Saturday 10 December 2016

Set of china bought by farmer expected to fetch €25m at auction

Rare Chinese antiques that a farmer paid as little as £100 per item for expected to make his heirs a €25 million fortune

Published 05/02/2016 | 07:49

This rare Blue and White Palace Bowl that is just 15.4cm is estimated at £6 million. Photo: Sotheby's
This rare Blue and White Palace Bowl that is just 15.4cm is estimated at £6 million. Photo: Sotheby's
Rare Blue and White Ritual Holy Water Vessel
Ming master: Portrait of Yang Hong (1381-1451), ink on silk (detail) Photo: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C
Rare Blue and White Moonflask

A collection of Chinese antiques that a farmer paid as little as £100 per item for is expected to make his family a €25 million fortune when it sells at auction.

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The late Roger Pilkington accumulated about 100 pieces of exquisite Chinese ceramics in the late 1950s and early 60s

Ming master: Portrait of Yang Hong (1381-1451), ink on silk (detail) Photo: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C
Ming master: Portrait of Yang Hong (1381-1451), ink on silk (detail) Photo: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C

Over a single decade, Mr Pilkington acquired a millennium's worth of Chinese ceramics, from the Tang, Song, Ming and Qing dynasties of China, which spanned from 618 to 1912.

The prices he paid for each piece varied from sums of £100 (€3,894 today) to £5,000 (€181,811 today) for higher end items.

The value of Asian antiques has shot up in recent years as the newly-rich Chinese set about buying back their heritage which was taken out of the Far East by westerners in the 19th century.

Mr Pilkington died in 1969 aged just 40. His 'time capsule' collection has remained in his family ever since and are now to be sold by them at auctioneers Sotheby's.

Rare Blue and White Moonflask
Rare Blue and White Moonflask

Leading the sale is a 15th century Chenghua Blue and White 'Palace Bowl' that was made for an Emperor in the Ming dynasty and is estimated to sell for up to €7.7million alone.

The bowl is so rare that many of the world's greatest collections in museum lack an example.

This particular bowl is unique because it is decorated with a larger number of melons than is usual, according to the auctioneers.

Another key item is a 15th century Blue and White Ritual Holy Water Vessel from the Yongle period valued at up to £4 million, which would have been used during ceremonial occasions.

The vessel is so rare that there are only two companion pieces in the world, one housed in the Palace Museum, Beijing.

Other highlights of the collection include another 15th century Yongle piece - a Blue and White Moonflask, valued at £3 million and an 'exceptional and rare' Incised White-Glazed Vase at £80,000.

The spherical moonflask was inspired by Middle Eastern models, both in shape and decoration, and is reflective of the then great trade links between China and the Middle East.

Nicolas Chow, deputy chairman of Sotheby's Asia, said: "The Pilkington Collection contains extraordinarily rare items, of a kind seldom seen together on the market.

This time capsule captures a seminal moment in the history of collecting when connoisseurship in the field reached new heights of sophistication, and when collectors' appetites for the very best were serviced by a handful of brilliant dealers.

"The sale is a rare opportunity for today's collectors to discover exquisite treasures assembled by one of the most discerning and exacting eyes in the history of collecting Chinese ceramics.

"We expect to see enormous enthusiasm for this landmark collection."

Mr Pilkington, who was educated at Eton and was part of a family who owned a well-known glass-making firm, is described as one of the 'most eminent and active' collectors of his time.

After working for the company in Lancashire glassmaker he moved with his wife, Maureen, to Ford Farm in Aldbourne, Wilts, where he farmed. His primary interests were field sports - shooting and fishing - and racing.

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