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Factories making VMIPBs

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Author Topic: Factories making VMIPBs  (Read 260 times)
Peter Bentley 彭达理
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« on: January 30, 2017, 08:36:04 pm »

Hello  All,

Please hang in with me during what may seem a lot of calculations in this posting.

____________________________

A few weeks ago Joey wrote :

.... in the preface of Wang Xisan's  CIPMA (Chinese Inside Painting of the Modern Age) published in early 2006 it is written  that   'There are more than 40,000 persons engaging in inside painting art... annual output value ... near RMB 1 Billion' "

At first  when I read that quote  from CIPMA  I  thought Joey must be  mistaken, but then I checked  CIPMA and Joey is indeed correct. That's exactly what it says in the preface to CIPMA

However,  although it's  hardly my place to disagree with whoever wrote that  originally (it's  signed  by the   Editorial Board of CIPMA)   find it completely at variance  with  fact unless  the  numbers  include factory workers  and  the  general  tourist / Christmas  trinket  /  junk  IPB business .

If you read the  first part of my  ICSBS  article, which you can access  in the  sidebar,  you  will see that  when I analyzed  my DB  I found about 950 artists, of which about 670 were real  names and  about 280 were  alternate art names (thus  total  about  670  real  artists, some of  whom  also  use  alternate  art names  when they signed  bottles).  This covers the whole 60 year period of  MIPBs 

Although  my DB is far from exhaustive  (particularly regarding very minor artists from the period 1985 - 2000 when I was not collecting and there were a lot of new-but-very-short-lived artists)  it's  now very rare that  I come across a name that I cannot eventually find  in my DB when the exact  Pin Yin is clarified

And when I do occasionally come across a new artist it's almost invariably a very minor one - e.g. a student who painted a few bottles and then quickly dropped out. (If you check Bill Patrick's website www.snuffbottlecollector.com  you will find a lot of junior artists there who painted while  Bill was doing the bulk of his  collecting and visiting Hengshui in the early 2000s, but who have now completely vanished).

So I  reckon that at maximum there were / are at very most only 2,000 (maybe only 1,500 ?) real MIPB  artists who ever painted including all the students who dropped out after painting a few bottles which they  bothered to sign (or have  had  signed  by their Master ,  e.g. Da Yong  signed  hundreds - if not thousands -   of his students  bottles either with his  name or with another  art name  (e.g. the  Liu Jianghua  scam -  over 2,500 bottles signed  "Liu Jianghua" which were in fact painted  by students of Da Yong  in Hengshui - see   separate  thread)

More to the point, at any one time there were/are  only  200 - 300  artists of any significance actively painting,  of which only 100 (maximum 150)  were/are serious  "big names"  whose work  was/is  worth  collecting.

Whenever I have been to exhibitions of VMIPBs  in China  I have  seen  only 50 - 70  artists  exhibiting, and usually it was the same  "core" group of  top 30 +  artists.

So I am convinced that the  "40,000"  artists and the  "RMB 1 billion" annual output includes the tourist and  trinket trade factory workers (although I have yet to see any such factory myself)

Actually a simple back-of-the  envelope calculation confirms  this.

Assuming about 40,000 factory workers who each paint two bottles per day and dividing that into  RMB1 Billion gives an average price of  RMB30 (=  about US$5) per bottle. I reckon that RMB30 /US$5 is meant in CIPMA to be  the  sale price by the  time the  bottle reaches retailers so  assuming a 3:1 mark-up between the  factory and the retail price to cover the profits of the intermediate traders, the ex-factory price is about RMB 10 per bottle.  2 x bottles per day per worker = 60 bottles per month = RMB 600 per month per worker (not including factory overheads ),  which was indeed  the average  factory  worker wage in the  mid  2000s.

 .....  I think you can see  how the  numbers  work out very  roughly.

At the time CIPMA  was published in 2006  the 116  artists listed were  probably on average selling their  bottles to collectors and/or dealers at  about  RMB1,000 - 2,000  each and were  painting  at the rate of about 10 - 20  bottles per year.  Assuming upper  figures : 20 bottles x RMB2,000  p.a. = RMB40,000  p.a. =  about  RMB 3,500  p.m., which is roughly  what I estimated the  average  middle-ranking artist  was earning in the mid-late  2000s :  RMB 3,500 - 4,500 p.m. based  on their   apartments and standard of living. (The very few  top masters  were of course earning much more, but not significantly more : perhaps  RMB 10 -12K p.m. ?)

Assume 100 - 150  x active  real artists @ RMB40,000  p.a. annual  selling price output per artist  in 2006 : that = about RMB5 million  p.a. which is only 0.5% of the "RMB 1 Billion" total industry quoted in CIPMA. So there  is no way that the work of the  real  artists  can  add  up to "RMB 1 Billion"

To repeat:these are back-of-the-envelope calculations but you can see how the numbers make general  sense. 

Another indirect cross-confirmation is the fact that when I was collecting in the period 2006 - 2010 and was still buying many of my bottles from  specialist VMIPB shops  (as opposed to buying direct from artists or specialist  dealers  like  Jill and Li Hui) I  found only a couple of specialist shops : one in Beijing and one in Shanghai. On the other hand there were at least  2 -3 dozen other shops selling tourist trade bottles in amongst all the usual  tourist trade stone carvings, paintings etc in each of those cities, not to mention all the hotel lobby gift shops. (And that's only BJ and SH : what about Nanjing, Guangzhou, and all the other major tourist cities ?)

