An Unpublished Treasure of the Chinese Collections

Dr. Berthold Laufer (left) with two men and one boy. All in Chinese costume or dress. Hankow, ca. 1904. Tea cups and pipe on table. © The Field Museum, A98299

In 1904, after returning to the Museum from a solo, grueling, and fairly astonishing three-year expedition to China, the young Sinologist Berthold Laufer began to analyze and write up his findings. He had managed to collect over 7,500 objects, roughly half the current Chinese collections, on a budget of only $18,000. This is even more extraordinary considering that his total expenditure would not buy even a modest piece of Ming porcelain today. 

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