Chinese vases cause a ripple of excitement

Posted On: 14 Jun 2021 by Rita Kearsey

This last year during the COVID-19 crisis has been extremely difficult for many of us personally. However, it has also been a time for new ideas and brought about interesting changes and some improvements for many businesses. We now find that we do everything by appointment in order that our customers are able to socially distance by being spread out both time wise and space wise. I am not sure if our client’s find this inconvenient, but we have not had any complaints and it makes it much easier for us to regulate the number of people in the saleroom needing attention. It means there are no longer queues of waiting customers at busy times and we can definitely offer a better service in this calmer environment. We have also found that sale dates are not ‘set in stone’ and that, in fact, we can actually now move and change the dates relatively easily to suit the current situation.


So, when our May sale grew so enormous we realized we would be selling until after midnight, we simply changed it to a two-day sale without hardly batting an eyelid! Having altered to a more flexible mindset we have also now moved our next sale forward one week to the 9th of July, cancelled our August sale and planned another two-day sale on the 9th & 10th September.

Our May sale performed extremely well with a final total just over £80,000. One of the most sought-after antique trends in recent years has been the rise in the demand from Chinese buyers seeking to purchase back many of the items exported to the West over the last three hundred years. Whereas ten years ago the Chinese shunned the more commercial wares they had sold us in the past, the new Chinese middle classes are very keen on these more decorative items. When a large pair of late 19th century Chinese Canton vases came in for valuation recently it was obvious they were going to perform well, despite a small amount of superficial damage. Canton wares are known for their bright polychrome colouring involving large panels of decorative flowers, birds and figurative scenes. By the day of the auction Smiths had sent out over twenty condition reports and had four telephone lines booked. As soon as the bidding opened, the online platforms started registering bids in the low thousands, but the final contest was between two telephone bidders in China. I thought that my bidder had won the day at £4,000 but one final last-minute bid from the other telephone secured the lot and my bidder reluctantly refused to go any higher. It was an exciting few minutes and really this sort of dramatic contest is what makes all that hard work so worthwhile!

Smiths are inviting entries for their Antiques & Collectables sales on the 9th July and the 9th & 10th September which include ceramics, glass, furniture, silver, jewellery, pictures and collectables as well as special sections for Coins, Stamps and Postcards. Please telephone 01531 821776 for an appointment.