Handle with care: how to be made in China

Now and again, a collection comes up for sale that is interesting as much for its owner as its own merits. The 300 monocrome (single-colour) Chinese ceramics that belonged to the late Professor Edward "Teddy" Hall are in this category.

Now and again, a collection comes up for sale that is interesting as much for its owner as its own merits. The 300 monocrome (single-colour) Chinese ceramics that belonged to the late Professor Edward "Teddy" Hall are in this category.

The ceramics, due to be auctioned at Christie's in London on 7 June, are fascinating on several levels. As individual works of art they have a simple, timeless beauty. As a collection they are a visual feast: a kind of ceramic firework display of deep colours and elegant shapes. From a manufacturing perspective, the creation of the various pots, bowls and vases, and especially the sophisticated glazes, is also impressive.

"Chinese glazes are quite different to European ones," says Desmond Healey, head of the Chinese department at Chris- tie's. "They were far more advanced than us. Quality porcelain was being produced during the Tang dynasty between the 7th and 10th centuries. Europe didn't start producing it until the 18th century. Chinese glazes and colour control are particularly impressive. Their red glaze, for example, a very difficult colour to control, is really vibrant and clear."

The story of Professor Hall is just as interesting. In 1953, 40 years after the "discovery" in Sussex of fossils acclaimed as the missing link between apes and humans, he used X-ray fluorescence, a non-destructive technique of chemical analysis, to show that the bones of Piltdown Man had been stained to make them appear fossilised.

In 1988, he also debunked the myth that the Turin Shroud had wrapped the body of Christ after the Crucifixion. Using pioneering scientific methods he dated the material to between 1260 and 1390.

Professor Hall was a collector by nature. At Eton he gathered over a million cigarette cards, and he went on to amass an equally impressive hoard of clocks and scientific instruments, which was auctioned last year. He built up his collection of Chinese porcelain largely through specialist dealers in Mayfair. Receipts from shops like Bluett & Sons reveal how the value of these pieces has increased over the past 50 years. In 1954, for example, he bought a purple saucer dish with an engraved dragon design for £30. The Christie's catalogue estimates that this is now worth between £8,000 and £10,000.

Chinese antiques have risen steeply in value over the past few years as Chinese citizens have become wealthier and started investing themselves.

"The most expensive pieces in the collection will be of most interest to Asian buyers," says Mr Healey. "Many are very active in buying and acquiring now that they have a booming economy. Some serious collectors will be looking to fill gaps in their collections, so we're expecting certain pieces to go for high prices."

The most expensive item in the Christie's catalogue is a powder blue "Ru-type Tripod Censer" (a receptacle in which incense is burned), which is estimated to be worth between £30,000 and £40,000. It is shaped like a fish basket and has a special, finely crackled glaze.

However, many of the lots come in at under £500 and would be interesting to new collectors or people decorating their home who require beautiful pots or vases to display.

A lemon-yellow enamel cup, which wouldn't look out of place in a home full of Habitat furnishings, is estimated at £300 to £500.

Similarly, a pair of turquoise enamel cups (estimated price £6,000 to £8,000) and a matching pair of turquoise enamel bowls (also £6,000 to £8,000) look ready to be used on the dining table.

As an investment, Chinese antiques are an excellent bet while the country's economy goes from strength to strength. If you think that rise in wealth will continue, as many economists do, then collecting Chinese porcelain will be more than an attractive and timeless way of decorating your home; it is will also be a fun way of investing in the Far East without having to leave the comfort of your own sitting room.


Prices: items in the Christie's sale range from £300 to £40,000.

More Information: www.gotheborg.com - a comprehensive site for Chinese and Japanese porcelain; www.christies.com - with pictures of the lots.

2004 events: 7 June, Christie's, King Street, London SW7 - Chinese Monochrome Porcelains from the Collection of the Late Professor ET Hall.

Suggested Topics
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

    £600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

    The benefits of being in Recruitment at SThree...

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: SThree, International Recruitme...

    Test Analyst - UAT - Credit Risk

    £280 - £300 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Test Analyst, Edinburgh, Credit Ris...

    Trainee Recruitment Consultants - Banking & Finance

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

    Day In a Page

    Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

    The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

    What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
    Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

    Finding the names for America’s shame

    The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
    Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

    Inside a church for Born Again Christians

    As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
    Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

    Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

    Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
    Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

    Incredible survival story of David Tovey

    Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little