Good things sometimes come in small packages. That is certainly true of a small  bowl interior designer Rita O’Brien brought in for appraisal at the recent Trash or Treasure session held at the Michigan Design Center in Troy. The bowl measured just 5 inches in diameter and 3 ¼ inches high.  

“We inherited the bowl from an uncle who was a designer in Ohio but he traveled when he was in the service and we think that’s when he got it,” she explained to Brian Thomczek at the appraisal. Thomczek was intrigued by the piece and pointed out the marks on the bottom. “It’s in good shape,” he told her. “There are no cracks, which is wonderful.” O’Brien said that she had its mate, but that it had a crack, so she had left it at home. 

Thomczek explained that the bowl is in the Daoguang style, which he explained was popular from 1821 to 1850.  “It’s known for using a lot of floral symbols and occasionally a dragon,” he added. Later copies were made for export and made popular souvenirs for travelers to Asia. 

Thomczek said that the most valuable pieces in this style are the originals of a darker blue, and that those bowls are the most desirable, bringing $700 to $900 at auction. The rarest pieces can bring numbers in the thousands, he added.  He thought O’Brien’s piece was a nice example of its type but probably a later 19th- century piece made for export.  

 “Whether it’s actually Daoguang or Daoguang style, it still would qualify as a Chinese antique because it would fall into the antique definition, which is a century or older,” he explained.  

The Asian market remains solid, he said, and even rare little things can bring more than expected, adding that her small bowl could bring up to $200 at auction. “The Chinese continue to buy back things back…This was made for export but the market for Chinese art and antiques is still very strong.”  

He also took a look at a grandfather clock she had in her offices at the design center. ‘It’s a family piece,” she told him, adding that some family members believed it to be more than 100 years old and that her husband remembers it in his grandmother’s home as a child.  

On first glance, Thomczek was doubtful. “I think it’s newer and definitely not more than a century old,” he said of the Howard Miller clock. “They purposely tried to make them look older.”  

If it was indeed a rare and older one, it could bring between $18,000 and $20,000. “I tracked one down that was made in New Jersey in the 18th century and that’s what it was worth,” Thomczek said. “The really old clocks can bring a lot of money.”  

This one, however, is a newer replica of an older style and worth between $400 and $600 at auction, Thomczek told her. “It has chimes and weights and is a quality clock, but I think it might be younger than I am.” 



Send Us Your Treasures! 

Missed the recent Antiques Roadshow stop in Detroit but still curious about your collectibles? We have two appraisal sessions coming up in the near future and are accepting applications for spots. The first will be held with appraiser Brian Thomczek at the Michigan Design Center on Tuesday, Feb. 19, at 10 am. The second will be held with appraisers from DuMouchelles Auction House and Art Gallery in downtown Detroit on Thursday, Feb. 28, at 10 am. There is no fee but you must be available to bring your item in and be willing to be featured with it in an upcoming column.  

To be considered, send a photo of your item along with how you acquired it, your date and location preference and your contact information to   



About this item

Item: Chinese bowl and Grandfather clock 

Owned by: Rita O’Brien 

Appraised by: Brian Thomczek 

Estimated value: $150 to $200 and $400 to $600.  




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