If you fill the cup to the top, taking more than your share, the liquid will drain onto your lap through a hole in the bottom. If you only fill the cup half full you can drink normally. The Chinese name Gong Dao Bei means ‘don’t be greedy’ or ‘fairness’ cup.
The earliest cups of this type were made during the Song dynasty (960-1279) but most are from the mid to late Qing period. This example, probably 19th century, is decorated in famille rose enamels and centred by the figure of a sage.
Offered at Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood (23% buyer’s premium) in Exeter on July 13 with a guide of just £50-80, it took £3100.