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Old 24th July 2010, 01:22 AM   #1
laEspadaAncha
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Default Need help with Chinese bronze sword

So I'm writing this from an antique store where I have found a Chinese bronze jian... Now by nature I'm beyond cautious when it comes to Chinese bronze... The only example I've seen in person I know without a shadow of a doubt to be authentic is at the San Diego Museum of Art, a Warring States period example.

This example has the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly all going for it.

The Good: the sword has what appears toe genuine mineral accretions (the kind you can't simply apply or scrape off) on the hilt, though it almost feels more like cement...

The Bad: the sword is in otherwise good shape, though "bronze disease" appears to. Be setting in elsewhere on the hilt and in isolated spots on the blade

The Ugly: it has inlaid metal designs in the blade... Did they do this with bronze jian?

Anyway, I wish I could post a picture of it, but while took one on my cell phone, the best I could do would be to email it to another forumite...

Other details: hollow hilt, similar mythological / zoomorphic imagery to hilt as with more modern jian, w/nice detail...

I have a littleness than an hour before the store closes...
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Old 24th July 2010, 01:38 AM   #2
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Let me add that I have handled (and in fact) Bronze Age weapons from Luristan and Turkey, as wells Bronze Age artifacts from several cultural complexes. I have experience with real patina, and aside form the aforementioned isolated area of encrustation on the hilt, find the patina toe lacking and the "bronze disease" spots are far more more recent - of course, bronze disease can set in at any time.

Were bronze jian made more recently (aside from forgeries and fakes), say within the last few centuries? I just don't think this piece is necessarily old... But it is a quality piece, and seems far too nice for a fake.

I have a half hour to move on this...
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Old 24th July 2010, 03:53 AM   #3
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UNLESS YOU ARE REALLY INTERESTED IN COLLECTING CHINESE BRONZE SWORDS AND THE PRICE IS LOW I WOULD NOT RUSH INTO ANYTHING IN THIS FIELD.
THE CHINESE ARE VERY GOOD AT MAKEING BRONZE REPLICAS AND THEY ARE VERY COMMON IN MANY FORMS.
I HAVE A COLLECTION OF CHINESE SWORDS, DAGGERS, ARROW, AX AND ARCHAIC BRONZE VESSELS. ALL OF THE ONES I HAVE I ASSUME TO BE REPLICAS AND HAVE BOUGHT THEM QUITE UNEXPENSIVELY OVER THE YEARS. THE WORKMANSHIP IS VERY GOOD AND JUST THE QUALITY AND BRONZE WORK MAKE THEM A NICE COLLECTION DESPITE THEIR AGE.

THE INVENTION OF EBAY SAW A LARGE INCREASE IN THE AVAILABILITY OF THESE REPLICAS AND A BIG INCREASE IN PRICE. TO COLLECT OLD ORIGINAL CHINESE BRONZE TAKES A LOT OF KNOWLEGE EVEN WHEN YOU HAVE THE ITEM IN HAND. I SUSPECT IT IS NOT UNCOMMON FOR MUSEUMS TO HAVE REPLICAS IN THEIR COLLECTIONS WITHOUT KNOWING IT. I HOPE THIS IS IN TIME TO HELP.
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Old 24th July 2010, 06:40 AM   #4
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I ended up passing on it... The patina (in the form of mineral acretions) was nowhere near what one would expect from a bronze item of antiquity. Nonetheless, it was beautiful, and I gave it some more thought, but passed in the end. They did have plenty of legitimate antique pieces, but I really doubt this sword was one of them. I found some close-up photos of legitimate Bronze Age swords from both China and Luristan to show the owner (who didn't speak English), so I could show him the difference. Nonetheless, it was a beautiful and well-made bronze jian with exquisite detail to the hilt. When I get home, I'll move the pics I took from my phone to my computer and post them to this thread.

Once you know what to look for, it is relatively easy to identify natural mineral accretions. The problem is, not all (old) bronze will have them...

