Going home after 300 years
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You may have noticed that lately I started to show more Chinese Export items, which have never been part of my collection before. Are you curious why?
The reason is very personal, and I will tell you today. After the war, there was little money in The Netherlands - in fact there was no money, no food and no clothes. But there were many Chinese and Japanese antiques, and Canadian and American soldiers fell in love with those while they were stuck for a while in the aftermath of the war. They started trading direct needs for antiques; they had their families send children's clothes and chocolate, and people would pay with antiques, which then were sent home to America. It started a new trade that is still strong today.
My American grandmother was of course ahead of the curve because of her natural connection to the country, so my grandparents started building up a large and beautiful collection of antiques, planning their exit back home. Which, incidentally, never happened - so they were left with a house full of beautiful items!
It was this collection that gave me my love of porcelain; I could stand in front of the large Dutch walnut display cabinet for hours and look at the dozens of plates and the tiny little cups inside. My grandmother would let me drink tea from a different cup each time, and tell me stories about it. There was that Japanese imari dragon plate, which was really scary - and there were all the cheerful blue and white plates from the 18th and 19th Century. And then all these little tea bowls! (I wasn't allowed to touch those) Flowers, and cheeky rabbits, and fish that looked a little hairy.
When we emptied my grandmother's house about 30 years ago, I assumed it was all sold and never thought about it again - I was still very young and got on with my life. A year ago, in the aftermath of my mother's passing, my father mentioned that the collection was still sitting in the attic...! Now that I had, unintentionally, followed in my grandmother's footsteps and become an antique dealer, it was obvious what to do: we decided to sell the porcelain. When I unpacked it, I was so thrilled so see the many items exactly as I remembered them, and see my memory confirmed that they are of very excellent quality. And now, each time something gets sold we are thrilled to see it end up in a new home to be loved and admired the way it was when I was little.
The rabbit tea bowls were the first to go, and to my joy they went back to China. Yesterday the three floral tea bowls followed. These items would have been brought back by Dutch traders or sailors, and found their way into Dutch homes where they were passed from generation to generation, until my grandparents bought them somewhere at a provincial auction in the late 1940s or early 1950s. Then they were forgotten in an attic for a generation, but now, after a journey of about 300 years, it is wonderful to see these items go back to their motherland. I wonder whether the British people will buy back their porcelain in 300 years time, after I've sold it far and wide to be loved elsewhere? What a journey these items make, and how many people they give joy to, across so many cultures! It is one thing I love about trading antique porcelain.
Today I was going to announce three little floral teacups from the Kangxi period (1662-1722) but they were on their way back to China before I even had the time to put up this blog... but there are more items, and there will be more to come! Some of them are genuinely 17th or 18th Century items, others are 19th Century "respectful" copies of those - but all are extremely decorative, high quality and in good condition (although not always perfect, but I will indicate clearly).
I hope you will enjoy the Chinese porcelain as much as I do - after all, it is the grand ancestor of all European porcelain! You can find them on a special page in my shop, and if you always want to see the latest, follow my instagram feed... I post pictures and stories every single day.
Enjoy your weekend!
This week's new treasures:
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