Dating canton porcelain
I have tried very hard to get these marks translated correctly, both from members on the Gotheborg Discussion Board when I or others posted items for translation and also by hiring a couple of young Chinese translators here in Sydney.However, some of the translations may be incorrect or incomplete and I invite anyone to offer alternatives or corrections wherever possible.
In this second volume of his encyclopedic study, Van Dyke focuses in detail on the transactions that took place between foreign private and company traders and Chinese licensed merchants.This gives us an enormous amount of information not accessible from the porcelains of earlier eras.I emphasise this aspect because it actually allows us to build up a picture of artists and companies and ideas and patterns which is unconceivable for earlier porcelains.As you will see below, by far the most common mark colour is overglaze iron red.This is partly because my collecting habits lie with the enamelled wares of this period rather than blue & white or monochromes.The main thing that separates Republic marks from the marks of all previous times is the enormous number of private kiln and company, maker’s or shop marks.
When one looks at the most comprehensive English language lineup of Chinese marks, in ‘The New and Revised Handbook of Marks on Chinese Ceramics’ by Gerald Davison, 2010, almost 3400 different marks are listed.
Some marks were used to commemorate a very special event, and some were simply date marks.
However, the relative proportions of these categories of marks changed during the Republic with reign marks (nearly all, if not all, apocryphal – there is still some dispute over whether the Hongxian or Jurentang marks can be labelled as reign marks) still making up the bulk of marks, but with private kiln or company marks making up the large majority of the rest.
(An update to this marks overview for May 2014 is now complete.
All new marks are in the proper alphabetical order but the text will be red and in italics for a short time so as to highlight the newly added marks.
Because I have decided to include artist’s marks, the period covered by this overview will now stretch back into the later part of the Qing dynasty, into the Guangxu period, so as to capture the marks, seals and relevant inscriptions (dates) of the Qianjiang painters and their like.