18th/19th Chinese gilt bronze Buddha – £6800 at Frank Marshall & Son.

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So much so, that Knutsford auctioneers Frank Marshall & Son have appointed Dr Eldon Worrall to oversee their expanding Chinese works of art department.

Dr Worrall, a consultant to museums and highly regarded writer, will have plenty of work on his hands judging by the entries into the 1350-lot Cheshire sale on July 3 and 4. Among them was the 18th/19th Chinese gilt bronze figure of a seated Buddha, shown here, which had been discovered by the auctioneers in a routine valuation on a free home visit in Altrincham.

Standing 9½in (24cm) high, it was the object of a fierce bidding war between Mainland China bidding online against British and European collectors in the room and on the phones before selling at £6800.

Online bidding has, of course, been another factor in the buoyant Chinese market.

At Knutsford, the 701 registered online bidders accounted for nearly 40% of the 1070 lots which got away, contributing £96,000 to the sale's £265,000 total.

Other Chinese items to sell well included a pair of Guangxu 'Lotus' cups, c.1908, at £3500, a Qianlong period 'Birthday' dish at £2650 a 19th century Cantonese garden seat (with a damaged base) at £2300 and an 18th/19th century porcelain jar and cover which was painted with dignitaries and attendants at £2200.

The buyer's premium was 17.5%.