When looking at any porcelain try to understand how many months or years it took to create it. I have found that at every level of society, people have been uninformed about Chinese art and its production and history. It would be wise to invest in books with large photographs of porcelain along with clear museum photos of their marks and bases. Everything I am about to write about can have an exception to it. So always try to have 3 to 4 items pointing to the item being new or old. Identification of Antique Doucai Porcelain
1. Over glaze colors containing lead (i.e. yellow, green, blue) should have some very small crazing to them.
• Red can be shinny but not glossy and should be pure red not orange.
• Newer porcelain will often contain a larger crackle then the old.
• Qing over-glaze colors will be pure and clean, Ming can have black flecks in them.
• Over glaze colors can have an oily iridescence look on the surface, especially green as seen from an acute angle.
2. Foot rims can have a light brownish red color on unglazed areas (iron foot).
3. Foot rim walls can be non-concentric from outside wall to inside wall. Thicker on one side or look off-center which was caused from the kick wheel.
• Usually Ming foot rims are more flat where Qing foot rims are more rounded.
• Although any Imperial porcelain from any period can have a flat foot-rim.
4. The center of bases should have a protrusion (nipple) on the top and on or the bottom of porcelain that was made on the kick wheel. Obvious side seams have been faked on many pieces, although Blanc De Chine wares can be molded.
5. When seen through a powerful light thin porcelain should look dirty and cloudy, not pure white or transparent.
6. Doucai porcelain should look professionally painted and have soft but vibrant colors.
• Blue should be soft and blue.
• Red should be red not orange.
• Yellow should be yellow.
• Greens can shade several hues and look oily.
• Over glaze color should stay close inside the underglaze blue outlines.
• Porcelain can be as thin as 1 millimeter thick.
7. Porcelain should be of the highest quality without cracks.
• Early porcelain appears glassier at the foot rim from high quartz or silica content.
• B.Newer porcelain foot rims look chalky and opaque.
8. Glazes will contain a variety of large and small bubbles easily seen by the under glaze blue areas.
• Ancient glazes will have a variety of bubble sizes and especially very large random solitary bubbles.
• Newer glazes usually have small consistently sized bubbles throughout.
9. Porcelain should have an overall beauty and look of being made by a professional artist. If you think you could make it, then it’s not Imperial.
• Any part of the design that looks rushed or poorly painted will point to the porcelain being new.
• Always look for that part of the design that looks out of place or sloppy, every line should look correct and proper.
10. Ancient porcelain rings like a bell for a long period of time when tapped. The sound can appear to be running in circles.
11. Most Imperial porcelain will have some type of defect that caused it to be rejected for Imperial use.
• dragons missing toes, missing scales, missing whiskers.
• Firing cracks or massive warping.
• Misfired colors either under-fired or over-fired
• Glaze losses, dripping or running, chipping or unintended crackle, iron spots.
• Any mark appearing poorly written or flawed in any way.
12. Mark styles should be compared to similar known examples that exist on pieces in museums
• Archaic marks are usually written on old porcelains imitating an even older style.
• Marks should match the time period, often a mark will have one stroke changed that points to a newer period or a fake. It may still be an old porcelain but not of the period.
• Marks were written by professionals and should look that way.
13. Old porcelain can feel slippery or waxy to the touch.
14. The handles and finials will be very finely finished on old wares, not just a lump of clay for a figure.
15. One more item, even a high quality brand new handmade and hand painted Chinese porcelain imitating an old can be expensive because of the time and expertise it took to create it. Look for beautiful colored and painted items.
Avoid T/L testing of porcelains if at all possible. High fired porcelain along with X-rays has really destroyed the ability to test some old porcelain. You are left with the possibly of an antique porcelain with drill holes which render it almost worthless, along with the loss of the cost of testing and time involved.
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