An old paper label to the base of one reading Chen Lung suggested they might just have been worth the outlay of £20.
The 5in (12cm) jars, which differ in the border decoration, are finely painted in underglaze blue and enamelled in iron-red, yellow and green enamels with a pattern of lotus and chrysanthemum blooms. The type is believed to be modelled after Chenghua prototypes. Originally, they would have flat-topped covers with similar decoration.
Pairs with covers have brought as much as £200,000 in recent years. This spectacular find, entered for sale at Roseberys’ (25/20/12% buyer’s premium) Chinese, Japanese & South East Asian Art sale on May 16 with a guide of £30,000-50,000, sold at £46,000.
The vendor has promised to make a substantial donation to the charity concerned.
Leading the West Norwood, south London, sale at £75,000 (estimate £3000-5000) was a Kangxi anhua ‘dragon’ dish with a copper red glaze.
Moulded to the interior with two dragons chasing a flaming pearl, it is particularly unusual for an apocryphal Xuande six-character mark incised to the base. A dish with similar mark is in the British Museum collection.