When people think about antiques, probably one of the first images to cross their minds is that of auctions and collectible products known worldwide.
In Macau there is a tradition of antique shops and there still remain several small antique shops. There have also been some instances of antique lovers opening antique shops for non-profit purposes, such as promoting Chinese culture.
Paul Ieng, owner of an antique shop called Ieng’s Antique Collection, Macau, located at Rua do Guimarães, wanted his shop to mean far more than just business.
While introducing his own collection, Ieng said “this is not a business. I am a retiree. Regarding collecting antiques, I have had a plan ever since 20 to 30 years ago,” said Ieng. “I had plans to collect antiques as a way of spending my days after retirement.”
Ieng expects his shop, which opened in 2013, to be a meeting point for antique lovers, and a source of accurate information for aficionados of antique collecting.
Ieng has been dealing with Chinese antiques for over 30 years. Throughout this period, Ieng spent a lot of his time learning from national Chinese antique experts and participating in different Chinese antique conferences and academic courses worldwide.
According to Ieng, he has been losing money on a daily basis as his shop cannot even provide him with a basic income.
“There is no business to be talked about regarding my shop,” said Ieng, explaining that he opened the shop out of his personal interest in antiques, followed by his aim of promoting Chinese culture.
“If you like antiques, you should put effort into research, and you should put effort into researching […] Chinese culture,” said Ieng.
According to Ieng, his shop has not seen many customers yet, as it has not been open for long.
“There are not too many people who truly like antiques. There are more people with ideas for business,” Ieng told the Times, further explaining that “nowadays, the whole market is like this. But we are absolutely not [for business purposes].”
When questioned about the type of antiques people favor the most, Ieng told the Times that “it depends on each individual’s knowledge.” Ieng then emphasized that his shop “is mainly about research.”
When talking about the overall antiques industry, Ieng noted that in the market concerning China, the majority of industry participants offer fake items.
Among all kinds of antiques, Ieng’s personal favorite antiques are the ones made of porcelain.
Furthermore, Ieng said that in mainland China, there are a lot of young antique lovers who are interested in researching antiques.
The large majority of non-Chinese visitors at his own shop come from Southeast Asia.
“Actually, regardless of race, people like [ancient] Chinese porcelains and Chinese culture,” Ieng remarked.
Tong, prior to his retirement, worked in architecture and construction.
Tong’s interest in antiques was piqued by his previous job. “When I was working on engineering projects, the main customers were Portuguese. They like [antiques] quite a lot,” said Tong, further explaining that he became fond of antiques after he started choosing antique gifts to offer his former customers.
Currently, in Ieng’s shop, somewhere between 400 and 500 antiques items are on display. Ieng purchased most of his antiques in Europe and America, in his early years.
“Most of them come from the United Kingdom and France,” disclosed Ieng, adding, “I started buying them in the 80s.”
According to Ieng, customers from Macau generally go for items which are comparatively smaller due to space restrictions
Qing vase sells for record USD69.5m
An 18th-century Qing Dynasty vase sold for a record price last week, making it the highest ever price paid at auction for a Chinese antiquity. The vase went for a total of USD69.5 million, raised to $85.9 million after a 20 percent buyer’s premium from the auction house, Bainbridge’s, and Britain’s consumer tax are taken into account. The piece dates from the period of Emperor Qianlong, who expanded China’s western frontier during his rule and is remembered for being a great patron of the arts.
Association: few tourists buying antiques
Choi Chon Ieng, member of the Macau Antiques and Porcelain Association, told the Times that members of this association mainly consist of antique lovers and antique amateurs between 30 and 70 years old. According to Choi, “in the past ten years, not too many tourists came to Macau looking to buy antiques. Instead, tourists have bought items mainly related to Chinese painting and calligraphy.