When valuing china, three key factors must be considered: authenticity, age and condition.
Chinese potters have long been known for copying older and more prestigious ceramic products, which is partly due to respect for original craftsmen, but is also directed at unsuspecting buyers. This practice is still very common, but there are several ways to recognize a fake. Counterfeits are getting more and more refined, which is why many experts recommend that the buyer always check the bottom of the ceramic. The way the base of the vessel is cut, finished and glazed has changed with various dynasties, so any discrepancies can be a warning sign as to the age of the item.
Many potters who try to counterfeit ceramics rely on photographs taken from auction catalogues and books that often lack detailed base shots.
Secondly, the age of the vessel can be determined based on the sign of the region (placed on the bottom). Each ceramic product contains a sign identifying the dynasty and the name of the ruler for whom the object was made. The sign can appear in many different forms, such as seal, shuanshu or kaishu. Taking the time to get to know and identify the seals of various dynasties and rulers increases the chance of making an accurate valuation.
Finally, the condition of the ceramic vessel and the significance of this factor for the value of the object depend on whether the ceramic product comes from the imperial times or not. For example, one can expect that on the base of a non-imperial porcelain vessel, made in the 17th century, there will be some furnace dust, sand or uneven glazing. However, on imperial ceramics from the 18th century such defects shouldn’t occur.
It should also be noted that since the market value of china is growing, even less well-preserved ceramic products are able to retain tremendous value. Although fifteen years ago, only ceramics bearing the mark from the period were accepted at the auction, today collectors will accept damaged, refurbished or broken items.