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China Antique

Surprise turns to disappointment for one London based family this week as a simple DIY job knocks an estimated $460,000 off the value of a family heirloom.
The item in question, a 15” table lamp, was in fact one half of a pair of 250 year old delicate porcelain Ming style vases. In perfect condition these were together thought to be worth over $500,000. However, an 8mm cable hole has dropped this single vase's value to just $40,000.
Originally purchased by the now-owner’s great grandfather for $14 at the start of the 20th century, the vase had unsuspectingly been passed down through the generations. Though the ‘practical’ modifications that transformed this valuable vase into a household lamp were only added 40 years ago.
Despite the huge loss this DIY attempt has made to the vase’s worth, a potential $40,000 sale would nonetheless come as a welcome surprise to the owner who never believed the vase was of anything more than ornamental value. It wasn’t until a friend recognised the distinctive style that they decided to get it valuated.
It was then the ‘niantiao’ or ‘reign marks’ inscribed in the bottom of the vase that helped Chinese antique experts to confirm that it was indeed of considerable worth.
Although decorated in traditional ‘Ming style’ it’s actually a later piece, crafted during the reign of Emporer Qianlong who held the Chinese thrown between 1735 and 1796. However, despite its ‘copycat’ design, the vase still holds great historic and artistic worth as the Qian dynasty, of which Qianlong was a member, were the last of China’s ruling imperial dynasties.
While auctioneers have cautiously valued the piece at $40,000 they are quietly optimistic that it will sell for much more when bidding opens for the piece later this month. Similar antiques have recently been reaching nearer to $100,000 at auction as the expanding wealth of the Chinese economy fosters an increased interest in antiquities.