Meiji incense burner sold for €12,000 (£10,435) at Hargesheimer auction.

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

The sides of the bronze vessel were covered with a myriad of gilt and silver cranes in relief, on the cover were more of the majestic birds in flight, while the handle was shaped as a crane perching on the stump of a tree.

The tsuru, as the crane is called in Japanese, is revered as a symbol of good luck and longevity. Legend has it that cranes can live for a thousand years.

At any rate, the bidding match in Dusseldorf was quite long and it certainly brought the consignor good luck. Starting at the moderate estimate of €1000, the auctioneer brought the hammer down at €12,000 (£10,435), at which point a German collector was able to see off his competitors.