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White "Guan mark" porcelain with hidden designs

At auction last week I purchased two white vases that have a hidden design visible from the inside of the vase when held to the light, but invisible when viewed from the outside of the vase. The porcelain is very thin and delicate.

A label on the vases indicated that they were 19th century, "Hidden Design" vases, but said no more.

Any ideas?


Probably recent

Regarding your hidden design vases I think they are rather recent.

The finial on the lid is typical for late 20th century porcelain even if I can't completely rule out the 19th century either as a possibly date.

The ware this vase is made to "be" is an almost "mythical" ware from the first Ming emperor "who made a white ware of very thin porcelain with a design which was only visibly when held up against the light".

Mythical, since no one as far as I know have ever seen even a shard of it. The mark on the base says "Guan" which means "Imperial".

Several of these very rare, to say the least, items have surfaced recently so there is reason to believe they are all rather recent.

Please observe that this opinion is founded on pictures only, and if genuine they would be VERY expensive :-)

Sincerely, Jan-Erik Nilsson


Comment by Oliver Watson:

To which I fully agree. If someone have more information on these wares I would be grateful for an email. Any comments can also be entered on line in the Guest Book. / JEN


In September 27, 2000 the following message arrived from a reader living in Shanghai:


I would like to say thank you to all participants in this thread.

Sincerely, Jan-Erik Nilsson