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    From antique furniture to rare instruments or even vintage ice cream labels, there are at least 100,000 serious collectors in Shanghai, both professionals and amateurs, according to Wu Shaohua, director of Shanghai Collectors Association.

    The collectors’ market in Shanghai distinguishes itself from traditional collectors’ market since it is more inclusive and open-minded especially for new fields and oversea auctions.

    “The Shanghai market is more in line with the international markets, with a broader perspective,” said Wu.

    “It has a large number of collectors from diverse backgrounds who are dedicated, and they prefer theme collections.”

    A lot of the collectors in Shanghai concentrate on chinaware, calligraphy and paintings as well as old Shanghai specialty items.

    Now through January 14 in the historic Shanghai Sanshan Guild Hall, a large exhibition featuring many folk items is being held as part of the First Shanghai Citizens’ Art Festival.

    With 100 participating collectors, it’s the largest public and folk exhibition with the most comprehensive list of collections in Shanghai.

    Over 2,000 pieces spanning 4,000 years are on display, divided into 11 categories ranging from traditional collections like paintings, calligraphy, coins and jade items to articles used in daily life such as vintage product labels, old tickets, radios and televisions. The two main sections are “Memories of the City” and “The Sea of Treasures.”

    “This exhibition gives a push to the private collection market in Shanghai, especially helping to preserve the memories and cultural heritage in our city,” said Wu.

    “Among the 100 collectors, more than half have achieved a certain scale in their collection, and some have even opened their own museums or exhibition halls.”

    The organizing committee received more than 3,000 applications from across the city.

    The collectors selected must be working, living or studying in Shanghai, dedicated to a specific category of collection, and have a rather prominent collection that excels in both quantity and quality.

    “The collectors in Shanghai are different from other places and mainly are focused on folk collections in very diverse categories — 80 percent of the participants we selected are hobbyists whose collections may not be worth much economically but still make life more interesting,” said Wu Rongmei of the citizens’ art festival committee.

    Folk collections reflect different periods of time and the social and economic changes that occurred. Old bus tickets and envelopes may not be worth much, but they represent memories with historical and cultural value.

    “We would like collecting to bring joy to everyone’s life,” she said.

    Marvin Chan, 48

    Chinese toy collector

    Chan has been collecting vintage Chinese toys for 25 years, and he has already amassed nearly 10,000 toys with a total value of about 20 million yuan (3.3 million U.S. dollars), including tin toys, wood toys, paper toys and celluloid toys.

    “I like old Chinese toys because they are not only the epitome of the era, but also an extension of history,” Chan said. “At the same time, it reflects the culture, economics, art and creativity of the country.”

    Chan was born in Hong Kong, and is the founder of the Museum of Shanghai Toys in Singapore and the head of the tin toy brand St John. He began collecting toys when he was young. He buys them at auction houses, stores and online, and most of the toys from before 1949 are very rare, he said.

    “I remember in 1993 after I visited the Yokohama Tinplate Toy Museum in Japan, I was very impressed by their efforts in protecting their cultural heritage. Afterwards I started to pay attention to searching, gathering and sorting vintage Chinese toys from the past century,” Chan said.

    He shares his collection with the public through exhibitions, publishing books and the museum. From January 3 to February 10 at Reel on Nanjing Road W., Chan will also present 50 tinplate toys made in Shanghai from the 1930s to 1970s.

    “For the first time, I will also share the entire process of making tin toys, how they are made from design drawings to electroplating and assembly,” he said. “Some tin toys need 50, even 100 steps in processing, taking six months to a year to finish.”

    Zhao Yajuan, 31

    Collector of antique furniture from Ming and Qing dynasties

    Zhao grew up under the influence of her father, who is an avid collector of Chinese antiques, especially furniture from the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. Since she was in primary school, Zhao spent a lot of weekends visiting flea markets and antique shops with her father.

    “Slowly I developed an interest in collecting antiques, too. My father is my teacher,” she said.

    Zhao, who is a company executive, developed a special interest in vintage furniture because “it is always changing and evolving, with profound significance.”

    Zhao has five items at the exhibition, including a fragrant rosewood wine table and round-backed armchair, a cedar money box and a two-part beech table from the Ming Dynasty as well as a red-painted ginkgo wood chicken coop from the Qing Dynasty.

    Her family now has more than 10,000 items in their collection, stored at a center called the “Hui Zhen House” (ÜöÕäÎÝ) in Songjiang District.

    “We do free exhibitions and work with local government so the public can come and see the collection,” she said.

    The furniture was mostly from the homes of nobles.

    In their collection, there is a hexagon-shaped beech table from the Qing Dynasty with a story behind it.

    After 1949, many families divided their furniture collections and gave them to different children in their families. Large table often were separated into parts, according to Zhao.

    In the case of the hexagon table, she bought the first half, thinking it was a fine piece.

    She never expected to find the other half. A year and a half later, she happened to run into a similar half-table at a different place.

    “I didn’t think the two parts of the table could be a pair, but when I put them together, it was a perfect match,” Zhao said. “Sometimes destiny brings things together.”

    Huang Genbao, 59

    Music instrument collector

    Huang graduated from Shanghai Conservatory of Music, where he studied string instruments.

    He has been collecting both Chinese and international musical instruments since he was 25.

    “I like music and the craft of instrument-making. When I see broken instruments, I want to fix them and add to my collection,” Huang said.

    A lot of the instruments that Huang comes across need restoration.

    After he fixes instruments like the erhu or violins that don’t have individual historical significance and that he already has in collection, he gives them to other people as gifts to play.

    Huang has more than 200 instruments in his collection, and some are very rare, like the Myanmar harp on display at this exhibition.

    “When I travel, I spend time at antique stores to find vintage instruments. There weren’t many people collecting these in the past,” he said. “Through instruments we can see the development of music in history.”

    Huang is also a master in making miniature instrument sculptures, and both his collection of vintage instruments and his creations have been shown at exhibitions in China and abroad.

    The collection show

    Date: Through January 14

    Venue: Shanghai Sanshan Guild Hall

    Address: 1551 Zhongshan Rd S.

    Admission: Free

    Author:    Source: xinhua     Editor: Yang Fan

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