Antiques Market that can be exported must bear a red seal, although the red seal does not guarantee that an item is necessarily an antique worthy of the name. On the whole, the oldest pieces date from the middle to late Qing period-between 100 and 150 years old. Many pieces sold as antiques may be no more than 50 or 60 year’s old, but the shop assistants in the Stare-run stores are generally truthful about the period of any particular item, when asked. The Yeasting in Liulichang is the exception Here it is possible to purchase much older objects d’art such as Ming porcelain, Tang carvings, Zhou coins, and very old paintings and calligraphy.
Most antiques for sale already have a red export seal on them-be sure to keep these on, as you may be required to show the items as well as the receipts to customs on departure. Should you buy antiques which do not have a seal, it is advisable to have one fixed. This involves a visit Lo the Beijing Arts Objects Clearance Office situated in the compound of the Friendship Store, open 2.00 p.m.-5.00 p.m. on Mondays and Fireclays. A small fee per piece is charged.
The best-known antique shops in Beijing are in Liulichang. Yunguzhai at 80 LiuLichang East, is famous for its antique ceramics-vases, plates, bowls, bird-feeds and jars, bronzes and stone Buddhist carvings as well as jade and ivory carvings.
On Zhushikou Dajie, just opposite the Fengzeyuan Restaurant, is another shop, the Zhenyunge, which has antique porcelain vases, pulls and dishes, lacquer boxes, cloisonne, jewelry and miscellaneous objects of interest.
Another shop of particular interest is the Huaxia Arts and Crafts Store at 12 Chongwenmennei Daijie. Foreign residents call this store the ‘Thacker Shop’ because of its collections or old Beijing opera gowns and costumes. Although not strictly an antique store, the assortment is fascinating. The first floor has sections selling embroidered linen, old fur coals, carpals and restored pieces of old Chinese furniture. Upstairs are collaborate blue kingfisher-feather hairpins, children’s silver pendants. brass ink-boxes and incense burners, Buddhist mantra beads, small old pieces of embroiler and brail and odd picks of pork kitsch or Chinese, Russian, Japanese and European origin.