account

You can of course create your own searches on Ebay itself if you want to spend the time doing it, but you will still have the prospect of having to remove those who seem a bit suspect.

If you want to see what a real  VETTED seller search on EBAY looks like after getting rid of the FAKES, give it a try....the site was built and developed in Partnership with eBay and is owned by Peter Combs, an Asian Art dealer for more than 35 years.  

Buying Chinese Imperial Porcelain or Kangxi, Qianlong Era Material on Ebay?

  Try it, you'll like it.   

Sign Up Now

Explore the site while you're there, you might just be supervised. 

Basic Rules for Safe Buying on Ebay of Asian Art:
  1. If the piece has an Imperial mark or any reign mark predating 1850, be immediately VERY suspicious. Go and look at the seller's other listings, does he/she also have many more pieces with early marks? If so be MORE nervous? Is the writing of the listing very odd grammatically? i.e.  "We have fine many things in collectible for your condition" or "We are honored to have many new friends for buying Chinese Culture"..If you read anything like this run for your life. 
  2.  More and more Fakes are being sold by people listing them in the USA but are in fact IN China. One indicator is the shipping rates, they are much higher if they are being sent form Shanghai, the expected shipping time is also not a few days, its 10 days to 3 weeks. RUN for your life.
  3. Sellers in Japan, are the most part fine and in fact many are quite excellent.
  4. Sellers in Taiwan are just as dangerous to your financial health as Mainland China.
  5. Back Check the listing, copy the title and description before bidding and go to the Christies Asian Department at , this will bring you to the Auction results page for Asian art only. make sure the Calender is set to display from 2004 or 2002 up to today. Then paste into the search bar your description. After a bit you will see what pieces similar to the one you're looking at have brought. If the one on Ebay is $1,500 and the one on Christies brought $100,000 to $4,000,000 ..well you already know what it means I hope. No it doesn't mean you've made a discovery...
Other key things to know, Famille Rose didn't exist during the Ming Dynasty other than on Ebay, the Last Emperor of China doesn't have descendants selling stuff on the web, Asian dealers do not sell things for 1% of their value to make new friends in America, Mark and Period porcelain is VERY VERY Rare, even rarer for vases and large pieces.

Have fun just the same, try  , use your head and ask lots of questions before committing money and BUY some Good Books on the topic....go to museums and absorb.

Feel free to email or call with any questions about your own Bamboo Carvings, Chinese Silks, Porcelains or Jades or their values.

Thank you for visiting ~ Peter Combs
Gloucester, MA 978-283-3524

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

3" Song Ge Type Bowl Realizes $1,328,653 at Christies Today

During Chrities' Asia week auction of "Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art" held on King Street today, ( May 15th, 2012),  in London a stunning and remarkably small Ge type Song Dyanasty Bowl (1127-1279) brought  $1,328,653.

Inch for Inch it may be the most expensive example of Asian Porcelain ever sold. We noticed it in the catalog last week with a curiously low estimate of only 20,000 to 30,000 pounds.

 Well, it seems some very serious bidders with deep wallets agreed about the estimate and had the desire to push it to it's limits..for now anyway.

rare Song ge bowl
Great Shape, Nice Color, handsome Crackle.

Sold For $1,328,653

Feel free to email or call with any questions about your own Bamboo Carvings, Chinese Silks, Porcelains or Jades or their values.

Thank you for visiting ~ Peter Combs
Gloucester, MA 978-283-3524

Friday, May 11, 2012

Asian Art Week in London May 15 to 18, 2012

Starting on May 15th during Asia week in the UK Christies will conduct a series of  fine sales at King Street and South Kensington of both Fine Chinese and Japanese art.

May 15, 2012 Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art will be held a 8 King Street, St. James, London. Starting at 10:30 am and the afternoon session at 2:00 pm.

Of the Major lots in the sale, the three below are getting lots of attention and for obvious reasons.

NOTE: Keep an eye on Lot 403  though, its a tiny 3.5" Ge Type Song Bowl with a VERY modest estimate..of 20,000  to 30,000 could be a shocker.

"Property from a Private English Collection; Property from a European Royal Family; The Property of the late 7th Earl of Harewood, Sold by Order of the Executors; The Leonard Gow Collection of Chinese Jade Carvings and Works of Art; The Fryers Collection of Chinese Art and An Important Private European Collection of Chinese Works of Art. " Christies Announcement (source)

Jiaqing Famille Rose vase
Lot 388 a Fabulous large pair of Imperial Jiaqing mark and period Famille Rose vases, measuring over 26" tall. Presale Estimate 800,000 to 1.2 Million Pounds UK.  Click the link below for a great read by Asian Scholar Rosemary Scott.
SOLD FOR 1.2 Million Pounds