A set of three Chinese bowls bought for just £3 ($4) achieved a combined £62,000 ($83,894) at Hansons Auctioneers in a recent sale.
The father of the consignor acquired each of the pieces at flea markets and antique stores during the 1950s and 1960s.
The bowls sold for a combined $84,000 at Hansons
She said: “My father was a great collector of Chinese pottery but the most he paid for anything was £1.
“He used to find pieces in junk shops when he was working in Hyson Green in Nottingham in the 1950s or 60s.
“My mother thought he was wasting his money so he used to smuggle his finds in the house by tucking them inside his coat.
“When he died in the 1960s he had more than 50 pieces and I sold some of them off then. I had the Chinese bowls valued in 1968 and was told all three were worth £75. I thought that was an exorbitant amount then but decided not to sell them – I’m so glad I did.”
A lot of valuable Chinese antiques ended up in the UK in the aftermath of the opium wars, when China was forcibly opened up to trade with the west.
In recent years, newly wealthy Chinese buyers have made it a point of pride to buy back their heritage.
This has resulted in big surprises at smaller auction houses across the UK, as Chinese experts scan online sales in the hope of finding forgotten treasure.
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