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It was typically finely potted and exquisitely painted with a ring of camellias, and to the underside with three groups of shippo, but it had been damaged, with two shallow chips to the rim and, crucially, a chunk out of the foot ring which had interrupted the delicate comb designs painted there.

The auctioneer called up leading expert in Japanese ceramics Oliver Impey, formerly of Sotheby’s, now with the Ashmolean, who said the dish was quite a late production in Nabeshima terms, perhaps early 19th century, but more of a problem was deciding how much value the damage had knocked of this piece.

The auctioneer settled for a safe estimate of £200-300 and the dish eventually brought £5200 but one specialist said after the sale that “it could have lost 90 per cent of its original value”.