Let's take BJ as an example and say that there were in total about 1,000 tourist shops and hotel gift shops each  selling about 10 bottles per year = 10,000  per year

At those two specialist shops I mentioned in BJ and SH, they each had over 500 + good  quality "tourist" bottles for sale, but only about  maximum 10  x bottles at any one time by real artists (i.e. the kind of artists whose names appeared in CIPMA)  and they only  sold at most  5 x bottles by  real artists per year. I know that because  I often saw the same bottles for sale for many months (and in one supreme case : my Song Yiming goldfish bottle was on sale for 2 years because its  list price was RMB15,000,  until I finally bought  it)

So again, taking BJ as an example : the ratio of bottles by real artists to total  tourist-trade bottles was very roughly 5:10,000 = 0.5% . Same  ball-park.

_________________

So after that very long screed  I have two questions :

1. Does  anyone else have some anecdotal information to corroborate (or otherwise) my rough calculations?

2. Has anyone  ever   visited a  VMIPB factory in China ?
   (I haven't, but I  would  be very interested to  visit one)

Cheers

Peter

PS:  Corrections also welcomed to my ball-park calculations

« Last Edit: January 30, 2017, 08:56:20 pm by Peter Bentley 彭达理 » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2017, 08:42:57 pm »

Peter

Interesting thread and it seems logical to me .. the numbers indeed work out roughly. You are very likely correct! 

As to your final questions I do not have any information factual or anecdotal to as other than I was told these factories do exist .
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« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2017, 09:08:40 pm »


"
Quote
Engaging in inside painting art."

Peter,

It seems you are only accounting for snuff bottles.  That is not what is said by the CIPMA above.  I've seen hordes of IP Christmas ornaments, and other things such as balls, bottles, etc., each year.  As you mentioned I think the quoted number goes beyond just bottles.

Your IP bottle analysis seems reasonable though. 

Charll   
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Charll K Stoneman, Eureka, California USA, Collector Since 1979.

Peter Bentley 彭达理
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« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2017, 01:33:13 am »

Hi Charll,

Valid comment  - thanks.

I was  sort of mentally including all the IP Christmas ornaments, inside painted balls, globes etc  which  somehow find their way to the West (well, at least  to the  USA, because I have never seen any in England during the  few times I have been back there  in the  past 20-odd  years)

Cheers
Peter
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George
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« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2017, 08:15:25 am »

I would like very much to visit the inside of one of these snuff bottle factories.. Also would like very much to see first hand some carving factories works and tools used..

 
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Peter Bentley 彭达理
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« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2017, 05:42:28 pm »

Hi George,

Well.... if you  ever visit  China  I am sure that besides   going to Hengshui we could arrange to visit  couple of IPB factories !

I don't have contacts  in the stone carving field, but I know people who do  have contacts

BTW:  Bill  Patrick has a  DVD  on how IP bottles are carved / bored out . You can   approach  Bill to buy  a copy.
         However, the boring out  process is horribly dirty and messy, with glass or crystal dust flying everywhere.
         That's  not a  job I would like, but it  makes one  appreciate  how much  work  goes  into  an IPB
         even before it gets  into the  hands  of an  artist.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2017, 05:44:14 pm by Peter Bentley 彭达理 » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2017, 12:52:34 pm »

Hi George,

Same for me in wanting to visit somewhere making the modern agate bottles and glass overlays as well.

I have found some bits on U tube, one of an amber bottle being carved and hollowed for internal painting but can't access it at present.

Here's one of a very small overlay vase being made and carved which is as close to a snuff bottle that I can get !



Regards, Adrian.
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« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2017, 01:16:56 pm »

Great Video Adrian!

Thanks for sharing!

Steven
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« Reply #8 on: February 03, 2017, 04:53:35 pm »

That was a normal "cut and paste" which you should have had to click on to access. Not sure why it came up as it did and very sorry if it has used up any valuable space which I appreciate costs money.

Regards, Adrian.
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« Reply #9 on: February 03, 2017, 05:35:30 pm »

Hi Adrian,

Thank you for sharing the video. I enjoyed it very much!

Regards,

Toni-Lee
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« Reply #10 on: February 03, 2017, 09:04:58 pm »

Thanks Adrian! This really makes us appreciate ANY and all snuff bottle that is hand made or finished like this, whether old or new .
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Pat
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« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2017, 02:15:55 pm »

Thanks for that video Adrian... Really enjoyed that..

Yes, when you copy and paste a video link the forum's software changes it so the video actually shows up..

No worries at all...
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« Reply #12 on: February 05, 2017, 01:21:55 am »

Dear Peter,

Could you cut and paste the Chinese version of the preface regarding the 40,000 figure ?

I believe the word ' persons ' you quoted very likely refers to the total workforce engaged in the IPB
business. It is likely that the term used is ' 工作人员   or 参与者 , that includes the professional / semi-professional artists / painters.

Inn Bok
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Peter Bentley 彭达理
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« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2017, 03:11:32 am »

Hi Inn Bok,

Please see  attached

The term  used seems to be 业 人 员  which I think   translates  as "industry"

Cheers
Peter


* CIPMA (4&5) - Copy.jpg (381.97 KB, 3744x1872 - viewed 6 times.)
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