Canton, as we call it today, is a type of 19th- century porcelain made in China for export. It consists of a large center panel with exotic houses, mountains and a bridge in blue on white, surrounded by a border. There are two principle variations of this border. The early type is the rain and cloud border, the latter type is the straight-line border. The straight-line border is seen more frequently on cups, saucers and large dinner plates. Possibly this is because they were the forms most often broken, having to be replaced again and again, well into the 20th century.
Chinese porcelain for the mass market was particularly successful because its ingredients were perfect. The workmanship produced a durable product and the lively decorations were popular. Today's Canton collectors value condition, quality of decoration and clarity as the three most important factors when evaluating a piece of Canton. The color of the blue decoration is not a factor of age. However, darker blues are considered slightly more desirable and therefore slightly more valuable.
This Canton vase was discovered in a private Philadelphia collection. It is made in a shape common to all the later Chinese porcelain. However, its size, the quality of the decoration and its clarity are what make this piece exquisite. Most vases of this period range in size from eleven to twelve and a half inches high. This vase stands a rather unique twelve and three quarter inches. The carefully painted Ming-type leaves on its neck and the distinctive sharpness of the traditional blue and white Canton colors are examples of the high degree of quality of decoration and clarity that are present in this exceptional piece.