Saturday, February 28, 2015

Chinese Cloth Folk Art Dolls - A Research Case Study - Part One



1950's Chinese Dolls can be found in CreekLifeTreasures shop on Etsy


It is impossible to know "everything" antiques and vintage, professional appraisers and collectors have specialties.  That said, growing the skills and proficiency required to answer questions and build not only your knowledge base but also your reference "library" of links are key.  Most vintage sellers have a good general knowledge, are committed and actively work to expand their capacity and hone their research skills.  In our "at your fingertips" information age, researchers are fortunate for the plethora of online resources.  Not only via web sites but also the many detailed and comprehensive blogs created by collectors.  Naturally, there are vintage and antique guides which can be purchased or loaned from the library.  The downside of printed pricing materials is they're oft outdated.  Good practices still require a thorough search online to verify accuracy. Within all this it's important to not overlook the story.  It is the framework, comprised of the history and the provenance of an item, which is important.

With smart phones, Etsy, eBay, and Facebook support groups, along with pricing apps a lot of research happens on the fly.  Frankly much of researching is pretty mundane, checking the current market prices, nailing down a year of manufacture, verifying it's not a reproduction worse yet a counterfeit prior to a purchase.  But then, every once in a while you come up with something you know is special but you haven't a clue, you go with your gut and make a purchase without any knowledge.  Once home you begin the process of researching and appraising an item in preparation to list it for sale.

This case study begins with one such occasion and my first research tip.


Mimi of CreekLifeTreasures, on Etsy, purchase the three Asian cloth dolls pictured above.  It was one of those estate sales which is the real deal.  Retired military family, life-long collectors of just about "everything" especially Chinese Art and Artifacts says Mimi.  A "huge home with a full attic, and had room to keep everything.  I think more than anything they simply didn't throw anything away"  Mimi went on to say, "They had full decorative Chinese robes that were also for sale.  The first thing that sold was a jadeite hand mirror for $7,500.00, the man drove 4 hours one way and stood in line for over 4 hours to get it.  It was that kind of sale, I so want a 'do over'." "The entire house was like a museum." Who wouldn't!