Antique Bulb Pots

Suibans-Trays for Suiseki


  Bulb Pots


A mid 19th century Chinese famile verte Orchid Pot, circa 1850. It is 8 1/2" by 6 1/2" by 3" high.

In good condition overall. There is some very tiny rim wear mostly along the inside edge from use. £325-$475 plus shipping  Sale price now £180 including shipping




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Bulb pot/bulb bowl collecting -While not actually Suibans , some bulb pots can indeed be used as Suibans for Suiseki

During the Chinese Song and Yuan Dynasties and later during the Qing Dynasty bulb bowls (or bulb pots) were used as containers for flower bulbs, such as narcissus. Narcissus blooms were particularly popular around the time of the lunar New Year (late January - February) when the Chinese celebrate the coming of spring. They look a lot like bonsai or Penjing pots in their architecture due to their shared characteristic of usually having feet but the similarity between the two types of vessels stops there, as bulb pots do not contain drainage holes.

Bulbs were planted in these pots and then forced into bloom using only a medium of gravel and water. The bulbs sat on top of the gravel and water was added to a level just below them assuring the bulbs did not rot but encouraging root formation instead.

Bulb pots although sharing similar architecture to bonsai pots (as stated above) are usually made of porcelain often featuring Polychrome enamelled decorations of one sort or another. The motifs encountered on these pots often feature Chinese figures and reflect the type of day to day activities of the period. Of course these attributes only increase the delight provided the collector of bulb pots.

Some of the Bulb Pots here were part of the collection of Vaughn Banting (VB)who was a well known American  Bonsai artist and Bulb Bowl authority. I was fortunate to meet Vaughn during on my visits to N'Awlins where he lived. At that time I was both speaking at the New Orleans Bonsai Club and another time I was there photographing Vaughn's student, the internationally respected Bonsai Master Gary Marchal for my book, Bonsai Masterclass.


Porcelain (Qinghua)

Double walled porcelain mesh design with a poem inscribed to the owner of the Pot (in Chinese)

Purchased in 1995 from a well known Bonsai Master in Texas.Sold-See below for a similar pot

Exquisite antique Chinese porcelain flower pot for narcissus. Rare .Size:19*6.5*2.5 cms

£325 plus shipping  Sale price now £180 including shipping

Meiji Era 1860-1900, this pot is circa 1880.

Thank goodness past owners left the old staple repair alone on one foot of this stately 19th century Bulb Bowl. ( Suiban as well and used for Ikebana -a tray for live flower arrangements). First of all it is quite unobtrusive, but more importantly it is one of the better clues to accurate dating of the piece, which otherwise is in uncommonly good condition for its age. At first glance the swirling Sometsuke (under glaze blue on white) pattern brought to mind a Chinese early Quing Dynasty narcissus bowl, but the distinctive feet are historically more consistent with Japanese designs for such porcelain forms, including the related bonsai pot. A most distinguished example of the porcelain arts. SIZE: 9 3/4 x 6 1/2 inches. CONDITION: Very good. Slightly uneven stance due to hand potting and staple repair on foot has been offset with a felt pad, as shown. Expected small firing flaws. Minor water staining inside. No other damage observed.

£425 plus shipping  Sale price now £210 including shipping


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1: A 19th century Chinese Bulb bowl of unusual almost quatrefoil form With a  scene of children playing  and a Poem on the back £325 plus shipping-Now reduced to £185 including shipping

A late 19th century Chinese Bulb Bowl with Plum blossom for Spring bulbs and on the other side a chrysanthemum for summer to autumn bulbs.-Now reduced to £85 including shipping

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2: A 19th century Chinese Bulb bowl of unusual form With a landscape scene depicting
spring and therefore for spring flowering bulbs and with a spring Poem on the back -£245plus shipping-Now reduced to £145 including shipping

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3: A 19th century Chinese Bulb bowl of unusual form With a landscape scene with children playing  a  Poem written on the back -£245plus shipping-Now reduced to £145


Jingdezhen (King-ke-tching)  is the birthplace of the Chinese porcelain industry and has been famous for manufacturing porcelain since the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127). During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the Imperial Porcelain Depot was established in the city and Jingdezhen became the porcelain capital of the world. Henry Wordsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) wrote of King-ke-tching in his poem Keramos:

Oer desert sands, oer gulf and bay
Oer Ganges and oer Himalay,
Bird-like I fly, and flying sing
To flowery kingdoms of Cathay,
And bird-like poise on balanced wing
Above the town of King-te-tching,
A burning town, or seeming so, -
Three thousand furnaces that glow
Incessantly, and fill the air
With smoke uprising, gyre on gyre,
And painted by the lurid glare,
Of jets and flashes of red fire.












