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Chinese export mother of pearl gaming counters/ chips - all you need to know about them in one site: history, styles, dates, armorials, non-armorials, sets, lacquer boxe.....

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Reference works and further reading


"Mother-Of-Pearl Game Counters" by D. Cowan. A 30 page off-print from the book Antique Gambling Chips by Dale Seymour with 12 full pages of illustrations of counters. The only work dedicated to mother-of-pearl counters I have found, packed with information. Available direct from


Armorial Porcelain and Trade with Canton The buyers of armorial counters frequently bought armorial porcelain at the same time so it is sometimes possible to match up counters with purchases of porcelain.

"Chinese Armorial Porcelain" (vol. 1) by David S. Howard. Published by Faber and Faber in 1974. ISBN 0-571-098118. Out of print. A superb reference work. The introduction and first 100 pages give an amazingly detailed insight into the "factories" at Canton. Very hard to find!

"Chinese Armorial Porcelain" (vol. 2) by David S. Howard. Published by Heirloom and Howard in 2003. ISBN 0-9544-389-0-6. Readily available at Complements volume 1 with colour photographs of 2000 services. Contains a short section devoted to mother-of-pearl counters with illustrations. 

"A Tale of Three Cities" by David S. Howard. Published by Sotheby's in 1997. A beautifully illustrated and detailed account of trade between Europe and Canton, with a short section on counters.

"Heaven is High, the Emperor Far Away" by Valerie M. Garrett. Published by Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-592744-3. Further insight into European trade with Canton. Excellent illustrations.


'Directly from China' Export goods for the American market 1784-1930 by Christina H. Nelson ISBN  0-87577-152-for the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem.  Very interesting and well-illustrated , this deals specifically with items made in Canton for America and there are several illustrations of counters and counter boxes.


Heraldic Reference Books The books to use for identifying crests and coats of arms.

"Fairbairn's Book Of The Crests Of The Families Of Great Britain And Ireland". Published by Heraldry Today. ISBN 0-900455-38-1. Essential reference work for attributing heraldic crests to particular families.

"Burke's General Armory". Published by Heraldry Today. ISBN 0-900455-3-X. Describes the "Armorial Bearings" of British families. Unillustrated. Lists the coats of arms and crests of important British families.

"Papworth's Ordinary of British Armorials". Published by Heraldry Today. ISBN 0-900455-42-X. Describes the coats of arms of all important British families. Unillustrated.

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