Measuring only 1.5in (3.5cm) high, it was estimated at just £200-300 at Moore Allen & Innocent’s sale in Cirencester.
It was catalogued as ‘a late 19th Century Japanese Meiji Period carved netsuke as a rat’ and was signed to the base. It appeared to be in good condition other than some minor scuffs.
The rat is one of the signs of the Japanese zodiac and bidders responded not just to the subject matter but also in particular to its finely observed carving.
In the belief that it was made by the Meiji period carver Masano of Kyoto, it was evenutally taken to £28,500 before the hammer came down.
The sale took place on July 8 and the buyer’s premium was 18%.
More Japanese art is featured in the Auction Reports of this week’s ATG print publication.