Damaged Chinese Vases Still Very Valuable, Its A World Wide Market Worth Billions

Damaged Chinese Vases Still Very Valuable, Its A World Wide Market Worth Billions

Perfect Chinese Porcelain Is Getting Hard To Find, Damaged Pieces Can Still Be Very Valuable

  • Damaged Chinese Pieces Can Bring Large Amounts Of Money
  • The Chinese Porcelain Market IS Red Hot Globally, Not Just In China

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In the not too distant past a crack, chip, fracture or drilled hole in the bottom of a Chinese porcelain was the "kiss of death" to value, in today's overheated Asian art market this is no longer the case.

Anyone in "the trade" will tell you coming across Chinese vases who have been previously drilled and made into table lamps is not unusual. Starting around 1920 it became very fashionable to take "pretty" Chinese pieces and putting them to a new uses as a lighting device. Pairs of vases decorated in Famille Rose, blue and white, doucai, wucai, sancai and every other imaginable combination including monchromes of all blue or red were in effect violated and "lamped".

This regrettable practice has gone on un-abated for the last 90 plus years.

Do No Drill Your Chinese Vase before Asking An Expert About It's value FIRST

Damaged Chinese Vases Still Very Valuable, Its A World Wide Market Worth Billions
Drilled Qianlong Vase Sells For $71,400
The difference between a hole and no hole can means thousands and even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

A couple of good cases in point have come into the news in the last few years.

Duke's Auctioneers in the UK recently sold a fabulously pretty underglaze blue and red Qianlong period vase that had been drilled by the previous owner and is thought to have had before drilling the mark of the Emperor Qianlong (1736 to 1795).  No one can tell whether it did or not have the mark.

Had it not been drilled the vase without the mark could have easily reached $150,000 and with the mark could have brought $800,000. However it was drilled and STILL brought $71,400 hole and all...not bad.



Drilled and Broken Vase brought $800,000

A couples years ago another drilled vase from the Ming dynasty blue and white "perfumer" which retained it's Imperial Ming mark sold for an astounding $800,000. This one turned up in the UK as well after having been given to a secretary as a gift for years of service, the owner had no idea of it's value before making the gift. 

Drilled Qianlong vase
In that case, the top was also broken off as well as the base being drilled, fortunately the Imperial mark was on the side of the piece. had it not been drilled it would have realized $3.5 to $5 million easily. 

Once again that's still not bad at all..!

Are All Drilled Vases Worth a Small Fortune?

The short answer is NO, not all of them, not even most of them. But they can easily be worth more
Rare Damaged Vase With reign Mark
Ming Under-glaze Blue Lamped vase, Sold for $800,000
than one would expect. So can pieces that have been cracked and chipped and are repairable. A restored piece is NEVER worth as much as an untouched object.

If you have something that's damaged or chipped, do not try "gluing it" yourself with some epoxy or worse yet "Crazy Glue"...Gently tape the broken piece to the vase to bowl after putting the shards into a zip lock bag.

Who is Buyer All of These Pieces?

Many are being bought by collectors and dealers in China, BUT an astounding number of them are still being chased by collectors around the rest of the world.

For example, perhaps one of the largest Chinese furniture collections in the world belongs not to a Chinese collector but an American buyer. Throughout the United States and Europe are thousands and thousands of well healed dealers and collectors going toe to toe with wallets in Hang Kong, Shanghai and Beijing.

In addition to private collectors around the globe, Institutions-Museums backed by Wall Street billionaires are helping to boost and balance their collections as prices rise.

Its a changing world in Chinese objects and changing fro the better. As long as the Chinese economy remains intact, all should be well with the Art market there including demand and price supports around the world.

So How Damaged Does Something have To be Before you Give Up?

A while ago at the Fitzwilliam Museum which is part of Britain's  University of Cambridge had a disaster. A man claimed he fell over his shoe laces and smashed a set of four Kangxi Period Famille verte pieces comprising a pair of Yen Yen Vase and a matching lidded jar. Their value? Roughly $750,000.

Amazingly they were not insured...so the Museum decided to restore them..have a look at how they did...

After The Crash of Three vases at the Fitzwilliam

and After the restoration....

Restored Fitzwilliam Kangxi Pieces. 

So, what are the worth now, despite the massive restoration? probably around $50,000 still. 

Not bad huh?

So, do not give up HOPE! If you need help or a value on Chinese Porcelain, jades, bronzes etc..call or email me some pictures. As we said at the beginning, "Damaged Chinese Vases Still Very Valuable, Its A World Wide Market Worth Billions". A billion dollar market can be very forgiving.  

Many thanks for visiting, Peter L. Combs

plcombs Asian Art, Appraisers and Dealers
plcombs Asian Art, Appraisers and Dealers


  1. This is very nice and informative post . I like this post very much chinese porcelain.

  2. I have a brass (I think) vase, made in India with a beautiful hand painted stork design on it.
    I was wondering if you could help me find a value for it if I showed you a picture?


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