Tiny Chinese pot sells for almost £1 million

The Heaven jar

A small pot bought for less than a tenner has just sold at auction for nearly £1 million.

The four-inch-tall porcelain jar was given to the vendor's parents as a present in 1946, having been bought from a London antique shop for £9 10s – around £350 in today's money.

It then sat gathering dust on a shelf in a storage room in the owner's house in northern England.

However, when the owners' home suffered flood damage last year, they decided to try and raise some cash for repairs. A local antique dealer spotted the jar as potentially valuable and advised calling in an expert.

And when Asian art specialist John Axford of auctioneer Woolley and Wallis saw it, he identified it as an incredibly rare Chinese Heaven jar.

Nearly three hundred years old, the jar was one of several made for Emperor Yongzheng of the Qing Dynasty. It's painted in green and blue with two scaly winged dragons in flight amongst scrolling clouds.

It's believed to be the best of its kind in the UK: even the one at London's Victoria and Albert Museum is rated as being of lower quality.
With a guide price of between £100,000 and £200,000, the jar ended up going for much more. The hammer price was £820,000, with buyers' fees bringing that up to £968,400.

"The vendors were very pleased with the result. My attention wasn't on them during the bidding but I saw them and spoke to them afterwards and they said they were off for a very good lunch," Mr Axford tells the Mirror.

"They originally didn't think it was worth anything it at all so to have lots of people from China, Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan getting excited about it was very surreal for them."

It's been the second time in a week that a disregarded piece of Chinese porcelain has sold for a fortune. As we reported, a 200-year-old Chinese hat stand used for years as a lamp base made £540,000.

While Chinese porcelain was for years undervalued, it's now hugely popular amongs wealthy far Eastern buyers - so it could be time to check out all that old crockery in the attic, perhaps.



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10 incredible auctions

The most expensive watch ever sold at auction fetched just under $24 million in November 2014. The gold pocket watch was made by Patek Philippe, and is the most complex ever made without the use of computer technology.

The Henry Graves Supercomplication was commissioned in 1925, and took eight years to make.

The world's most expensive stamp sold at auction in 2014 for over $9 million.

The British Guiana One-Cent Magenta is as rare as a stamp can get. British Guiana was one of the first countries in the New World to start issuing stamps, but in 1856, they ran out, and asked the local newspaper printer to produce extras.

There were two denominations: the four-cent, which is very rare, and the one-cent - of which only one has ever been discovered.

In May 2015, an anonymous London businesswoman snapped up the licence plate KR15 HNA for £233,000, making it the most expensive standard number plate ever to be sold in the UK.

Queen Victoria's bloomers sold at auction for £6,200, along with a pair of her silk stockings.

They have a 52-inch waist, and belonged to the monarch in the 1890s - "towards the end of her life when she had eaten a lot more than most people could afford to," said auctioneer Michael Hogben. In today's sizing, they'd be a size 26.

In 2014, a three-year-old slice of cake sold at auction for $7,500 (£4,800). The reason the stale cake was in such demand was that it was from the marriage of Prince William to Kate Middleton in 2011.

The buyer said he intended to give it away as part of promoting his Silicon Valley start-up.

A British coin sold at auction for a record-breaking £430,000 in 2014. After fees, the buyer paid £516,000 - making it the most expensive modern British coin ever to be sold.

The coin is only one of two in existence. It was a 'proof' for a gold sovereign which was meant to be produced to commemorate the coronation of Edward VIII in 1937. However, Edward abdicated in 1936, so the coronation never happened and the coins were never made

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