Your Guide to Buying Post-1940 Chinese Antiques

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Your Guide to Buying Post-1940 Chinese Antiques

Antiques are an excellent way of gaining an insight into how a culture lived and socialised in the past. They give the buyer the opportunity to own a piece of history. There is a large array of post-1940 Chinese antiques and this gives buyers a good opportunity to collect a whole range if they so wish.

It has sometimes been suggested that any piece of art only becomes an antique when it turns a hundred years old. This does not mean that objects or pieces of art that are not yet a hundred years old cannot be collectable or hold a high monetary value.

Post-1940 Chinese antiques are purchased for different reasons. Some buyers see purchasing a post-1940 antique as the perfect way to add a unique and intricate piece to their collection that they can display at home or in their offices.

Other buyers see purchasing post-1940 Chinese antiques as a sound monetary investment, believing that the value of these items will increase over time.

History of Post-1940 Chinese Antiques

The beginning of the production of Chinese antiques can be dated to the invention of pottery, which was founded by the ancient Chinese civilisation in the Neolithic period (5000-2200 BC). The invention of pottery, and ceramics, was a technological breakthrough and it is a method of producing artistic and practical pieces to this very day.

During the Han dynasty (206 BC-220 AD), glazing of ceramic goods was introduced and this instantly became the most popular way to finish the piece that was being made.  Glazing refers to the process of firing and fusing a layer of porcelain enamel to the exterior of ceramics, thus strengthening and waterproofing the piece. Glazing also has the potential to bring out vibrant colours on the piece when the chemicals in the porcelain enamel mix together at high temperatures.

Since the process of glazing was introduced, Chinese art and crafts thrived and to this day, antiques from the country are coveted the world over. In the first half of the twentieth century, China went through a turbulent time. The Chinese civil war (1927-1950) was fought between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Communist Party of China (CPC). Eventually, the KMT members fled to Taiwan.

Against the backdrop of the CPC-KMT conflict, China was also occupied by the Japanese for a period during the Second World War (1937-1945). This tumultuous time has had an impact on the post-1940 Chinese antique market. It has been suggested that a large number of relics, antiques and collectables were smuggled out of China at this time. Both the KMT and the Japanese had been accused of plundering China of its treasures. This means that many post-1940 Chinese antiques are still unaccounted for. Those that can be found and certified real can fetch a large sum of money.

In recent years, the Chinese government has imposed strict laws in relation to the smuggling of collectables and relics in an attempt to keep track of its valuable and sentimental past.

Discover Post-1940 Chinese Antiques

Buying post-1940 Chinese antiques is a great way to learn about how Chinese societies lived, ate and socialised in years gone by. Collecting post-1940 Chinese antiques can be informative, fun, and if done for investment purposes, lucrative.

Chinese civilisation is one of the oldest on the planet, apart from Indian, Egyptian and Babylonian ones. This long and distinguished history gave the post-1940 Chinese antique makers so much knowledge to look back on and be inspired about. It is ingrained in the Chinese culture to create decorative and ornate pieces.

Types of Post-1940 Chinese Antiques

Possessing such a long and creative history, the Chinese people have always been at the forefront of the production of artistic and functional goods. Post-1940 Chinese antiques are no different. People producing work during this time were able to draw on all of the history and experience of their forefathers.  Here is a list of some of the main types of post-1940 Chinese antiques.




Chinese vases were predominantly produced using porcelain, but wood and bronze were also used from time to time. The colours and styles of antique Chinese vases vary significantly.

Pots/ plates

Chinese pots and plates would usually be made with porcelain. They would often be highly decorative and colourful.


Chinese paintings developed throughout the ages. Each dynasty had their own particular style and form that they preferred.

Snuff boxes

Snuff boxes were usually made using porcelain or glass. Often ornate, with intricate patterns, they were used for the storage of tobacco.


Usually produced using porcelain, jade, copper and bronze. Chinese antique statues would represent all sorts of images, from people to historic events.


Furniture is a large part of post-1940 Chinese antiques. Ranging from tables, chairs, chest of drawers and benches, the material predominantly used was wood.


Post-1940 Chinese antiques are usually an homage to necklaces made in the past. Often produced using jade.


