Collecting Famous Seals

Occasionally a seal stone will turn up with the signature on the side of a famous Chinese seal carver. Seals cut by Qi Baishi (1864-1957) have such a distinctive style that they are recognizable even without a signature. But the Chinese have a long history of creating forgeries. I recall a curator of Chinese art who described Chinese paintings as 50% authentic or 80% authentic, and so on. For instance, an authentic signature on the side of a stone does not ensure that the seal carving on the face of the stone is by that artist. For more on seal forgeries see the related chapter in Sun Weizu’s book “Chinese Seals: Carving Authority and Creating History.” Don’t even consider collecting seals by famous carvers unless you have an unlimited budget and a very strong disposition.

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