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Subject:Books for a beginner
Posted By: Stefan Sat, Nov 11, 2017 IP:

I apologise for not being word-perfect in English, but I think you're able to understand what I wrote. I want to learn more about Asian antiques and their worth. What book(s) should I begin to read?

Subject:Re: Books for a beginner
Posted By: Stan Sun, Nov 12, 2017

Your English is very good. Your question needs work. Is there any area of Asian antiques that interests you (furniture, ceramics, painting, prints, statues) or are you looking for books on all subjects? Are you interested in any particular country (China, Japan, India, Korea, SE Asia)? Or are you looking for books on all Asian countries?

If you can narrow your field of interest, there are people who can help.


Subject:Re: Books for a beginner
Posted By: Stefan Mon, Nov 13, 2017

I'd like to learn more about ceramic vases from China and Japan. However, I think it's better to start with one country, so my preference would go out to Chinese ceramic vases. Thanks for replying.

Subject:Re: Books for a beginner
Posted By: rat Tue, Nov 14, 2017

Any of the books shown here are introductory overviews. The He Li book is ridiculously expensive now, but Suzanne Valenstein's book is quite good and much cheaper, though it contains less variety. Margaret Medley's book is cheaper still and she is a prominent expert. The Vainker book has been around a while too. You might also pick up some cheap used Sotheby's or Christie's catalogs from ebay to flip through to familiarize yourself with some of the variety that exists. Some periods/forms/glazes will appeal more than others, and you can then look up more specialized works about the types of items you like. The Percival David collection contains some of the finest quality imperial porcelains ever, so it's quite rarified and selective, not a good cross section of all that Chinese potters have produced. Books on it feature very attractive objects but aren't comprehensive.

Subject:Re: Books for a beginner
Posted By: Stefan Wed, Nov 15, 2017

Your reply answered my question. Thank you!

Subject:Re: Books for a beginner
Posted By: JLim Wed, Nov 15, 2017

Dear Stefan

I recently posted twice the following message which might be of interest to you, in response to an identical question:

* * * * *

Dear Bokaba

I hold with the view of Anthony Allen that the older books are still surprisingly good sources. They tend to concentrate on export porcelains, for one thing, while modern books tend to focus on Imperials. They are also closer in history to the Qing dynasty (in Bushells case the Qing Dynasty was still operating), so there are really useful anecdotes about porcelain making and buying back in the day.


Hobson "Chinese Pottery And Porcelain" from 1915 - available cheap on Ebay. Still EXTREMELY useful and covers export ware heavily. It still really pays to go through this book regularly.

Stephen W Bushell "Oriental Ceramic Art" - from 1896 - I was lucky enough to find a copy in an antiques store. Still surprisingly useful, with great anecdotes about how to buy porcelain in the late Qing era, and with many full colour plates. This in an era when "colour plates" meant some dude in a European museum squinting at a vase for hours and trying to paint it in watercolours!

Soame Jenyns "Later Chinese Porcelain" also from the 1930s I think. Covers export ware nicely!


Nigel Wood "Chinese Glazes" from the 1980s - an utterly remarkable book. It is really useful to be able to learn how all these glazes were originally made - in a pinch one can remember the difference between Copper Red, Iron Red and Rouge De Fer, for example. And what is the true difference between Celadon and Apple Green?

Anthony J Allen "Introduction To Later Chinese Porcelain" - an absolute bible. Charmingly written, useful to people in the rough and tumble of actual porcelain collecting rather than the quiet of the museum. The original hardback (which I miraculously got new at a bookshop albeit at an exorbitant price) has stunning, stunning photographs that are really useful for actual collectors. Allen's later books are fine, but this one is the masterpiece.

"The Wanli Shipwreck And Its Ceramic Cargo" available from Sjen Sjostrand's website - check it out for a really thorough look at Transitional Era export porcelain circa 1625 - stunning photos.

Gerald Davison's book on Chinese marks - a thorough catalogue of Chinese porcelain marks - a true godsend.

I would recommend all the above as a good start to a Chinese porcelain collector's reference library. Then start collecting Sotheby's catalogues.


I will add this: please make as few mistakes as possible in purchasing. Especially early on, do not pay high prices for porcelain; learn to identify a few, low cost pieces, obtain and study them, and then move up.

In your early days you will inevitable make mistakes, either of misidentification or overpaying - try to make these errors as low cost and enjoyable as possible and regard them as a kind of entry fee to the hobby. Resell your mistakes and move on to the real thing. Enjoy!!

Kind regards

Subject:Re: Books for a beginner
Posted By: Stefan Thu, Nov 16, 2017

I appreciate your post. I've yesterday bought a book and I'll surely buy one of your recommended books. Thanks!

Subject:Re: Books for a beginner
Posted By: Meijering Art Books Fri, May 31, 2019

Please also see our website for thousands of Asian Art books

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