All hail the Qing! $80,000 jade censer shows the Chinese art market is booming

A Dallas auction yesterday showed the continuing strength of the Chinese art market, as a Qing carved white jade lidded censer sold for 10 times its low-estimate price.

With a pre-sale estimate of $8,000 - $10,000, the censer dating from the 18th - 19th century exceeded all expectations at the Dallas Auction Gallery by selling for an astounding $80,000 before a packed auction house.

2010 has already been an amazing year for Chinese antiquities, and the Qing Dynasty in particular. Earlier this month a Qing vase discovered during a house clearance broke the World Record for Chinese art when it sold for $67m, more than doubling its estimated price of $31m.

Similarly, a glass lotus snuff bottle commissioned by Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty broke the record price for a snuff bottle last week (November 23), beating the estimate of $321,988 to sell for an incredible $1.16m.

The Qing Dynasty jade lidded censer sold for $80,000

Other remarkable sales this year have included an imperial seal from the reign of Emperor Qianlong which sold for $12.4m in April and a pair of jade elephants, also belonging to the Emperor, which brought $1.5m at an auction in May.

With the emergence of China as the world's second-largest economy the Chinese collectibles market was bound to grow, but few could have expected the number of record-breaking sales the last 12 months has seen.

From the stamp market to wine and classic cars, sales in China have seen buyers more than willing to smash estimates for the very best items. And as 2010 draws to a close, the market shows every sign of growing further next year. After all, the country's 870,000 new millionaires need to spend their money on something.

Collectors are increasingly looking East for the next investment opportunity, and if this year's sales are anything to go by this year's boom could be just the beginning...


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