A mid 19th century Chinese famile verte Orchid Pot, circa 1850. It is 8 1/2" by 6 1/2" by 3" high.

In good condition overall. There is some very tiny rim wear mostly along the inside edge from use.

Chinese circa: 1850

Floral motif on the top rim

This is a very rare colour gaze on pottery

There is a very slight loss of glaze  but as you can see this is really minimal due to its age

Size: 7.2 x 4.8 x 1.9 H Inches £325-$475 plus shipping  Sale price now £180 including shipping



Antique Chinese  porcelain bulb pot

circa: 1890-Seal stamp dates from this period and was required for export into America.

Landscape painting & Calligraphy

Size: 8.25 x 6.2 x 3.25  Inches £225 -Now reduced to £85 including shipping


Vaughn lived in New Orleans and was a teacher of Bonsai to many folk including Gary Marchal. He became an authority on Bulb bowls and we often exchanged notes and images. I was happy to buy some of my favourites from his estate. He was a friend and we all miss him.

Bulb pots from the late Vaughn Banting's collection

(VB) Chinese Double-Coin "Good Fortune" Bulb Pot
Beautiful hand-painted porcelain double walled bulb dish with narrow mouth and wide brim. Double-Coin design invokes good fortune. Slight texturing in porcelain of coins and floral designs. Top rim features four panels of floral scenes set among the water and wave background. Chrysanthemum flowers adorn each corner. Good Feng Shui elements. A row of narcissus bulbs would look outstanding in this dish. No Chips. Two hairline glaze lines in the inner well, but does not leak. This footed bulb dish (or bulb pot) with no drain was designed as a dish for forcing bulbs. Circa 1820

Width: 9.25" (23.5cm)
Depth: 5.5" (14cm)
Height: 2.75" (7cm)

£450 plus shipping  Sale price £290 including shipping


(VB)Japanese Antique Porcelain Bulb Tray

Bought in Shanghai for Vaughn Banting

Wonderfully vibrant colours on this hand-painted porcelain antique bulb tray from Japan. Three figures are shown standing on large leaves as they travel across water. Reverse shows figures amid craggy rocks. Interesting geometric banding around rim and base.There is a small potting cut on the inside of one of the sides but this has in no way made this wonderful pot damaged. It was part of the potting process when it was made. This footed bulb dish (or bulb pot) with no drain was designed as a dish for forcing bulbs. Circa 1750-1800

Width: 9" (23cm)
Depth: 5.5" (14cm)
Height: 3.5" (9cm)

£575 plus shipping Sale price £330 including shipping



(VB) Japanese Antique Blue and White Bulb Pot

This antique porcelain "bulb pot" was designed for planting and forcing bulbs to provide beauty in the home. It has a cobalt blue under-glaze and is decorated with floral motifs with a white over-glaze. Similar to a bonsai pot, but without a drain. No cracks or chips. Circa 1800

Glazed Ceramic (Sizhuan)

Width: 7.25" (18.5cm)
Depth: 5" (12.5cm)
Height: 2.25" (5.5cm)

£495 plus shipping Sale price £295 including shipping



Chinese Famile Rose Bulb Pot c 1900
with no chips, cracks, or repairs. £475 plus shipping Sale price £300 including shipping

2¾ inch highx9.3 inch longx7 inch wide


This is a wonderful  brush pot / censer or bulb bowl which has been hand painted in a Prunus 'UME' blossom design.
The unique thing about this marvellous pot is the beautiful shape of the  inner rim. Its signed with a three character mark on the base.

The item is in fine order. Although there is an expected amount of age associated wear , no chips , the under well foot does have a pictured spider hairline on the glaze which does not affect any of the pot sides and is in the middle of the pot base.. This is reflected in the low price as this pot would normally be in excess of £400 Now £210. Sale price £90 including shipping

Height at 4.5 inches, diameter is at 7 inches. This comes with a pot stand in wood. 



Two lovely bulb bowls in a primitive rice bowl style with under glaze kiln dust and a
bubble pop or two. Both examples are very pretty because they are hand painted.
One is aqua green on both inside and outside rim, with butterflies and pattern on foot.
The second bowl is aqua green on inside, with a rooster/floral/dragonfly pattern on the white exterior. Red swirl pattern on foot. Both are stamped China. This particular mark was required by the US import authorities from 1891 dating these bowls to circa 1900-1910

Each is 6" diameter, 1 1/2" deep.
No damages, no cracks or chips/flakes.

