A small porcelain coffee pot, expected to fetch just £300 at auction last Saturday, blasted through its original estimate to achieve an astonishing £41,900.
The pot, which was sent to the Tunbridge Wells & Hastings auction house in a box of mixed Chinese porcelain, was spotted by senior valuer Tom Blest as being something out of the ordinary.
It transpires that the pot is one of the earliest pieces of Worcester porcelain, dating to around 1752. The only other known Worcester coffee pot dating from this era is in the V&A but is missing its lid.
The seller was a pensioner from Tunbridge Wells who is thought to have found the piece at a house clearance and had no idea of its value. ‘He was absolutely overjoyed,’ says Lucy Blest, the auction house manager. ‘I don’t think it has really sunk in yet!’
The auction house is just two years old so the sale is something of a coup for them too. ‘We are very pleased that a provincial auction house can command equal prices to, if not greater than, the better known London houses,’ says managing director Marcus Rowell.
The pot was sold to 18th Century porcelain specialists Albert Amor in London who have already sold it on to an American collector.
Now there’s a story to inspire some weekend vintiquing…