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它们看似是帝王的钟表,但会是真品吗?

更新时间:2018/12/24 20:42:15 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

They Look Like the Emperors’ Clocks. But Are They Real?
它们看似是帝王的钟表,但会是真品吗?

BEIJING — To stroll through the Hall for Ancestral Worship deep within the Forbidden City is to appreciate the fascination that ornate mechanical timepieces held for successive emperors of China.

北京——漫步紫禁城深处的奉先殿,你可以品味到中国历代皇帝对华丽机械钟的迷恋。

Many were brought to the Ming and Qing courts as precious gifts by European ambassadors from the 17th century to the 19th. Others were later manufactured in local workshops in Beijing, Suzhou and especially, Guangzhou, in southern China.

许多是17-19世纪欧洲公使赠送给明朝和清朝朝廷的宝物。还有一些是后来在北京、苏州——以及尤为重要的南方城市广州——的本地作坊里制造的。

All are marked by a stunning level of intricacy, their chimes sounding while mechanized ducks paddle, mounted figures ride their steeds and waterfalls splash down, in carefully wrought landscapes.

这些钟全都有精湛绝伦的精细做工,在精心锻造的布景衬托之下,它们的乐声伴着机械鸭子的游弋、骑着骏马的小人以及飞溅的瀑布悠悠响起。

The hall in the Forbidden City, now a museum, has 1,600 of them, but few ever appeared on the auction market until recently.

故宫内的奉先殿如今是一座博物馆,内有1600件钟表,但它们极少出现在拍卖市场上,直到最近才有所改变。

“They are blindingly rare in real life,” said Simon Bull, a clock specialist in Taunton, England.

“它们在真实生活中极其罕见,”英格兰陶顿的钟表专家西蒙·布尔(Simon Bull)说。

In recent years, though, experts say a growing number of reproduction clocks have hit the market, posing as the real thing. The counterfeits were drawn, they say, by the prices paid for real clocks, such as the $3.8 million fetched by a Qing dynasty table clock sold at auction by the socialite Patricia Kluge in 2010.

而专家说,近年来,越来越多的钟表复制品进入了市场,以假乱真。据他们说,这些赝品是被钟表真品的售价吸引而来的,如2010年上拍的一件来自社交名流帕特丽夏·克鲁吉(Patricia Kluge)的清代座钟拍出了380万美元。

“The moment you start seeing them two, three, four, five times a year, and the same model — that was the big warning,” said Mr. Bull, who was featured as an expert on BBC’s “Antiques Roadshow” on television.

“一旦你开始在一年中看到他们2次、3次、4次、5次,而且是同款——这就让人非常警惕了,”布尔说,他曾作为专家出现在BBC的电视节目《鉴宝路演》(Antiques Roadshow)上。

In one case being litigated in New York, a dealer in timepieces based there is suing a California auction house, asserting that the pair of clocks he paid $607,000 for in 2016 had been misrepresented as being at least 100 years old, when they were actually modern reproductions.

在一桩正在纽约诉讼的官司中,一家纽约钟表商控告加州一家拍卖行,称其在2016年花60.7万美元购得的一对钟表存在不实陈述,这件号称至少有百年历史的钟表事实上是现代复制品。

“Rather than being more than a century old, the clocks were approximately five years old, and they were manufactured in Beijing by a company that sells virtually identical clocks as modern reproductions for about $20,000 a piece,” the buyer’s lawyer, Ted Poretz, wrote in the lawsuit filed in federal court.

“岂止不是百年以上,这对钟的历史大约不超过五年,它们是在北京制造的,生产商在以2万美元一件的现代复制品价格,销售几乎一模一样的钟表,”买方律师泰德·波瑞茲(Ted Poretz)在呈给联邦法庭的诉讼文件中写道。

The complicated case highlights the difficulty of adjudicating what is real and what is fake in this market for such elaborate — and ostensibly centuries-old — timepieces.

这个复杂的案件突显了在如此精雕细琢的——号称有几百年历史的——钟表市场上辨别真伪的困难。

In the court papers and an interview, Mr. Poretz said he had been able to identify the maker of the clocks as Li Qiusheng, the owner of the Tianjin Edwin Clock Company in Tianjin, a port city southeast of Beijing. He said the clocks appear to have been brought to market in the United States by Mr. Li’s son, Edwin, a California dealer who sells clocks under the name EM Time Company.

在法庭文件和采访中,波瑞兹说,他已经能确定钟表的制造者为李秋生(音)——位于北京东南的港口城市天津的天津埃德温钟表公司(Tianjin Edwin Clock Company)所有人。他说该钟表似乎是被李的儿子、加州经销商埃德温(Edwin)带到美国市场的,他在EM钟表公司(EM Time Company)名下销售钟表。

Li Qiusheng, reached by telephone, disputed the suggestion that he produced fakes. He said the clocks were genuine, dating to the 1920s, though he acknowledged that old clocks often need repairs that require using modern parts.

