A Chinese vase has sold for over £300,000 at auction, despite being a twentieth-century copy.
Initially valued at £1,500, the Chinese Tibetan style enamelled temple vase depicts the eight Buddhist treasures on a white background, surrounded by scrolling flowers.
It looks like a vase from the Jiaqing period, between 1796 and 1820, and has a red seal on the base, indicating that this is the case. However, it's believed to have actually been made as a copy in the Republic Period of the early 20th century.
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The vase was bought in Shanghai soon after it was made, by a British solicitor who was working there. It stayed in the family since, sitting on a mantelpiece in Wiltshire, until the two brothers who owned it decided to sell.
Auctioneers Lawrences of Crewkerne gave the vase a guide price of £1,200 to £1,500. But after strong interest from buyers in the Far East, it finally sold for an astonishing £252,000, with premiums and VAT bringing the final figure up to £307,000.
"It has been on a mantelpiece for 30 years. We knew it would do well but we didn't know how well so we were pleasantly surprised. As was the vendor," Neil Grenyer, director of furniture and ceramics at Lawrences tells Somerset Live.
The market for Chinese ceramics has been booming, driven by wealthy Far Eastern buyers. Last year, Chinese art accounted for 30% of the world's auction sales.
As a result, many sellers have been pleasantly surprised by how much their neglected piece of pottery is actually worth.
In 2014, for example, a large, eighteenth-century pot that had been being used as a doorstop sold for £150,000; and this time last year, an old vase unearthed in a Devon attic sold to a buyer in Hong Kong for £488,000.
Late last year, a Chinese hat-stand that had been converted into a lamp made £540,000. And just weeks later, a tiny pot measuring just four inches tall sold for almost £1 million after huge interest from China, Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan.
Of course, most Chinese-style ceramics are worth little or nothing - but it's always worth getting things checked out. A local auction house is probably the best place to start.