As we welcome 2019, the Chinese welcome the Year of the Pig. It comes just a few weeks later than New Year’s Day in the United States on February 5th, but why do I open with this trivia? Answer, because. No seriously, as we head into this brave new year it’s all about Chinese antiques and collectibles. They have been hot for several years now and the trend is continuing. As the Chinese economy grows, so does the new middle class of collectors. They want what was sold throughout the United States and Europe in the 1950s and 60s. Almost to reclaim a lost heritage and there is a passion with these collectors that is second to none. And passion means demand.
We just ended 2018 with a nice collection of Foo Dogs from a local collector that had been picking up unique offerings over the years, at estate sales, antique shops, thrifts and the like. Now it was time to sell and I was hoping I would see the same trends I’ve seen in this genre at auction over the years. Just like I suspected, a few of the offerings tapped in to that demand for Chinese uniques and antiques. A pair of 19th Century Keiloon Dogs realized $3,200. A bone carved pair of Foo Dogs saw bids reaching $1,650. Even a simple stone incense burner brought in $230. All pleasant surprises and I can tell you, there are pieces like these all around the valley.
These finds are not unusual as many GIs brought them home to the US after the Korean conflict and even WWII. In addition, department stores like Gump’s of San Francisco imported these pieces from the Orient to wow their clients. You see, at the time in China and most of the Orient, these collectibles were not seen as antique or in demand. Their civilization being so much older than ours, they did not see a value in possessions like these at the time. So, the United States saw an influx of the treasures.
I can also tell you stories of million dollar finds in this area, but I try to live in the real world. However, they do exist. There was a vase just discovered in a closet shoe box in France that brought in $19m. That’s million! I believe that antiques like that are here locally. Not just in the US, but they may be in your house or your neighbor’s house! Simply unnoticed and undiscovered. You may not have the next million dollar find, but a $1,000 find might be just as nice. Okay, not just as nice, but…
As I always say, have an expert look before you have the yard sale or estate sale because there might just be untapped financial resources, national treasures or just a few extra bucks to buy that thing you didn’t get for Christmas.