Blog - Grand Auctions


In the news recently was the story of a 26.27 carat cushion cut diamond originally purchased in a Sunday sale in the 1980s for only £10. The owner always presumed it was paste and enjoyed wearing it for 30 years before finally discovering its true worth after visiting a jeweller’s. It sold for the incredible hammer price of £540,000 at Sotheby’s, London on 7th June! In this blog we take a quick look back at a few other, notable car boot sale finds.

 Read More
  • Posted by Simon Rufus

The term ‘sancai’ refers to a kind of richly coloured glaze applied to ceramics initially produced during the Tang Dynasty period (618–907 AD) in China.

 Read More
  • Posted by Robin Newcombe

Japanese jubako boxes are stackable, tiered food containers which are usually modelled in either square or cylindrical form. Jubako containers on average consist of three to five layers and are made of either lacquered wood or porcelain.

 Read More
  • Posted by Robin Newcombe

The word Kakiemon is derived from the name of the Japanese potter Sakaida Kizaemon (1615 - 1653 AD) who invented this style of porcelain. Prior to the work of Kizaemon, the Japanese porcelain industry was considered to be in its infancy having only produced both blue and white wares and celadon porcelain wares.

 Read More
  • Posted by Robin Newcombe

In the year 1667 during the reign of the Kangxi Emporor (1662 - 1722) an edict was enforced issuing a ban on reign marking non-Imperial porcelain wares. As a result, the majority of pieces from this period were typically marked with two concentric circles to the base without the expected reign mark.

 Read More
  • Posted by Robin Newcombe

In an earlier blog I discussed the origins, function and importance of the Japanese sword guard know as the tsuba. Although tsubas are considered one of the most important parts of the Japanese sword, there are other parts which are still worthy of mentioning in greater detail. The menuki is one of these.

 Read More
  • Posted by Robin Newcombe
Chinese snuff bottles in jadeite jade and other materials

Snuff was first introduced to China by the Europeans in the mid 16th century probably not long after tobacco was first imported. However, snuff bottles can be only traced back as far as the 17th century during the reign of the Qing dynasty emperor Shunzhi (1643 - 61 AD).

 Read More
  • Posted by Robin Newcombe
Ming dynasty ceremonial monochromes

The birth of the Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644 AD) brought a new Imperial rule warranting requirements for the use of monochrome ceramics. This not only resulted in the resurgence of many previously popular colours but also the creation of a much wider variety of new and striking colours.

 Read More
  • Posted by Robin Newcombe
sang-de-boeuf glaze

Sang-de-boeuf is a French expression used to describe a particular type of red glaze applied to Chinese ceramic wares. The term sang-de-boeuf  translates as 'ox blood' and is known to the Chinese as 'lang yao hong'. Although this colour was first achieved during the Ming dynasty, it wasn't until the Kangxi (1662 - 1722) and later Qianlong (1736 - 1795) Emperor’s reign period that the colouring technique was truly mastered.

 Read More
  • Posted by Robin Newcombe
Wucai Chinese porcelain dragon bowl

Wucai porcelain wares are referred to as 'five coloured' wares. The significance of using five colours is most likely related to numeric symbolism in China. The combination of colours usually consists of red, green and yellow enamels painted over washes of underglaze cobalt blue against a white porcelain ground. This ornamental technique was created and developed during the Ming dynasty (1368 - 1642 AD) gaining interest from the Chinese emperors who commissioned a wide variety of wucai decorated objects. The finest examples are generally considered to be from the reign of the emperor Wanli (1572 - 1620 AD).

 Read More
  • Posted by Robin Newcombe
Japanese bamboo engraved tsuba sword guard

One of the most important parts of a Japanese sword is undoubtedly the tsuba. The principal function of the tsuba was to protect the hand by preventing the opponent's sword from sliding down past the blade. It was also key in acting as the central point of gravity and balance.

