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Robert S.
Robert S., Antiques and Collectibles Researcher
Category: Antiques
Satisfied Customers: 5601
Experience:  Expert in decorative arts especially ceramics, silver, paintings, and furniture.
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I have a vase that is approximately 5.5 inches gh, blue with

Customer Question

I have a vase that is approximately 5.5 inches high, blue with cherry blossoms painted into the glaze. On the bottom is a single blue circle. what could be the approximate value?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Antiques
Expert:  Robert S. replied 1 year ago.

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

Could you very kindly attach a photo of it and one of the entire bottom and I'll tell you all about it and give you a value.

Many thanks,

Robert S.

PS. Once you have the photos in your computer, it's a simple matter to attach them. Just click on the paperclip icon, located above the text box where you are typing to me. If there's no paperclip, click on the "Add files" tab.

If you get stuck go here for help.

PPS. Please don't respond to a request for a phone call, if you get one. It does not come from me and you'll be charged an extra CAN$20 you don't need to pay.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Plse. find attached photos of the said vase.
Expert:  Robert S. replied 1 year ago.

Thanks for the photos,

This is a neat little piece, normally referred to as a ginger jar. Originally it would have had a domed cover like this. The covers are not very stable and invariably fall off and get broken, so yours is in well populated company.

It's a reproduction of a pattern known as 'hawthorn & cracked ice" that became especially popular in the Kangxi era (1662-1722), although the pattern has been around since the late Ming Dynasty, and has remained an enduring favorite ever since. Looking at the color of the blue and the shape of the bottom, I would date yours no older that the 1920s or 1930s and possibly as recent as the 1950s.

The 'hawthorn' is more accurately plum blossom, a highly revered and auspicious symbol in the Chinese tradition. The five petals of each flower represent the Five Happinesses or the Five Good Fortunes, wufu 五福 which are:

  • longevity
  • wealth
  • health
  • virtue
  • and a natural death in old age.

This is a popular toast at the Chinese New Year (which you can get ready to do this 8th Feb!). New year is a propitious time in any culture and especially so in the East, and it coincides with the time when the plum blossom is in flower, as it blooms in late winter. So it is also a powerful symbol of courage and hope.

Every New Year it was traditional to make edible gifts, usually a rice cookie flavored with ginger, and to present them to family and neighbors in these jars. The jars would then be returned once the contents had been enjoyed, an example of the first ever cookie jars, if you will, and an ancient example of recycling too.

The mark on the base is interesting and is known as the empty ring mark. It's actually meant to be two rings, but they are so close together they've blended. They are the rings that one usually sees around the imperial seals on officially marked porcelain from the imperial kilns at Jingdezhen but without the Chinese characters in the middle. These empty ring marks were used a lot during the Kangxi reign and this antique reproduction of an empty ring mark was also used a lot on early Chinese Republic pieces to make them look like they were of the period.

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.

So the value in your little vase are all the stories and symbolism it tells rather than any great monetary value, I'm afraid, although there is certainly much more interest in Chinese porcelain like this recently. Fifteen years ago you could have picked this little jar up at an antique store for less than $20.

Today I would give it a full retail value of about CAN$50 which is also the replacement value for insurance purposes.

Expect to get 30% - 40% of this if you were to sell at auction or on line (eBay etc).

I do hope this helps!

Best wishes,
Robert S.

PS. If there's anything more I can help you with on this, please don't hesitate to ask. If not, could you very kindly rate my services (with the stars or "accept" button) as this is how I get paid by JustAnswer at no extra cost to you. We can still continue to communicate here on this thread after you do. And if you have another item you'd like to ask me about, just start a new Question and put "For Robert S....." in the subject line. Thanks, R.