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Re: Re: Genuine archaic bronze or something else?

Posted By: JLim
Posted Date: Sep 19, 2017 (08:08 AM)


Dear Tim

Porcelain is more my thing, but there are aspects of this object that concern me. I am not sure if I can put everything I am thinking of into words.

I know very little about ancient Chinese bronzes beyond what is written in Anthony Allen's "Authentication Of Ancient Chinese Bronzes" (Allen), but here it is.

First, Allen, page 19 rejects metallurgical testing as a confirmation of the antiquity of a bronze object. You call it "pure unadulterated science" compared to the "unreliable" eyes of a visual assessor.

However, the science applied here is merely the determination of the percentages of elemental metals contained in the alloy being tested. You and I both know from basic archaeology that this does not directly test the age of the object in any way. Allen page 19 states that modern Chinese fakers are finding it trivially easy to duplicate the alloy content of fake bronzes; and he even states that he has inside knowledge that ancient bronze bits and pieces are occasionally being melted down to form modern fakes.

Second, Allen page 20 states that thermoluminescence and carbon 14 dating are far more useful as a test of age (the latter being, however, possibly too expensive to be worthwhile). However, the former requires ceramic components to be tested (such as clay cores), and the latter requires organic material. In your object both seem unlikely.

Cheaper than any other form of testing is X-Raying; Allen page 39 suggests only 12 to 30 US dollars per shot - I have no idea how to interpret such X-Rays, though.

Third, the metallurgist you consulted seems to have taken samples only from the "wall" of the object and not the "floor". This is a pity, because although the green patina inside the foot does look very strange to me, Allen page 51 states that fake patination, including genuine ancient malachite ground up and applied with glue, can be used to conceal a modern repair. The most favourable interpretation of the strange patination of your object is that the "floor" is modern, and was attached to a Han dynasty bronze jar that, although genuine, was lacking a "floor". A metallurgical sample taken from the floor area might have been interesting.

Fourth, I would never take for granted that a seeming-1910s era lamp installed in your jar "proves" that the jar must date to before 1920. I have seen too many fiendish Chinese fakes to discount the idea that genuine or fake 1920s lamps are simply being bought up and installed in modern fake Chinese jars (or maybe genuine ones with modern "floors" being added?).

Fifth, I would take your jar to someone who knows what they are looking at, and I mean visually. I would choose "professional opinion" over science and "visual assessment" over metallurgy. Check out Allen's book on fake Chinese ceramics (the green one) to see the various ways that well meaning scientists are being hoodwinked by Chinese fakers (for example, by installing genuine ancient potsherds in fake modern ceramic horses, and then "suggesting" that the scientists take samples from said areas. And these scientists comply. Seriously.)

Sixth, I am not competent to assess this object visually - I mean, at all - but I would like to hear more from people as to whether this is a plausible Han Dynasty object. The doubts that have been raised here should concern you, because there are people here that know their stuff.

Finally, you indicate that some "inscription" exists on this object that was assessed by "museum contacts in China." Perhaps you could show us images of this inscription itself, which would obviously be of the greatest importance in judging the age of the piece. If if if you can.

Kind regards


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