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SPOTTING VALUABLE CHINESE PORCELAIN

Chinese porcelains of past centuries are selling for very high prices. There are many types. Some we identify by the color - like celadon (pale-green glaze) or blue and white (blue decoration on white porcelain, including varieties called Canton or Nanking) or multicolored patterns named for their dominant color, including famille rose, rose medallion, rose mandarin or famille verte (green). Another American name for some Chinese porcelain is "Chinese export porcelain." It was the made-to-order dinnerware manufactured in China but decorated in the European manner and sold to foreign countries in the 18th and 19th centuries. Because the Chinese often copy old pieces, those who have not studied antique Chinese porcelains can't tell old from new. The properly identified pieces sell for thousands of dollars. Look for flawless glazes without unintentional bumps or flaws. Turn a vase over. The bottom rim that touches the tabletop is usually unglazed if Chinese. European foot rims and bottoms of lids are glazed. Decorations should be carefully painted in light, pleasing colors. Twentieth century Chinese wares sold to other countries are often decorated with large figures without much detail and with gold and other bright colors. A close look at a fine-quality famille rose vase would show a scene with many small people and animals in a woodland or interior setting. Prices of Chinese porcelain vary with the quality of the work and the age. If you plan to buy an expensive piece, get expert advice. If you own any heirloom porcelains, take a close look at them. Many 18th century and earlier pieces have been rediscovered in recent years.

Tiffany copycat worth anything?

Q: I have a table lamp that was given to my aunt as a wedding present in 1922. I know it was made by the Mosaic Lamp Shade Co. of Chicago, but it looks so much like a Tiffany. I hope you can tell me something about the Chicago company and give me some idea of the value of the lamp.

A: Lamps with stained glass shades and bronze bases were first made by Tiffany in 1899. They were so popular that similar lamps were soon being made by several other companies. The company that made your lamp was listed in the 1910 Chicago city directory as "The Mosaic Shade Co." It was in business from about 1905 to 1914. All Tiffany lamps are signed, and Tiffany lamps made after 1902 also are marked with the model number on the base and shade. Not all lamps made by Tiffany's competitors are marked. Some lamps made by the Mosaic Shade Co. are marked with the name of the company on the base. The value of your lamp depends on the shade's color and design, its size and its condition. Your lamp could sell for $2,000 to $3,000 if it's in good condition.

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