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A large ru-type brush washer, with an integral porcelain stand glazed to simulate zitan from the pioneering years of the emperor Yongzheng (1723-35), sold at £280,000 (estimate £20,000-30,000) to lead the Woolley & Wallis sale on May 22. From an English private collection, it carried a paper label for W Dickinson, 104 New Bond Street, a dealer trading in London until 1921.

The brush washer attracted 20 phone bidders. The sale total was £3.8m on the day.

Sold in Salisbury at £135,000 (estimate £30,000-50,000) was an imperial dark blue ground zhadou from the family of Professor J Norman Collie, FRS (1859-1942) while there was strong bidding for a group of Qianlong (1735-95) period Beijing glass bottle vases consigned by a descendant of Leonard Henry Pike (1885-1961). A 5in (12.5cm) example in yellow glass with a faceted octagonal body and a four character mark took £74,000.

Valuation day find

Duke’s sale in Dorchester on May 21 included a spectacular charity valuation day find. An early Ming (Hongwu) Jun ware narcissus bowl was incised with a number one and carried a label for the George Eumorfopoulos (1863-1939) collection.

After the Merseyside-born collector died, the 14th century bowl was bought by collector ACJ Wall, and had then passed by descent. It will now return to China after a private collector flew in for the sale, bidding £240,000. The sellers plan to use their windfall to help their children buy a house.

“It is proof of the gains still to be made in this market as mainland Chinese collecting tastes evolve

A small but beautifully cast and inscribed Sino-Tibetan bronze of the celestial buddha Vairocana had been chosen as the catalogue front cover illustration for Duke’s sale. Although modestly estimated at £2000-4000, it generated enormous interest at a London viewing and sold at £180,000.

A pair of lemon yellow Yongzheng mark and period bowls from a titled gentleman took £65,000 at Roseberys on May 21. Then at Dreweatts on May 22 a large Cantonese ivory ‘cockade’ brise fan c.1810 was pursued to a multi-estimate £23,000.

Lyon & Turnbull had been first to the rostrum on May 16 when the most eagerly contested lot was an unusual 19th century famille rose ‘lotus’ vase painted in imitation of cloisonné that sold at £160,000. It came by direct family descent from the collection of the late William Crawford Gray (d.1918), the widely travelled founder of Gray’s Carpets in Ayr, Scotland.

The May 17 sale at Bonhams Bond Street provided the one seven-figure lot across the May Asian series. A monumental 15th century ritual butter lamp, cast with the six-character imperial reign mark of the Jingtai emperor (1449-57), which had a provenance to Spink & Son in the 1960s, took £1.1m.

The unexpected star of Christie’s sale on May 15 was a pair of huanghuali yokeback armchairs – catalogued as 19th century but thought to be Ming – which were estimated at £15,000-20,000 but sold at £420,000. At Sotheby’s the following day an elegant Jin dynasty (1115-1234) pear-shaped vase from the Yaozhou kilns led with a 10-time-estimate bid of £650,000.

Proof of the spectacular gains still to be made in this market as mainland Chinese collecting tastes evolve, it had sold for £12,000 in the same rooms as part of the Muwen Tang Collection in 2003.