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Chinese Export Silver is Hot

Chinese Export Silver Trophy Urn

Chinese Export Silver Trophy Urn, Hong Kong, late 19th century, Auctioned for $30,810

Chinese Export Silver is hot, very hot.

Over the years I have observed an international turnover in collecting. People are looking for and acquiring items produced in their native country, and the Chinese are no exception. The current upswing in Chinese Export Silver prices shows that the trend is alive and well.

For a long while during the 1990s, Japanese buyers were on fire. The Japanese competed heavily against the rest of the world for items manufactured in Japan as well as art glass, especially Tiffany, fine art paintings, and surprisingly even Wedgwood. These items realized record prices at auction.

Then, in the early part of the 21st century, the Russian market picked up at a frenzied pace. The Russians totally controlled the market, setting amazing new standards for values of Russian made items.  I’ve never seen anything like it: items expecting to realize $5,000 hammered at $50,000, and items expecting to sell for $100,000 went for $250,000. To me, this explosion of interest redefined the question, “How high is high?”

And so we come to the present. Now, the Chinese are a prominent force at auctions throughout the world, especially when it comes to competition on items produced in China.

It follows that Chinese export silver, so long sold and exported to the western world, and heavily collected in the United Kingdom and throughout the United States, has caught the eye of discerning Chinese buyers. With all of this serious competition added to the recent escalating value of silver, the tide has turned and recent trends show a tremendous upswing and record prices.

Chinese export silver is really quite beautiful. Stereotypical Chinese figural courtyard scenes or curling dragon motifs adorn these finds, and one can appreciate the workmanship of the finer pieces. But how do all you collectors out there feel about these market trends? Are you happy that what you already have has escalated in price, or are you discouraged that it will be harder to afford your next acquisition?

Whichever the case, take comfort in the fact that others around the world share your collecting interests – this is always a good sign that a market will continue to grow. And keep this in mind, when the market trend favors buying, be a buyer. When it favors selling, consider selling. Auctions provide a ready venue for both.

5 thoughts on “Chinese Export Silver is Hot

    • There are very few reference books on Chinese Export, all out of print, but accessible on the used book market. Reference book prices have come down drastically over the past several years, especially with easy access to so many subjects via the internet. Since we recently sold a major collection here at Skinner, another valuable tool for information would be the auction catalogue for that sale. Catalogues are half-price post sale and can be purchased through our subscription department.

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