Fear of Chinese Fakes Fuels Market for Old Auction Catalogues

Illustrated Catalogue of Chinese Government Exhibits for the International Exhibition of Chinese Art in London, Volume II: Porcelain is priced at $1,300 on Amazon

The widespread problem of fakes in the Chinese antiquities market has fueled an unexpected boom in another market niche according to a report in the Art Newspaper. The value of catalogues and other research materials that can solidify provenance and authenticity has soared as a result. The increase is particularly pronounced where old auction and museum exhibition catalogues are concerned, thanks to the efforts of growing ranks of advisers, auction houses, and dealers who have recently been building private reference libraries for experts and collectors.

Among in-demand publications that can sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars each is a 195o catalogue for an exhibition of archaic Chinese jade, held at the Norton Gallery and School of Art in Florida. The catalogue, written by renowned Chinese dealer CT Loo, sells for as much as $500. Another hot item is  the 1935 Illustrated Catalogue of Chinese Government Exhibits for the International Exhibition of Chinese Art in London, Volume II: Porcelain. It typically sells for $1,500.

Catalogues from famous international auctions are also a big draw, according to the report. A good condition example of Sotheby’s two-volume set of its 1986 and 1987 sales of the collection of shipping magnate TY Chao, for instance, fetches a minimum of $1,300 at rare book dealers. And collectors in Japan and South Korea were historically big consumers of Chinese works from the early 1900s; thus book dealers are keeping an eye on catalogues from auction houses in the respective countries. The most desirable are catalogues published after 1912, when the Chinese republic was established.


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