‘Ming style’ surprises at Edinburgh’s L&T

In an otherwise unremarkable Asian Art sale at Edinburgh’s Lyon & Turnbull, two blue and white lots, both catalogued as ‘Ming Style’, achieved the top prices. A ‘Ming style’ 28cm. diameter dice bowl estimated at £300-500 achieved £11,875, inclusive of 25% buyer’s premium. Clearly, the telephone buyer thought that it was the real thing, although it was certainly not a Xuande piece, as suggested by the six character seal mark and an inscription. Wear, consistent with its use as a dice bowl, suggested that it could boast some age and it could well turn out to be a later Ming piece.

ming style dice bowl

An expensive dice bowl? £11,875 at L&T

A 38cm. tall Ming style blue and white vase with a flared neck and baluster sides bore an estimate of £2-300. It soared giddily to £9,375, inclusive of premium. It was certainly an exquisitely made piece, with attractive ‘heaping and piling’, but its age must surely be a matter of speculation. In absolutely perfect condition, even the base displayed only minimal signs of wear, and a Quianlong seal mark.

ming style vase

All that it appears?  £9,375 at L&T

As auctioneers become ever more conservative in their cataloguing, in the face of an avalanche of copies, it is entirely possible, of course, that new opportunities open up for the knowledgeable buyer. However, purchasing a low rated lot for megabucks takes a great deal of nerve. The owner of the dice bowl, a member of the trade, said that he and his wife had owned it ‘for a long time’. He was surprised and delighted at the result.

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