10 Apr 2021
May 22, 2012 - Filed under: Antique Desks — Richard

A 15th Century Ming Dynasty vase worth up to £4m has been sold at auction for the price of £500,000 – because an earlier owner decided to turn it into a lamp.

A Victorian oak partners desk in Cumbria can be enhanced with an attractive lamp, serving a useful purpose on overcast days. However, some antique desk lamps are more valuable than others, such as the ceramic example which turned up recently at Dukes auction house. With a wooden base bolted to the bottom and crowned with modern metal fittings, it had been given to the vendor by a friend.

He had no idea that his ornament was actually an early Ming incense burner, used for ceremonial occasions during the reign of Emperor Xuande around 1425 – 1435 and bearing the emperor’s six-character imperial marks. The only other known example is in a Taiwanese museum.

Chinese imperial-marked porcelain from the Xuande period is extremely rare and highly sought after by Chinese collectors. Unfortunately, a past owner had decided the burner would look better put to modern use as a lamp, drilling through the bottom and slashing its value. However, Duke’s immediately identified the piece from its distinctive blue ‘heaped and piled’ decoration, and catalogued it accordingly. Bidding began at just £5000 but swiftly shot into six figures, despite the fact the two halves had been crudely stuck together and the imperial marks partly destroyed by the drilling.

If you’ve been given an attractive lamp for your antique dining table , a Preston antique dealer will be able to tell you what it might be worth.

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