Tiny 15cm Chinese ‘teapot’ found during lockdown sells for £390,000


Tiny 15cm Chinese ‘teapot’ found during a garage clear-out in lockdown sells for £390,000

  • An 18th century Qianlong-era Chinese wine jug was found at a home in Derby
  • It is one of four in existence and sold for almost 10 times its original guide price
  • The jug’s says it was brought back from the Far East by his grandfather in WWII

A tiny Chinese ‘tea pot’ found during lockdown in a garage clear-out has sold for £390,000 at auction.  

The historic peony-patterned jug, believed to be one of four in existence, was destined for a charity shop after gathering dust in a Derbyshire home.

Measuring just 15cm, the teapot-shaped wine ewer attracted an opening bid of £100,000 and took just 11 minutes to sell for almost 10 times its original guide price. 

Hansons Auctioneers had initially hoped the 18th century ‘treasure’ would fetch between £20,000 and £40,000, before upping its pre-sale estimate to £150,000.

A tiny 15cm Chinese ‘tea pot’ found during lockdown in a garage clear-out has fetched £390,000 at auction in Derbyshire

Experts at Hansons dated the jug, which they believe may have been handled by Chinese Emperor Qianlong, to the 18th century, after it was brought into the firm’s Etwall premises, near Derby, for a free valuation earlier this year.

The jug’s vendor, a semi-retired manual worker from Swadlincote, near Burton-on-Trent, believes it was brought back from the Far East by his grandfather during the Second World War.

The 51-year-old admitted he had considered sending the jug to a charity shop.

He said: ‘We believe it was brought back to England from China by my grandfather who was stationed in the Far East during the Second World War and was awarded a Burma Star.

Hansons' owner Charles Hanson said the sum received would be potentially life-changing

Hansons’ owner Charles Hanson said the sum received would be potentially life-changing

‘Mum passed away 17 years ago, then dad nine years ago and the teapot ended up in a loft in Newhall. Later it was boxed up and moved to a relative’s garage in Church Gresley.’

The owner added: ‘But then lockdown came along and I finally had time to go through the boxes in the garage.’

The winning bidder was not named during the auction on Thursday, but Hansons’ owner Charles Hanson said the £390,000 would be potentially life-changing.

Experts at Hansons dated the jug, which they believe may have been handled by Chinese Emperor Qianlong

Experts at Hansons dated the jug, which they believe may have been handled by Chinese Emperor Qianlong

Eight phone bidders from around the world, including China and America, battled to own the item which was eventually secured by a London buyer.

Speaking after a telephone bidder declined to up the bidding to £400,000, Mr Hanson told those present in the sale room: ‘A wonderful result and congratulations to the vendor.

‘What a find, destined for a charity shop and destined to not be noticed, and destined now to make national news.’

The historic peony-patterned jug, believed to be one of four in existence, was destined for a charity shop after gathering dust in a Derbyshire home

The historic peony-patterned jug, believed to be one of four in existence, was destined for a charity shop after gathering dust in a Derbyshire home

Mr Hanson added: ‘I am absolutely delighted for our vendor. When objects achieve results like this, it’s a potentially life-changing sum for their owners.

‘This is one of the most important objects I’ve ever had the privilege of selling. It has to be the best lockdown find ever.’

In a post-auction statement issued through Hansons, the seller said: ‘This will change a few things for us all. It’s come at a really good time.

‘I sat and watched the auction live at home with my brother and family. It was tense. I got a few cans of Guinness in beforehand. We’ll be going for a drink tonight and toasting grandad.’

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