 Read More
  • Posted by Robin Newcombe
Japanese inro ojime himo netsuke dan aikuchi himotoshi-ana

It was towards the end of the 16th century that they became used as portable containers for medicine. Inro are usually constructed with a wooden core and then lacquered. The production process was very precise as the tiered and interlocking compartments forming the inro had to be absolutely airtight meaning that the thickness of each lacquer coating had to be taken in to great consideration. Sometimes a single coat would take as much as one month to dry!

 Read More
  • Posted by Robin Newcombe
Doucai porcelain

Doucai decorated porcelain involves a combination of two techniques. Firstly underglaze cobalt blue outlines are painted to the body of a piece and then secondly, once fired, various overglaze coloured enamels are applied within the borders of the underglaze blue outline.

 Read More
  • Posted by Robin Newcombe
Chinese Qianlong cinnabar lacquer box and cover

Lacquer comes from the sap of the Lac tree, a type of Sumac tree which is commonly found in central and southern China. The principal constituent of the sap is urushiol, the word urushiol being derived from the Japanese word 'urushi' meaning lacquer. The lacquer is extracted in a similar way to rubber by making incisions in the bark of the tree and collecting the sap.

 Read More
  • Posted by Robin Newcombe
Cinese Phoenix

Rather like the dragon, the phoenix is also a mythological yang creature. Both are used more extensively in decorative work than both the tiger or tortoise which are yin.

 Read More
  • Posted by Robin Newcombe
nephrite jadeite jade Chinese dragon carving

Jade nephrite and jadeite are minerals with a fine crystalline structure. The crystals are felted together creating an interlocking structure which gives them a greater toughness than steel! Therefore, it is no surprise that jade was used as early as the Neolithic age as tools and weapons particularly as axes, knives or scrapers.

 Read More
  • Posted by Robin Newcombe
Imperial Chinese five claw dragon robe

The dragon is one of China's most ancient symbols and has appeared in practically every facet of Chinese art. Depictions of dragons can be found on objects dating as far back as the Shang dynasty (circa 1570 - 1045 BC).

 Read More
  • Posted by Robin Newcombe
Chinese overlay glass bottle

When thinking of glass objects, one of the last places to think of is China. This is partially due to the sheer volume that has been produced elsewhere in the world, combined with the fact that the Chinese are typically renowned for their production of fine porcelain and jade, amongst other things. The truth is that glassmaking in China has never been a major industry. Prior to the introduction of Western techniques and through the influences of Jesuit missionaries during the Kangxi period (1661 - 1722 AD), glass was considered second to both porcelain and jade and only used to imitate these materials at a much lower price.

 Read More
  • Posted by Robin Newcombe

Celadon is essentially a term coined by the Europeans to describe a wide range of porcellanous wares from both China and Korea which have a distinctive pale grey-green or blue-green glaze. To the Chinese it is known as 'Qingci' which simply translates as greenish porcelain.

 Read More
  • Posted by Robin Newcombe
Chinese export porcelain armorial ware

Fine Chinese porcelain objects were produced for the Chinese royal family and court for over a thousand years before Western trade even commenced. The Chinese prized porcelain second only to jade for its hardness, pureness in colour, translucence and most of all for its resonant sound when lightly tapped. With all of these positive attributes, it is no surprise that the Chinese focused on its development, shaping, modelling and decorating objects with exquisite skill, detail and wonderful imagination. Hence the finest pieces are not simply considered as interesting curiosities but fine works of art in their own right. It was these much admired examples which would have been seen by the early merchants that inevitably led to the mass export of Chinese porcelain to places such as England, France, Holland, Sweden, India and Russia and the United States of America.

 Read More
  • Posted by Robin Newcombe

Having a mark on a Chinese vase naturally enhances its appeal and can help to increase its market value. However, they can not be relied upon alone for determining the age as many Chinese objects were given earlier reign marks. What should primarily be considered when dating and valuing a Chinese ceramic object is the shape, style and quality of craftsmanship. The mark should in fact be the last determining factor as most have spurious marks which tend to act as a distraction. On the other hand when evaluating an object, it is essential to inspect the base first. Usually the quality of the mark will be reflected by the quality of the object.

 Read More
  • Posted by Robin Newcombe

Getting in Contact

What we do

Newsletter Sign-up




Captcha Image

Twitter