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By contrast demand was patchy for the type of routine mid-range entries offered at the beginning of the sale.
Standing head and shoulders above all other works was a double gourd vase, but also of note were a group of white jades from three different private sources.

Foremost was an imperial Mughal-style white jade cup, c.1783, thinly carved with an elegantly wrought goose head terminal and a Qianlong inscription. Consigned from a private European collection, its provenance dated back to the 1930s when its previous owners had acquired it in Beijing.

Unlike buyers of imperial porcelain, jade collectors still demand good if not perfect condition. This cup had a minute rim chip and a small rim crack in a separate place. It may not have been in mint condition but it had a fine polish and, like any good jade, was highly tactile. “I think its
condition was a consideration but it really felt good. It just melted in the hand,” said Christie’s Chinese specialist Desmond Healey. A mainland Chinese collector on the telephone secured it for £200,000.

Elsewhere, a mainland dealer secured a Qianlong period Mughal white jade foliate bowl for £180,000 against an ambitious vendor-led estimate of £200,000-300,000 while Chak & Co outbid Fred Lee and other Hong Kong dealers for a 17th century or later imperial mottled brownish-black and green jade carving of a buffalo. Consigned by a private vendor and purchased in Beijing in the 1930s, the buffalo also attracted the attention of a contemporary art collector drawn to its sculptural form and minimalist lines. The well-executed inscription and prominent display in the viewing helped it to its winning £120,000 bid.
Although the Chinese ceramics and works of art attracted the biggest prices, bidding was steadier for the export section.

Of particular note was an unusual late Ming blue and white gilt copper mounted large bowl, 14in (36cm), consigned by the Edward James Foundation. Its good condition, conservative £8000-12,000 estimate, unusual use of pierced decoration, together with underglaze blue painting, and Arabic inscriptions made it a must-have for one American collector who tendered the requisite £60,000. “Its English provenance was a bonus but if it had had silver gilt mounts and an imperial mark it would have been catapulted into a different league,” explained Desmond Healey.