Summer reading!

I highly recommend Stephen R. Platt’s new volume, Imperial Twilight, The Opium War and the End of China’s Last Golden Age, published by Knopf, 2018. The history of the relationship between China and the West has a bearing on current events. The collecting of objects of Imperial provenance was made possible by the results of the first and second Opium wars. The Western nations sacked the Summer Palace complex and the Forbidden City, bringing out thousands of objects which found their way into Western museums and private collections. My lecture, Lunch with the Qianlong Emperor on Saturday, October 6, 2018 will look at examples of jades which were formally in the Imperial Collection. I have reserved a larger lecture room here at the Fairmont to accomodate the larger number of attendees. Pre-registration is required. Contact me at or call the gallery at 415-421-3434 to register. $125.00 per attendee, which includes lunch here at the Laurel Court Restaurant in the Fairmont.

What’s New Pussycat!?

This Bronze mask of a Tiger made during the Eastern Zhou Period (770-255 BCE) is one of my favorite pieces in my exhibition, Treasures Fit for an Emperor.

The Tiger is cast with mounting prongs on the reverse side so that it could be mounted on a bronze war helmet. The Tiger is a symbol of military prowess in Chinese culture. By the Eastern Zhou period the art of casting bronze was highly advanced. In addition to this mask, my exhibition has other precious bronze, silver and gold objects from China’s antiquity many of which have been published and illustrated. Come and enjoy!

Summer Reading List

For those of you who will be attending my seminar Lunch with the Qianlong Emperor, here is a suggested reading list. Of course it is not required that you read these prior to the seminar. The object is to become informed and to have fun!

So without further ado:


Annotated Reading List for Lunch with the Qianlong Emperor


The following list of volumes will be of interest to the reference library of

the jade connoisseur. Most of these I have enjoyed reading and re-reading over the years.


The Forbidden City. Geremie R. Barme. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. 2008.


Don’t be fooled by the small size of this volume! It provides a well written account of the QL Emperor’s daily life within the Forbidden City. Very interesting and insightful.


Chinese Jade, Stone for the Emperors. Barry Till & Paula Swart. Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. 1986.


A well researched ands readable account of the chronology of jade worked from the neolithic through Qing Dynasty. There is an interesting chapter on Jade smuggling during the Qing Dynasty.


The Last Emperors- A Social History of Qing Imperial Institutions. Evelyn S. Rawski.

University of California Press. 1998.


This account of the lives of the and organization of the Court is an enjoyable read!

Just about anything written by Dr. Rawski is useful and informative.


China’s Last Empire- The Great Qing. William T. Rowe. Harvard University Press. Cambridge, Mass. 2009.


This volume is one of a series covering the vast history of China. Somewhat of the dry side of the literature about the Qing Court, there are flashes of interesting nuggets of useful information.


Translucent World: Chinese Jade from the Forbidden City. Yang Liu, Edward Capon et al. Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney Australia. 2007.


A well written, informative and attractive catalogue of a collection of Jades exhibited in 2007.


Splendors of China’s Forbidden City- The Glorious Reign of Emperor Qianlong.

Chuimei Ho & Bennet Bronson. The Field Museum. 2004.

This is a lavishly produced catalogue for the Exhibition held in 2004. Informative and the objects chosen are representative of the QL Emperor’s Life style.


Daily Life in the Forbidden City. Wan Yi Wang & lu Yanzhen. Viking Press. 1985.

A difficult book to find. Authoritatively written account of the history of the Forbidden City with excellent photography. Buy it if you can find it!



Hongli & Me

My interest in the Qianlong Emperor began more than forty years ago. When I was in my twenties, I read Jonathan Spence’s volume Kang-hsi-Self Portrait of the Kang-hsi Emperor and it captured my imagination. Legend says that one day Hongli as a young prince was hunting with his grandfather. A tiger appeared and attacked the hunting party. Hongli stood his ground bravely and showed no fear. The Kangxi Emperor was impressed and told the Yongzhong Emperor that this young prince should be his heir.

As my at dealing career began, I was fortunate to handle a number of Imperial objects from the Qianlong Emperor’s collection that bore his poetry. His words revealed something of his character and philosophy of life. Eventually my research bore fruit and I wrote and published “In the Emperor’s Own Words”. The article is based on inscribed jades listed in the Imperial Archive which passed through my hands.

This October 6, 2018 I will host a seminar devoted to examining jades from the Imperial collection which I have previously handled. Since this is a favorite area of interest for me, this will be a fun event. We will meet at ten am and break for a lunch in the Fairmont Hotel’s Laurel Court restaurant at around noontime. After lunch, we will return to our meeting room to finish the lecture. I have selected some great photography of Imperial Jade from the archive of S. Bernstein & Co. to share with the 10 lucky participants selected to attend. If you are interested, sign up now before it is sold out.

And so begins in my Sixty-Sixth Year, a blog

I guess I am a late bloomer. I was 55 years old before I bought my first latte. I was curious about what all the fuss was about. Now, after completing my second memoir, The Emperor & the Motorcycle Mechanic after TEN YEARS writing, here is my first BLOG post. Hey, we put a man on the Moon. I can do this.


First I want to that Ms. Aini Sanjaya, my assistant for joining S. Bernstein & Co. and finishing the company website. This after trying six candidates who as it turns out could not walk and chew gum at the same time. I hope to have something intelligent and informative to say in my next posting.



“One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”.- Neal Armstrong