Antique, Chinese, hand-pierced, export silver dish with an apron style base of openwork construction. The beautifully executed hand piercing shows sections of bamboo, blossoms and branches and dragons. The 90 mark on the base is a fineness guarantee mark by the merchant confirming that the object is 90% silver.
Chinese export silver was produced in China from the mid-18th to mid-20th century for a largely Western audience, made in the European style.
Although retailed by Wang HIng, the Chinese artisan mark is for QIU JI 求記 a Canton-based silversmith specialising in high quality reticulated pieces. Wang Hing was the best known and most prolific exporter of silver during the late China Trade period. Towards the end of the 19th century Wang Hing forged connections with Western silver firms and exhibited silver at international exhibitions. The firm later expanded to Shanghai, and opened a flagship store in Hong Kong in 1920.
With Western-inspired forms new, highly desirable works of Chinese export silver were created, with a mix of Western forms and Eastern iconography. During the mid-China Trade period (1840-1880), silversmiths began adding Chinese decorative motifs such as bamboo, dragons or warriors onto typically Western forms. Cranes and dragons are extremely popular motifs. For many thousands of years dragons have symbolised wisdom, harmony and prosperity in China, and in ancient Chinese culture, they represent imperial power.
Thank you to Adrien Von Ferscht (皇甫安) for sharing his knowledge. Adrien is considered the leading expert for Chinese export silver acting as an independent consultant and expert to museums, important private collections, academics and enthusiasts around the world.