Buying and Selling
Making a Purchase
You can buy from our website confident that the items are as described. Due to the number of pieces being offered, it is difficult to list all imperfections but where the condition is stated it is generally accurate. However, we recommend that you contact us prior to making a purchase so we can double check the condition of a piece and provide a thorough condition report. We are happy to supply invoices with images of the item(s) purchased.
We accept payment by bank transfer or credit card, subject to our discretion. Payment by card in the case of long-distance purchases can be made via Worldpay pay-by-link. This last method entails clicking a link we send you and paying on the Worldpay website.
We can ship smaller pieces by Royal Mail, DHL and Federal Express. We do not charge for packing, but the customer has to pay for the shipping. If an item is too large to go in a Federal Express 25 Kg box, it will have to be packed and sent by one of our regular shippers.
We recommend that for information on import duty you take a look at this duty calculator. We do not guarantee its accuracy, but we have found it to be reliable up to the present time.
For further information please contact us by telephone or email. In the case of customers who do not speak English but wish to contact us by telephone, please supply your telephone number so that you can have a conversation with us in your own language.
We do our best to keep you the customer happy and that is why many of our customers have been buying from us for over twenty years.
The Antique Porcelain and Works of Art Market
There are different types of ultimate buyers: collectors, museums, speculators and decorators. Now that prices are so high for good antique ceramics each type of buyer wants value for money and, with the exception of museums, likes to think that what they buy will eventually be a good investment.
In order to properly understand the market it is important to know not just existing price levels but also the strength of the demand and where it is coming from, together with an idea of availability of the art being sought after. As a generalization art tends to go back to its country of origin. Some types of material have a strong universal interest, others depend very much on the buying power of the collectors in their country of origin. For example, the price of Japanese porcelain depends primarily on the Japanese economy. In our opinion the prices for Japanese porcelain can only increase. Chinese porcelain of a particular type has a fairly universal interest and due to the increasing demand and the ever diminishing supply in the West, the prices are steadily increasing. However, prices at the upper end of the market for Chinese ceramics and works of art, items costing many thousands of pounds if not millions, are more dependent on the Chinese economy and speculators. The upper end of the market could become very volatile partly due to the excellence of some of the best Chinese fakes.
Advice to Collectors
Aesthetic appeal should be the determining price factor, but it is not. For the price of a not very exciting Qing mark and period blue and white vase, it is possible to purchase the very best in Italian maiolica. That is not to say that many pieces of Chinese ceramics are not superb; they are. The aesthetic factor is sometimes outweighed by fashion and country of origin.
If you are beginning to collect or are an existing collector, it is a good idea to compare possible purchases on the basis of their aesthetic appeal. This may lead to a more eclectic mixture, but a collection that in the long run will give much more pleasure. Some of our collectors have potentially made large sums of money by following our advice.
Private Buyers and Auction Rooms
Buying at auction is a very tricky business from more than one point of view. Each country has its own set of rules and each auction house has its own business culture.
In the case of Chinese porcelain the difficulty is that some the best fakes are good enough to fool many auction room cataloguers; they have my sympathy. As a dealer I can avoid buying what is doubtful. In order to be professional, auctioneers should fully attribute their lots. However, I have noticed of late that some auctioneers avoid making attributions. Provenance cannot be depended on as it is often faked.
When buying at auction check very carefully what guarantees are given for lots regarding attribution and condition. Obtaining this information is often tedious since conditions of sale can run into many pages. Therefore, I suggest that initially you ask questions and then, if necessary, read the conditions of sale. One large auction house only stands by the highlighted text in its catalogue. In the case of a dispute, find out what alternative opinion is acceptable as a basis for rescinding a purchase. Museums will not put their opinion in writing. One good possibility is to get an item vetted by the British Antique Dealers Association committee.
In China some of the better fakes are being sold for such large amounts of money, it can only be that they will eventually be offered for sale in Western auction houses as being genuine and, more frequently than not, be purchased by a Chinese buyer and sold onto an unsuspecting Chinese collector. I am told that many Chinese collections have more fakes than genuine items.
For some helpful legal information follow these links: Art Law; Buying at Auction