Dating antique furniture legs
It is thought to have left its rightful royal home towards the end of the 19th century, in a period of widespread looting and theft.By the 1930s, however, China was going through a depression and great change.Only last month, another porcelain vase was sold in Hong Kong for £18.2million – at the time a world record.Now that milestone has been dramatically overtaken.‘I realised the quality was fantastic, and assumed it was a very high quality copy.’ He began to look in libraries and at other works from the same period, a research quest that eventually took him six weeks.He and the auction house thus set their estimate of its value at £800,000 to £1.2million, hoping it might rise to a few million with luck.But one item, sitting on a plastic shelf at Bainbridge’s when their consultant valuer came in, had been removed from the house sale.Luan Grocholski, an expert in ceramics who worked for Sotheby’s, caught only a glimpse of the vase in the stockroom – but it was enough to set his pulse racing.‘I saw and just thought it couldn’t be true,’ he said.
Today it forms the centrepiece of a tale that involves an auction house more used to selling £500 mahogany armchairs than something which reaps an £8.6million commission (not including VAT); a breathtakingly inaccurate estimate of what it might fetch; and a gloriously comic Del Boy moment when – just like the auction scene in one Only Fools And Horses Christmas special – the son had to go outside ‘for a breath of fresh air’ when it became clear they had been unwittingly sitting on a fortune.
The sale represents a remarkable triumph for auctioneer Peter Bainbridge.
Based in the West London suburb of Ruislip, his firm usually deals in items below the £500 mark and I have to admit that I had not heard of the company until this week.
The Mail has discovered that the explorer uncle spent the inter-war years of the 1920s and 1930s travelling the world and left it to the family with a remarkable collection of mementoes, maps, antique travel books and ornaments.
The vase, fired in the Imperial kilns and marked with the Imperial seal, was made for the Emperor by a master craftsman.