Wooden antiques from ChinaBy

Wooden "antiques" from China

These modern Chinese wood pieces were found in national mail order catalogs. Described as "vintage Chinese," the selection included a wide variety of utilitarian shapes including baskets, footstools, buckets, pitchforks, measures and other items associated with rural life.

When asked exactly how old "vintage" was, a customer service agent for one catalog office had said "at least 20 years, but not necessarily antique."

The fact is, these pieces are little more than used household items which are still part of the daily life of millions of Chinese rural villagers. Yes, the pieces are made of wood and often attractively made, but they date no further back then mid-20 century at the most.

Catalog prices average around $100 each for basket-type shapes and buckets. Similar pieces can be found in many antique malls around the nation for $50-$80. But the same pieces have also been found in "Chinese galleries" and sold as 19th century and earlier for $200 and up.

Some pieces, especially baskets woven with split wood, are sold as early American. Other pieces have been marked with stenciled names of American businesses, especially those related to agriculture such as seed companies, stables and grain elevators.