More gorgeous Chinese antiques sourced and ready to ship from Beijing
I’m back at the Shimu showroom in Yorkshire today after a great trip to China, with the last week or so spent in Beijing visiting our various Chinese antique suppliers, perusing the markets for unusual accessories and discussing future projects with one or two of our suppliers.
The main purpose (and most enjoyable part) of my Beijing visit was to select the Chinese antique furniture that we will include on a container due to leave in the next 3-4 weeks. As some of you who read our blog regularly may know, the number of good quality antique pieces available in China has dwindled over recent years, largely as so much of it was shipped out to America and Europe. Whilst it is therefore more difficult to find genuinely stand out pieces, it can still be done. It is just a question of knowing which suppliers still have access to the best pieces for restoration and then being able to pick these out from the slightly more run of the mill refinished antiques.
Over the past 12 years of running Shimu I think I have visited almost every one of the main antique dealers in Beijing (several of whom are no longer around) and have a good knowledge of what each one is likely to have available, as well as the quality of their restoration and finish. I therefore now tend to buy from just three or four companies, each one of which offers something slightly different in terms of the type of piece and the style of restoration and finish.
Buying in this way means that I can usually achieve a nice mix of antique furniture that will appeal to different tastes and budgets. My own favourite pieces tend to be from a supplier who is still able to source well preserved, beautiful elm furniture from Shanxi province and whose speciality is to restore these sympathetically, keeping the original colour and with little refinishing. Another supplier will often refinish pieces with a new lacquer and varnish, often using colours that are more ‘trendy’ than the original to suit a more contemporary setting. Their skill is being able to breathe new life into a piece of furniture whose potential could otherwise be easly missed.
|Carved wooden seated Buddha||Chinese stone figures at Beijing market||Pottery waiting to ship from Beijing|
|Elm desk from Shanxi with dragon carvings||Antique Chinese medicine chest from Shanxi||Antique Shanxi armoire in original red lacquer|
After several days and many miles walked through warehouses and showrooms over the course of last week I had selected well over a hundred antiques, all reserved and ready to ship in May. Some may have to wait for a later container but I’m already looking forward to getting the majority of these pieces in our showroom soon, and to sharing them with you on our website even sooner. We should have the first set of antiques up on the site within the next 2-3 weeks so look out for these under our ‘new arrivals’ section.
Amongst these pieces, as ever, are one or two that really stand out for me. These include a gorgeous Shanxi armoire in its original red lacquer and still with it original hardware on the doors and with the old ‘miao jin’ gold paintings intact, now feint but clearly depicting a Chinese peacock and peony flowers – symols of high rank and wealth. Also a wonderfully well preserved medicine chest, also from Shanxi province and dating from the early 19th century. Unusually the chest still has its original hardware, as well as the old labels on each of its 21 drawers describing what would once have been held inside. Lastly, a simple but beautifully proportioned elm desk from around 1850, decorated with stylised dragon carvings on the front, back and sides – a sign that it would have belonged originally to someone of very high status.
Look out also in the coming weeks for new accessories on our website, many of which I picked up at Beijing markets during my trip. These include more stoneware, including buddhas, horses and figurines, tibetan artwork, and some beautiful bronze vases with silver inlay.