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.