One of a pair of wireless cloisonné enamel vases.

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At the top end are such pieces as the exquisite cloisonné enamel vases by Namikawa Sosuke (even when brand new these sold in Japan for the price of a house), Yabu Meizan's intricately detailed Satsuma porcelain and the fabulously worked Miyao bronzes. At the other end of the price scale are the pedestrian enamels, bronzes, ivory and Satsuma produced in their thousands.

This pair of wireless cloisonné enamel vases, right, sat somewhere in between these extremes of craftsmanship.

Although they were not superlative quality nor signed by a celebrated Meiji period artist, neither were they a humdrum souvenir made for export to the West.

At the 977-lot sale held by P.F. Windibank (10% buyer's premium) in Dorking on December 4, more than one dealer spotted the quality of these technically accomplished examples of the enameller's art.

Entered with pre-sale hopes of £400-700, the 171/4in (44cm) high grey ground vases were decorated with a design of black, white and green birds emerging from bamboo. The bases were marked with Maltese crosses.

In perfect condition, they were contested by several London dealers in the room but sold to a New York dealer on the telephone at £4200.