Reproduction Yongle moonflask to beat $8,100 estimate?

A unique reproduction of a Yongle period (1402-1424) moonflask, once used as a flower vase, is coming to auction in the UK next month with high hopes.

Thought to be late 19th or early 20th century, the double gourd moonflask is based on the popular items produced in China for the Middle Eastern market during the 15th century.

Yongle moonflask reproduction
The Yin Yang symbol differs from the petals employed on original pieces

Its blue and white colourings have been reversed from the originals, and the petal decoration commonly found in the centre of such vases replaced by the Yin Yang symbol - a fact that suggests this version was not produced with a Middle Eastern market in mind, and ensuring the unique nature of the piece.

"These Yongle moonflasks were made for the Middle Eastern market in the Ming dynasty but were copied first in the 18th century and again in the late 19th century and I expect that they are still being copied today," John Harvey, director of auction house Chorley's, told Paul Fraser Collectibles.

Thought to have been made in the Indian subcontinent or West Indies, the piece was given to the consigner's great grandfather in 1911 while he was stationed with the British Navy in the West Indies.

It has since been passed down through the family and until recently was being employed as a flower vase - that was until its potential value was revealed.

Estimated at £3,000-5,000 ($4,850-$8,100), the auction house believes it could well achieve more when it auctions on October 11, given its unique nature and the value of originals.

Earlier this month, an original period Yongle moonflask sold for $1.3m at Sotheby's, while copies from the 18th century can achieve up to £40,000 ($64,700), according to the auction house.

Described as a "nerve wracking" time by the consigner, it remains to be seen whether the beautiful piece has sufficient antique appeal to attract the bidders.

We will bring you results from the sale as soon as they are in.

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