A Chinese porcelain vase valued at just £30 has broken the house record for a Melton auctioneers after a bidder bought it for an astonishing £40,000.
Staff at Shoulers were amazed when two people bidded against each other in the room while hundreds of bids were made online when the three-inch high blue and white piece dating back hundreds of years was made available.
The price represented a huge Christmas windfall for a local unnamed resident, who put it up for auction after a having a clear-out at home.
Ben Shouler was in charge of the auction and fellow partner Simon Shouler, who was also present, said: “The vase was on a small tray of Chinese porcelain and much of it was cracked and chipped.
“I like Chinese blue and white porcelain but this was the most unremarkable piece on the tray.
“It was estimated at £30 to £40 but we could not believe it when the bidding went up to £40,000.
“It was fought out between two bidders in the room, with internet bidders going berserk in the background.”
The vase, which was bought by an English bidder who has not been named, was created during the reign of Chinese emperor Yong Zheng.
Pieces from the era are particularly popular since he only reigned for a relatively short period, 1723 to 1735, and because the marking on pieces from that period has recently been discovered to have been slightly different from what it was originally seen to be.
“One of the big auction houses did the same thing as us recently with a little Chinese vase which made £35,000 after being valued much lower,” said Mr Shouler.
“To me it looked quite new when we first saw the vase but that is always the case with porcelain because it doesn’t age.”
The company has been auctioning items in Melton since Mr Shouler’s great-grandfather came to the town to start up in 1843.
The previous house record for Shoulers was set in the 1980s when a Georgian bachelor’s chest of drawers sold for £25,000.
Mr Shouler added: “It shows three things - the power of internet advertising, that auctioneers can get the best price even if they don’t know everything and that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”