Couple's vases sell for £500,000
A pair of vases left on a bedroom shelf have transformed a couple's retirement after selling for almost £500,000 at auction, it has been revealed.
The Qianlong dynasty porcelain pieces were a wedding present from the vendor's father in 1965, having passed down from his father before him.
Antiques expert Guy Schwinge spotted the 10in-high imperial vases on the bedroom shelf when he was invited to value a few other items at their home.
They smashed the pre-sale estimate of between £40,000 and £60,000 when a foreign bidder paid £482,000, including buyer's premium, on the telephone during the auction in Dorchester, Dorset, on Thursday.
Amy Brenan, a valuer from Duke's Auctioneers, which handled the sale, said: "Over the last three years Chinese ceramics have boomed in value. Mainland Chinese buyers are buying back pieces of their heritage and because the Chinese economy is booming they are boosting the auction trade."
Mr Schwinge, of Duke's, said desire for Qianlong porcelain is now greater than for ceramics of the Ming dynasty.
He added: "This pair may belong to a group of ritual wares that were specially commissioned by the Qing court for placement on Buddhist altars or for ceremonial use in palaces and temples.
"The inspiration for the form comes from Tibetan metalwares that were made as containers for storage of sacred water and used during ceremonies."
The highly decorated vases were probably made at the palace workshops during the mid 18th century and are a brightly coloured Tibetan style with the Vajixiang - eight Buddhist emblems - divided by lotus flowers.
Qianlong was the fifth emperor of the Manchu-led Qing Dynasty, and the fourth Qing emperor to rule over China proper. The fourth son of the Yongzheng Emperor, he reigned officially from October 11, 1736, to February 7, 1795.