Found An Outpost of Heaven

I'm partial to traditional Chinese furniture and fascinated by the joinery used, though it takes some digging to find info on their joinery. Inherited 10 nice Chinese pieces of furniture - in what is referred to as "rosewood" which can be any number of species of wood.
Yesterday, while scouting a place to take my "kids" to dinner, I came upon an Outpost of Heaven - for me - a newly opened store filled with antique Chinese furniture - three large rooms of the stuff. Oddly enough, the place is owned by a Russian family from St. Petersburg. The son was very helpful and had no problem with me climbing under tables and opening doors and drawers, peeking inside and closely examining details. I recognized several of the traditional joints - even though, ironically, they are hidden inside where you can't actually see them. But if you know where and what to look for, many of them are obvious - long table aprons bridle joined to midspan legs, trip mitered corners with integral tenon into the underside of the top, mortise and tenoned "clouds" and table top ends' "upsweeps" which serve the same function as a breadboard end.
Because many of the pieces are pretty old - 150 to 200 years old, some of the joints have opened - just enough to reveal some internal details. Some were more rustic - with unrefined - and therefore more obvious joinery.
I didn't want to wear out my welcome so I only stayed for maybe a half an hour. The young man was very accomodating, patient and didn't seem too disappointed that I didn't ask about any prices.
Now I'm considering making them a proposal. I'll pay them $100 and they'll allow me to photograph anything in the store I want a picture of - in one hour (or so) - and promise not to make any copies of any of the pieces in the store. Maybe, if I pique their curiousity - they might even remove a table top - if it's loose.
I wonder if any of these pieces have Golden Ratio proportions?
charlie b
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Or, as an alternative, offer to make copies? One never knows...
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Perhaps the store owner has seen Norm on TV doing his examination and measurement of antique pieces so he can make a copy in his shop. All Charlie might have to say is that he would refer any inquires to "????'s" antique shop. Free advertising has certain benefits.
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SNIP
Me, too. Living in a town that was predominately military (at one time 4 major bases in the city limits!) there have been many times where I have been in houses that have traditional Asian furniture that was made in China. From the age of my clients, I would guess that most of it was brought here in the 60s and 70s. Some of these folks have entire houses full of the authentic stuff that they bought in their travels while on leave when stationed overseas. Of course, free shipping to have these treasures returned didn't hurt much either.
I first noticed the carvings on the screens and table top boxes there were on marble topped coffee tables. Then I saw wooden hinges, sliding dovetails, backwards looking dovetails (to me, anyway) and lots of clever work inherent in designs that didn't need mechanical fasteners. Some of the joints in pieces I have seen would easily compete with the finest Japanese examples.

allow me to photograph anything >in the store I want a picture of - in one hour (or so) - >and promise not to make any copies of any of the

Certainly worth a try. I haven't had anyone tell me no yet. We had a new Amish furniture store open up about 75 miles north of town. I was cruising through one day enjoying the hill country and stopped in. The owners were there, and they were delighted that I wanted to take pictures, and even gave me a hand full of cards.
They brought the stuff to sell because of the obvious quality of workmanship and materials. It was a cut above the norm for this type of work, so I wanted to take some pictures. I asked first, and they readily agreed. While there they got a quick education on the origins of their "prarie/Stickley" inpired furniture which they thougtht was some kind of design from the Amish.
Nope. It was an almost EXACT copy of the furniture style found in Frank Lloyd Wright's "Falling Water" house. FLW designed that furniture for that house specifically for that house, chairs, tables and all. The owner would have talked to me all day about it if I had the time, as he was knocked down to think that it had such a regal design history.
BTW, those tall looking backs on those chairs are actually quite comfortable.

Taking into consideration the Chinese culture, they probably had it long before the Italians put it to a "rule".
When you get some pictures of the interesting joints, I would love to see them.
I am wondering Charlie, if in those days they used hand powered Domino machines.... ;^)
Robert
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You know that most Chinese antiques are fake... They have quite an industry there.
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One of my interests is in Japanese swords. I can't afford the multi- thousand examples, but have dealt in the multi-hundreds. Just two years ago, if you saw a WW2 Japanese sword it would almost certainly be genuine and of _some_ interest, even if it wasn't a particularly good example. Now though, you simply can't find one anywhere for the waist-deep piles of Chinese crap made last week. The market isn't just flooded, it's washed away by the deluge.
Furniture is rather better though. There's crap around, although much of it Indonesian rather than Chinese, especially right down at the bottom end. If you look though, even in a smaller UK city you can find really excellent Chinese furniture at attractive prices -- particularly chairs. Of course this stuff was made yesterday so it's far from "antique", but it's worthwhile product with the sophisticated joinery that has always been the hallmark of Chinese chairmaking. Most of the wardrobes and junk, and many of the tables, but the more traditionally styled chairs and some of the tables are well worth a closer look.
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Actually wasn't that concerned about it. I wasn't buying any of it. Some of the stuff I have seen here was bought literally 20 years after WWII. The counterfeit industry was certainly alive then, but these folks are and have been discerning collectors for decades.
Note that I said it these items were bought in tehe 60s and 70s.

Indonesian rather than Chinese, >especially right down at the bottom end. If you look >though, even in a smaller UK city you can find

from "antique", but it's worthwhile >product with the sophisticated joinery that has always >been the hallmark of Chinese chairmaking.

traditionally styled chairs and some of the >tables are well worth a closer look.
I agree. Even knowing that the piece is nothing more than a wooden product, there isn't any need to throw the baby out with the bath water. While this certainly wasn't what referred to in my original response, one could make the case that good work is where you find it, regardless of age or origin.
Robert
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wrote:

I own some 200 year old coins that used to be valuable. Not anymore, since there isn't any way to tell them from the Chinese counterfits; without proper documentation. My story of a guy buying some clothes with them from my Grandfather in 1920 isn't considered proper documentation. Oh well.
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