January 10, 2011

Gilty packer....

Today I unpacked a Chinese Export tea service, and was soooo cross! The 'professional' shippers had not taken any lids off items such as the teapot and jug, but merely taped them on and wrapped the whole. That is risky in itself, as you have two moving parts that potentially could damage each other by grinding together. But that was not the concern, as they all made it complete: neither was the way all the teabowls had been squashed together in a package, with a whisp of thin packing between them: by some miracle, they all survived.
It was the stunning stupidity of the packer in TAPING OVER GOLD!

Now on a modern piece, this is not an issue: modern gilding techniques are very good and the gold very hardy. But on an antique piece, the gold is fragile. Often it is honey gilding, meaning it is fixed in place with sticky honey, which burns off in the firing process. These early golds can be easily scratched, or scrubbed off... or completely ripped off by sticking tape over them!

If you are packing, or getting something packed, make sure they know what they are doing. Lids should be separate, and tape should never be used next to stick to antique ceramics!