£160 each or £320 for both including post

-Now reduced to £200 for both including shipping



A beautiful Chinese Bulb Bowl dating from circa 1920. Decorated in shades of blue with a lotus blossom and birds on water. 91/8 inches long by 61/4 ices wide and 31/4 inches tall.

In very good condition, no cracks chips or damage.£185 -plus shipping £50
Sale price now £85 including shipping

Fine old American Roseville pottery Bulb Pot (Window Planter)
Apple blossom pattern #368-8 in pink colour. Measures 10 3/4" x 2 5/8" x 3 3/8". 
No chips or cracks. £195
-Now reduced to £80 including shipping.

Please note that I have two of these pots to make a pair and the pair will cost £150 including shipping.

Apple Blossom was introduced by Roseville Pottery in 1949. Standard colours are green, blue, and pink. Apple Blossom is marked with the raised Roseville USA script mark and shape number. The pattern includes baskets, bookends, bowls, cornucopias, ewers, jardinières, vases, wall pocket, etc but the Bulb Planter is a rare example.

The Roseville Pottery Company

The Roseville Pottery Company was founded in 1890. Roseville initially produced simple utilitarian ware such as flower pots, stoneware, umbrella stands, cuspidors, and limited painted ware. In 1900, Roseville Rozane became the first high quality art pottery line produced by Roseville.

In 1904, Frederick Rhead became art director for Roseville pottery. Rhead was responsible for the production of scarce art pottery lines such as Fudji, Crystalis, Della Robbia, and Aztec.

In the early teens as demand for the more expensive, hand-crafted art pottery declined Roseville pottery shifted production to more commercially produced pottery. Roseville's ability to nimbly adapt to market conditions was one of the potteries' greatest attributes as Roseville was continually able to produce the most popular patterns and styles compared to their immediate competitors.
World War II necessitated another production change for Roseville pottery. During this time period, Roseville introduced such patterns as Fuchsia, Cosmos, Columbine, White Rose, Bittersweet, and Zephyr Lily. While these patterns were still the best quality art pottery in the market at this time, it was not enough to save the company. Roseville Pottery ceased operations in 1954.

Even to this day, Roseville pottery still represents the most widely known and most collectible art pottery ever produced.
Beware of Reproductions:
Roseville art pottery pieces are highly desirable, which in turn has caused the pottery to be widely reproduced. But the good news is that most Roseville reproductions are easy to detect -- if you are familiar with the pottery. Educate yourself before spending big bucks! Sometimes unethical dealers will remove the made in China sticker and try to pass it off as the real thing.

This is a genuine example


Large Blue and White floral design typical of Chinese Bulb  Pots in the 19th Century. 24x18x9cms                                   

£160 including post     Now reduced to £80 including shipping                                                         


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  • A Chinese Polychrome glaze on a pottery double walled Bulb Pot dating from the late Ming Period- 17th century. Minor repairs have been made during the lifetime of this pot. Some glaze delaminating as expected in a type and age of pottery. There was some wear under the pot which has been filled with some sort of clay at some stage. This can be removed if preferred to allow a more structural repair but I think it is fine.
  • Double walled - the outer wall being reticulated and glazed, while the inner one (which holds the soil and the plant) is left unglazed.
  • Measurements: Approx. 7.5" x 5.25" x 2.25"
  • £295 plus post -Now reduced to £145 including shipping

Notes: Pottery stone could be fired at a lower temperature (1250 °C) than paste mixed with kaolin, which required 1350 °C. These sorts of variations were important to keep in mind because the large southern egg-shaped kilns varied greatly in temperature. Near the firebox it was hottest; near the chimney, at the opposite end of the kiln, it was cooler. Often such pieces were reserved for the workers or local people. Decorated in simple glazes they covered many different types of vessels. The better quality vessels were sold to the merchant class or the aristocracy.

Similar to the polychrome colour of the Sancai ware: Sancai wares were northern wares made using white and buff-firing secondary kaolins and fire clays.At kiln sites located at Tongchuan, Neiqui county in Hebei and Gongxian in Henan, the clays used for burial wares were similar to those used by Tang potters. The burial wares were fired at a lower temperature than contemporaneous whitewares

Made from beige sandy clay (鍛泥; literally, "fortifed clay"): stoneware that was formulated using various stones and minerals in addition to zini or red sandy clay. This results in various textures and colours, ranging from beige, blue, and green (绿泥), to black.



