Chinese pot used as everyday household ornament by British family sells for £160,000 after turning out to be 400-year-old treasure

  • Pot is dated to the reigning Chinese Kangxi Emperor in the 17th Century 
  • The Yangtze River was a British trader that acquired it.
  • It was a decoration object that a Suffolk family had for many years. 
  • It sold for a hammer price of £125,000 – a total cost of £162,500 including fees

A 400-year-old Chinese pot used as an everyday household ornament by a British family has sold for more than £160,000.

This blue-and-white brush pot was once used for artist’s paintbrushes and dates back to 17th century Chinese Kangxi.

It was acquired by a British businessman who traded in oriental silk and porcelain along the Yangtze River in Guangdong province in the 1850s, and he took the remarkable object back to England where it was passed through his descendants. 

Now his relatives living in Suffolk, who wish to remain anonymous, are amazed after the 7ins tall item they kept around their home as a decoration sold for a hammer price of £125,000 at Sworders Auctioneers of Stanstead Mountfitchet, Essex. 

With fees added on, the anonymous buyer paid £162,500 for it, making more than 50 times the valuer’s modest estimation of just £3,000.

Oriental porcelain used to be very popular among Westerners, who would bring it back in large quantities after their trips to Far East. But over the past decade, demand for the product has skyrocketed due to Chinese new-rich collectors looking to “buy back” their cultural heritage.

The blue and white brush pot, once used to hold an artist's paintbrushes, dates from the reign of the Chinese Kangxi emperor in the 17th century

Blue and white brushes pots were once used by artists to store their paintbrushes. They date back to the reign of Chinese Kangxi, an emperor from 17th-century China.

It was acquired by a British businessman who traded in oriental silk and porcelain along the Yangtze River in Guangdong province in the 1850s, and he took the remarkable object back to England where it was passed through his descendants

A British businessman, who trades in porcelain and oriental silk along the Yangtze River in Guangdong Province in the 1850s and 60s, purchased it. The remarkable object was then returned to England by him. His descendants passed the item on.

This blue poem, which is inscribed around the cylindrical container in blue, was composed by Wang Bao an ancient poet. He instructs a divine ruler how to appoint wise and virtueful ministers.

The family also sold several other highly valuable pots brought back from China by their ancestor, including one depicting the emperor at a meeting with officials which sold for £22,000.

All in all, the set of three pots made them almost £200,000.

Kangxi (whose real name was Xaunye) was China’s longest reigning emperor. His rule lasted from 1661 to 1722.

His 61-year reign saw him defeat revolts of feudal rulers, submit Mongol rebels under his control, and he defeated Tsarist Russia during border disputes.

Yexue Li is the head of Asian Sales at Sworders. He stated that the Kangxi period porcelain prices are very high right now.

One of the most important moments in early history for the Qing dynasty is the “Brush Pots” with classic texts.

Kangxi, whose personal name was Xaunye, was China's longest reigning emperor who ruled during the Big dynasty between 1661 to 1722

Kangxi (whose real name was Xaunye) was China’s longest-reigning emperor. He ruled in the Big dynasty from 1661-1722

Pictured: The base of the pot. The poem inscribed in blue around the cylindrical pot was written by ancient poet Wang Bao and instructs a divine ruler to appoint wise and virtuous ministers

Pictured: The bottom of the pot. Blue inscribed around the pot’s cylindrical base is a poem by Wang Bao, an ancient poet. It instructs a god ruler to appoint wise ministers.

“By using stories and poems from antiquity the Emperor was cultivating support for courtiers, implying that he was part a continuum reaching deep into Chinese history.

The ‘Kangxi white and blue was once the symbol of west taste. It is still a popular choice in Europe.

“More recently, it is becoming avidly sought after in the Far East.

“We were struck by the value of this when we found a comparable example at the British Museum, and one in Beijing’s Palace Museum.

“We were delighted to be able achieve such high prices for the seller.

“Our family watched the auction online, and was amazed at how high the bidding went and what the end result came out to be.

They had made it a decoration in their house.

Kangxi was the third successor to Qing Dynasty. His reign is known as the “prosperous Era” because it brought stability and economic growth to the country.