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Antiques Considered - June 29, 2011

 

An e-mail from a couple in the Northern Neck describes the gentleman’s purchase of this Celadon planter in the Deep South almost 40 years ago.  He bought it from an interior decorator, whose advertisements he later saw in national magazines.  She told him that she knew nothing of the piece’s history, but could “let him have it” for $85.  The piece is perfect, with no cracks or chips.

 Celadon is one of the finest forms of Chinese porcelain.  That nation first discovered the means of firing that enabled the making of extremely hard and durable porcelain.  This piece combines the two Chinese

talents for porcelain manufacturing and diminutive horticulture. It dates from the early 19th century.

The planter is the correct size for developing and tending a small penjing garden, a Chinese tradition similar to the Japanese art of bonsai.  The secret was to plant small seedlings, and as they grew, to prune them and occasionally to remove them from the planter to prune the root system as well, then returning them and covering the surface with moss.

 The colors of this piece are magnificent, emphasizing the traditional Celadon green base with the applied enamels of rose, dark green and white before a second firing.  The classical feet enhance the workmanship, and the unglazed interior is in keeping with the standard of such pieces.

The $85 purchase price might have been a bit on the high side in 1971, but in retrospect it was a good buy.  Today the planter is worth $500, and perhaps more at an auction focusing on oriental porcelain where any collector would be delighted to add this piece to a pristine collection.

 Although the piece was made for planting, I suggest not putting soil in it, but rather getting a small clear glass baking dish that could fit inside the planter, thus keeping the soil from touching the porcelain. Happy antiquing!

Lisa and Henry Hull operate Commonwealth Antiques and Appraisals, Inc. at 5150 Jessie DuPont Hwy., 22570 (P. O. Box 35). Wicomico Church, Va. 22570. Write to them or email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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