Describing condition
Drove House Antiques, Ian and Brigid Rodgers

We specialise in antique Chinese ceramics. These pieces will have been used, handled and enjoyed for generations. This use will often have resulted in minor wear and tear. They may also have minor flaws which were introduced during manufacture or firing in the kiln.  We will always describe these, and the following is intended as a short visual glossary to illustrate the terms we use in our descriptions.

Price always reflects condition, and many collectors are happy to buy a piece with minor faults to fill a gap until that elusive piece in perfect condition comes along!

hairline crack. A tight crack, which may be unstained or stained. Modern restoration methods are often able to make such hairlines disappear. Here are three typical examples:

1) an unstained hairline crack on the rim of a Kangxi famille verte plate
2) an unstained hairline crack on the rim of a Kraak dish
3) a stained hairline crack on the rim of Chinese export plate

fritting. Fritting is the result of the glaze coming away from the body of the porcelain, and usually occurs on sharp edges. It was a particular problem for Chinese potters during the first half of the Seventeenth Century but can be found on export wares throughout the Eighteenth Century.

1) fritting on the rim of an Eighteenth Century Chinese export plate
2) fritting at the rim and edge of an Eighteenth Century export ware salt
3) rim frits on a Kangxi period plate

firing flaws. These are minor faults introduced during manufacture and typically include firing cracks in the body of the item, and glaze flaws where the glaze was either not applied to an area of the body, or has ‘crawled’ during firing.

1) firing cracks and glaze holes in the foot of an early Kangxi dish
2) a star-shaped firing fault in the centre of a Tianqi period dish.  Note that the firing flaw is under the glaze.

chatter marks. These are usually seen as radiating marks on the foot of Seventeenth Century items and were caused by ‘juddering’ of the potter’s knife while shaping the foot.  They can be used as a sign of authenticity, but it should be noted that chatter marks have also been faked on later wares.

1) chatter mark and missing glaze on the foot of a Seventeenth Century bowl.
2) chatter marks and kiln grit in the glaze of a Tianqi period dish. Such kiln grit is commonly found adhering in the glaze of items from this period, and is the consequence of these items being fired sitting on a bed of sand.

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