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The extended chronology of ceramic bowls weaves a narrative of artistic innovation and response to demand that spans millennia. Collecting ceramic bowls means buying into this rich history, from sturdy stoneware to precious porcelain.

Though the history of the bowl can be traced back to the world's earliest cultures, it was not until around 1500 B.C. that the first examples of stoneware, made from finer clay than its earthenware predecessors, began to be produced. Developed nearly simultaneously in India’s Indus valley civilizations and in the provinces of China’s Shang Dynasty, the tradition of stoneware continued to develop, reaching its peak of perfection among German potters in the mid-1200s.

From the springboard of stoneware, potters and ceramists around the globe experimented with and perfected a wide variety of porcelain types and glazing treatments. Today, an impressive array of antique and vintage bowls are available at auction.

Quick Facts

  • Medieval innovators discovered that adding sand to their clay increased its resilience to heat. As a result, later potters developed grog, a mash made from pot shards added to clay for a similar purpose
  • One of the world’s priciest antique ceramic bowls is the "Chicken Cup," dating to the 15th-century reign of Chinese Emperor Chenghua. It is so named for the chickens that appear in its decoration. The diminutive bowl, with a diameter of just of 3 inches, sold at a Sotheby’s auction in Hong Kong in 2014 for $36,300,000
  • The medium of porcelain also emerged during China’s Shang Dynasty. Though developed in China, it gets its name from the Italian word "porcellana," or "cowrie shell," for its typical translucent, milky finish after firing

Recommended Items at Auction

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Piero Fornasetti (6)
Aug 07, 10:00 PM EDT
Piero Fornasetti (6)
by Asté Maison de ventes
Est: $200- $300
$2000 Bids
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Gutte Eriksen (1918-2008)
Aug 21, 5:00 PM CEST
Gutte Eriksen (1918-2008)
Est: $2,500- $5,000
$2,4000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Bowls



Asté Maison de ventes

Asté Maison de ventes