Tips on Collecting Asian Art Materials

In my nearly 40 years as a dealer and appraiser, I have seen any number of reasons, some personal but all valid, for embarking on the quest for Asian art. Some do it because they love the idea of perhaps discovering an unknown treasure that can be bought for $2,000 and sold for $20,000 or even $200,000. Others want to decorate their reception room or dazzle clients. Still others collect because they like the little round faces of the children on the vase or the ivory carvings of laughing monkeys. Whatever your reason, you have chosen a good place to start. The articles excerpted here are from my forthcoming book, Collecting Asian art.

This information is intended to help you build your successful collecting experience on a solid foundation. I will lead you into galleries, museums and auction rooms. You will “search the shadows” of the ancient Oriental cultures. You will find that the items you see, hold in your hands and acquire are more than collectibles. They are pieces of immortality.

Naturally, I can’t teach you everything you need to know on this Web site. But I can offer you the background you need to begin successfully acquiring the kind of items you want. You will find more advanced knowledge about using your collection as a sound investment, finding the right appraiser, selling your collection for the right price in my book.

You can also jump-start your learning curve by visiting this Web site frequently to search upcoming and past international fine arts auctions. Our online and hard-copy catalogs are repositories of valuable information, complete with photographs, description, size, estimate and-for past sales-prices realized. You will learn how to use this data to track markets, predict upswings in various categories and know when the time is right to get in on the ground floor of a category that is becoming wildly popular. Occasionally, you will see that even experts can be baffled when an object that has been valued by all the standard criteria exceeds estimate because it has become the passion of two or more collectors. And you will file this information away for future reference. In most instances, though, you will find that our estimates are right on target. Our catalogs and Web site listings comprise the most current information you have in gauging the trajectory of your collection.

The art of collecting begins with the purchase of one or two items. Where you may have begun by purchasing a jade carving of a mountain because it looks good in your cabinet, you will soon discover that that 500 years ago, a Ming emperor had this particular mountain carved for the table of his revered scholar to provide a more spiritual setting for his scholar’s writings and hopefully inspire the poem that would immortalize the dynasty. The more you look, the more you will share the viewpoint of the original artisans who saw their work as a piece of eternity. As a buyer, you will choose carefully. As an owner, you will care for them accordingly and, well cared for, your Asian art objects will last practically forever.

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