Lawrences' Chinese vase
The altar vase that was estimated at £1200-1500 at Lawrences but sold for £252,000 after bidders believed it was specially commissioned by the Qing court.

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The vase came to auction from the descendent of a solicitor who worked in Shanghai in the early 20th century. It had been in the UK since the 1930s and had spent 30 years on the Wiltshire vendor’s mantelpiece.

Standing 10.25in (26cm) high, the vase is finely decorated in famille rose enamels with the Bajixiang, the Eight Buddhist Emblems, divided by lotus heads and scrolls.

Vessels of this type were used throughout the reign of the Qianlong emperor but this example, which carries an iron red six character seal for his successor, the fifth Qing emperor Jaiqing (1796-1820).

Lawrences' Chinese vase

The iron red six character seal for the fifth Qing emperor Jaiqing (1796-1820) which appeared on the base of the vase at Lawrences.

Not all vessels of this type are of the period and Lawrences chose to cautiously catalogue this well-preserved example as ‘Republican period’ and gave it an estimate of £1200-1500. However, there was a consensus it was ‘right’ and multiple bidders were content to pursue it into six figures.

At the auction on January 19, it dramatically overshot its presale guide and the bidding came down to a contest between a prominent Hong Kong dealership and a well-known London dealer. It was eventually knocked down to the former at £252,000.

The buyer’s premium was 22%.