What Do You Know About Chinese Figurines?

Chinese porcelain figurines have been popular in the U.S. for decades, and are often found in estate sales. Finding a genuine antique is rare. There are many reproductions on the market, as well as fakes. Even if a piece has identifying marks, they are often forged. Here are some things to look for when evaluating a piece.

Markings


Generally identifying marks can be found on the bottom of a figurine. The McKinley Tariff Act requires all imports to the U.S. after 1919 be marked with the country of origin in this way: “Made in __________”. So, you can get an idea of whether a piece is antique by the way it is labeled.

  • “China” generally indicates a piece was made between 1890 and the 1920s.
  • “Made in China” indicates a piece was made after 1919, and therefore is not considered an antique (over 100 years old).
  • Antique pieces may display an imperial reign mark, which you should research on Gotheberg.com.
  • A red wax seal (called a jianding) is an export approval mark used after 1949. The jianding does not indicate the age of the piece, but only that it has been approved for export.

Legalities of Selling and Exporting Antiques


There are two primary laws governing the sale and export of antiques from China.

  • Any item produced prior to 1949 is considered a cultural relic, and cannot be taken out of the country without a jianding or official receipt.
  • No item produced prior to 1795 may be purchased from a government antique shop.

Currently the Cultural Relics Bureau oversees the exportation of antiques from China. By law, an item with the jianding could have been produced from 1795 through the present. However, generally no antiques (older than 100 years) will receive the jianding. It is more typically seen on items produced between the 1920s and 1950s when antique-looking reproductions using traditional techniques were heavily produced.

Signs of Age


How do you know if you may have an antique piece? Signs of age in porcelain include:

  • Crackles
  • Indentions or raised spots
  • Rust Spots
  • Scratches
  • Staples or staple holes (indications of repair)

If you think you may have a valuable or antique piece, recommend to your Client that they have it apprised by an expert, for both resale and insurance value, and get written authentication of its probable age.

Quick Tips to Take with You


Quick Tips to Take With You

What you need to remember about antique Chinese figurines:

  • Signs of age: crackles, indentions or raised spots, rust spots, scratches, staples or staple holes.
  • “China”: 1890-1920s
  • “Made in China”: after 1919
  • Jianding (red wax seal): generally 1920s-1950s
  • Excellent resource: Gotheborg.com

Stay tuned to Tales From the Sales for more insightful and valuable articles.

  • Donna

Donna Davis has over twenty years of experience in the antiques and estate sale business, and conducts sales every weekend in the Greater Atlanta Area. She is also the Founder and Director of the National Association of Estate Liquidators, and Lead Instructor of NAOEL’s online school. You can contact Donna by email at donna@naoel.com or by phone at 800-521-8820.

Become a Member of the National Association of Estate Liquidators and enjoy all of the benefits we offer.

 

How I Sold an Amusement Park Carousel Horse / Wish I Had More!

We conduct a lot of sales in historic cities around Atlanta. When I walked into this home in historic Roswell, I was in for a surprise.

A Horse of a Different Color


Yes! Right there in the living room were two beautiful carousel horses! You know, the beautifully painted galloping horses you see on amusement park carousels. Like the ones you used to love riding as a kid.

But these weren’t just your run-of-the-mill amusement park horses. These were typical of the mounts made in the 1930s and 1940s by a famous manufacturer of that time.

A sign posted on each one stated they were purchased from a major auction house in Atlanta, and that they were made by famous carousel manufacturer Allan Herschell.

Because of the rare and unique nature of these horses, I called on an expert. I sent pictures to a national dealer of carousel horses and asked for his opinion. He confirmed the maker was Allan Herschell. So, I got to work on my research.

Allan Herschell Carousel Horses


The Allan Herschell Company was established in 1915 in North Tonawanda, New York by Allan Herschell. They manufactured handmade carousels and a variety of other portable carnival rides. Before being bought by another company in 1970, Herschell produced over 3,000 hand-carved wooden carousels, more than any other manufacturer. Over seventy of these unique antique carousels survive today in the U.S. and Canada.

The Allen Herschell Company also developed and manufactured specialized portable “kiddie” rides for small children, and adult thrill rides. You might be familiar with some of these adult rides, such as Twister, the Hurricane, and the Sky Wheel, from carnivals and fairs.

The company moved to Buffalo, New York in the 1950s, and the original factory in North Tonawanda is now the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum.

Did You Know...?


According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, here’s the origin of the word “carousel” (also spelled carrousel):

“French carrousel, from Italian carosello tourney in which the contestants threw balls of clay at each other, probably from Italian dialect (Neapolitan) carusello ball of clay, from caruso shorn head, boy”

The main definitions of carousel are:

“a: a tournament in which troops of horsemen execute various evolutions

b: a riding exhibition performed to music in dancelike patterns by a group on horseback”

Who Would buy an Amusement Park Carousel Horse?


