Tiny finger bowl measuring just 4in sells £221,000 in bidding war

Tiny finger bowl measuring just 4in sells £221,000 in frenzied bidding war…after it turned out to be a rare Chinese relic from the Qing dynasty

  • A rare Chinese finger bowl sold for £221,000 at an auction in Dorset 
  • It was made for the Kangzi Emperor during the Qing dynasty in the 18th century
  • It was given pre-sale estimate of £8,000 but it sparked a frenzied bidding war
  • The vendor had no idea of its significance or potential value until the auction 

A tiny finger bowl has sold for a staggering £221,000 after it turned out to be a rare Chinese relic.

The beautifully decorated bowl, which measures just 4ins in diameter, was made for the Kangzi Emperor during the Qing dynasty in the late 18th century.

The relic was given pre-sale estimate of £8,000 but it sparked a frenzied bidding war among Asian collectors when it went under the hammer in Dorset. 

The auctioneer argues there was a ‘real battle’ for the bowl, which demonstrates just how ‘competitive the market is for these objects.’

A tiny finger bowl has sold for a staggering £221,000 after it turned out to be a rare Chinese relic. The beautifully decorated bowl, which measures just 4ins in diameter, was made for the Kangzi Emperor during the Qing dynasty in the late 18th century

The relic was given pre-sale estimate of £8,000 but it sparked a frenzied bidding war among Asian collectors when it went under the hammer in Dorset

The bowl was inherited by a British vendor whose grandparents likely bought it from a Asian art dealer in Paris in the first half of the 20th century.

The vendor had no idea of its significance or potential value until he took it to Duke’s Auctioneers of Dorchester, Dorset.

Experts there identified the distinctive four character seal mark on the bottom which confirmed the bowl was made for the Kangzi Emperor during the Qing dynasty in the late 18th century.

It is likely that it was made in the imperial workshops in the Forbidden City of Peking (Beijing). The museum-quality bowl is painted with flowers in famille verte enamels. 

The relic also still had fragments of a paper label for art dealer L Wannieck, Paris on.

It eventually sold for a hammer price of £170,000. But with fees added on, the overall sum paid by the winning bidder was £221,000.

Auctioneer Guy Schwinge said: ‘The price just shows how competitive the market is for these objects.

‘It was a real battle for it and it sold to a Chinese buyer who flew over specially for the sale.

‘The price paid for it suggests the bowl was part of an elite group of bowls made for the emperor himself in the late 18th century.

‘We thought it was a beautiful bowl and hoped that it would make more than the estimated price but everyone was flabbergasted with the final price.

‘The vendor was absolutely delighted. I think the money will make a real difference to their life. It is a wonderful early Christmas present.’

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