It came for sale by decent through ‘several generations’ of a New England family with an estimate of $5000-10,000. The auctioneers were reluctant to commit to a date beyond ‘possibly 18th century’.
Only one other similar vase is known that shares both the early Ming style blue and white ‘heaping and piling’ decoration and the extraordinary mouth modelled in the form of a nine-petal lotus pod.
That example has sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong on three previous occasions – in 1990, 1997 and most recently in April 2011 when it took a hammer price of HK$19m (£1.9m).
Skinner’s vase, the same height at 13½in (33cm), attracted 16 bidders apparently convinced this was its pair at the auction on June 9.
With only some surface scratches to count against it (the largest a 3cm blemish to the left one of the lion masks) it sold for $1.33m (£1.02m) – just over £1.6m once the 25/20% buyer’s premium was added.