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Antiques Considered - April 23, 2014

This Chinese ginger jar comes from an old Northern Neck family. The base is in excellent condition, but the lid has been broken and repaired crudely. The owners are thinking of making it into a lamp, and question whether so-doing would lessen the value.

Ginger jars remain popular, and indeed many have seen new life in the form of becoming lamps.  This is a nice example of the early nineteenth-century form.  The color and the brushwork are quite good, and the damaged top could be repaired.  I suggest using a teak base and similar top, if the present one is not restored.   Most importantly avoid drilling the base either by using an independent rod in the rear or a wedged top that would support the fixture and lamp shade.  I also would not discard the original top in the event farther down the road someone in the family wishes to have it restored.

To repair the top would be expensive as a large chunk is missing, and the lost pieces are missing. As I have mentioned often in previous columns, McHugh’s Restorations in Richmond is one of the premier china restoration companies in America. Their artists could make the top’s damage undetectable.

As is, the jar is worth $75; in good condition it would be twice that amount.  I have seen similar jars converted to lamps selling in designer shops for as much as $250.  Chinese porcelain has not suffered from the downturn in the economy as many other genres of antiques have.  Collectors abound, as do societies and clubs that offer information to fellow enthusiasts, and most of them are available online.

Henry Lane Hull and his wife, Lisa, operate Commonwealth Antiques and Appraisals, Inc. at 5150 Jessie duPont Hwy. in Wicomico Church, VA.  Write to him at P. O. Box 35, Wicomico Church, VA 22579 or e-mail questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .
Happy Antiquing!

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