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Hello, I have inherited this decorative item, possibly Chinese, and I am trying to find out any information I can about it including:

- age

- origin

- material

- purpose

- restoration

- value

I don't see any kind of identification marks on it, but maybe I just need help finding them. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you. 

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Replies to This Discussion

High-end auction houses do charge for appraisals. It is tricky to get appraisals in general, as many establishments/personal business owners will appraise on the low end in hopes that you will sell to them so they can resell it for a premium. There is a lot of potential for conflict of interest. You want to go to someone reputable where you will sign a valuation agreement.

Museums are a mixed bag. I work at a medium-sized museum. Many charge research fees, especially the really small ones where every cent counts to keep the lights running. My advice would be to find a museum with a collection similar to your objects in question. Curators don't often answer research requests. You will likely talk to a registrar/collections manager if the museum is large enough.

Also, a museum will tell you what you have historically, if it is relevant to something in their collection, but they will not disclose a monetary value. 

Very interesting article about ivory. Good read, will try some of these ideas now. 

Put it on the scanner for a closeup. (Should have thought of that sooner.)

Funny observation: turned on its side, the mark does appear to say "VH" :D

I don't think it is ivory. But here's a good link you can check out:

I don't see Schreger lines, and think the filigree is too fine to be actual ivory. But pictures never tell a full story and you have it in hand.

You can send pictures or take it to any auctioneer to look at without paying a fee - they won't give you a written appraisal but they are always looking for things to sell and will tell you what they can about it and whether it has value in hopes you will consign it to them. Most auctioneers have a day set aside for people to bring their things in to be looked at, so check the auctioneers close to you.

Thank you, Jeff. I posted the same article last night, it is a good one. I will check out the auctioneers in this area.

TBH I can see more detail in the closeups than I can on the actual item. 

Looks more like "JH" to me.  Hot Water test is for bakelite, smell is from petroleum. Not a test for celluloid.  Celluloid is made of plant cells (not petroleum) and has an off-white, mottled look just like yours. Old celluloid becomes very brittle and crumbles easily.

Regarding my earlier statement about it being "computer generated laser cut" is obviously incorrect. But it is your fault because in your opening post you didn't state your provenance (history) of how long you've had it or known about it. You failed to disclose that it was 70 years or older.  Had I known that I wouldn't have made such a dumb remark.

Hi Tom, I was referring to the article Vicki posted, which recommends the hot water test for celluloid.

"If you want to test a piece you suspect to be celluloid, put it under hot running tap water. Celluloid omits (sic) the scent of camphor when heated in this way."

You are correct, I did not include the history of how long I have had it because I don't have specifics, only a guess. I see from your first reply that information posted needs to be very specific and verifiable. "70+" isn't much to go on, as that only dates it back to 1950 or so. It eliminates very few possibilities. However, a computer is one of those possibilities.

Also, this is an antiques forum.  I did not think I would have to explain that it is an antique. 

If you turn that on its side, it strongly resembles  the symbol for 

SPECIAL or SPECIALIZED in Zhuan...according to Google translate.

On this site it's definition is to MONOPOLIZE or TAKE SOLE POSSESSION OF.

Thank you for finding that, Molly. I that does help. Perhaps it was a special order.

Each reply gives me a little more information!

Adding to the original  post to add provenance information. My grandmother received these items in the late 1950's from an elderly friend who had no heirs. My mother remembers seeing the items in the friend's house in the early 1950's. Digging further this weekend I found a picture frame from the same lot which contains a newspaper clipping from 1903. 


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