Qianlong period teapot
An early Qianlong period Beijing enamel teapot – £1.7m at Bonhams.

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A white glove event on November 2 that nearly quadrupled its pre-sale estimate, it contributed £7.9m to Bonhams’ three-sale premium-inclusive total of £13.8m.

Proof once more of the allure of market fresh goods, the collection of Imperial enamel, lacquer, porcelain and jades was formed by Mr and Mrs EA Parry through the London dealers Spink and Bluetts from as early as 1919 and kept within the family for three generations.

Six of the pieces in the collection were included in the International Exhibition of Chinese Art, held in 1935-36 at Royal Academy of Arts, among them an early Qianlong period Beijing enamel teapot and cover decorated with landscapes, flowers, butterflies and insects on a dappled light-blue ground. It received the 2021 Antiques Trade Gazette award for the Outstanding East Asian Work of Art from an Auction House during Asian Art in London.

Several related Beijing enamel tea or wine pots of a simpler curving rectangular form with floral designs are known: one sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in April 2010 for a premium-inclusive HK$9.62m (£1m), while another found by Derbyshire firm Hansons sold for £390,000 in September 2020.

However, bought by Mrs Parry at Spink on September 30, 1925, this is one of only three melon form teapots extant, the other two in museum collections (the Palace Museum, Taipei and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City). Records from the imperial workshops mention a single enamel melon-form teapot made in 1738 and two made in 1740. It was estimated at £500,000-800,000, but sold at £1.7m (over £2m including buyer’s premium).

There was remarkable competition too for a 5in (13cm) Qianlong mark jadeite censer and cover. Worked in an apple green and translucent frost-white stone, it was finely carved in the form of an ancient bronze ritual food vessels (fangding). Although catalogued as late Qing and guided at £60,000-80,000, it took £1m.