This past weekend, ACF China and The Hutong organized a field trip for local expats here in Beijing to visit an genuine outdoor wholesale antique market, where peasants from the countryside bring un-restored antique furniture and other curios to sell to wholesalers, collectors and restorers. The trip proved a success, allowing attendees a fascinating peek directly into the hidden corners of the antiques industry. A bit dusty, a bit dirty, and situated on the far outskirts of Beijing, this market exists solely through word of mouth and is not found on any map or guidebook. Chris Buckley, owner of Torana Carpets and author of the book “Tibetan Furniture” accompanied us on our excursion and his own post about our tip on his RugDogBlog sums up our trip much better then I can:
“In years gone by furniture vendors from the countryside came right into the city to sell their furniture, but these days with increasing ground rents and lack of space in the city the trade is conducted much further out from the city, in this case about 45 minutes drive from Guo Mao. This spot is strictly a wholesale market, with unrestored items piled high in the warehouses of individual sellers from different parts of China.
In a couple of hours we were only able to scratch the surface of what is a very large market. We visited several vendors from north China (Shanxi and Inner Mongolia), though apparently there are sellers at the market from most regions. It’s been a long time since I have looked at wholesale furniture like this (the last time I looked at it seriously was back in the mid-90s) and it was reassuring to see that there is still old furniture out there! Vendors are now going a lot further afield for their old furniture than in the ’90s and many are bringing in furniture from the border regions versus the central China styles that were more common in previous years. “
Though this particular trip was not a buying trip, we will organize future excursions, buying trips and longer outings, so check back here regularly and/or on The Hutong‘s Website for upcoming dates. Thanks to Chris Buckley for tagging along and for providing the wonderful group photos shown here.