The earlier of the two vases was a Transitional piece – made in the era (1620-83) when court patronage of the porcelain factory at Jingdezhen all but dried up. Instead, ceramics were made for merchants, scholars and for export with production far more diverse than during ‘imperial’ times.
This 15in (38cm) high bottle vase decorated with officials in conversation to the body and stylised tulips to the ‘garlic bulb’ neck had been found by Charles Hanson in the bedroom of a two-up, two-down house in Mansfield.
The seller said it had been given to his father when he was working as a chauffeur in the 1950s. Initially dismissed as a later copy, it was first entered to a general sale in March with a guide of £40-60 but pulled after a deluge of commission bids.
“Despite my initial gut instinct, I made a mistake,” said Hanson. “I decided it was repro. But when the auction catalogue went live, extraordinary bids started to come. I withdrew it from sale to get a second opinion.”
With a new catalogue description dating the vase to c.1640 and a new estimate of £2000-3000, it sold to a commission bidder from China against two phone bidders at £15,000.
Enter the dragons
Very much a piece made for the Qing court was a 11in (27cm) blue and white ‘nine’ dragon bottle vase. Although similar to others made in the Qianlong (1735-96) period, this example has a Jiaqing (1796-1820) mark.
In good condition this would have comfortably brought six figures but it was broken in several places and had a long arching crack running from near to the foot across the body.
Nonetheless, in the same family since the 1880s, it improved on a guide of £3000-5000 to bring £46,000. It also sold to a buyer in China.