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Robert S.
Robert S., Antiques and Collectibles Researcher
Category: Antiques
Satisfied Customers: 5285
Experience:  Expert in decorative arts especially ceramics, silver, paintings, and furniture.
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I have a vase my grandmother received in 1967. According to

Customer Question

I have a vase my grandmother received in 1967. According to her info on it, it was a Ming Dynasty vase used by the Emperor, not sure how true it is, but at the time she received it, it was over 350 years old. Now, it's over 400 years old. It was purchased at The Chinese Culture House in Singapore. Pictures are available.
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Antiques
Expert:  Robert S. replied 9 months ago.


My name is ***** ***** I would be happy to help with your interesting vase.

Thanks for the helpful photo.

Could you very kindly attach the other images you mention and also one of the entire bottom so I can see the whole of the footrim.

Also, how tall is it?

Many thanks and wait to hear,

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Sure, Robert. It appears to be about 7 or 8 inches tall, and about that in circumference at its widest point; the other photos are attached. Thanks for your help!
Expert:  Robert S. replied 9 months ago.

Thanks for the extra photos, that's most helpful and I can see exactly what you have now.

First of all, I have to say that it's impossible to confirm the date of a piece of porcelain just from photos alone, but there's a lot one can tell from photos, particularly about what it's not, which is certainly helpful, and we know for a fact that this is not as old as Ming 1368 - 1644 (for the reasons I've outlined below) but it is certainly quite old and a desirable and valuable vase, nonetheless.

It's a very interesting piece -an example of what's called "Brown incised Chenghua crackle glaze ware" because they are often marked with an apocryphal Ming seal mark from the Chenghua reign, 成化年製 on the bottom etched into a brown square like this.

On yours there's simply an empty double blue ring, and I'll come to what that means shortly.

The "crackle glaze" part of the name comes from the crazing which is deliberately created during manufacture by accelerating the cooling period after firing so that differential thermal expansion between the clay body and the glaze causes the glaze to crack. Once cooled, ink is rubbed in to give the crazing even greater emphasis. It is loosely based on ancient Ge ware from the Sung dynasty.

The brown band around the middle is impressed in this case with repeating auspicious symbols for happiness:


in a stylized form. On the lug handles there's another auspicious symbol shou for longevity.

We know that this particular combination of decorative motifs and designs, combined with the underglaze blue literati style landscape, does not exist prior to the mid-1800s.

The other curiosity is the double empty ring, used deliberately to give the impression it might be from the Kangxi period (1662 - 1722) when this "empty ring" mark, omitting the usual imperial seal marks, was commonly used.

Nobody quite knows for sure why the seals were omitted from these rings back then. One explanation is that during emperor Kangxi's reign there was considerable unrest and the using of official Imperial seal marks was greatly restricted. Alternatively, it may just have been that the porcelain decorators simply did not want (or were too scared) to declare an allegiance by using the Imperial seal. Anyhow, it's use on this vase indicates that the porcelain makers of the mid- to late-1800s used all sorts of features to indicate greater age, including this one.

Antique "brown incised crackle ware" such as this is beginning to have some value now that the Chinese are becoming so wealthy and driving up the price of Chinese ceramics and other Chinese antiques worldwide.

This very similar example of your vase sold on line recently for $1300.

Yours would certainly go for every bit as much, at least $1200 - $1800 at a good antique auction house or on line.

It would have a full retail value (if you saw it for sale in an antique store) of at least $3600. This is also the replacement value for insurance purposes.

I do hope this helps.
Best wishes,

Link to the example that sold for $1300

Expert:  Robert S. replied 9 months ago.


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Many thanks,