Some time ago I ordered some books and they arrived recently. They are good as they provide a lot of examples of Chinese and other far East items and the typical prices for these. However, I also wanted a book that would give me an introduction to age determination, quality assessment etc. Do you have any good recommendations?
I am sorry if I am kicking in open doors here, but I would like to try to put down a few lines on my thoughts about this subject.
Regarding age determination and quality assessment, you of course need books on the area of your interest - as many books as possibly really, but your primary source of knowledge will still be experience. Unfortunately, there is no shortcut I could point you to. You must handle and see enough pieces so you know the different qualities of every type of porcelain you are interested in.
You really also need a personal reference collection where you can handle and compare pieces at will. That is the good part of being stuck with a few fakes. Regarding genuine pieces in a reference collection, the condition of these pieces does not matter. It is quite enough with shards to make your eyes get used to "seeing". Interestingly enough actual "handling" is even more important. There are important differences between genuine and fake pieces that are much easier felt than seen.
The best place to learn is to my experience auction show rooms. There you can see, handle and compare pieces - read the catalogue - and compare your impressions from the show with the actual sale.
How do you go about making money on your interest in Chinese porcelain, then? You still must visit auctions - since the prices change. Quite important is also to visit international antique fairs. This is because I have found out that those with the best knowledge of the market always make the best deals.
If you are serious about this, it would also be a good idea to spend a week in June in London every year. At that time there is an innumerable amount of Chinese porcelain related activities going on in London. Auctions, fairs, seminars, you name it.
Finally I would also like to share the best serious "money making trick" I can think of, and that is to have a very special set of books i.e. "China for the West" by David Howard and John Ayers, I+II.
A few years ago David Howard and John Ayers went through the trouble of describing a huge number of really rare and interesting Chinese export market porcelain pieces, which with some luck could be found at any place.
To bring one of these rare export pieces from a flea market to Christie's - or to your own private collection - is a very profitable exercise indeed.
Unfortunately this books is very rare today - of course, but just finding one of the pieces described in it at a garage sale somewhere will pay for the book.
One starting point for which books to buy in my Book Recommendation section.