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Two examples turned up for sale at the Liverpool rooms of Cato Crane (17.5% buyer’s premium) on April 5, having been entered by a local private vendor who had inherited them from the estate of a former Governor of Hong Kong.

Bristling with Western steam and sail trading ships that seemed to date the paintings to the mid-19th century, these unsigned canvases showed classic views of the mouth of the Pearl River, and Hong Kong harbour, pictured right. They measured 17in x 3ft 4in (43 x 1.01m) and 17in x 2ft 6 1/2in (43 x 89cm) and were presented in what appeared to be contemporary ebonised frames.

Both canvases had been relined within the last two or three decades and, according to the auctioneers, they could have benefited from
further attention from a specialist restorer.

Although all broadly similar in style, China Trade paintings can vary dramatically in price according to size, condition, quality of execution and the amount of anecdotal detail on show. The £9500 bid by a London dealer for the view of the Pearl River and the £10,000 bid by a London-based private buyer for the Hong Kong picture were broadly in line with the sort of prices which reasonable, if not exceptional, examples have been making at auction in the last two or three years.