Thursday, July 25, 2024

From £50 to £15,000

Chinese vase found in 2-up, 2-down house in Nottinghamshire sells for sum 29,900% higher than its estimate much to surprise of owner who was told by auction house to expect just £50 for it

A routine house clearance of an “ordinary two-up, two-down” house in Nottinghamshire led to an extraordinary result after a 38-centimetre high vase discovered there sold for a staggering sum at auction in spite of initially being considered a reproduction.    


Of the remarkable story, auctioneer Charles Hanson of Hansons Auctioneers commented:


“I spotted the vase in an ordinary two-up, two-down. It was filled with a few dried flowers in a bedroom. I picked it up and asked the seller if he knew anything about it. He mentioned that it had been given to his father when he was working as a chauffeur in the 1950s.”


“That prompted me to look closer. Working in the antiques world can feel a little like being a detective at times as you have to question, probe and hunt for clues to discover treasure in unexpected places.”


“The blue and white vase embellished in typical Chinese style but it seemed incongruous. Why would a valuable piece of Chinese ceramics be tucked away in a modest house in Nottinghamshire?”


“The property was due to be cleared and an offer of £1,000 had been made for the contents – but I arranged for the vase to be auctioned. However, despite my gut instinct, I made a mistake. After examination, I decided it was repro and consigned the vase into Hansons’ March Antiques and Collectables sale with a guide price of around £50 ($65, €60 or درهم240).”


“But when the auction catalogue went live online extraordinary bids started to come in for the humble vase. I withdrew it from sale to give myself time to consult Chinese ceramics experts and, importantly, ensure we achieved the best price possible for our client.”


Subsequently presented to Chinese ceramics experts, the vase was identified as a bulbous bodied blue and white bottle vase made circa 1640. It was reconsigned with an estimate of £2,000 to £3,000 ($2,600 to $3,900, €2,400 to €3,600 or درهم9,600 to درهم14,400) and then hammered down for the extraordinary sum of £15,000 ($19,600, €18,100 or درهم72,000) on 1st April.


Concluding, Mr Hanson added:


“I was delighted and our client was astonished. I was reminded yet again that antique treasures turn up in unexpected places. Inherited pieces of staggering value sit on top of cupboards or languish in glass cabinets for decades.”


Pictured top – Auctioneer Charles Hanson with the vase.


Expensive waste bins
Previously in October 2020, we featured the sale of five waste bins that had come from the home of the late American socialite and philanthropist Jayne Wrightsman. Offered with an estimate of £230 to £390 ($300 to $509, €278 to €471 or درهم1,103 to درهم1,871), the Henri Samuel designed items eventually knocked down for the astonishing sum of £33,900 ($44,300, €40,900 or درهم162,600) or 14,639% higher than the original low estimate.
Cristiano Ronaldo NFT
In November 2021, we featured the auction of a “one-of-a-kind” non-fungible token (NFT) trading card of Cristiano Ronaldo. Auctioneers Bonhams sought £597,000 to £896,000 ($800,000 to $1.2 million, €697,000 to €1 million or درهم2.9 million to درهم4.4 million) for this “something and nothing.” They managed to achieve a much lower but still ludicrous sum of £306,000 ($400,000, €370,000 or درهم1.5 million) for the “item.”
In 2016, Christie’s sold a large Ming Dynasty blue and white ‘Dragon’ jar for £15.6 million ($20.4 million, €18.9 million or درهم74.9 million) at an auction in Hong Kong. The circa 1426 to 1435 item had previously been thought to be just an “18th-century jar” and was described by the firm’s Marco Almedia as “an incredibly expensive umbrella stand.”
An 18th century Chinese vase made Chinese emperor Qianlong sold at auction in November 2010 for a record sum of £43 million ($56 million, €52 million or درهم206 million). It had been found during a house clearance in the London suburb of Pinner by a lady whose sister had died. It had been sitting on a bookshelf its owner not realising the treasure sat before her. Subsequently the story went somewhat sour when the buyer refused to pay the auction fees and ultimately sold to an “unidentified buyer from the Far East” for “up to £25 million ($33 million, €30 million or درهم120 million).

Matthew Steeples
Matthew Steeples
A graduate of the London School of Economics, Matthew Steeples is a writer and marketing consultant. He conceived The Steeple Times as a media arena to fill the void between the Mail Online, The Huffington Post and such organs as the New York Social Diary in 2012.

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