A rare Chinese antique that was labelled a “dusty old cup” recently sold at auction for £3m.
The rare antique was recently discovered at Staffordshire University, among a collection of items. The Chinese artefacts previously belonged to Ernest Thornhill, although details of the collector remain largely unknown, other than that he was a London-based chemist. The collection, which consisted of close to 300 items, was donated to the university during World War II, so they wouldn’t be damaged during the bombing.
The antiques were discovered again during the 1970s by the head of the Ceramic Technology Department, who said:
“I’ve got some dusty old pots cluttering up my corridor, would you like to have a look?”
However, according to Professor Flavia Swann, the collection of pots, which included the cup, was stored away at the university and forgotten about until recently. In 2015, the collection was again recovered and the cup was valued. Although initially valued at £2m, the cup was sold at auction for £3.17m in Hong Kong.
The cup is believed to have been made in 1425 for an emperor, and is thought to be from the Ming Dynasty. According to Professor Swann, the money raised from the sale of the rare cup will be used to create a national ceramics centre.
The Chinese cup will enhance the appearance of any room in the home, especially if displayed in an antique cabinet from around the same period. Local antiques shops often have a selection of good quality pieces which would be suitable for display purposes.
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