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Two exceptional example of European vernacular crafts generated strong sums at Chorley’s (22.5% buyer’s premium) 982-lot Asian Art, Antiques & Ceramics sale at Prinknash Abbey on July 22-23.

The milliner’s dummy in its most basic form is a block of wood used to mould fabric when making a hat.

It was a simple leap to use these in the shop window as well as in the workshop – painting the ‘head’ with hair, facial features and clothing.

Some of the best of these were made in France in the early 19th century.

The 16in (40cm) example here, carved in pine and painted as a woman with black parted hair and a polka dot dress, was bursting with folk art charm and showed only expected wear. Against a £300-500 estimate it sold to a London dealer at £7500.

Early slipwares remain fashionable on both sides of the Atlantic. At Chorley’s a large 16½in (42cm) diameter shallow dish with piecrust edge – probably from the middle years of the 18th century – went to an American dealer at £4000, double the top estimate.

Its abstract swipes of cream slip were key to its appeal as was the good condition – perfect save two small chips to the underside of the rim.

G, D or Ye


Pair of Kangxi bottle vases – £14,000 at Chorley’s.

Leading this Gloucestershire sale was a pair of 8in (20cm) tall Kangxi (1661-1722) bottle vases.

In good condition bar a few scattered firing holes, each bore a mark G. Alongside the reign marks introduced in 1678, a wide range of marks appear on Kangxi era porcelain (hundreds have been identified) but this Latin letter is a curiosity.

Cataloguer Thomas Jenner-Fust speculated it was the initial of a Westerner who commissioned them, perhaps an erroneously copied D for Delftware or even (viewed from a different angle) the Perso-Arabic letter Ye, indicating a Persian or Mughal patron.

Whatever it represented, the same mark appeared on a similar pair of vases which took $9500 two years ago at Sotheby’s New York sale of the Leiber collection. The Prinknash Abbey pair was pitched at a tempting £1000-1500 and was bought by the London trade at£14,000.

Drum dropper


A c.1680 kakiemon water dropper – £8500 at Chorley’s.

Much Japanese porcelain of the same period is sold relatively cheaply although the kakiemon wares remain an exception.

Included in this sale was a c.1680 kakiemon water dropper modelled as a boy sitting on a drum. Similar examples are known in a number of major collections: this one had some condition issues but against a £1500- 2000 estimate went to the London trade at £8500.

A 6¼in (16cm) diameter Song dynasty white glazed dish went just above hopes at £4500 while a 6ft 6in (2m) tall four-panel screen set with 19th century blue and white porcelain plaques doubled the lower estimate, selling a private Chinese bidder at £5000.


Chinese export bureau bookcase – £7000 at Chorley’s.

Going way above hopes was a hardwood – possibly huanghuali – bureau bookcase, probably made for export in Canton in the 19th century.

Pitched at £1000-1500, it sold to a Canadian Chinese private buyer at £7000 – nearly 10 times the price of its English-made equivalent. Underlining the long fall in value of decent Georgian furniture, a George IV mahogany and inlaid secretaire bookcase went just above hopes to a UK private bidder at £750.