Tiny Chinese ‘teapot’ found in Derbyshire garage sells for £390,000 at auction

Hansons valuer Edward Rycroft with the imperial Chinese wine ewer.Hansons valuer Edward Rycroft with the imperial Chinese wine ewer.
Hansons valuer Edward Rycroft with the imperial Chinese wine ewer.
A tiny Chinese ‘teapot’ found in a Derbyshire garage during lockdown has sold for hundreds of thousands of pounds at auction.

Phone bidders from around the world battled to buy the 18th century imperial Chinese wine ewer, which was found during a garage clear-out and almost went to a charity shop.

The rare Beijing-enamelled object, which dates back to the Qianlong period (1735-99) and resembles a small teapot, sparked international interest after it was taken to Hansons Auctioneers’ Etwall Auction Centre, near Derby, for free valuation.

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Its owner, a 51-year-old semi-retired construction worker from Derbyshire, feared the experts might laugh at him when he showed them the tiny pot, which measures just 8.5cm high, but it sold for a life-changing sum of £390,000 when the gavel finally fell.

Eight phone bidders from around the world, including China and America, battled to own the item which was eventually secured by a London buyer.

Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons, said: “I am absolutely delighted for our vendor. When objects achieve results like this, it’s a potentially life-changing sum for their owners.

This is one of the most important objects I’ve ever had the privilege of selling. It has to be the best lockdown find ever. It was found boxed up in a Derbyshire garage and was destined to go to a charity shop.”

The seller said: “I’m thrilled. This will change a few things for us all.

"It’s come at a really good time. I sat and watched the auction live at home with my brother and family. It was tense."