Chinese Porcelain: Identification While some pieces are easily identifiable, the difficulty with identifying Chinese ceramics is that you must know everything that goes into making a particular piece right for its period. Shape, color and design motif, glaze, weight, foot, reign mark if there is one all come into play.

 

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Chatelaine's Antiques & Appraisals Magazine > Asian Works of Art > Feature: Chinese Porcelain: Identification
While some pieces are easily identifiable, the difficulty with identifying Chinese ceramics is that you must know everything that goes into making a particular piece right for its period. Shape, color and design motif, glaze, weight, foot, reign mark if there is one all come into play.
 


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CHINESE PORCELAIN: IDENTIFICATION

    Chinese Porcelain: IDENTIFICATION

A Qianlong Chinese Export tureen, circa 1760.Shapes remained fairly constant over the millennia; the classic Chinese vase, bowl and meiping (plum blossom vase, introduced during the Sung Dynasty) continue to the present day. Still, shape and color can help to identify a piece with a particular period.  Certain colors are highly prized, and some design motifs are known to convey symbolic meaning (such as cranes representing immortality, or bats symbolizing happiness).
 
While some pieces are easily identifiable, the difficulty with identifying Chinese ceramics is that you must know everything that goes into making a particular piece right for its period.  Shape, color and design motif, glaze, weight, foot, reign mark if there is one all come into play.  Other than clues from shape and color, you really have to handle the piece. The weight is an important clue to the educated collector.

As for fakes, the Chinese did make things in reverence of earlier emperors, but didn't necessarily go out of their way to fake things.  There aren't a lot of pieces made to deceive... though a novice might unknowingly pass on a reproduction as an authentic piece.


Ross Kerr's helpful reference.

AVAILABILITY
It's quite rare to find good Chinese porcelain in an antique store.  Most collectors deal with the larger auction houses or with individual galleries in the United States, Europe, and Hong Kong.  Though there is a large market for imperial porcelain in China, they don't have the established galleries.
 
For references, we recommend:

 



Chinese Export Porcelain, Standard Patterns and Forms, 1780-1880: Standard Patterns and Forms by Herbert

Chinese Export Porcelain in the 19th Century: The Canton Famille Rose Porcelains by John Quentin Feller

Chinese Potter: A Practical History of Chinese Ceramics
by Margaret Medley

Mounted Oriental Porcelain in the J. Paul Getty Museum
by Gillian Wilson

For the Imperial Court: Qing Porcelain from the Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art
by Rosemary Scott

Spode's Willow Pattern
by Robert Copeland

Special Exhibition of Ch'Ing Dynasty Enameled Porcelain of Imperial Ateliers / Written in English & Chinese

The Copeland Collection : Chinese and Japanese Ceramic Figures
by William Sargent

The Helen D. Ling Collection of Chinese Ceramics
by Jason Kuo

Chinese Ceramics: Porcelain of the Qing Dynasty 1644-1911
by Rose Kerr

Blue and White: Chinese Porcelain Around the World
by John Carswell

Antique Trader's Pottery & Porcelain Ceramics Price Guide
by Kyle Husfloen

Collectors Encyclopedia of Nippon Poreclain: Identification & Values
by Joan Van Patten

Collector's Encyclopedia of Flow Blue China: Values Updated 2000 (Second Series)
by Mary Frank Gaston

Restaurant China: Identification & Value Guide for Restaurant, Airline, Ship & Railroad Dinnerware
by Barbara Conroy