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Some ‘Antiques’ Are Not as Old as They Look


I just read an interesting article about antique reproductions in China. The article came from the China Daily, which shows that China is aware of the growing problem and is trying to take steps to prevent it. But you need to be aware of this when you are purchasing items from China that are supposed to antiques. It is a shame because with their rich history in art and antiques, there are many wonderful antiques to be found.

The article begins:
Growing industry sees rise in fake products to meet increasing demand, reports Zhang Yuchen in Beijing.
If you’re looking for a guide to antique collecting that gives you surefire tips on distinguishing the real thing from the many counterfeits on the market, you might be disappointed. But if you merely want to minimize your out-of-pocket losses while delving into the world of genuine and bogus Chinese artworks, read on.

In early March, Artron, a Chinese arts website, published a special report “Tracing China’s Faked Antiques”, on art counterfeiting, including comprehensive information that maps where a variety of fake artworks are produced.

“]Some 'Antiques' Not as Old as They Look

Beijing's Panjiayuan Market is one of most famous antique markets in China. You have to have sharp eyes if you want to find pieces of real value. [Photo/China Daily

It will come as no surprise to seasoned collectors as well as novices that fake antiques in China far outnumber authentic artifacts. The nation’s counterfeit industry has developed into a complete production line involving tens of millions of people. The report explains in detail where the hottest-selling fakes come from.

So if the fakes far outnumber the real things, let the buyer beware. This is especially true if you are trying to buy online on sites such as eBay. I have mentioned in other articles about the quality of some of these fakes. Unfortunately many people have paid way too much for a modern reproduction thinking it was a valuable antique. You might wonder how this thriving business got started. The article gives this explanation.

Wang said in her report that the rampant growth of the counterfeit industry and market is due to the ever-increasing interest in art collecting in China, particularly in the past 20 years.

China became the largest antique investment market by sales, surpassing the United States and Britain in 2011. Chinese collectors now number about 100 million, according to the China Association of Collectors.

It goes on to say that many of the craftsman are not aware that their works are being sold for such higher profits.

When a famous painter’s works become widely admired and sought after, a flock of forgers won’t be far behind, speedily producing fake new works.

For some types of artworks and antiques, most of the counterfeiters are rural peasants, Wang said, and, all of the residents of a village might be involved in making the works.

In some places, the craftsmen’s techniques of earlier dynasties have been passed down from generation to generation. They might be the origin of some internationally known art form, such as Jingdezhen in Jiangxi province, which is known as the capital of porcelain and pottery.

“They take advantage of the riches of locally available raw materials and the traditional working skills,” Wang said, “and they use these to expand the scale of their production.”
Wang said that residents of many places on the map of fake antiques misunderstand the official policies regarding their areas’ arts and crafts.

I might add that this is not only true in China, although that is the focus of this article. Anytime something in the art and antiques field starts becoming very valuable, you can bet someone will try to profit from it.

This “fake antiques” industry seemed to start innocently according to the article.

“The counterfeit antique pieces are in fact imitations of fine arts with a high level of craftsmanship,” said Liu Shuangzhou, a law professor at the Central University of Finance and Economics. “At the very beginning of the opening-up of tourism 20 years ago, these crafts were sold only as souvenirs of the scenic areas.”

The complete article can be found here: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/bizchina/2012-04/03/content_14973345.htm/.

For more reading: China Become’s World’s Largest Art and Antiques Market

The main thing to take away from this article is to do your homework before you purchase anything that you may not know if it is a true antique. This is especially true on the internet. Realize that some ‘antiques’ may not be as old as they look.

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