Who was the mysterious Charles George?

charles george collection vase base

In the annals of the great collectors of Chinese objets we all probably recognise names like Arthur Sackler, Joseph Hutong and Lord Cunliffe, but ‘Charles George’. Who he?

The question arises out of Mallams Chinese Art sale on April 27. Many lots bear the legend ‘From the Collection of Charles George 1879-1966′. Of course, he lived in an age long before Google was gathering info on every aspect of our daily lives. These days, once your name appears in the local paper you become, thanks to Google, an international personality (alongside tens of millions of others). These days, it is very difficult to slip under the net, so to speak.

Mallams have issued a press release which reveals a little about him, mainly anecdotal. Apparently, he collected a wide range of antiques but with an especial eye for for Chinese porcelain and furniture, examples of which, from his collection, appear in Mallams’ sale. He is described as being ‘knowledgeable’ and, it is understood, lived in London. And that’s about it . . . except for the fact that he meticulously documented all his purchases in a handwritten directory.

In 1952, he recorded that a vase he had acquired, which had been included in the 1947 Oriental Ceramic Society exhibition of celadon wares curated by founder member and expert Arthur L Hetherington, was, in George’s estimation, was worth £12-15. That same vase is now up for sale in Mallams’ sale next week in Cheltenham. It is today estimated at £20,000-30,000 and is expected by many observers to exceed that price range..

It is a celadon glazed Yongzheng (1722-35) mark and period vase (23.5cm. in height), which is illustrated below. The auctioneers describe it as ‘moulded to the base with bands of chrysanthemum petals and to the neck with ribs in imitation of bamboo, inspired by a Longquan prototype from the Southern Song period. The foot bears a six-character Yongzheng mark painted in blue in zhuanshu script under the watery celadon glaze, with a textured bluish tone that is characteristic of the period. It retains the Oriental Ceramic Society label and the exhibit No 130 to its base (illustrated above).

charles george collection

Clearly a collector of some taste. Can anyone amongst our readers come up with any more information about the mysterious Mr George?

Gearing up for another Asian art auction season . . .

semleys highlight

Our favorite from the upcoming series of Asian art sales . . . at Semleys in Shaftesbury on May 14

We have just updated the part of this site listing Asian art auctions nationwide throughout the UK. A busy time of the year approaches: between April 27, starting with Mallams in Cheltenham, culminating in Chorleys sale in Gloucestershire on May 25, we have found there are to be no less than 16 Asian art sales in less than a month.

A quick scan through sites and catalogues and the piece we like most amongst the plethora of objects is Semleys carved zitan and hongmu cabinet (illustrated above). This delightful 19th century piece is carved with dragons, phoenix flowers and scrolling lotus. The cabinet boasts two sliding doors above four drawers, with two further pin-hinged doors below. It is estimated at £4,000 to 6,000. Nice one.

£255,000 Yuan Charger as Telephone and Internet dominate at Mallams

The high point of the October 23 Asian, Oriental & Islamic sale at Mallams of Cheltenham’s was the sale of a Yuan dynasty charger for £255,000 on the hammer. Certificated by Oxford Authentication as being from the period 1200-1400,this early piece of blue and white was in generally good condition. It was sold on the telephone and we understand the successful bidder was from the UK. Asked if it was destined to return to China, the auctioneers said ‘not necessarily so’.

Pre-sale it was estimated at £70,000-90,000.

Mallams Yuan Dynasty charger est 70-90,000

Telephone and internet dominated the sale and slowed progress. It was a large sale with 749 lots exposed for sale. It took eight hours to complete the sale. Other prices included £16,000 for a yellow ground mid to late 19th century fish tank. It was estimated at £3,000-5,000.

Mallams yellow fround fish tank

An intriguing Junyao Jun ware bowl, its antecedents firmly established by its box, stamps and inscriptions from the Nanjing Museum Protection Committee (1947), was estimated at £1,000-2,000 and fetched £8,000 to a telephone bidder, underbid in the room by Chinese Art in Scotland. Buyers in the room found themselves outbid by telephone or internet on many of the better lots.

Lot 55 Junyao Jun-ware bowl

A watercolour scroll painting in just reasonable condition by listed artist Xu Ling Lu, which had languished rolled up on the floor underneath a table during the viewing, fetched £7,000.

Mallams Xu Ling Lu 7000


Mallams Asian Sale

Yuan Dynasty charger estimated at £70,000-90,000

Yuan Dynasty charger authenticated and estimated at £70,000-90,000

Auctioneer Mallams announce a sale of Asian, Oriental and Islamic Art for October 23rd at their Cheltenham premises. More details at www.mallams.co.uk or telephone 01242 235712. At first sight, some remarkably modest estimates amongst the 720 lots, and which will surely be exceeded under the hammer  . . . we have picked out a few items which we rather like.

Without condition reports or handling, the Kangxi vases seem to be conspicuously good value estimated at £600-800. We really fancy the cinnabar lacqueur tray (originally mis-catalogued as an ovoid bowl !) which will surely exceed its estimate of £1,200-600, which has now been increased to £2,000-3,000. The unusual ginger jar, with underglaze blue carp and crab designs, intrigues. It is estimated at £800-1,200.

Cinnabar lacquer tray

Cinnabar lacquer tray

Chinese ovoid porcelain ginger jar

Chinese ovoid porcelain ginger jar

A pair of porcelain vases . . . Kangxi

A pair of porcelain vases . . . Kangxi

However, the piece de resistance undoubtedly will be a Yuan dynasty charger. It certainly looks very handsome. It has been tested by Oxford Authentication who have found it to be from the period 1200-1400 (photoluminescence always produces a result within the parameters of two hundred years). So you can be pretty sure it is the real article. Hence its estimate around £70,000-90,000.

Yuan Dynasty charger estimated at £70,000-90,000

Yuan Dynasty charger estimated at £70,000-90,000