Chinese Export Silver: The East-West Divide


English pound notes and renminbi, the official currency of the People’s Republic of China.

Worthologist Adrien von Ferscht investigates the dichotomy of preference by Chinese collectors of Chinese Export Silver for items in the high Chinese style over the earlier, neo-classical pieces of the late 18th and early 19th centuries; silver that admirably demonstrates to extraordinary skill of Chinese silversmiths to produce work that was totally “foreign” in style, concept and even usage.

It is a culture clash of sorts, but a wholly unnecessary one; one might even say it is misplaced. The neo-classical pieces may be Western in style but the high level of skill applied to their making is just as much attributable to Chinese culture as the later pieces decorated with traditional Chinese motifs.

Neo-classical Chinese Export Silver is in museums around the world and even royal collections. It invariably commands particularly high values at auction, yet it is invariably shunned by many Chinese collectors. Why?

Read the whole article on the Chines Export Silver website.

Adrien von Ferscht is an Honorary Research Fellow at University of Glasgow’s Scottish Centre for China Research, a Fellow for Arts & Culture at the Asia Scotland Institute and works with museums and universities around the world. He is a consultant for Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions and his ever-expanding website, Chinese Export Silver, is the largest online information resource on the subject. His new 250-page Third Edition of the “Collector’s Guide to Chinese Export Silver 1785-1940,” is the largest information reference resource for this unique silver category. The single purchase price acquires the Catalogue plus all subsequent editions free of charge. Adrien also encourages people to share images and ask questions at

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