June 5, 2023

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After buying them for $25, the two Qing Dynasty jars are expected to fetch more than 60,000 at auction.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (CNN) — After buying them from a thrift store in London for $25, two jars were discovered to date back to the eighteenth century Qing dynasty and could sell for up to £50,000. $62,700.

Two of Tokai’s Chinese Imperial style ‘Lotus and Chrysanthemum’ vases will go on sale at Roseberry Auctions in London on 16 May.

Tokai style is a technique of ceramic painting.

Phil Forrest, Rosebery’s co-director and head of Chinese, Japanese and Southeast Asian art, told CNN on Thursday that the jars were used in the earlier Ming Dynasty, where the designs were outlined in blue before being overglazed.

He said that Chinese imperial porcelain was “rare” and that its production was limited to the imperial court.

The painting technique used on the jars is called dokai.
Photo: Roseberys Fine Art Auctioneers and Appraisers

Two urns are enamelled depicting heads of open chrysanthemum and zigzag lotus leaves in bright red, yellow and green.

Forrest said the urn dealer, who declined to be named, was an “avid collector” of pottery.

“I believe that anyone exposed to imperial China, regardless of their experience, will be drawn to it,” he said.

The auctioneer realized the significance of the ceramic pieces when he examined the inscription “Qianlong” on the base label of one of the jars.

Image representing the Qianlong seal on the two bases of the jars.Credit: Roseberys Fine Art Auctioneers and Appraisers

Qianlong was the fourth emperor of the Qing Dynasty and ruled for six decades.

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“It breaks my heart to read that Chinese products are being sold for such a pittance,” Forrest said.

However, Chinese porcelain is a highly specialized field, and those working in charities can be forgiven for lack of experience, he said. However, Forrest said the retailer will donate a “significant portion” of the profits to the charity that owns the thrift store.

A tractor of similar design was sold in an earlier auction.

A pair, with their covers, sold for £277,200, or about $347,000, at Sosby’s auction in London in November 2021.