$1.6m in a cardboard box ... another valuable Imperial Chinese vase emerges

Duke's is an auctioneer which appears to have a bit of a knack getting hold of undervalued antiques.

We reported on a sale at the Dorchester auctioneer almost exactly a year ago of a Chinese vase bearing the mark of Qianlong which a couple had brought in, having previously used it as an umbrella stand. It sold for £765,000 including premium ($1.2m).

Now the company looks set to repeat the event as a retired worker at Cadbury's chocolate factory brought in an old vase. He has had some experience with antiques, but it's unlikely he knew how much the item - carried in a cardboard box - was worth.

Dating from between 1403 and 1424 during the reign of the third Ming Emperor Yongle, the piece is thought to be worth £1m (just over $1.6m), showing the incredible investment power of Chinese art and antiques at this time.

Chinese Ming dynasty moonflask
Chinese Ming dynasty moonflask

Guy Schwinge, from Duke's, commented, "When my colleague initially showed me what had arrived in a cardboard box I could not believe my eyes,

"The vase is in perfect condition and it is amazing to think that it has survived unscathed for almost six hundred years. It is the largest recorded example from a rarefied group of early Ming moonflasks dating from the Yongle period."

The vase features simple loop handles and appears to be influenced by Islamic design. It will go under the hammer in May.

Of course, it has a long way to go before it beats the record set by a Chinese vase last year at tiny auction house Bainbridges. That sold for an astounding £53m ($85.7m).


Join our readers in over 200 countries around the world - sign up for your free weekly Collectibles Newsletter today 

Featured products

Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Sale price£399
In stock
Fidel Castro signed certificateFidel Castro Signed Certificate
Fidel Castro signed certificate
Sale price£2,995
In stock
King Henry VIII Autographed DocumentKing Henry VIII Autographed Document
King Henry VIII Autographed Document
Sale price£55,000
In stock