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Charles Hanson of Hansons Auctioneers with the plate

Granny’s Ming Dynasty Style Plate Sold for Nearly a Quarter of a Million Pounds

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An ancient Chinese plate dating back to the 1700s has been sold in the UK for almost a quarter of a million pounds. That’s about £100,000 more than experts predicted for the almost 300-year-old piece of porcelain.

Chinese Collectors Book a Record 19 Phone Lines to Bid for Rare Chinese Plate

The rare blue and white plate dates back to the reign of Chinese Emperor Yongzheng, who was in power from 1723 to 1735. Birmingham Mail reports that Chinese collectors booked nineteen phone lines – a record for Hansons Auctioneers – in a bid to bring back the plate to China. The plate, which carries the reign mark of Emperor Yongzheng, was sold by three South Derbyshire siblings who inherited it from their grandmother. The valuable object was bought back in early 20th-century America by a Scottish businessman named Mr. Alexander Robertson. Once he died in 1922, the ancient plate, as well as the rest of his belongings, were shipped back to Edinburgh where they were divided amongst his relatives and passed down through the generations.

Early Ming dynasty Chinese plate used reverse blue design technique. Image: Hanson's auctioneers.

Early Ming dynasty Chinese plate used reverse blue design technique. Image: Hanson's auctioneers.

Sold for Almost £100,000 More than Expected

Measuring 13 inches in diameter, the beautiful plate is decorated on both sides with white flowering blossoms on leafy branches. A few weeks before the plate earned the £230,000 price tag, experts were very optimistic about its fate, but they couldn’t imagine how well it would actually do in the auction that followed. Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons Auctioneers, stated before the auction as ITV reports,

“This Chinese plate, which had been hidden away in a kitchen cupboard in South Derbyshire, could now easily exceed £150,000. Interest in it was strong from the start but when we revealed that replica versions of the plate existed in the National Museum of China and the Guangdong Museum, it became extremely hot property. Potential Chinese bidders have made special journeys to our sale room in Etwall to view the plate privately. There is also a similar plate in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and all of these factors make it even more desirable for Chinese collectors and dealers as well as European 'Chinamaniacs'.”

Mr. Hanson also revealed interesting details about the plate’s history as ITV reports, The 'reverse blue' technique used on the plate dates back to the early Ming dynasty and the Yongzheng emperor, being a noted porcelain connoisseur, commissioned high-quality pieces in the Ming style. To own such a rare and important piece is hugely appealing to many collectors. The plate had been kept in a box in a kitchen cupboard at a house in South Derbyshire ever since our client inherited it from her granny two years ago. It’s in good condition - even though granny did put a metal plate mount around it! That has now been professionally removed.”

The reverse of the plate contains the reign mark of Emperor Yongzheng. Image: Hanson's Auction House.

The reverse of the plate contains the reign mark of Emperor Yongzheng. Image: Hanson's Auction House.

Ecstatic Derbyshire Siblings Prefer to Remain Unknown

The three Derbyshire siblings who auctioned the plate wish to remain anonymous. As Birmingham Mail reports, in a statement they said, “We’re stunned, totally stunned, and ecstatic. We never expected this at all. We just thought it was an ordinary plate given to our granny and passed down to us. This has really come out of the blue. We might have a large fish and chips tonight!”

A replica of the plate is currently on display in the National Museum of China, which is believed to have driven up the price and led to a record 19 phone lines booked by bidders. Ultimately, Mr. Hanson, of Hansons Auctioneers, described the auction as one of the most exciting he has ever had the honor taking part in, "I am absolutely delighted for the family who have allowed us to sell this wonderful object on their behalf, and also for the buyer who secured it," he said as the official website of the Derbyshire Auction House reported.

Top image: Charles Hanson of Hansons Auctioneers with the plate (Image: Mark Laban: Hansons)

By Theodoros Karasavvas

Theodoros Karasavvas's picture


Theodoros Karasavvas, J.D.-M.A. has a cum laude degree in Law from the University of Athens, a Masters Degree in Legal History from the University of Pisa, and a First Certificate in English from Cambridge University. When called upon to do... Read More

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