Anyway, thank you for chiming in, and at the end of the day, I'm happy to say I saved my money.
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Old 29th July 2010, 03:01 PM   #5
Antonio Cejunior
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Default Bronze weapons from China to view online

Well, I guess that you are not aware that there was a large exhibition where many Museum bronze pieces were displayed.
Do check hereand I hope it helps.

Best not to go into a field that is not that much known.

Best,
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Old 29th July 2010, 03:58 PM   #6
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I actually have that exhibit bookmarked and have relied upon it as a reference and resource on several occasions, even having referred to it in another thread here earlier in the year with regards to a Kalinga head axe. It is in my opinion a phenomenal online resource.

I had pulled up that exhibit on my phone from the store, but could not view the exhibit photographs at an adequate size to make them useful for my need at the time.

Anyway, later, when I was able to enlarge those photos and view the items up close, it became apparent that the pieces that were featured in the Macao collection exhibit the same mineral accretions and layered encrustation that occurs on Bronze Age pieces from the Near East, which as mentioned in the OP were conspicuously lacking from the sword I was considering.

When I returned to the shop, I did my level best to explain to the owner - who spoke no English (and my Mandarin, aside from "hello," "how are you," "thank you" and "you're welcome" is distinctly lacking) - that the sword lacked the layered accretions one expects from authentic Bronze Age work. He proceeded to show me a horse sculpture that had a better applied patina than the sword. Lacking one of my Luristanian pieces to show him for comparison, I thanked his wife for the tea and was on my way.

While it the moment I let my enthusiasm take the wheel, all's well that ends well, as better judgement prevailed and I passed on what in retrospect I am (near mathematically) certain was a modern reproduction.
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Old 29th July 2010, 04:49 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by laEspadaAncha
Anyway, I wish I could post a picture of it, but while took one on my cell phone, the best I could do would be to email it to another forumite...



If that hasn't been rectified by the time you read this, please feel free to email it to me at gimmieitbaby@aol.com

Edit: email was wrong

Last edited by Atlantia : 29th July 2010 at 05:00 PM.
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Old 29th July 2010, 04:58 PM   #8
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Much obliged, Atlantia.

Now that I am back home, I might post them myself, though I may first want to go searching for similar examples to see if I can find another like it on the 'bay or elsewhere. If indeed is was a fake (a conclusion of which I am fairly certain), something tells me that in a crazy scheme to make a profit, they made more than one...
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Old 29th July 2010, 05:00 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by laEspadaAncha
Much obliged, Atlantia.

Now that I am back home, I might post them myself, though I may first want to go searching for similar examples to see if I can find another like it on the 'bay or elsewhere. If indeed is was a fake (a conclusion of which I am fairly certain), something tells me that in a crazy scheme to make a profit, they made more than one...


LOL, no worries, don't know why I added www to my email address there, its just gimmieitbaby@aol.com
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Old 29th July 2010, 08:54 PM   #10
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THE FIRST TIME I WENT INTO CHINA VIA MACAO IN 1982 AND THE SECOND TIME IN 1990 THERE WERE SHOPS EVERWHERE FULL OF GOODS THAT MAY HAVE BEEN THERE 100 YEARS OR MORE SEE TWO PICTURES OF SUCH A SHOP. MUCH OF THAT OLD STOCK HAS BEEN BOUGHT UP AND EXPORTED AND SOLD WITH STATE RED SEALS ON IT. I WILL PUT IN A FEW PICTURES OF SOME EXAMPLES I OWN. SOME HAD A VERY GOOD CRUSTY PATINA AND OTHERS DID NOT BUT THE COMMON THREAD WAS THAT THERE WERE MULTIPLE EXAMPLES OF EACH FORM TO BE FOUND IN MANY SHOPS. TWO PICTURES OF A CHINESE SWORD WITH A BRONZE HANDLE AND IRON BLADE SAID TO BE HAN DYNASTY. THE LESSON TO BE LEARNED IS THAT THE CHINESE HAVE BEEN MAKEING FAKES GOOD ENOUGH TO FOOL MOST CHINESE COLLECTORS FOR MANY GENERATIONS, SO THEY ARE VERY GOOD AT IT.

