Rhinoceros horn libation cup to top Asian sale at $150,000?

A Chinese libation cup carved from rhinoceros horn is to lead bids in an upcoming sale of Asian art.

Rhinoceros horn libation cup chinese
This cup's estimate is prompted by its unusual size

The July 8 auction, which is to be held in Beverly Hills, will see the cup sell alongside another, smaller rhinoceros horn which is estimated to make $35,000-45,000.

However, the libation cup will undoubtedly see the highest bids in the sale, boasting an unusually large size of 18.5 inches. Exquisitely carved with openwork flowers and fruits on budding vines, it dates to the late 18th century and is magnificently presented on an elaborate carved stand. With excellent colouration, it is expected to bring $125,000-150,000.

This appears to be a realistic valuation; a similar libation cup sold for $146,500 at Bonhams' Chinese Works of Art sale on June 19. The market for rhino horn collectibles has received a boost in popularity recently, though Paul Fraser Collectibles would urge our readers to ensure items are responsibly sourced before they buy.

Elsewhere in the sale, a massive Chinese ivory carving will sell with an estimate of $15,000-20,000. Measuring a huge 41 inches in length, it depicts the Buddhist bodhisattva Guanyin holding a flower basket, with a phoenix at her front.

With the Chinese art and antiques sector growing by 64% in 2011, the country has now overtaken the US as the world's largest art market, with Chinese items dominating almost any auction in which they appear.

Be sure to check back with us regularly for the results from this sale and more great news stories from the world of collecting.



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