The roots of Hong Kong’s antiques trade and collections

The main members of the curio and antique trade from North China who moved to Hong Kong after 1949

A nod to the Chinese New Year month and the roots of Hong Kong, this talk takes a look at the strength and resilience of Chinese antique trade and collecting in the city. This talk will cover the perseverance and revitalisation of this trade in contemporary times, the current social climate, the ongoing global pandemic and more.

Chai Kai – the art of structural repairs

拆开 (Chāi kāi) essentially means to “take apart” and people often don’t realize that when you restore a piece of Chinese antique furniture, usually in addition to carefully cleaning it, it also usually must be taken apart and entirely refitted back together. Since Chinese furniture rarely uses nails, and instead uses a complex system of pegs and joints, the item can be completely disassembled, with the pieces spread out over the workshop floor.

Dirt, dirt and more dirt – cleaning a late Ming table via wet sand as part of the antique restoration process

restoring chinese antiques - wet sanding

Recently we restored a late Ming dynasty square table from Shanxi province. Beautiful table and I thought it might be interesting to show the images of the cleaning process occurs which primarily involves a careful wet sand. Known in Chinese as 打水磨, its a unavoidable part of any antique restoration. What a nasty mess! Removing about […]

Look at the dirt – quick tips for authenticating neolithic and ancient Chinese pottery

real verse fake chinese porcelain-earthenware-ceamic-terracotta

Super quick post regarding a recent discussion I was having about cleaning antiquities, particularly those which would have been buried underground. While there are many highly specialized and scientific ways to authenticate a piece (for example TL testing), there are also some very practical clues one can look out for. For example dirt. When an […]

Red or Black Lacquer Gilt Paintings – determining the old from the new on Chinese gold painted furniture.

  I was recently looking over a gilded and painted antique Chinese book cabinet (书柜), with a customer in a very expensive Hong Kong antique dealers shop. I casually remarked that the gold paintings have been retouched and in some cases were completely new. (Though the dealer would swear the paintings were original, whether they knew […]

Reader Question: what is this antique cabinet?

I get several emails each week asking for information on pieces. Questions regarding origin, value, age etc. Unfortunately I can’t answer them all, though  I do try to answer as many as I can. Anyway, here is one from the latest batch of emails in the interest that my answers can be shared with others […]