Learning more about Ming dynasty porcelain:by Sten Sjostrand on 05/09/10
To purchase a piece of Ming dynasty porcelain, made during that period, is harder than you think. There simply are not that many places where you can buy these genuinely old pieces. One thing is for sure, you do not buy them in China since it is an established fact that serious Chinese collectors (knowing their home markets) go abroad when they want to buy genuine Ming dynasty (1368-1644) pieces.
Even with pocket full of money, you should know some basic information about porcelain in general, where it was made, and what type of clay, glaze and decorations was used during the different times in history. It is not always that the modern fakers know these basic combinations of things and end up making a pot with clay (mined in the same manner and from same source as in the Ming dynasty) but then paint motifs which belong to the later Qing dynasty (1644-1912).
In addition to this, you would be best advised to have a first-hand view of genuine old shipwreck ceramics as it getting popular for fakers to make new pieces of porcelain, soften the glaze with acid and then glue on shells and other form of marine growth just to get the –right feel for a shipwreck piece.
All this and much more you will not learn from one book or over a few years. It takes a lifetime to know it all out. Still it takes a lot of skill, comparison, knowledge and a life-time of feeling different pieces before you can be fully confident with whatever pieces you will study or purchase.
One good source for initial information about Ming dynasy porcelain is in my latest book: -The Wanli Shipwreck and its Ceramic cargo-. Dont take my word for it but the book has received very good review which you can read about on: http://www.mingwrecks.com/publications.html (You can also order the book from the same web site). This 380 page publication covers all aspect of archaeology on the Wanli shipwreck site, plus an informative historical background section about the porcelain production at Jingdezhen -The porcelain center of the world. The book include a full catalogue of all available types of porcelain and decorations available on the Wanli shipwreck pieces. This is thus an easy way of learning a lot about Ming dynasty porcelain, forms and decorations at that time. So....?