James D. Julia Auction to Feature an Eighteenth-Century Chinese Imperial Seal

Fairfield, Maine, April 18, 2013  — James D. Julia, Inc., one of the nation's top ten antique auction houses, is excited to present an absolutely breathtaking Chinese treasure in association with the company's upcoming Annual Summer event to be held on August 21st through 23rd, 2013. This exceptional lot is certain to be of great interest to Asian arts enthusiasts and historians around the world, and highlights James D. Julia and its specialists as leaders in the important and growing Asian Arts auction category. 

The seal is estimated at $20,000 to $30,000. It measures 6-3/4" x 6-3/4" x 3" overall, is cast from bronze, and is heavily gilded in pure gold. The item is dated "Third Year of Ch'ien Lung" indicating that it was produced in the 1738/39 time frame for Qianlong Emperor, the sixth leader of the Manchu-led Qing Dynasty who reigned from 1735 to 1796. The seal was used to officiate business for the country's "Plain White Banner" military and administrative division, one of eight such divisions at the time.

Almost every surface of this absolute rarity is handsomely and elaborately covered with imperial symbols or writing. Its top is decorated with several small reclining dragons and one large dragon on all fours. The underside, which would have been used for stamping, is inscribed in Manchu, a now endangered Eastern language that was once spoken widely across parts of China. The inscription itself is exceptional; it is finished with intricate cross-hatching in order to catch the cinnabar ink used with the seal for official government business. All but the narrow back edge of the seal is detailed with additional Manchu text.   

This outstanding example of an early Asian Imperial seal was discovered through James D. Julia's Woburn, Massachusetts office. It came from the estate of U.S. Chief of Naval Salvage Commodore William A. Sullivan, who worked closely with Douglas MacArthur during World War II. Sullivan's work was so important that he was the subject of a feature article in the Saturday Evening Post in 1944. Sullivan stayed in Asia after the war and started his own construction company. Sullivan purchased the seal shortly after the conclusion of the war. The current owner, Sullivan's nephew, has had the seal since 1992.  

According to James Callahan, James D. Julia's Director of Asian Arts and a regular on PBS' Antiques Roadshow since 1996, "This elaborate "Plain White Banner" Imperial Seal is an absolutely astonishing find.  My colleagues and I have heard and read about these seals, but have never seen one in person, and never thought that we would.  I can only imagine that it is a one of a kind treasure.  This example, in such outstanding condition, is certain to be a jewel in the crown for the collector or museum fortunate enough to be its next steward."

About James D. Julia, Inc.:

James D. Julia, Inc., one of the top ten auction antique houses in the nation, is headquartered in Fairfield, Maine.  The company also has an office in Woburn, Massachusetts.  In business for over 40 years, the company conducts high-end antique, collectible, and decorative arts auctions throughout the year.  Julia's routinely establishes new world records through its sales events.  Julia’s has four key divisions, including rare firearms and militaria; fine and Asian art and antiques; lamps and glass; and important toy, dolls, and antique advertising. Each division has been ranked nationally for excellence and is staffed with world-class specialists to insure fair and professional authentication, identification, and valuation services. 

James D. Julia is a proud recipient of the 2012 Governor’s award for Business Excellence, which is administered by the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development.  This honor recognizes companies that demonstrate a high level of commitment to the community, employees, and to manufacturing or to service excellence. 

For more information on James D. Julia, Inc. and the company's Annual Summer Antique, Asian & Fine Art Auction to be held on August 21st through 23rd, 2013 - with a preview on August 20th - please visit http://www.jamesdjulia.com.


James Callahan

Director of Asian Arts

James D. Julia, Inc.


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