Porcelain pot that turns out to be Chinese relic sells for £400,000

Small Chinese pot that couple kept on sideboard for decades sells for £320,000 after it turns out to be 900-year-old treasure ‘as rare as the stars at dawn’

  • Auctioneers were invited to value items at deceased couple’s Lincolnshire home
  • Jessica Wall found crackled celadon green pot which was value at £500 to £800
  • But bidder interest took off as turned out to be a piece of 12th century Ru ware
  • The item, made during China’s Song dynasty around 1100, sold for £320,000
  • Relatives of the Lincolnshire couple said they were ‘very happy’ with the unexpected cash windfall

A porcelain bowl a couple kept on their sideboard for years has sold for almost £400,000 after it turned out to be a 900-year-old Chinese relic.

The unmarked 5ins tall censer bowl was put to one side on a dining room dresser next to other ‘bits and bobs’ by its owners.

After they both passed away relatives invited auctioneers to their detached home in a village in Lincolnshire to value an eclectic mix of antiques the couple collected.

And among the items auctioneer Jessica Wall found was the crackled celadon green pot that stands on three legs.

Because it had no markings on it, it was catalogued as a ‘Chinese table jardiniere’ and given a value of between just £500 to £800.

But interest in the item took off ahead if the sale at Stamford Auction Rooms, Lincs, as potential bidders suspected the bowl was a previously undocumented piece of 12th century Ru ware.

A crackled celadon green pot has sold at auction for £320,000. Valued at just £500 to £800, it piqued bidder interest on suspicions it was an extremely rare 12th century Chinese relic

The extremely rare type of Chinese pottery was produced for the imperial court during the Song dynasty around 1100, and are the most famous of the ‘Five Great Kilns’ from the period.

Only around 100 complete pieces are known to exist today and most of them are undecorated with the same celadon glaze.

Three bidders, one on the internet, a phone-in from Italy and a London-based buyer who had made the journey to the auction room provided the lion’s share of the competition.

The bowl eventually sold at auction to a London bidder for £320,000. With auction fees added on they paid a total of £385,000 for the item.

The family, who aren’t being named, are said to be ‘very happy’ with the unexpected cash windfall.

Auctioneer Jessica Wall found the pot on a dining room dresser in deceased couple’s detached home in a Lincolnshire village after she was brought in to value their eclectic mix of antiques

Miss Wall said: ‘I went to view the contents of a deceased estate, a nice old detached property that had been owned by a couple who collected all sorts of stuff including Chinese art, silver and antique furniture.

‘This bowl was on a sideboard in the dining room with other bits and bobs. It had just been put to one side and it wasn’t pride of place by any means.

‘The family had no idea what it was worth. As far as they were concerned it had been in the family for a very long time.

‘We researched it but nothing came up. We didn’t put an age to it because we couldn’t be certain and we kept the description of it quite simple.

‘We gave it an estimate of between £500 to £800 which we genuinely thought was the right estimate. Quite often Chinese art can be very hard to date.

Valuer and auctioneer Jessica Wall said: ‘The vendors are obviously very happy and it has been a lovely surprise for them. I am also really pleased’

‘We had a lot of interest in it before the sale and that is when we realised it could be quite rare.

‘The buyer knows what they have purchased – it appears to be an early piece of Ru ware.

‘The vendors are obviously very happy and it has been a lovely surprise for them. I am also really pleased.’

Ru ware are some of the most frequently copied of all early Chinese ceramics.

The distinctive glaze that is applied in several layers and covers the entire surface is thought ton have been invented at the Ru kilns I the Henan province in central China.

A Ru ware censer bowl similar to the one sold in Lincolnshire is in the Cincinnati Art Museum.

In 2017, a Ru brush-washer dish set a record auction price when it sold it Hong Kong for £24.9m.

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