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Due to the sheer size, many collapsed in the kiln and were discarded or destroyed. This example standing 19in (48cm) high somehow survived the rigorous quality control at the Jingdezhen kilns despite having slumped in the kiln during the firing process.

It came for sale at Roseberys (25% buyer’s premium) in London on November 9 from the family collection of Maurice Collis (1889-1973) and made the shortlist for the Outstanding East Asian Work of Art from an Auction House during Asian Art in London.

But what was its commercial value? It was given a guide of £15,000-25,000 (a fraction of the value of a similar flask that had fired correctly) but met only muted interest before selling at £14,000.