DELICATE porcelain and ivory religious items and intricate ornaments highlight Casa de Memoria’s auction on Saturday.

With a bidding price that starts at P600,000, the ivory “Holy Trinity Blessing Niña Maria with Saints Joachim and Anne” (18th-19th century) is the most expensive among the lots.

Why would someone sell something so beautiful, historical, and intricate as this? Casa de Memoria’s research specialist, Gregorio Caliguia III told BusinessWorld that “old people” who have religious pieces such as the Holy Trinity are “scared” that their relatives will not be able to take care of such beauty. So they consign them to auction houses, where they will be bought by another person who will see it as a treasure and not as junk.

Besides, preserving a piece of history can get expensive, so much so that owning one sometimes becomes a liability rather than an asset. Restoration can be expensive, for example — restoring a painting’s colors can start at P10,000 while repairing fractures in fragile pieces can start at P100,000.

Also going under the hammer is another interesting ivory piece called “Infant St. John the Baptist in Ivory with Architectural Retablo,” which starts at P450,000. The staff, which the baby John the Baptist should be holding is, unfortunately, missing. There are also cracks on John’s torso and face — signs of ageing. Mr. Caliguia said ivory should be stored in air-conditioned rooms, but not in a too cold room, as it will cause the ivory to crack.

The European ivory pieces evoke serenity and holiness — an apt reminder of the coming Holy Week. The other ivory items come from China, including a finely carved scroll case, a small carved ball called “Ball of Happiness,” and a boat with intricate details. Each item is a work of love and labor; a showcase of the Chinese’ mastery of the craft.

Aside from the ivory, up for sale are a number of porcelain pieces — jars, jugs, pots, pitchers, and bases, in different shapes and sizes. They are all Chinese exports that travelled the world through the Galleon Trade.

The primary markets of this East-meets-West themed auction are serious and starting collectors, the well-traveled, and the Chinese community.

Mr. Caliguia said Chinese clients are meticulous. They don’t like cracks and defects in porcelain, preferring to buy the flawless ones. Filipino buyers, on the other hand, are okay with small signs of aging. He said Filipinos appreciate defects that add to the charm and character of an item.

“For this collection, the appeal lies in the history of how it came about: A romantic take on the Orient, and of melding different styles of Asian influences that morphed into a style of its own,” said Casa de Memoria marketing manager, Camille Lhuillier.

The auction will be held on March 17, 2 p.m., at Casa de Memoria, 156 Jupiter cor. Comet sts., Bel Air, Makati City. To view the lots, visit Faustine P. de Guzman