Although the Allan Herschell Company was famous for the hand-carved horses it produced, it also produced molded horses, which is what our were. Regardless, I was surprised to find a market for them. After all, who would want to buy them? And what would they do with them?

I had a lot of inquiries, and placed the asking price at $1,200 based on my research. We eventually sold both horses, for $850 and $900 respectively. Because there was no provenance, I included our standard Authenticity Discloser Statement in the transaction.

But, who bought them? One buyer purchased a horse for his granddaughter. The other bought one to resell at an upcoming auction.

Warning: Without Authentication, Don't Say It's...Anything!


Even though the client stated that they were Allan Herschell carousel horses, and a national dealer verbally verified that, we had no written authentication and no provenance. What does that mean? That means we were careful not represent them as “Herschell carousel horses,” and we had the buyers sign an Authenticity Disclosure.

What is an Authenticity Disclosure, and why is it important? It’s a form that the buyer signs, acknowledging that the agent has not made any representation about the maker or authenticity of the item being purchase. And it’s important because it protects both the estate sale agent and the client from liability in case someone comes back and says, “They told me it was an antique Egyptian mummified horse buried with King Tut, but it’s not!”


Lesson Learned: Never underestimate what will sell at an estate liquidation sale! Do you have an unusual item you need help selling? Let me know. Perhaps I can help you find just the right buyer for your unique treasure.

What interesting amusement park relics have you come across? Share your success stories!

Stay tuned to Tales From the Sales for more insightful and valuable articles.

  • Donna

Donna Davis has over twenty years of experience in the antiques and estate sale business, and conducts sales every weekend in the Greater Atlanta Area. She is also the Founder and Director of the National Association of Estate Liquidators, and Lead Instructor of NAOEL’s online school. You can contact Donna by email at donna@naoel.com or by phone at 800-521-8820.

 

Become a Member of the National Association of Estate Liquidators and enjoy all of the benefits we offer.

 

How to Sell a Cannon in Two Days!

Marrietta, Georgia is a great city, with charming shops, wonderful historic homes, and significant Civil War sites. It’s located about twenty minutes north of Atlanta, and we recently held an estate sale there.

A Cannon in the Front Yard? Yes!


I must admit I didn’t pay much attention to the little cannon sitting in the front yard when I first visited this home. If you’re wondering who would have a real, functional cannon in their front yard, well…this client did!

When I went back to photograph items of interest to include in marketing the sale, I took a closer look. Stamped on the base was “C C Galbraith & Son Inc., New York, U.S.A.” So, I got to work researching this unique item.

What is a Life-Saving Cannon?


It turns out this is what was known as a “life-saving” or “line-throwing” cannon. It didn’t shoot artillery as most cannons do. It shot a rope line from a rescue ship to a damaged ship during rescue operations.

Also known as a “Lyle gun,” this type of cannon was developed beginning in the late nineteenth century, and they were produced by several manufacturers until 1952. By that time better line-throwing devices had been developed to replace the Lyle gun.

After the Titanic tragedy, public attention turned to safety at sea. The C C Galbraith company began manufacturing these cannons in 1919, and produced about 1,400 of them. This particular model was produced beginning in 1940, and over half of their cannons were produced after that time.

How do You Price Cannon?


One key to a successful estate sale, and a liquidation business, is correct pricing. One of the things I’m known for is my research and attention to detail.

I was excited to see one of these cannons listed on the Christie’s auction site, because it looked just like our cannon. Except ours didn’t have “U.S.N.” stamped on it, so ours was not a military cannon.

Was our cannon authentic, or a reproduction? It’s hard to say because there was no provenance. Regardless, we were able to get a good price for it.

Sold! In Only Two Days!


How did we sell a cannon in just two days? In Internet advertising, keywords are key! I used “cannon” in the title of our online ad describing the upcoming sale, and calls came in from everywhere. It ultimately went to an Atlanta dealer for $1,200.


The lesson of the day was, "Don't ever hesitate to take a closer look, and do your research!"

Stay tuned to Tales From the Sales for more insightful and valuable articles.

  • Donna

Donna Davis has over twenty years of experience in the antiques and estate sale business, and conducts sales every weekend in the Greater Atlanta Area. She is also the Founder and Director of the National Association of Estate Liquidators, and Lead Instructor of NAOEL’s online school. You can contact Donna by email at donna@naoel.com or by phone at 800-521-8820.

Become a Member of the National Association of Estate Liquidators and enjoy all of the benefits we offer.