SEARCH IN THE OLD ARCHIVES 8/07/2001 POST "REPLICAS CURRENTLY IN VOUGE" BY VANDOO
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Old 29th July 2010, 11:46 PM   #11
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A FEW MORE PICTURES OF EXAMPLES.FIRST PIC. BRONZE SWORD, #2 CHINESE BRONZE GILT SWORD (REPLICA) #3.& #4. CHINESE BRONZE AND SILVER (REPLICA) #5 CHINESE BRONZE SWORD. #6. " 2300 YEAR OLD CHINESE BRONZE SWORD" THAT WAS THE SELLERS DESCRIPTION. #7. SHANG DYNASTY BRONZE AX. #8. ZHOU DYNASTY BRONZE AX
WHICH ARE FAKE THAT I DID NOT PUT THE CAPTION REPLICA I WILL LEAVE TO YOU. SOME MAY BE THE ACTUAL ITEM. AT ANY RATE MOST ARE REPLICAS OF A REAL ANCIENT FORM NOT FANTASY ITEMS BUT I SUSPECT ONE IS PURE FANTASY. TO COLLECT IN THIS FEILD YOU MUST BE VERY KNOWLEGABLE OR KNOW SOME HONEST DEALERS WHO HAVE THAT KNOWLEGE OTHERWISE THE ODDS ARE YOU WILL GET TAKEN. BUT IF THE PRICE IS REASONABLE AND YOU LIKE IT BUY IT ANYWAY AND ASSUME IT IS A REPLICA EVEN IF IT IS 100 YEARS OLD.
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Old 14th September 2020, 02:32 AM   #12
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What do you think of this one ?
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Old 14th September 2020, 03:22 PM   #13
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I believe that good bronze fakes cannot be detected visually even by the most experienced people. For every experienced buyer there are 100 experienced fakers...

Even laboratory testing may prove to be quite difficult and yield debatable results in case of antique bronzes.

The market is practically flooded with exceptionally good fake bronze Luristan and Chinese blades.

In my opinion, the only certainty of a genuine blade is if it is known to be excavated from a known site, like most of the museum pieces are.
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Old 14th September 2020, 05:27 PM   #14
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I agree with my countryman here.

Most stand out like a sore thumb by being completely off stylistically, but there is also a group of much better fakes. Of those, it is very hard to see, especially from pictures, and sometimes even in-hand.

This one looks fake, in terms of workmanship.

What you would want to do is study a good number of pieces with sound provenance. The Freer Gallery for example has some pieces with relatively early provenance, dating from before large scale copying began. (Or so we hope! People have always made fakes throughout the ages.)

What becomes apparent is that on the old ones, the geometry tends to be rather precise. These items were expensive, high-tech of the day.

Here's an example, purchased in 1924 and most likely dug up in Anhui: https://asia.si.edu/object/F1979.3/

Check the center ridgeline and how crisp and straight it is. Then look at this photo again. You tend to see this geometrical crispness on most well-provenanced Chinese bronzes, whatever the type of weapon or exact period.

Here is another: https://asia.si.edu/object/F1979.2/

So basically, if the geometry doesn't look impressive in the initiaul crispness and precision of execution, fat chance the piece is not very old.

And be warned, because this crispness is not that hard for a good faker to get right. So let it serve as a baseline, it should at least have that, to be real, but it is by no means a guarantee either.

I hope this helps.


-Peter
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Old 14th September 2020, 06:23 PM   #15
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I'm faking it every day.
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Old 14th September 2020, 07:18 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bvieira
What do you think of this one ?


Thank you for reviving this old thread of a decade ago, which gave us a moment to remember our late friend Vandoo, and the other guys who were most active writers in those days, but have long since left here.

An interesting topic, which would have been great on its own thread as well, along with your own insights with your apparent interest in this topic. It is great to see the insights of Peter and Marius, who are well versed in this field, especially Peter who of course specializes in Chinese arms.
Thank you for posting this! Always learn from these posts!
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