Michael Teller of TK Antiquities has handled thousands of ancient artifacts from China in the last 30 years and is serious about authenticating pieces. His Midtown gallery is full of surprising and fascinating finds from his travels. He talks to The Epoch Times about his predictions and obsessions.
Epoch Times: What is your top piece of advice to someone new to collecting?
Michael Teller: The majority of antiques, particularly ancient material on offer today are forgeries, pastiches, and restructured artifacts. It is imperative to learn the appropriate scientific analytical techniques required to unveil these problems. And, importantly, the new collector must realize that virtually all artifacts require multiple disciplines for meaningful authentication. Fortunately, learning how to distinguish basic reproductions and fakes can be accomplished rather quickly, but quality forgeries can seldom be determined by a simple visual inspection. For lifelong satisfaction, a sound foundation must be built.
Epoch Times: What is the biggest surprise you’ve had in regards to the value of Chinese pieces?
Mr. Teller: The biggest surprise is that there are still several fields, in which Chinese history is a major component, that are still priced considerably below their Western counterparts. Quality material in traditional collecting fields such as later ceramics and paintings have soared over the last five years, yet surprisingly important examples of ancient gold and even sculpture are lagging considerably behind.
Epoch Times: What region or era of Chinese art do you think will garner attention in the near future?
Mr. Teller: The traditional collecting fields should stay relatively stable. Unfortunately, most high quality material is already out of reach for most of the collecting world. However, I feel that certain facets of Buddhist art, bronze and gold work from the “peripheral” provinces of China, as well as ancient ethnic minority arts will grow quickest in the near future.
Epoch Times: What advice do you give to someone hoping to sell an item from their collection?
Mr. Teller: Engaging in three procedures are of great benefit if one wishes to realize a high return in the sale of a collector’s objects: Publishing the artifacts, displaying at museums, and documentation of the authenticity of an object. The actual market, i.e., auctions, sale or consignment to a dealer, and private sales, really depend on the timeframe and financial needs of the individual. But the size of the market value and the value of the pieces will definitely be strongly affected by the artifact’s known history and verification of its authenticity.
Epoch Times: Which piece of Chinese art was your favorite this past year?
Mr. Teller: There is no question of the favorite in my mind. The 11-piece inlaid gold “Imperial Swimming Dragon Set” made for the 1st emperor of the Eastern Han Dynasty (circa A.D. 49). From what I can find there is nothing in gold with its combined beauty and historical consequence that has ever been shown to the public.
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