A Vintage Vase Turns Out To Be a $1.8 Million Antique From the 1700s

published May 26, 2022
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If you think your collections are priceless artifacts, you wouldn’t be alone. But some are more historic than others.

In the U.K., a blue vase that had been sitting in someone’s kitchen for decades was discovered to be a rare 18th-century Chinese artifact created for the court of the Qianlong Emperor, reports CNN. It recently sold for $1.8 million at an auction.

The two-foot-tall vase has a rich palette of silver and gold against a cobalt blue background, with images of cranes and bats scattered throughout. At its base, a six-character mark proves its Qianlong period (1736-1795) origins.

“It is extremely rare to see blue vases painted in both gilding and slightly raised silver, thought to be due to the medium being difficult to control,” auction house Dreweatts said. “Thrillingly, no other porcelain decorated with the same subject in gold and silver appears to have ever been documented.”

Story goes, the artifact’s owner bought it in the 1980s for a few hundred pounds. Eventually, he passed it on to his son, who kept it in the kitchen for years, unaware of the vase’s value. It wasn’t until Mark Newstead, a family friend and a specialist in Asian ceramics, stopped by for lunch and spotted the heirloom.

“Discoveries of this type are very rare in the lifetime of a valuer,” said Newstead.

The vase was estimated to sell between $124,000 and $186,000, but its beauty and rarity made bidders competitive, raising the final hammer price to $1.8 million.

According to CNN, this isn’t the first time a precious antique has been mistaken for ordinary decor.

A Texas woman bought what turned out to be a Roman bust at a Goodwill in 2018. In 2019, a long-lost 13th-century painting, found in a French kitchen, sold for $26.8 million at an auction. And before that, in 2014, homeowners who were fixing their leaky roof discovered a 400-year-old Caravaggio artwork in their attic. It was valued at up to $136 million.