The Qing dynasty vase that sold at Diamond Mills for £200,000

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Over a 10-day period Special Auction Services in Berkshire, Aldridges of Bath and Felixstowe’s Diamond Mills all smashed their previous records.

High drama descended on the small saleroom of Diamond Mills when it offered a Chinese vase with an estimate of just £100- 150 on July 31.

The 11in (27cm) high vase on a hardwood stand came from a local gentleman and had previously belonged to an aunt who had spent many years in the Far East.

Although inspired by 15th century design, and with a six-character reign mark for the Ming emperor Chenghua (1464-87), the vase is thought to date from the Yongzheng period (1723-1735) of the Qing dynasty.


The base of the Qing dynasty vase that sold at Diamond Mills for £200,000. It was in good condition save a small hairline to the neck and a firing crack to the base that was over decorated with flowering prunus branches at the time of manufacture.

The unusual ‘mosque lamp’ ribbed form, following an Islamic metalwork prototype, is decorated with a repeating wucai design of flowers, leaves and tendrils.

Diamond Mills had chosen to offer this sale to online buyers. It turned out to be a wise move as the vase received an opening bid in the room at £800 before two online bidders quickly took the contest to five figures. A competitor in the room came back in at £80,000 and finally won the lot against bidders on at £200,000 (plus 15% buyer’s premium) – 1333 times the high estimate.

The firm’s previous high was a £42,000 bid for a Georgian marble fire surround.

As reported last week (ATG No 2403), Aldridges of Bath smashed its house record with the sale of a Yongzheng ‘flowers and fruit’ celadon bowl for £220,000 (plus 20% buyer’s premium) on July 30. Offered with an estimate of £20,000- 30,000, it attracted six parties who had paid the necessary deposit to bid. Following a five-minute exchange it sold to a UK agent for a client in China, at £220,000.

The previous house record was £50,000 for a pair of emerald Art Deco earrings.

At Special Auction Services (buyer’s premium 17.5%) on July 23 a rare 1930s ‘photo gun’ inspired by an African explorer was hammered down at £138,000, setting a house record for the Newbury saleroom. A Hong Kong collector was the winner competing against three phone bidders for the prize estimated at £100,000-150,000.

The previous house record was £115,000 for an Asian bronze statuette.