The market for Chinese ceramics is thriving, and incredibly tempting to join. But, like any prominent collecting field, it is also awash with fakes from sellers trying to make a quick and dishonest profit.
As always, the best defence against buying fakes is to have a thorough knowledge of the field before you enter it, but here's a few points to help you keep your guard up from Paul Fraser Collectibles:
Rust or blemishing
An important factor when buying ancient Chinese ceramics is rust spots. Rust spots will appear on many of the older Chinese pieces because the iron in the clay has moved to the surface and oxidised.
Checking for rust is extremely valuable in detecting a recent fake, as the rust takes many years (or centuries) to form. However, this rust can also be imitated, so stay on your toes. Familiarise yourself with what genuine rust spots look like before buying.
Again, this applies to older Asian ceramics. While the glaze is initially applied to protect the piece's beautiful design, over the years it will inevitably fade and in some cases, can disappear entirely. Consider this when buying a supposedly ancient piece - would that glaze really be so gleaming?
A common way that sellers will attempt to fool you is by stating that the piece was recovered from a shipwreck, or buried for a long time. Chinese ceramics are frequently unearthed in this manner and these conditions can preserve the glaze, but be sure to research the wreck or burial site beforehand to see if their story is likely.
Glaze contractions are the small indents or imperfections caused by flecks of dirt or sand that prevent the glaze from completely covering the piece when firing. Most Chinese and Asian ceramics will have at least a few of these tiny indents, so be sure to look out for them and question the seller if they are not present.
Crazing is the name for those little hairline cracks that cover most Chinese ceramics of any age. These occur when the glaze cools faster than the clay, and are commonly found in older pieces due to the less developed firing techniques used in ancient China. Again, if they are nowhere to be found, it is time to start asking questions.
As the ancient Chinese producers would have produced all of these ceramics by hand, you should look at the overall shape and symmetry of the piece you are purchasing. Is it irregular, showing signs of its maker? Or is it a little too perfect and probably mass produced?
With Chinese ceramics, it is all about the small imperfections that prove authenticity. As you move to the higher end of the market, these can be incredibly hard to spot, as the finest pieces will often be free from any blemishes. This is where it is vital to buy from a reputable seller, and ensure you receive full written condition reports before your purchase.
Paul Fraser Collectibles offers a free lifetime authenticity guarantee, so you can buy with confidence from our online store.