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The effect of defects on the collection value of a piece of antique porcelain, same on Jadeite

I visited your web site on Chinese antique porcelain and I would like to seek you advice and/or opinion on the effect of defects on the collection value of a piece of antique porcelain and its ultimate worth or price.

I recently came across a late Qing piece of porcelain of about 130 years old. It is a huge vase (round bottom with a long neck) of between 60 cm to 90 cm in height. I saw a chip of about 7 mm (0.7 cm) wide, 12 mm (1.2 cm) long and 2 mm deep (at its deepest point) right on the outer rim of the mouth of the vase.

I was interested in buying this piece but on seeing the chip, I did not as I am of the view that a chip is a defect and therefore it will reduce the worth or value of the vase, no matter how big or beautiful it may be. I am wondering whether such a view is correct. The owner of the shop told me that such a chip is considered normal and is not considered a flaw and it will not have any detriment to the value of the vase, as we would expect him to.

I would be most grateful if you could kindly advise me on the effect of such a chip on the ultimate value of this antique vase. If it affects the value (and I think it naturally will), by what percentage can one expect the price of a vase with such defects to drop, as compared to a similar piece with no defect at all.

If I may share an observation, when I visited the government antique shops in China (like in Shanghai) and they display the antique vases, those with defects side by side with those that do not have any defect. I observed that on the average the prices of those with defects are about some 90 percent lower than those without any defect, although the defects have been professionally and skillfully repaired. I am therefore at a lost and would like to seek your professional guidance on this subject.

Whilst on this subject, I recently also came across a very old jade (jadeite) bowl believe to be more than a thousand years old. The thickness of this jade bowl was made very thin and it has the old dragon carved all round it. On his bowl, I noticed that a part of the rim of its mouth, for a stretch of about 4 cm to 6 cm, had be damaged to look like the jagged saw blades (though not so pronounced). The similar question arises on how such a defect will affect the worth of such a uniquely old piece of jade antique.

Reduction depending on type of piece

Regarding the loss of value on a damaged piece, you could generally expect it to be about half the price after restoration, if the piece have decorative value only.

A vase that normally would cost $ 1000 in perfect condition wold typically cost about $ 100-300 + restoration $200 = around $ 300-500.

Some recent and inexpensive pieces are not worth the effort to restore at all, since the restauration will cost more than the piece will be possibly to sell for.

If the piece is an investment piece of high collector's value - where the condition is critical - and where there is an abundance of damaged pieces on the market, but only a few good - the value loss could be 90-95%.

A Chinese armorial, or special design export plates, that undamaged and in perfect condition wold cost $ 3 000, could sell at $ 300-600 if damaged.

A few years ago I was offered a badly damaged but very rare early Ming bowl at $ 10 000. A perfect one would at that time have coasted $ 30 000 if found. Today the damaged bowl would have been worth $30 000 while a perfect would have been worth maybe $ 120 000. I mention this, as there is more than the "in" price to consider.

Another special case are the 18th century Blue-and-white or Famille Rose dinner services consisting of several plates, dishes and preferably one or more tureens. These have had a dramatic price development, and there is really nothing telling that this will stop. These sets can not be found at all without damages. The issue here is if it is possibly to actually serve food on them or not. Minor cracks and chips are considered "normal wear". The point is that in the case of these utilitarian pieces signs of a few centuries of use do not detract from their value. The prices - $ 100-150 for a plate, $ 450-600 for a charger - includes some "wear".

Regarding the Jadeite bowl, I have no opinion since most of all that appears on the market are recent replicas. If the piece by chance should be authentic, a minor damage would have little importance to the value if the damage were not to disfiguring.

More information regarding this could most probably be had from any major auction house that deals more with the values of things than I do. The best would in that case be to supply them with a picture of the piece in question.

For further general price information I suggest you also to search the big on-line auction site eBay at

Jan-Erik Nilsson