Yuan/Ming bronze tapir zun – £110,000 at Roseberys.

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Depending on age, size and condition, they can be six-figure attractions, such as one which took $310,000 (about £240,000) at Christie’s New York last September.

The 14in (36cm) long Yuan or early Ming example above, inlaid with gold and silver was offered at Roseberys’ (25% buyer’s premium) Asian art sale at West Norwood on May 19-20.

Smaller than the Christie’s zun and with minor condition considerations, it was pitched at £50,000-80,000 and after attracting wide international interest went back to China at £110,000.

Stars across the range

The two-day sale included stars across the Chinese firmament.

A pair of 10in (25.5cm) wide Jiaquing porcelain oval bowls, decorated with foreign tribute bearers in a mountain landscape, made a six-times top-estimate £9500.

Best of the jade was a 4¼in (11cm) diameter Qing reticulated pale green box and cover, carved and pierced with fish and a flower which took £9000 (estimate £1000-2000).

High prices for clothing often indicate court or government robes but the height of fashion at Roseberys was a 19th century lady’s informal silk damask dress embroidered with fishing scenes, trees and butterflies.

Pitched at £400-600, it sold at £9000.


Late Qing stools – £19,000 at Roseberys.

The biggest surprise came among the furniture: a pair of late Qing, 18½in (47cm) tall rosewood stools inset with a marble panel above an anachronistic carved frieze.

Estimated at £500-800, they attracted wide pre-sale interest and 13 phone bidders on the day and sold to China at £19,000. It was, thought Roseberys’ specialist Bill Forrest, just another demonstration of “the lively market for Qing furniture”.