A broken Chinese bowl proved it was all it was cracked up to be, and more, when it went under the hammer in Cirencester on Friday.
The intricately-decorated oriental bowl, which dated from the 1800s, smashed all expectations, achieving £22,000 when it was sold at auction at Moore Allen & Innocent’s sale of selected antiques.
“It was a lovely piece, with foliate scrolls and geometric pattern, and an unusual pierced rim,” said auctioneer Philip Allwood.
“However, it was broken almost in half. We thought that might devalue it, and put an estimate of £300 to £500 on the lot.”
Somewhat predictably, the antique was bought by a bidder in China, where the booming economy has seen the rich enthusiastically buying back their heritage.
Another exotic antique – a mummified hand – also exceeded all expectations. With an auctioneer’s estimate of £100 to £150, the ancient Egyptian curio was snatched up by a Californian bidder on the internet for a £1,700.
“He probably owns a second hand shop,” quipped Phillip.
With broken bowls and severed hands in the bag, the auctioneers’ high hopes for an empty wine bottle also proved fruitful.
They reckoned on £800 to £1,200 for the rare circa 1705 green glass onion shaped wine bottle bearing the seal of Henry Hyde Lord Cornbury and 2nd Earl of Clarendon – so there was delight all round when the hammer fell at £2,200.
The bottle was the highlight of the seasonal wine sale – the biggest ever conducted by the auctioneers – and many lots made exceptional prices, including a bottle of Graham Vintage Port 1955 at £240, and three individual bottles of Chateau D’Yquem Lur Saluces 1965 selling for £130, £130 and £140 respectively.
Elsewhere, a case of twelve bottles Les Forts de Latour 1971, in original wooden case, achieved £680, and two cases of twelve bottles of Chateau Lynch Bages Grand Cru Classé Pauillac 1978 achieved £480 each.
In fact, demand and supply in the wine section was so great that the firm is taking the unprecedented step of scheduling a second auction of wines and spirits. The next will be held around Easter, with entries being invited now.
And as it was the last sale before Christmas, there was an extensive vintage toy section too.
Collectable dolls, teddy bears and model railways were all in the catalogue, but the standout lot in the section was a 1920 tin plate clockwork model Alfa Romeo P2 vintage racing car in red livery by Compagnie Industrelle du Jouet.
Once at the top of every little boy’s Christmas list, bidders raced past the £300 to £500 estimate, crossing the finishing line at a commendable £3,000.
The next Moore Allen & Innocent sale will be held on Friday, January 4. For an online catalogue, log on to www.mooreallen.co.uk/auction-house