The prayers of a struggling Anglican church in Vancouver have been answered with the discovery that a pair of nondescript antique dining chairs , used for years by the congregation, are actually rare huanghuali yokeback chairs from the Qing dynasty, worth around $250,000.
When rector Reverend Robert Arril took over the church of St. Matthias it was in serious financial trouble, so he probably had more important things to worry about than the origins of the rickety wooden chair he was sitting on. That was until an eagle-eyed member of the bible group he was taking pointed out that it might be a valuable 17th Century Chinese antique – one of two gathering dust at the back of the 1950s church. This was confirmed by a Sotheby’s Chinese antiquities expert and now, two years after their first discovery, they are to be auctioned in New York, with an estimated value of $180,000 – $250,000.
It is unknown how the two exquisitely crafted armchairs made their way from Imperial China to 1950s Canada, as a search of the parish records revealed no evidence of the date the church acquired them, or who the original donor was. However, the parishioners and church staff have been using them for decades, and it is thought they may have already been part of the parish before the present church was built.
In areas like Preston, antique dining tables , Victorian dining chairs and other fine furniture from the Far East can be found by visiting a good antique dealer. While Imperial antiques can be priceless, antique dining chairs made for export are far more affordable.
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