About "Condition"

I have been an antique dealer for 15 years since 2006. During collecting and selling all the antiques, we will have to face a very realistic problem that is difficult to avoid, that is, the "condition" of the piece. Today, I would like to combine my more than ten years of experience in this industry, and explain my point of view by comparing the different understandings of "condition" in Oriental and Western cultures.


There is such a situation in the antique industry now. It is the phenomenon that new beginners in the market generally do not accept the pieces in the poor condition. They just think that only the piece in good condition is worth collecting. But in the actual fact, I don’t really think so. If we only judge from the monetary value of the piece by itself, this may be correct. Generally speaking, the value of the piece in a poor condition is only one-tenth of the total value of the piece that is in excellent condition. But from the perspective of the cultural value behind the piece, it is not inferior to the piece at all. For example, I used to own a Blue and White 'Three Friends' Daoguang porcelain bowl which is definitely correct and of the period, and everything is good except for the hairline near the mouth rim. There were a lot of inquiries, but in the end, after understanding the condition of the bowl, they withdrew one after another. Later, the bowl was sold to a senior local collector in Australia. After confirming the price and condition, he immediately accepted it. A few years later, when I met him and asked about the bowl again, he made no secret of saying that it had changed hands, and the price was several times than that of the previous year. This case can be approved that the current market still has a certain room for those pieces in poor condition. There are many senior collectors who insist on such a creed, that is, "I'd rather collect fine piece with bad condition rather than collecting the general piece".

Now let’s examine the same situation in the Western cultures. As we all know, Australia is a multicultural country with the different immigrant from the different country. It is my fortunate to be able to live and work in such a country. Because of this, I also have the opportunity to get in touch with more Western collecting culture. For the Westerners, they don't particularly care about the condition of the piece. They think that after a collection has gone through the vicissitudes of history, it is very normal if it is slightly defective which just illustrates the historical value behind the piece. Just imagine, if the Venus sculpture still retains the original two arms, will she still be as "imaginative" as it is now? Many Westerners love to regard these broken pieces as Study Pieces, and they can also enjoy the fun of collecting while studying. This is the collecting method advocated by Westerners and it is a kind of sentiment.

In summary, I think that we should not treat the piece in poor condition with a repulsive attitude, and we should understand the historical and cultural value behind them. Sometimes, " I'd rather collect fine piece with bad condition rather than collecting the general piece " is also an alternative way for the antique collection.

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