You have a Chinese antique that you think might be valuable – glassware, a vase, a furniture cabinet – and you’ve been watching a lot of Antiques Roadshow and are itching to know what it’s worth. Bringing your antiques to a television appraiser just isn’t in the cards, so you’re going to have to come up with something else.
So where can you take your beloved Chinese antiques? Well, you have two options – you can take them to a local, non-televised appraisal service, or you can try your hand at conducting your own research online.
Researching from Home
Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to conduct research using the internet, but that still doesn’t mean that it’s easy to identify the value of antiques with a single search inquiry – it’s going to take quite a bit of trial and error. Seeking out a professional appraisal is always your best option, but searching the web beforehand can often rule out if something’s common or not a true antique, saving both your time and the appraiser’s time.
Here are some useful tips for conducting your own antique research from home:
- Find Unique Features: Search engines like Google speak a certain language. Simply typing “Chinese white floral vase” won’t get you very far – you’re going to need to narrow your search. First, check the antique for anything that strikes you as unique and add that to your search query – for example, if there are words on the bottom or a specific animal in the design, throw those details in.
- Search Smart: Search engines like Google speak their own language, and you can use various symbols to help them better understand exactly what it is you’re looking for. Here are some tricks to searching with Google:
- Use quotations (“19th-century Chinese vase”) to search for exact phrases,
- Use “OR” (all caps) between two similar search terms to bring up results for both.
- To search by date, use two periods between the desired years (Chinese teapot red dragon 1800…1900).
- Be Skeptical: Even if you do manage to find your Chinese antique on eBay or an antique website, be skeptical of the value that you see. Online, antique prices tend to vary wildly depending on a number of factors, including the time of year the sale was made, where the seller is from, what year the item was sold, and how public the auction was.
Benefits of Professional Appraisal
Once you’ve done a bit of online research and have reason to believe your Chinese antiques might be valuable, it’s time to take them to a professional appraiser. Unlike the wild, wild, west of the web where antique values can be all over the place, a professional appraisal service can give you a much more accurate estimate. As a bonus, an appraiser can often tell you more about an antique’s history and the culture that it comes from.
Where to Find an Appraisal Service for Your Chinese Antiques
Luckily, if you live in New York City or the surrounding area, you’re close to an appraiser that specializes in Asian antiques. Syl-Lee Antiques is a family-owned antique company that offers a local and welcoming environment and decades of experience appraising, buying, and selling Chinese antiques – we even have a Chinese jade expert on hand with over 30 years of experience buying antique jade. And if we have reason to believe you have something really special on your hands, we’re even willing to travel out of state to buy it from you.
Whether you’re seeking an appraisal, a buyer, or both, we’re more than happy to help. The passion for antiquing runs in our family, so you can trust us to handle your valuables with the utmost care and sensitivity.