The old bowl in the car boot sells for £58,000

A LOCAL couple were shocked not once but twice when they took a car boot full of items to be valued by Lewes auctioneers Gorringes.

Buried in a bag was an oriental-looking bowl. Shock number one came when they were told it was worth up to £15,000.

Shock number two came when it sold at auction for £58,000.

The late 18th century Chinese export porcelain bowl drew eight bidders, six on the phone and two in the North Street saleroom.

The original bidder on the phone held out against all competition.

The antique dates from around 1785 and is painted with a continuous scene of the Hongs or European export factories on the Canton waterfront, showing the French, Austrian, Swedish, British, Dutch and Danish buildings all flying their country’s flags.

Measuring 14¼in (36cm) in diameter, it had undergone restoration to cover two hairline cracks, but the colours of the enamelled decoration were bright and the scene was, in the view of one potential purchaser, “very nicely painted”.

Gorringes auctioneer and valuer Aaron Dean said: “My colleagues and I are constantly on the road throughout the South East and often beyond, viewing and appraising antiques and collections. Clients also bring items to us every day. However sometimes objects come into our offices for appraisal with little knowledge of their historical significance and value.

“This recently happened to me when a couple arrived with a car-boot full of items. As these objects were being brought into the galleries, I spotted a large canvas bag containing a bowl that was being transported without any protection or forethought for the contents. Needless to say, I was not expecting the 18th century Chinese export Hong bowl that emerged.

“Appearing at first glance to be perfect, but proving later to show signs of restoration, the vendors were aghast at my valuation of £10,000-£15,000 for a bowl they thought might be worth around £500.

“I can only imagine the shock on their faces when they were informed that the bowl achieved a price of £58,000 at our sale.”

Mr Dean added: “It just proves that auctioneers like myself should never judge a book, or indeed a canvas bag, by it cover!”