Chinese vase sold for almost £1m
A small Chinese vase that was valued at £10,000 to £15,000 has sold at auction - for almost £1 million.
The extremely rare 18th Century ornament, made for a Chinese emperor, was brought to Britain by the seller's family more than a century ago.
Despite it standing just 20cm (eight inches) high, an anonymous telephone buyer from China paid around 100 times its estimated value when it went under the hammer at Tennants' auction rooms in Leyburn, North Yorkshire.
Tennants' associate director Nigel Smith said the blue and white bottle vase, made for the Qianlong Emperor around 1730, was put up for sale by an academic who lives in Oxford. He said its auction room success was down to its rarity and exclusivity as very few were ever produced.
Mr Smith added: "It really is a museum-quality piece and these things very rarely come on the market. It's come down through the family - one of their relatives was a diplomat in China in the 1880s and was given it as a gift."
He said the unnamed owner had contacted auctioneers after learning that a similar item had sold for £2.6 million last year.
Mr Smith said he was shocked at the £950,000 it made during the Spring Fine Art Sale, adding: "Despite the low valuation, we expected it to fetch in excess of half a million but we were very pleased with the result. I haven't spoken to the vendor but I expect he's rather happy too."
The seller's grandmother, Lady Ethel Margaret Stronge, left the vase to his mother Mrs Rose Ethel Richardson of Tynan Abbey, County Armagh, Northern Ireland, who gave it to her son.
Lady Ethel Margaret married Sir Francis Stronge who joined the diplomatic service in London in 1879 and served in Peking in the same year. He went on to serve in the Supreme Court in Shanghai in 1885 before working in Central America from 1897 to 1907.
The seller was one of many people who sent Tennants pictures of heirlooms after a slightly older Chinese vase made £2.6m in a Tennants sale in November, the auction house said. The blue and white bottle vase had been kept in a house in North Yorkshire for 45 years and the owner had no idea it was valuable. But the antique was discovered by Rodney Tennant, from Tennants Auctioneers, during a routine house call to value the contents and it sold to a bidder in Hong Kong.