Chinese civilisation is considered to be one of the oldest on earth, along with Indian, Egyptian and Babylonian. It is no surprise that the Chinese were leaders in innovation and technology. The history of ceramics can be dated to the Neolithic period (5000-2200 BC) and there is evidence to suggest that the Chinese were the first to invent pottery. This invention would lead on to many other significant discoveries in the developing world, and was one that would eventually lead to the creation of the antique Chinese plate.
There is a large selection of antique Chinese plates on the market. These plates are bought for many different reasons. Some people buy a Chinese plate to display in their homes and others buy antique plates as investments. Often these types of Chinese antiques can gain value over time. Some people like to buy an antique Chinese plate and hold on to it for a prolonged period of time, hoping that its value will increase.
This guide will look into the history of the Chinese plate, mention some factors to consider when purchasing an antique plate and also give a thorough outline of how to search for an antique Chinese plate on eBay.
History of Antique Chinese Plates
The creation of pottery is considered to be the first time humans used natural materials to make practical items. Chinese plates were first produced in the Neolithic age when the material that was used was mainly terracotta. This development was followed by a time when black pottery was used. There have been discoveries of black antique Chinese plates dating back to 2600 BC. Chinese plates made out of terracotta, would be placed into a kiln for the purpose of strengthening and decorating them.
During the Tang dynasty, the manufacture of porcelain first started and this improved the quality of the plates that were being produced immeasurably. Porcelain is a material that is a lot smoother than terracotta and it has a glossy and shiny finished exterior that suited the tastes of the Chinese cultures back then. This style is still appreciated today.
Porcelain, which is also a type of ceramic that is placed in a kiln, got its glossy, brilliant finish due to the fact that it has high levels of kaolinite, a smooth, grained mineral that is also used in the production of glossy paper. In the nineteenth century, in Europe, antique Chinese plates were so sought-after that the Europeans started to make imitation versions of Chinese plates. It was a testament to the quality of the Chinese production of plates and other porcelain products. The Europeans admired them so much that they spent huge amounts of time learning the techniques.
Discover Antique Chinese Plates
As with numerous inventions that ancient Chinese cultures are responsible for introducing, the invention of plates was something that would change the way that societies lived, dined and socialised for thousands of years.
Having the opportunity to own an antique Chinese plate is something that can allow the buyer to look back in time and discover how ancient cultures lived. The invention of the plate is one that cannot be understated, it is an object that is synonymous with everyday life, and as with many other early inventions, it was brought to us by the ancient Chinese. The Chinese were considered one of the first to live in a civilised society and the invention of the plate testifies to this. Porcelain plates are celebrated for their luxurious feel and uniqueness. The plates were made by a variety of different shapes and moulds meaning that each plate-maker could make his own specific indentation on his own products.
Materials Used in Antique Chinese Plates
The most popular type of antique Chinese plates is made out of porcelain. Listed below is an outline of the substances that were combined to make porcelain.
This makes up a large part of porcelain. It is mainly made of the clay, Kaolinite.
Gives porcelain its famous shiny finish.
This makes up part of Chinese porcelain and it consists of tectosilicate minerals.
Feldspar acts a flux, meaning that firing temperatures can be lowered.
Makes up part of Chinese porcelain. Common mineral in earth’s core.
Quartz has chemical stability, not affected by glazing.
Factors to Consider When Buying an Antique Chinese Plate
There are many considerations that should be made by someone before they make a purchase of an antique Chinese plate.
Purpose - It is important to decide for what purpose an antique plate is being bought. Is one buying it for decoration or investment? Be aware that if the piece one is buying is chipped, cracked or damaged in any other way, its value will be considerably less than if it were in perfect condition.
Ask Questions - It is strongly advised that the buyer asks the seller as many questions as they can think of regarding the antique plate. This will mean that one will have the maximum amount of information possible and can make a better decision about whether one wants to finalise the purchase. A buyer must be sure to ask about any marks, cracks or blemishes that can be seen on the photographs provided.
History - One should have a look at the history of the seller. If a seller has got lots of good ratings and feedback attached to their name, this will usually mean that they are a very willing and helpful seller.
Research - One should get to know antique Chinese plates. It is always recommended that a buyer have good knowledge of what they are buying because this means that they will be more aware of the small intricacies of Chinese plates. It is advised that a buyer conducts research in a library, or on the Internet.
How to Care For Antique Chinese Plates
Antiques are known for being delicate and Chinese plates are no different. They should be handled with extreme care, and if they are being stored somewhere in the home, they should preferably be in a display case made of glass.
There are methods by which antique plates can be cleaned. Cleaning must be done with the utmost care. Here are some tips for cleaning antique Chinese plates.
- Use a soft, dry brush to remove dust or dirt.
- Use a damp cloth to clean Chinese plates. Using lukewarm water is advised because this will not harm the porcelain. Wipe antique Chinese plates gently, using a soft cloth.
Dynasties in China that Created Antique Plates
Throughout its history China has been at the forefront of ceramic manufacturing. Below is a list of some of the major Chinese dynasties that were particularly known for their plate making.
- Tang Dynasty: 618-906 AD
- Song Dynasty: 960- 1279 AD
- Yuan Dynasty: 1279 -1368 AD
- Ming Dynasty: 1368 – 1644 AD
- Qing Dynasty: 1644-1912 AD
Useful Accessories for Antique Chinese Pots
There are some useful accessories to go with the purchase of an antique Chinese plate.
Soft cloth - It is advised that due to the delicate nature of antique plates that if they need to be washed, a soft cloth is used.
Soft brush - This will get dirt and dust off of antique plates without causing damage.
Carry case - It is highly recommended that a special carry case be used for carrying antique Chinese plates, if they are going to be transported from one place to another.
Display case - Antique plates, should preferably, be placed in a glass display case to minimise the chances the plates getting damaged.
Plate holder - This is for the plate to rest on in the display case. It will ensure that the plate sits safely and in a stable way.
Finding Antiques Chinese Plates on eBay
Once you determine the type of antique Chinese plate that you want to purchase, visit the Antiques portal on eBay, click on ‘Chinese,’ then ‘Plates’ and start searching item listings. The Categories list on the left-hand side of the eBay page helps to narrow the search.
Searching for Chinese Antiques on eBay
Search eBay listing titles for specific words when shopping for antique Chinese plates. For example, to find an antique Chinese porcelain plate, type ‘Antique Chinese Porcelain Plate’ into the search box, and then click the Advanced button to customise the results. Also visit eBay’s Search Tipspage for more advice on searching for antique Chinese plates with keywords. If you can’t find the plate that you want, try shopping eBay Stores.
China is revered for its ancient customs and inventions. The antique Chinese plate is a symbol of the forward-thinking attitude of the ancient Chinese civilisation. It is advised that you do as much research as possible before deciding to make a purchase. Once you have collected all the information that you need, you can buy an antique Chinese plate safely and securely on eBay.