The next time you go rummaging in your cupboards, you may like to think twice before carting your unloved bric a brac off to the charity shop in case you are sitting on a goldmine.
A French family were astonished to find they made just such a discovery when they unearthed an 18th century Chinese vase worth between £430,000-£610,000 from their attic. The famille-rose porcelain vase was found in a battered shoe box. Made in the Jingdezhen workshops for the court of Qing dynasty Emperor Qianlong, it was left to the vendor’s grandparents by an uncle.
Completely unaware of its value, the family brought the vase to Sotheby’s in its shoebox where it was assessed by Sotheby’s specialist, Olivier Valmier. According to Valmier, it is a unique Imperial ‘yangcai’ vase. Only one other vase similar in shape and design is known and is held in Paris’ Guimet Museum.
Chinese for ‘foreign colours’, ‘yangcai’ is the term used to describe a technique of over-glaze painting with transparent enamels. This particular vase depicts an idyllic landscape of deer and cranes although it was not to the vendor’s taste. “We didn’t like the vase too much and my grandparents didn’t like it either,” they are reported to have said.
The vase is due to be auctioned off by Sotheby’s in June 2018.