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The 181/2in (47cm) high Qianlong cloisonné vase sold by Potburys for £31,000.

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Although catalogued as 19th century, it was recognised by specialists who viewed it as a handsome survivor from the reign of the emperor Qianlong (1735-1795), albeit with one of the ram's head handles reattached.

Bidding on February 19 came down to two combatants: a London dealer in the room and one of seven bidders on the phone, a London Asian specialist who won it at £31,000 (plus 14 per cent buyer's premium).