Leading auction house and valuers Bonhams have announced they are to go into partnership with Cranfield University in Bedfordshire, working on technology to make it easier to identify fake antiques. Although the process is aimed at porcelain, it must be remembered many antique dining tables and antique desks in Lancashire have porcelain castors and inlays, particularly those made in Europe.
The main reason for developing the technique is the rise in interest of Chinese art. In recent years, their prices have risen dramatically – and with them, the rise in accomplished fakes. Chinese buyers are also delaying payment for these items (notably, the £43 million antique vase sold last November, but yet to be paid for), often with the excuse that they now believe them to be fakes.
Although there are a number of scientific methods for determining the authenticity of porcelain (including that used to inlay furniture like antique dining tables) these have yet to be accepted in the commercial field. Whereas a Victorian balloon backed dining chair in a Preston saleroom can be relatively easy to authenticate, with much of the verification done by eye, porcelain testing is far more invasive, often requiring samples, and the use of chemicals.
The new process extracts and identifies chemical ‘fingerprints’ from ceramics, but with minimal damage or abrasion. This will give peace-of-mind to antique dealers in Lancashire selling antique desks, Victorian dining tables and other furniture with ceramic inlays.
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