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A baluster jar (minus its cover) decorated with the cracked ice pattern was worth little more than the £20-30 estimate, but the subject of a titanic bidding battle was a 7½in (18.5cm) high moon flask or bianhu with a bulb-shaped neck and strap handles.

Only a poor quality image was available online and the auctioneers had been shocked to receive numerous requests for telephone bids.

Flasks of this distinctive type, this one decorated in a deep cobalt blue with stylised floral blooms, are based on Middle Eastern metalwork and closely identified with the Ming period - particularly the reigns of the Yongle (1403-24) and Xuande (1426-35) emperors. Both in shape and decoration they represented a new departure for Chinese porcelain.

However, dating can be problematic: as the iconic productions of a golden age they were much reproduced in subsequent periods with many elegantly potted examples made at the Jingdezhen kilns for the admiring court of Qing dynasty.

Mark and Period

This vessel offered at the auction in Scotland on February 7, with a large section of the neck piece broken and reglued, carried a six-character reign mark for Emperor Yongzheng (1722-36) and was thought by many who viewed it to be of the period. Among those were the Scottish dealers who kindly provided ATG with the digital images reproduced here.

The buyer (an overseas dealer "pleased with their purchase", said saleroom manager Jonathan Taylor in conversation with his local newspaper) and seller (a client in the north of Scotland who is said to be "very happy with the outcome") have requested anonymity while the sale is completed.

The previous house record at Taylor's Auction Rooms in Montrose was set in 2010 for the sale of a photograph album at £54,000.

The final price was £252,000 including buyer's premium and VAT.