A pair of Chinese porcelain bowls that have languished on a kitchen shelf for 60 years are expected to sell for £50,000. One of the ruby-red bowls was being used to keep old wine corks and corkscrews in while its matching pair was found close by with a tube of superglue and a broken ornament in.
When their late owner last had them valued for insurance purposes in 1962 they were found to be worth £35 – less than their fridge. Their significance was only realised when an auctioneer spotted one of them hidden behind a large plate on the shelf during a routine visit to a house in High Wycombe, Bucks, in February.
Jeremy Lamond brought it down and then went looking for the second bowl which he found moments later. Embarrassed by their filthy state, the vendor’s wife went to wash them in the sink only for Mr Lamond to stop her in case she accidentally damaged them in the process.
He then told the couple that the bowls dated back to the mid-19th century during the reign of the Chinese emperor Daoguang in the Qing dynasty. The seal marks on them indicate they were Imperial pieces made for an important Chinese client.
The bowls had once belonged to the vendor’s grandparents and had been passed down through the family. They will now be sold by Woolley & Wallis Auctioneers of Salibsury, Wiltshire.
Mr Lamond said he couldn’t believe his eyes when he made the discovery. He said: “The kitchen is usually the last port of call on a routine valuation as most just contain the household dinner and glass wares, so I wasn’t expecting to find anything of interest.
“The first bowl was full of corks and corkscrews and, being on a high shelf, could easily have been overlooked so I was excited to see it. Then when I saw there was a pair to it, I knew we had something special. It contained a broken Beswick figure and a tube of superglue – it didn’t look like anyone had paid much regard to them for some time.
“But once they were found I had to stop the client from giving them a quick wash. The vendor was very surprised when they discovered what they were and I was delighted when they agreed to consign them for sale.”
The bowls, known as ‘Lantern’ medallion bowls due to their decorations of lanterns that are associated with festivals and auspicious occasions in imperial China. They had been in the vendor’s family for at least the last 60 years but it is not known how their grandparents came to own them. The bowls will be sold on May 17.