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Maynards looks East as Canadian auction house targets new Asian collectors

Striking while the market is hot

The Canadian auctioneer Maynards hopes to cater to the tastes of the country’s large Asian population by offering a range of Chinese objects in its two-day mixed sale of fine art and antiques (7-8 June). “There is a worldwide phenomenon of the emergence of a large Chinese buying community looking for their own goods. We have a lot of connections with people here in Vancouver who are bidding on behalf of people back home, which makes it a lot easier for us to do business with China,” said Hugh Bulmer, the vice president at Maynards.

One of the pieces on the block is an early-19th-century 20-inch Chinese polychrome decorated vase (left), which bears the impressed seal mark for Jiaqing (1796-1820) at its base, estimated at $3,000 to $5,000. The explosion of interest in the Chinese market makes it difficult to price works, said Bulmer. “It’s almost impossible to give accurate appraisals because the market is so hot. Asian buyers are almost betting on pieces these days,” he said. Some of the buyers are new to the market, and “on a learning curve,” said Neil McAllister, the senior appraiser at the auction house, adding that condition is not always of paramount importance for newcomers.

The sale also has Chinese ivory pieces, traditionally less sought after than imperial porcelain but apparently gaining ground, said McAllister, who added that most of the ivory works, including a large Chinese carved pagoda, measuring 31 inches and dating from the early-20th century, come from a private estate in Vancouver: “People see the Chinese buying up the market so are selling works and converting them to cash.” The work has some damage to it, and is estimated at $5,000 to $7,000.

The sale also includes traditional Western antique furniture: “There’s been a resurgence of interest in good quality European furniture in the past few months, which had been a struggle for five years or so,” said Bulmer. “Tastes have changed and imagination isn’t what it used to be when people are looking at antique furniture. People want everything instantly, so we’re trying to cater for that.”

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Maynards looks East'