Box of pottery sells for £112,000 as it dates back to Ming Dynasty

Cardboard box full of old pottery believed to be worth just £30 sells for £112,000 after it turned out to be Chinese Ming Dynasty porcelain

  •  Antique Chinese dishes sold for £112,000 after collecting dust for 40 years 

A cardboard box full of old pottery thought to be worth £30 has sold for a staggering £112,000 after it emerged some items were rare Chinese ceramics dating back to the 16th century Ming Dynasty. 

The vendor, a 67-year-old retired computer engineer, gathered plates, bowls and dishes that had been displayed for 40 years in his late mother’s home in Etwall, near Derby.

He took them into his local auctioneers after she passed away last year and was completely unaware the box contained the valuable Chinese pieces.

Once the secret was out, the collection sparked a bidding war at Hansons Auctioneers, with some lots selling for 13 times their estimate.

The marquee lot was a set of four small Ming dynasty porcelain and dragon dishes with the six character marks of the Wanli Emperor (1573-1620) which sold for £63,000 after being valued at just £6,000. After the added buyer’s premium, £81,900 was paid for the set.

The unassuming box of antiques had been gathering dust in a Derby home for 40 years 

Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons Auctioneers, spotted the potential of the 16th century Chinese haul 

An early 19th century Imperial porcelain yellow medallion bowl sold for £14,500, while an Imperial porcelain pink medallion bowl went for £8,800.

Hansons said with the buyer’s premium, the three lots made a total of £112,190. 

The vendor said his mother had been given the antiques by a Rolls-Royce engineer she looked after who lived locally.

He said he had considered taking them to a charity shop before deciding to show them to the auctioneers.

He will split the proceeds of the sale between himself, his brother and sister, spending his share on a special holiday for him and his wife.

He said: ‘I thought they might fetch a bit of money but didn’t think they would be worth much.

‘I took them along to Hansons Auctioneers for valuation and consigned them into auction expecting them to make around £30-£50.

‘But later on I got a call from Hansons to say some of the Chinese ceramics in the box were worth more.

‘They planned to put them into a different sale with estimates of £4,000-£6,000. I thought, brilliant! I was pleased with that.

‘What happened next was unbelievable. I watched the auction live online and the prices kept rocketing. I was shouting at the computer.

‘My sister was watching live online from Australia and we were texting each other.

‘We just couldn’t believe what was happening.’

According to the vendor, the fact that the dishes were so valuable was unknown to all his family – including his mother.

He continued: ‘I grew up being surrounded by plates and dishes. Mum liked to display them on the walls.

‘She would have had no idea the dishes were valuable.

‘She inherited them from a chap she used to help to look after many years ago in Etwall, a former Rolls-Royce engineer.

‘They were given to her as a mark of gratitude.

‘They must have been on display in her home for 30 or 40 years.

‘I’d been clearing mum’s house and had considered taking the pots to a charity shop.

‘Oddly, the ones I thought might be valuable weren’t but the ones I thought weren’t worth much were.

‘I’m still recovering from the excitement of it all.

‘The proceeds will be split between myself, my brother and my sister. I think I’ll be treating my wife to a special holiday.’

A set of four 16th century Chinese Ming Dynasty wucai porcelain dragon and phoenix dishes sold for £63,000

This imperial porcelain yellow ground medallion bowl sold for £14,500 and dates back to the 1800s

Its pink companion also fetched a high price of £8,800

Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons Auctioneers, said: ‘I am absolutely delighted for this Etwall family.

‘I spotted the Chinese items in a cardboard box in our saleroom after they had been consigned to auction by one of our valuers.

‘They were originally destined for Hansons’ monthly antiques and collectors sale but I knew they were important.

‘They were validated by consultant valuer and Chinese ceramics expert Adam Schoon.

‘He said what made the four dishes which achieved £63,000 particularly special was the fact they’d remained together as a set.

‘They may have been used as altar pieces in a Chinese monastery or temple.

‘They probably came to England after the First or Second World War.

‘It was an unbelievable find and a tremendous result.

‘It’s wonderful to discover items like this on your doorstep.

‘This local find attracted worldwide interest, ten phone bidders and a superb result for our client.’

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