A Chinese vase bought for just one pound in a charity shop has sold for a staggering £484,000 (U.S. $487,955) on Nov. 8 after it emerged that it was made for an 18th-century emperor. One pound sterling currently equals roughly 1.28 U.S. dollars.
Chinese Vase Purchased For One Pound In U.K. Charity Shop Sells For L484,000 ($487,955)
Sworders Sold Vase In Essex On Nov. 8
The lucky shopper, unaware of its significance, listed the small yellow vase on eBay only to be inundated with messages and bids, and quickly removed it from the site and took it to Sworders Fine Art Auctioneers' in Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex.
The auction house studied the 8-inch-tall vase and identified it as being Chinese imperial and made for the Qianlong Emperor, who reigned from 1735 to 1796.
The Qianlong famille rose vase is marked with a symbol that meant it wasn't for export, but for one of the emperor's palaces. It is inscribed with an imperial poem that praises incense and two iron-red seal marks that read, Qianlong chen han, or, The Qianlong Emperor's own mark. It also reads, Weijing weiyi, which translates to Be precise, be undivided.
The pear-shaped vase is designed to be attached to a wall, with a flat back and floral decoration on the front. Its yellow color is significant, as this was a special color reserved for the emperor.
The unnamed consignor spotted it on sale for one pound in a charity shop in Hertfordshire.
The successful Chinese buyer bid a hammer price of £380,000, with extra fees taking the overall figure paid to £484,000.
"He (the consignor) was unaware of its significance, so he put it on eBay with a very low starting price to begin with, and there was a lot of interest, said Yexue Li, head of the Asian art department at Sworders. "He decided to take the vase off eBay and brought it in to us to take a look. He was shocked and very excited when we explained its importance. The vase is special because it comes with the inscription by the Qianlong Emperor, and he must have commissioned this vase. The enamel on the vase is special because it uses yangcai (foreign) enamels on a yellow ground. It's a high quality vase because it was court commissioned, so it would have been of a high value when it was made, continued Li.
"This has been the perfect auction story: a bargain find, a culturally important and beautiful work of art and a life changing sum of money for the vendor. He is understandably ecstatic," furthered Li.
The Qianlong Emperor was the sixth emperor of the Qing dynasty. He abdicated in favor of his son, the Jiaqing Emperor, and died three years later at age 87 in 1799.
For more information, visit www.sworder.co.uk.