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Bulb Pot late 18th early 19th Century Famile Rose Bulb Pot with Qianlong period Mark.

This colour palette is typical of Chinese Wedding Porcelain( Items given as a wedding present) .This yellow & pink 'Nyonya' Covered Bulb pot, finely decorated with pink chrysanthemum and blue flower motifs. For the Chinese these are auspicious colours of prosperity and good fortune. This pot has been well taken care of. Nyona is the ethnic Chinese-Malays that are called Baba-Nyonya from Malacca-Sold


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Bulb Pot mid 1900's Famile Rose Bulb Pot  with Qianlong period Mark
No chips, cracks, or repairs. It measures 23.5cm x 15cm x  8cm high.

Because of the shape this pot can also be used as a Suiban

£425 plus shipping  -Now reduced to £285 including shipping


The Qing Dynasty

Emperor Qianlong was Emperor Yongzheng's fourth son. He was born in the 50th year of Emperor Kangxi's reign (1711), and died in the 4th year of Emperor Jiaqing's reign at the age of 89. He was the sixth Emperor of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and also the emperor who lived for the longest time in Chinese history.

Qianlong showed his talent when in his childhood. Because of this, his grandfather Emperor Kangxi liked him a lot. After setting up the rule of choosing successor secretly, Emperor Yongzheng chose Qianlong to succeed the throne without hesitation.

Qianlong was 25 years old when he succeeded the throne. He learnt his grandfather's and his father's ways of running the state affairs. And he skillfully dealt with the relationship between Manchu, Han and other ethnic minorities to consolidated imperial power. His reign was the most prosperous period of Qing Dynasty.

Qianlong was a keen poet, writer and calligrapher: he produced three collections of essays and five albums of poetry, making him one of the most prolific poets and calligraphers in ancient China. He was highly accomplished in painting and was fond of collecting cultural antiques -- there were many examples of jade carving, tooth carving, bamboo and wood carving, lacquer art, enamel and porcelain art in his imperial study. He also sponsored the compilation of Si Ku Quan Shu (Complete Collection in Four Treasuries), which is regarded as the largest series in Chinese history and a valuable treasure representing Chinese culture. He was familiar with military strategies and invented Shi Quan Wu Gong (perfect gongfu). He was fond of hunting and traveling, and traveled to Southern China six times for inspection. Almost every autumn, he would visit Wutai Mountain in the west and Confucius's Temple in the south.

Qianlong promised that he would abdicate after ruling as an emperor for 60 years, because that his grandfather Emperor Kangxi's reign lasted for 61 years, and Qianlong did not want to exceed his grandfather. In 60th year of his reign, he carried out his promise, and his son Yuyan (Emperor Jiaqing) became the new emperor. Actually, Qianlong was still running the country. A lot of important affairs was reported to and solved by him.

Qianlong took great pride in his administrative style which ushered in a period of great prosperity in the country. Emperor Qianlong's reign marked the peak of feudalism in China and, together with the reign of Emperor Kangxi, this period is known as Kang Qian Sheng Shi (the Great Prosperity of Emperor Kangxi and Qianlong). Unfortunately, however, in his old age he appointed corrupt officials such as Huo Shen, and problems of extortion and poor administration contributed directly to the decline of the Qing Dynasty.


A Chinese republican period porcelain Suiban/ Bulb Bowl, hand painted with enamels and signed on the base. The Suiban is circa 1920 and in excellent condition, no damage or repairs. It measures 8 1/4" by 4 3/4" by 2 1/4" high £455 plus shipping -Now reduced to £285 including shipping

A mid 19th century Chinese famile verte bulb bowl, circa 1850. It is 8 1/2" by 6 1/2" by 3" high. In fairly good condition overall. There are rim chips, mostly along the inside edge. Guaranteed to be as described. £445 -Now reduced to £285 inclujding shipping






While not Bulb pots Suibans are also containers without holes and are used for Suiseki and sometimes for bulbs. Conversely bulb pots can also be used for Suiseki so its reasonable to show both on the same pages.

A Chinese republican period porcelain Suiban, hand painted with enamels and signed on the base. The Suiban is circa 1920 and in excellent condition, no damage or repairs. It measures 8 1/4" by 4 3/4" by 2 1/4" high £455 -Now reduced to £285