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A large Ming dynasty carved Hongwu period (1368-98) cinnabar lacquer tray formerly in the collection of Sir John Figgess, which took HK$22m (£1.73m) at Christie’s.

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Christie's (25/20/12% buyer's premium) 2000-lot series of classical, modern and contemporary Asian art, jewellery, wine and watches staged from November 27 to December 2 posted a HK$1.65bn (£129.8m) premium-inclusive tally - a 54 per cent hike on their 1659-lot Spring 2009 takings.

Selling rates by lot ranged from 62 per cent for the mixed-vendor Chinese ceramics and works of art sale on December 1 to 91 per cent for the watches sale on December 2.

Of the classical, modern and contemporary Asian art auctions, the two ceramic and works of art sales were the biggest money-spinning events, racking up a combined premium-inclusive HK$371m (£29.2m).

They attracted interest from a mix of Western and Asian dealers and collectors. In line with international market trends this year, there was a marked rise in the number of successful mainland buyers compared to the same series last year - up 63 per cent. That said, London and New York dealership Littleton & Hennessy Asian Art secured the series' two Chinese highlights.

Both hailed from Part II of the Lee family collection of Chinese lacquer. A large Ming dynasty carved Hongwu period (1368-98) cinnabar lacquer tray, formerly in the collection of Sir John Figgess, fetched HK$22m (£1.73m) and is illustrated here.

A Yuan dynasty (1279-1368) octagonal inlaid mother-of-pearl lacquer box and cover took HK$18m (£1.41m).

The 26-lot quality assemblage boasted an 87 per cent take-up by volume and a HK$90m (£7.1m) premium-inclusive total.

Chinese lacquer is not as established a mainland Chinese collecting field as Imperial ceramics, jade carvings or other areas of the works of art market.

As such, James Hennessy of Littleton & Hennessy Asian Art believes the best quality lacquer represents value for money. "The Yuan box and cover we bought was rarer than any porcelain Yuan guan that might sell at auction for several million pounds," he said. "There is relatively little lacquer in China's top museums and mainland buyers are wary of condition problems and restoration."

Bonhams' Hong Kong (20/12% buyer's premium) Chinese ceramics, works of art and paintings sale on November 28 fetched HK$60.5m (£4.76m) including premium. A blue and white Qianlong mark and period brushpot was the highlight at HK$5.92m (£464,000).

By Kate Hunt

£1 = HK$12.7