Phase 1: Posing Real Questions

Updated 11 months 18 hours ago

At this point in time, many, if not all of us have completed Phase 0 where we decided what topic we wanted to do our inquiry project on. I chose to focus on the topic of antiques and collectibles. In Phase 1, we start to create questions which will help guide our research when we reach that stage. 

What I already know

I have a very limited amount of knowledge on this topic at this time, but there are some things I do know. Antiques are often old artifacts or collectibles that have been passed down from generation to generation. Due to their age, the value of these objects have increased a lot. These collectibles end up being sold for certain prices to other people, or just traded for other artifacts of similar or equal value, which results in a market for these artifacts to be made. Given the fact that this market is worth incredibly high amounts, some people that are in it try to remain hidden so that only people who are truly interested and are willing to put effort into finding these things are able to find them. The fact that this whole market is kept hidden makes it all the more interesting to investigate. 

Where I learned this

I got almost all of this information from past experiences. My mom and I often go to local markets and we try to find the shops that carry weird collectibles and while my mom is looking for what she wants to buy, I talk to the owner and have a conversation with them asking basic things like where they got these things and how old they are. While it was very interesting to do in China when I first arrived, the number of places that I can visit to see antiques becomes more and more limited as time goes on given that I would have already seen a lot of these places. Because of this, on holidays I also like to go to shops that sell antiques to see the differences and similarities in shops from, say, China and Thailand. In addition to this, some of the information I got simply came from the topic descriptor.  

What I want to learn

As of now, I am not too sure as to what I specifically want to do, however, there are a few things that do interest me. I want to learn about the laws surrounding possessing antiques without a license if there is one as well as learning where these artifacts came from, how to tell their age and how to determine the values of these objects. One of the other things that I would be interested learning about is how the secrecy of the market- if there actually is any- affects the people who are in it. I think it would be interesting investigating the effects that it has on someone if they are trying to keep something secret or hidden.

I then did background research which used so that I could understand my topic in more depth so that I can later develop my Big Questions. The research that I did can be found in my Phase 3 work.

Driving Questions

These questions that I have made are the main guide to my research and will help me know when and if I am off topic. The answers to these are written in italics because these are possible answers that I have written without any additional research. These questions are ordered in different main topics of which that main topic refers to one type of thing that the question is referring to, such as the value of an antique.

Laws Surrounding Antiques

1. What are the laws surrounding buying, owning and selling antiques?
  I do not know anything about any laws surrounding antiques other than the fact that in America, and many other places, something has to be 100 years or older to be considered an antique. 

Buying And Selling Antiques

2. What is the reason that people even want to buy antiques in the first place?
  I think that people want it for bragging rights and also just to say something like "Hey I have the oldest vase in the world."
3. How has the antique market changed over the years?
  I think that antiques have been more widely dispersed as time went on because modern technology makes it easier to transport antiques.
4. What type of antique is most rare and sought out among antique collectors? Why?
  I think that the rarest antiques would be the ones that play a significant role in human history because those antiques would be the ones that everyone would want, and the ones that would be so limited.
5. How do prices from a local dealer differ from that of an online seller, which is sold more, and why does one sell better than the other (if one does)?
  I think that it is much cheaper to buy from a local dealer because you are able to talk to the person and perhaps even bargain with them to make it cheaper, while on things like eBay, there are auctions that go up, rather than down. I think that, despite the price, antiques that are sold online are sold much more given how much more convenient is to buy something online as opposed to in real life.

Features Of Different Antiques

6. How can you pinpoint the age of an antique?
  I am not sure, but maybe you could see how much it has deteriorated or comparing it to other antiques that are similar in physical appearance to that one.
7. How do you know the value of an antique and how often do people actually pay that value for an antique?
  You can identify the value of an antique by analyzing things such as its quality, the demand for it, and how old it is. I am not sure how often it is sold at the price it is valued at.
8. Will more people want to buy a common antique that is easy to find or a rare antique that is hard to find? Why?
  I think people will want to buy rarer antiques more because even though it is more expensive it has more meaning attached to it since it is rarer. 

Yuxi Blue And White

9. How is the production of Yuxi Blue and White different from that of normal antiques?
  I am not sure because I do not know how normal, or Yuxi Blue and White is made.
10. Why is Yuxi Blue and White so special?
  Because it was one of the first antiques ever made, in addition to the fact that, even if not the first, its age dates back to the Song period.

Before leaving Xizhou there are a few things I definitely need to understand better. I need to have a better understanding of what Yuxi Blue and White actually is, how its made etc. I need to better understand how antiques are traded back and forth between people as well as the laws surrounding it.

I now have all of my questions that will help me know what to research, however in order to do my research I need to find helpful resources, which I will do in my Phase 2 work.
I have answered most of these questions, however, I have decided that some are not important and have not answered them. You can find my answers to these questions in my Phase 3 workspace.

I was part of the Microcampus Voyager group and I had an amazing time! Microcampus was an amazing experience and I will never forget it. My topic for the Inquiry Project was antiques and collectibles and I encourage any future Microcampus students to look into this topic. If any students in the future need my help, feel free to contact me at and I will be happy to help! Good luck to future Microcampus students! Sam