Cardboard box of pottery believed to be worth £30 sells for £112,000

A cardboard box full of old pottery believed to be worth £30 has been sold for a whooping £112,000 after it emerged some items were rare Chinese ceramics dating back to the 16th century Ming Dynasty. The vendor of the ceramic items is a 67-year-old retired computer engineer who had collected plates, bowls and dishes that had been displayed for 40 years in his late mother’s home in Etwall, near Derby.

The retired computer engineer took them into his local auctioneers after his mother 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.

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.”

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.

He continued: “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.”

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 his sister, spending his share on a special holiday for himself and his wife.

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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 altarpieces 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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