Imperial Chinese ‘teapot’ found during lockdown fetches life-changing £390,000

A historic Chinese wine jug found in a Derbyshire garage during a lockdown clear-out has sold for £390,000 at auction.

Described as an important piece of cultural history, the 15cm teapot-shaped wine ewer attracted an opening bid of £100,000 and took just 11 minutes to sell for almost 10 times its original guide price.

Hansons Auctioneers had initially hoped the 18th century “treasure” would fetch between £20,000 and £40,000, before upping its pre-sale estimate to £150,000.

Imperial Chinese Teapot sale
Imperial Chinese Teapot sale

Experts at Hansons dated the jug, which they believe may have been handled by Chinese Emperor Qianlong, to the 18th century, after it was brought into the firm’s Etwall premises, near Derby, for a free valuation earlier this year.

The jug’s vendor, a semi-retired manual worker from Swadlincote, near Burton-on-Trent, has asked to remain anonymous, but has said it was brought back from the Far East by his grandfather during the Second World War.

They say fine things come in small packages . This humble pot sold for £390,000 today ! We made a memory for one happy vendor who so nearly deposited it at a charity shop !

— Charles Hanson (@HansonsAuctions) September 24, 2020

In a statement issued prior to the sale, the 51-year-old admitted he had considered sending the jug to a charity shop.

He said: “We believe it was brought back to England from China by my grandfather who was stationed in the Far East during the Second World War and was awarded a Burma Star.

“Mum passed away 17 years ago, then dad nine years ago and the teapot ended up in a loft in Newhall.

“Later it was boxed up and moved to a relative’s garage in Church Gresley.”

The owner added: “But then lockdown came along and I finally had time to go through the boxes in the garage.”

Imperial Chinese Teapot sale
Imperial Chinese Teapot sale

The winning bidder was not named during the auction on Thursday, but Hansons’ owner, Charles Hanson, said the sum received would be potentially life-changing for the seller.

Eight phone bidders from around the world, including China and America, battled to own the item which was eventually secured by a London buyer.

Speaking after a telephone bidder declined to up the bidding to £400,000, Mr Hanson told those present in the sale room: “A wonderful result and congratulations to the vendor.

“What a find, destined for a charity shop and destined to not be noticed, and destined now to make national news.”

Mr Hanson added: “I am absolutely delighted for our vendor.

“When objects achieve results like this, it’s a potentially life-changing sum for their owners.

“This is one of the most important objects I’ve ever had the privilege of selling.

“It has to be the best lockdown find ever.”

In a post-auction statement issued through Hansons, the seller said: “This will change a few things for us all.

“It’s come at a really good time.

“I sat and watched the auction live at home with my brother and family.

“It was tense.

“I got a few cans of Guinness in beforehand.

“We’ll be going for a drink tonight and toasting grandad.”