A tiny porcelain jar bought in 1946 for just £9 10 shillings has just been sold at auction for an astonishing £1 million with fees.
The rare Chinese imperial doucai jar was expected to fetch around £100,000-£200,000 but went four times above that when it was hammered down at £820,000 plus a 25% buyers premium.
The four-inch jar is painted in underglaze blue with two winged dragons, known as Yinglong, in-flight amongst scrolling clouds. A band of scalloped lappets to the shoulder and foot were embellished with doucai enamels and it still bears the paper label on the base from where it was purchased in May 1946.
The jar is not only very rare but also very desirable, drawing attention and bids from as far afield as China, Hong Kong and Japan. The item is from the Yongzheng period, one which is particularly desirable at the moment and this helps to explain why it garnered so much attention.
As astounding as this story is so far, there is also an interesting backstory behind the sale as the value of the jar was only discovered when it’s owners decided to have some of their antiques assessed by an expert as they sought to raise cash to pay for some recent flood damage.
The jar was spotted in a room being used for storage and then taken to a Chinese antique specialist who identified it as an incredibly rare ‘heaven’ jar which dates back almost 300 years to sometime between 1723 and 1735.
The jar itself is actually a replica of a jar from the 15th century and was reproduced under command of the imperial palace almost 300 years later, however, very few exist today with three comparable pieces in Asian museums as well as a one in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.