The other day, Teaparker used this 18th Century Zhuni teapot recovered from a shipwreck (traces of salt are still coming out of the clay - sorry for the low quality of the picture). He used it to brew the different oolongs he brought from Fujian and Wu Yi in particular. One of my best tea class. I'm so glad I could make it that day.
At the end of the class, a friend/acquaintance of Teaparker came by and brought at least half a dozen 'old' Yixing teapots he had on loan from a teapot seller. He wished to have Teaparker's opinion about them. This is an area that I haven't dared to 'touch', yet, because it's so risky and prices can be so high. You could quickly loose your head and spend the kids' tuition fund on a couple of such pieces. Just the one Teaparker used is so light, the lines so fine...
Nevertheless, I thought it useful to listen in to what he had to say. Maybe I can use this information one day (hope is what gets us all going!) And maybe it can help some of you to avoid making a big mistake.
Let's first remember not to pay any attention to the amount of dirt on the teapot. This is easily faked by plunging new teapots in a bathtub filled with water, earth and metal (or if left in water with lots of decaying, humid tea leaves). Like for tea, we don't look at the outside layer (wrappers), but look at the intrinsic value, here the craftsmanship of the teapot. The 3 places to look at are:
1. The handle. It should be a little thinner on top than below. (That's something that I found difficult to see by myself)
2. The knob (the little ball) on top of the lid has a size and shape that's in harmony with the rest of the teapot. The elegance of a teapot can be broken if the proper balance is not there. (I feel this is quite obvious in the examples below)
3. The spout should have some beautiful curves. Like a beautiful woman is well curved, so must be the spout to be a classic antique. The curves were rarely just one, but often several (see bottom left).
These pictures come from this book from the 'China Tea Museum' from the Mainland. It's all in Chinese, but I still recommend it for its wonderful pictures. (Since I don't own the rights for the pictures, let me advertise it!) The ISBN is 7 - 5340 - 0995 - 2/J.854.
I also suggest you look at this other old teapot from Teaparker to see what excellent old design looks like in respect of these 3 places.
Teaparker didn't openly tell him if a teapot is antique or not. He just told him how to look at the teapots. I guess he doesn't want to get into trouble with the seller. To avoid this, he tried to get this person to find out by himself if it was fake or real. (That's how I would feel too, so don't send me any pictures.) However, as that person was taking a break and stepped outside the room, Teaparker shook his head to tell us that none of these were real.
Like with tea, you are the best judge to know what you like or not. Just don't let yourself blind by a date.