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It came for sale from a deceased estate of a noble family in Leicestershire.

Vessels such as this, decorated in the yangcai (Western colours) palette were among the favourite pieces of the Qianlong emperor, who considered them the great achievements of the imperial kilns during his reign.

The enamels are applied with remarkable precision and detail, evident in the careful shading to the scrolling foliage and the seven symbols of good fortune that give this vase additional appeal. To the turquoise-glazed base is an iron-red six-character seal mark.

Bidding Levels

Six phones competed for the piece which – in the belief that the vase was “probably of the period” – carried an estimate of £30,000-50,000 at the auction on December 15.

Bidding began at £20,000 with the price steadily rising until it jumped in irregular increments from £70,000 to £100,000 and then again from £160,000 to £200,000 and from £250,000 to £300,000.

After a contest lasting seven minutes, the hammer eventually fell to one of the phones, a UK agent bidding for a Chinese buyer.

The price is the highest achieved in a UK regional saleroom during 2015 – and almost 12 months to the day since Toovey’s in West Sussex sold a damaged Qianlong ‘poem’ vase for £520,000, the highest price of 2014.

Hansons’ previous house record was set in 2011 for a famille rose vase from the Daoguang period (1821-50) sold for £192,000.

The buyer’s premium was 17.5%.