A very popular post-1940 Chinese antique, usually made from porcelain or ceramics.


Usually made using porcelain. Often with intricate and decorative designs.

Materials Used in Post-1940 Chinese Antiques

Many different materials are used in the making of antiques. Vases, planters, teapots tend to be made with porcelain, while furniture is typically made of wood. Below is a list of popular materials.




Easily decorated so that it can be aesthetically pleasing. Porcelain is light in weight and has a shiny and glossy look after being fired.


Good for carving and a perfect material for making furniture. If treated in the correct way, wood objects and pieces can last a very long time.


It is extremely strong and has a distinctive look, although copper must be cared for properly.


Strong and long-lasting and resistant to salt water corrosion. Bronze also needs to be cared for properly.


Popular in the production of statues and necklaces. Jade can be extremely attractive, in beautiful colours. It is also a hardstone, so it will not break easily.

Factors to Consider When Buying Post-1940 Chinese Antiques

There are many things that the buyer should consider before making the final purchase of their post-1940 Chinese antique. Below is a list of things to consider before purchasing.

  • Research - The buyer should research the particular type of post-1940 Chinese antique that they want to buy. This research will equip the buyer with all of the knowledge that they need in terms of style and value. The buyer will be able to get an impression of how much a certain post-1940 Chinese antique, in a certain condition, should cost. It is also advised to go to a local library and research using reference books, or using the internet.
  • Condition - The condition of the post-1940 Chinese antique that is being bought is very important, especially if it is being bought for investment purposes. Any crack or breakage will significantly lower the value of the post-1940 Chinese antique.
  • Ask questions - It is advised to ask the seller questions. Sellers will be expecting this and will be happy to help. Often, the only information available about the post-1940 Chinese antique will be the photo and description provided.

How to Care For Post-1940 Chinese Antiques

  • Depending on their condition and the material that they are made out of, different post-1940 Chinese antiques require different types of care.
  • Porcelain or pottery should be handled as rarely as possible and with extreme care. If it is cleaned, it is advisable to use a soft sponge or cloth.
  • Post-1940 Chinese antique jewellery also needs to be handled with extreme care as it can often very delicate. To clean post-1940 Chinese antique jewellery, use soap, water and a soft brush.
  • Post-1940 Chinese antique wood furniture should be dusted regularly with a soft cloth. Do not apply polish more than twice a year. A beeswax type polish should be used. Do not allow post-1940 Chinese antique wood furniture to sit in direct sunlight for long periods.

Useful Accessories for Post-1940 Chinese Antiques

A buyer of post-1940 Chinese antiques should strongly consider purchasing the following accessories.

  • Cleaning materials – Antiques are often delicate to the touch so it is imperative that they are cleaned with the right tools. It is advised that you use a soft cloth, paintbrush or sponge.
  • Carry case – If you are going to be transporting your post-1940 Chinese antiques, a special carry case or box is essential.
  • Display case – If you are going to be displaying your post-1940 Chinese antiques in your home, office or art gallery, it is strongly advised that you store them in a display case, preferably made of glass. This will prevent any unnecessary damage or breakages.

Finding Post-1940 Chinese Antiques on eBay

Once you determine the type of post-1940 Chinese antique that you want to purchase, visit the Antiques portal on eBay, click on ‘Asian/Oriental Antiques’ followed by 'Chinese' and start searching item listings. The Categories list on the left-hand side of the eBay page helps to narrow the search.

Searching for Post-1940 Chinese Antiques on eBay

Search eBay listing titles for specific words when shopping for post-1940 Chinese antiques. For example, to find a 1940s Chinese jade necklace, type ‘1940s Chinese jade necklace’ into the search box, and then click the Advanced button to customise the results. Also visit eBay’s Search Tips page for more advice on searching for post-1940 Chinese antiques with keywords. If you can’t find the Chinese antique that you want, try shopping eBay Stores.


With its rich history and culture, China has produced some of the most collectable antiques available. Although this particular time in China’s history was largely unstable, much of the art and collectables that were produced were of high standards. Once you have collected this information, you can buy a post-1940 Chinese antique safely and securely on eBay.

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