You think your China is old? Think again!

Goshen /
| 10 Apr 2024 | 10:17

Yes, Aunt Flossy gave your parents 12 settings of China back in the 1950s when they got married, and yes, that set — now consisting of 10 and a half settings, is now in your possession and is “old,” but not really. Compare what you have with China from the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368.) Or a porcelain plate from Korea, the Goryeo Kingdom (918-1392). Actually, your “old” China is, comparatively speaking, a newborn.

But who has such a collection of truly old China? The answer can be found in the Community Collections Showcase in the lobby of the Goshen Public Library and Historical Society. The answer is Patrick and Rose O’Neill.

Patrick and Rose O’Neill met while working in the Silicon Valley and have been married for 40 years. They lived on a 40-foot power boat in San Francisco Bay and cruised along the California coast, until retiring 10 years ago to New York.”

Patrick first began collecting Asian art while in the Air Force, stationed in Taiwan. He also served in Vietnam, Thailand, and Korea. Later, in business travel as an engineering manager, Dr. O’Neill worked in Japan, mainland China, and Korea, taking the opportunity to seek out art. Rose, in her career in quality management, worked in India and Malaysia, and expanded their collection to South Asian antiquities. The O’Neills enjoy traveling all over the world, adding to their collection.

One special piece in their collection has had quite an adventurous life; it was on a ship that was shipwrecked in the 1830s and then recovered in 2001. If you look carefully, you can see marks on the glazed surface, damage from barnacle encrustation!