An antique box that remains a puzzle to experts has attracted lots of attention from bidders in China, inflating its final auction price.
The Chinese box was included in a three-day auction at Richard Winterton Auctioneers, in the home, antique and interiors sale. However, experts remain unsure of its original purpose.
The box dates back to the 19th century and is 40 cm wide. There is an escutcheon made of brass, which fastens the box, and indicates that it was made in order to hold something valuable inside. The rectangular-shaped container is decorated with mother of pearl and hardstones, which form figures playing with trees, butterflies and flowers in the background landscape.
According to Adrian Rathbone, the auctioneers’ fine arts manager, Far-Eastern pieces are retained so that they can be included in specialist sales, where dedicated collectors will purchase them.
Rathbone also added that the purpose of the box was still a mystery. Despite this, there was fierce bidding from telephone and internet buyers in China, which pushed the final price to £1,600. Rathbone added:
“Chinese works of art of all kinds are very much in demand with buyers from the Orient keen to purchase their heritage.”
Such an unusual item would look particularly striking on antique coffee tables from the same period. Lancashire is just one area where collectors can discover a range of quality antique furniture that would be suitable for displaying valuable pieces.
Other items in the auction were also popular, including a diamond solitaire ring, which had been valued at £3,000 but sold for £6,500.