Chinese export Society of the Cincinnati tea bowl and saucer from a service made for Benjamin Lincoln, $50,000 (£41,650) at Grogan and Company.

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A tea bowl and saucer from a service made for Benjamin Lincoln and a covered equelle destined for Samuel Shaw were among more than 1500 objects assembled over a 40- year period by Bostonian brothers Vartan ‘Van’ and Armen Ghugasian.

The Society of the Cincinnati was founded in 1783 by officers of the Continental Army who had served in the Revolutionary Wars. Several members commissioned armorial porcelain services from the kilns of Jingdezhen in the 1790s. Pieces made for Major General Benjamin Lincoln, the man who accepted the surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown, carry a particular cachet.

A well-preserved tea bowl and saucer decorated with the polychrome Order of Cincinnati and the initials BL had last been sold by Skinner in Boston in March 2019 for $92,250. Here, estimated at $15,000- 25,000 at the sale on August 16, it took $50,000 (£41,650).

Samuel Shaw is less well known although he too was a major during the war and worked as the first US consul to China from 1786-89. The equelle, applied with a gilt fruit sprig finial, was guided at $8000-12,000 and took $15,000 (£12,500).

Armenian heritage

The Ghugasians’ Armenian family heritage coloured their collecting.


Four Armenian market hot water plates, $19,000 (£15,800) at Grogan and Company.

As well as wares made for the English, Portuguese, Spanish, Russian and Dutch markets, there were 10 pieces made for Armenian patrons. This is a rarefied field but one that sparked plenty of competition. There were several elements of a blue and gilt dinner service decorated with a geometric pattern, the Cyrillic monogram AYA and the date 1833.

A set of four hot-water plates took $19,000 (£15,800) while, guided at $300-500, a sauce tureen and cover brought $17,000 (£14,650).


Chinese export ‘sample’ coffee can and saucer painted with eight different border types, $8500 (£7100) at Grogan and Company.

A rarity made for the English market was a ‘sample’ coffee can and saucer made c.1800 to help European and American customers in their purchasing decisions. Both pieces are decorated with elements of eight different border decorations. It went to an internet bidder via LiveAuctioneers at $8500 (£7100).