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It was, however, recognised as a fine example of Kangxi (1661-1722) mark and period blue and white by Toovey's who chose it as the catalogue cover image for their mammoth three-day sale of May 24-26. The Washington, West Sussex auctioneers were generous with their estimate (£1200-1800) but bidding between two London dealers, one on the telephone and one in the room, saw the brush pot sell to the phone at £32,000 (plus 17.5 per cent buyer's premium).

The 38 lines of text in regular blue script, culminating in a four-character mark, are the verses of an imperial ode.

Bonhams & Butterfields of San Francisco have a similar object for sale on June 21 estimated at $8000-12,000.