在接受电话采访时,李秋生反驳了他制作赝品的说法。他说这些钟表是真货,可追溯到20世纪20年代,尽管他承认老钟表的修复常常需要用到现代零件。

“When the clock doesn’t work, you need to replace the components,” he said. “If a wheel gear is broken, for example, you need to replace it with a new one.”

“钟表要是不走了,你得换零件,”他说。“比方说要是齿轮坏了,你得给它换个新的。”

A lawyer for his son, Edwin, Steve Sherman, noted that neither Li had been named by the buyer as a defendant in the suit. He said the son had no financial interest in the clocks and had only acted as an intermediary for his father. He “was basically acting as an interpreter,” Mr. Sherman said.

他的儿子埃德温的律师史蒂夫·舍尔曼(Steve Sherman)指出,在诉讼中,李氏父子二人都没有被买方列为被告。他说,儿子在钟表上没有经济利益,只是充当他父亲的中间人。他“基本上就是充当翻译,”舍尔曼说。

Mr. Li said that he had once operated a workshop, but later only collected and sold the ancient clocks from a space on the fifth floor of an office building in Tianjin. He is well known in a district not far away that is filled with antique shops, including several selling old clocks and new replicas.

李说他曾经营过一个作坊,但后来只是通过天津一座写字楼五楼一个空间来进行古董钟表的收藏和销售。他在不远处一个有许多古董行的地方很有名气,包括几家售卖老钟表和新复制品的店面。

Shopkeepers there offered differing accounts as to whether Mr. Li had manufactured reproductions, simply collected them or was in the business of repairing period clocks, as he said.

关于李是否已制作过复制品,只是做收藏,还是做过老钟表修复生意,那里的店员给了和他本人不一样的说法。

A clock and watch expert from Canada who visited Mr. Li’s Tianjin company in 2014 said he had the impression that it manufactured reproductions, though he did not see any automaton models of the sort described in the lawsuit. “It was a light industrial workshop,” said Ron Good, the collector, who has a special interest in Chinese horology.

曾于2014年造访过李的天津公司的一位加拿大钟表专家说,他当时的印象是它制造复制品,虽然他没有看到诉讼文件中所描述的任何类似的自动机型号。“那是个轻工作坊,”这位对中国钟表制造术有特殊兴趣的收藏家罗恩·古德(Ron Good)说。

Clars Auction Gallery of Oakland, Calif., which sold the clocks, described the federal lawsuit against it as baseless and said it had relied on the consignor’s assurances of authenticity. In addition, it said the purchaser, Ye Olde Time Keepers Inc. of New York City, was a “sophisticated, trade” purchaser who had used its own expert to validate the authenticity of the clocks before paying.

钟表的卖方、加州“奥克兰克拉尔斯拍卖行”(Clars Auction Gallery of Oakland)称,针对其公司的联邦诉讼毫无根据,称其凭借的是委托人对真实性的担保。此外,该公司说买方、纽约市的“老式钟表股份有限公司”(Ye Olde Time Keepers Inc.)是个“成熟的职业”买家,它在付款前曾通过自身的专家对钟表做了鉴定。

“The buyer thus relied not on statements by Clars,” the company said, “but rather on its own diligence — conducted with the assistance of its elite, international industry connections, and resulting in a ‘green light,’ as communicated by the buyer to Clars prior to its making payment for the clocks.” After that statement, Clars made a new filing on Thursday asking to introduce the Lis into the case and saying they had concealed the clocks’ “apparent status as modern reproductions, rather than antiques.”

“因此,买方不是凭借克拉尔斯的声明,”该公司说,“而是凭借其自身的尽职调查——在其高水平的国际行业人脉协助之下进行的,根据买方在对钟表付款前传达给克拉尔斯的信息,他们得出了‘绿灯’通过的结果。”在该声明之后,克拉尔斯于周四提交了新文件,要求将李氏父子引入该案件,称他们隐蔽了钟表“是现代复制品而非古董的明显状况。”

Clars had described the clocks in its auction catalog as “a rare pair of Chinese ormolu bronze automaton clocks” manufactured in a workshop in the southern port city of Guangzhou. The old clocks were “believed to be a gift to the head of household and his spouse meant to impart good wishes for fortune, luck and longevity,” the catalog stated. Clars dated them to roughly the late 19th or early 20th centuries, according to the court papers.

克拉斯在拍卖目录中描述,这些钟是在南方港口城市广州一家工厂制造的“一对罕见的中国镀金青铜自动钟”。目录上写道,这些古老的时钟“被认为是送给一家之主及其配偶的礼物,意在传达对财富、好运和长寿的美好祝愿。”据法庭文件显示,克拉斯认为这些它们的年代大约是在19世纪末或20世纪初。

The musical clocks are each about two and a half feet tall, are wound with a key and have delicate bronze-colored metal leaves that lift to reveal revolving figures depicting the Eight Immortals, mythological figures revered in Taoism and secular Chinese culture and often depicted in paintings and sculptures. Twisting glass tubes simulate falling water.

