I was wondering if you could give me some information on my censor that my husband found at work, he is a ore driller and dugs it up whilst drilling. I have had a lot of mixed feedbacks from different sites and someone has recommended I speak to you.
Hello, Mrs Bottrell,
Good morning and thank you for your question.
We are not surprised that you have received mixed feedbacks from different sites about Mr Bottrell's discovery. No one, including us, could really give you a definite answer by just glancing at your photographs behind a computer, I suppose.
We are no experts on antiques. However, we are happy to tell you what we can read from the censor marking (as posted). The four Chinese words engraved on the bottom are: 宣德堂製, and they have the following meanings:
宣 (Pinyin: xuān. Meaning: To announce, to declare; A personal name in this case) 德 (Pinyin: dé. Meaning: Ethics; A personal name in this case) 堂 (Pinyin: táng. Meaning: a hall, a company, a maker) 製 (Pinyin: zhì. Meaning: To make, to produce, to manufacture).
So, the censor was "Made by Xuān Dé Táng".
While Xuān Dé was a Chinese Emperor, reign name of fifth Ming emperor Zhu Zhanji, reigned 1426-1436, our wild guess is that someone just used the Emperor's name on their products.
We are able to locate the name Xuān Dé Táng in our database. The name appears to have a history dating back to the Ming Dynasty (circa 1368-1644). The last known auction of something fairly similar (pic attached) to what you are showing us occurred in June 2011. Reportedly, the item was sold for about US$1,500.00.
Mrs Bottrell, we hope you'll find the above information useful and we strongly suggest that you consult an antique collector for more accurate analyses of your item. Meanwhile, please do not hesitate to contact us again if you require further assistance.
Please say thanks on our behalf to whoever refer your good self to us.
With kind regards,