Shopper who bought a Chinese vase for £1 in a charity shop has sold it for a staggering £484,000

Lucky shopper who bought a Chinese vase for £1 in a charity shop has sold it for a staggering £484,000 after it emerged it was made for an 18th century emperor

A vase which was bought for just £1 in a charity shop has sold for £484,000 after it revealed that it was made for an 18th century emperor. 

The Qianlong Emperor‘s vase made its way to a store in Hertfordshire where it was picked up for £1 and then listed on for a pittance.  

The vase sparked a bidding war, with the successful Chinese buyer paying a hammer price of £380,000. 

Extra fees took the overall figure handed over to £484,800 – six times the auction house‘s pre-sale estimate of £80,000.

The shopper was initially unaware of its significance until he was inundated with offers for the elegant yellow vase.

He took it to specialists at Sworders Fine Art Auctioneers‘ in Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex, where they told him it was Chinese imperial and made for the Qianlong Emperor, who reigned from 1735 to 1796.  

The Qianlong famille rose vase is marked with a symbol that meant it wasn‘t for export, but for one of the emperor‘s palaces.

It is inscribed with an imperial poem that ‘praises incense‘ and two iron-red seal marks that read ‘Qianlong chen han‘ or ‘the Qianlong Emperor‘s own mark‘.

It also reads ‘Weijing weiyi‘ which translates to ‘be precise, be undivided‘.

The pear-shaped vase is designed to be attached to a wall, with a flat back and floral decoration on the front.

Its yellow colour is significant as this was a special colour reserved for the emperor.

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Yexue Li, head of the Asian art department at Sworders, said: ‘The gentleman vendor was in the charity shop and picked out the vase because he liked the look of it. 

The seller, who does not want to be identified, said he was  ‘ecstatic‘ with the result and that he would spend the money on securing his three year old daughter‘s future.

Yexue Li, head of the Asian art department at Sworders, said: ‘The gentleman vendor was in the charity shop and picked out the vase because he liked the look of it.

‘He was unaware of his significance so he put it on eBay with a very low starting price to begin with and there was a lot of interest.

‘He decided to take the vase off eBay and bought it in to us to take a look… He was shocked and very excited when we explained its importance.

‘The vase is special because it comes with the inscription by the Qianlong Emperor, and he must have commissioned this vase.

‘The enamel on the vase is special because it uses yangcai (foreign) enamels on a yellow ground – a special colour traditionally reserved for the emperor.

Ms Li claimed the vase was high value during the time of its making because it was court commissioned.

She said: ‘This has been the perfect auction story, a bargain find, a culturally important and beautiful work of art and a life changing sum of money for the vendor. He is understandably ecstatic.‘

The Qianlong Emperor was the sixth emperor of the Qing dynasty. He abdicated in favour of his son, the Jiaqing Emperor, and died three years later aged 87 in 1799.       

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