这些音乐钟高约两英尺半,用一把钥匙上发条,有精致的青铜色金属叶,叶上描绘着旋转的八仙图案,八仙是道教和中国世俗文化中尊崇的神话人物,经常出现在绘画和雕塑中。钟上还有模仿瀑布的扭曲玻璃管。

Mr. Li said that one alteration to the clocks involved the figurines, which were originally made of ivory. Since the United States banned the import of ivory, he replaced those with plastic replicas. He said he had received about $480,000 for the two but was not aware of how the auction house represented them.

李秋生说,钟表的一个改动涉及这些雕像,它们最初是用象牙制作的。由于美国禁止象牙进口,他用塑料复制品代替了象牙。他说,他卖出两座钟,得到了约48万美元,但不知道拍卖行是如何描述它们的。

Mr. Poretz denied that his client had had a specialist study the clocks before paying, but said he did have an expert look at them later. The expert found that the clocks did not show the sort of wear usually seen in items that old. Instead, the clocks had been constructed with modern brass, and with screws and other materials not available until later in the 20th century, at the earliest, his report said.

波瑞兹否认客户在付款前请了专家研究过这些钟,但他说,自己后来确实请了专家进行研究。这位专家发现,这些钟表上并没有如此古老物件上常有的磨损状况。他的报告称,这些钟表是用现代黄铜制造的,其使用的螺丝和其他材料最早要到20世纪后期才能得到。

“It is clear that they are effectively brand-new,” Richard Higgins, the Shrewsbury, England, expert hired by the purchaser, wrote.

“很明显,它们实际上是全新的,”这位买家聘请的专家、英国什鲁斯伯里的理查德·希金斯(Richard Higgins)写道。

The court papers say that, after the purchaser had questioned whether the clocks were actually reproductions, Clars provided a certificate of authenticity from the China Horologe Association. But, the papers say, the document was for a different, single clock and that the association, a trade organization, “is not in the business of providing authentications for antique Chinese clocks.”

法庭文件称,在买家质疑这些钟是否真的是复制品后,克拉斯提供了中国钟表协会出具的真品证明。但是,法庭文件说,这份证明是为另一个完全不同的时钟而写的,而且该协会是一个贸易组织,“不从事为中国古代钟表提供认证的业务。”

A woman at the association in Beijing confirmed that it did not provide certificates of authenticity. Experts from the association were not available this week to comment.

该协会在北京的一名女性证实,该协会不提供真品证明。记者本周未能联系到该协会的专家置评。

China has a long and esteemed role in the evolution of timekeeping. These mechanical clocks were introduced in about 1601, when a Jesuit missionary, Matteo Ricci, gave two timepieces to the Emperor Wanli.

中国在钟表业的发展中长期扮演着可敬的角色。机械钟大约是在1601年引入的,当时耶稣会传教士利玛窦(Matteo Ricci)送给万历皇帝两件钟表。

Known as “zimingzhong,” or self-sounding bells, they were used by European missionaries and foreign ambassadors as a cultural link between China and the West. High-ranking members of the imperial court or wealthy merchants commissioned clocks with ever more complicated movements, and the European timepieces became an important part of court life. The models were imported from Europe or based on European designs, though the Chinese workshops later added motifs of their own.

它们被称为“自鸣钟”,被欧洲传教士和外国大使用作连接中国和西方的文化纽带。朝廷高官或富商委托制作的时钟有了越来越复杂的机芯,欧洲的钟表也成为朝廷生活的重要组成部分。它们的模型是从欧洲进口的,或者以欧洲的设计为基础,不过后来中国的作坊加入了自己的主题。

Mr. Bull, who is not involved in the legal case, said intricate, musical automaton clocks fell abruptly out of fashion in China after the early decades of the 19th century and few, if any, were being produced as the 20th century dawned.

布尔没有参与法律诉讼,他说,经历了19世纪初的几十年,复杂的音乐自鸣钟在中国突然过时了,20世纪初,这样的钟表就算有所生产,也是非常少的。

Another expert, Matthew Hopkinson, who is based in London, said that before the recent surge, he typically saw one clock of this type appear on the market in a year. Now, he said, he often sees as many as three.

另一位长住伦敦的专家马修·霍普金森(Matthew Hopkinson)说,在最近的价格暴涨之前,这种类型的时钟在市场上一般是一年出现一个。现在,他说,他往往一年能看到多达三个。

“Suddenly these clocks were fetching 10 times the amount they were previously,” Mr. Hopkinson said. “When prices go up, the counterfeiters move in and start making reproduction ones.”

“突然之间,这些钟表的价格成了以前的10倍,”霍普金森说。“当价格上涨时,造假者就会进入,开始制造复制品。”

He urged vigilance to protect the market for legitimate antique timepieces. “There are still good clocks coming onto the market,” he said. “You have to be careful vetting them.”

他敦促人们保持警惕,以保护合法古董钟表市场。“市场上仍有不错的时钟,”他说。“你必须仔细鉴别它们。”

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