10cm. bowl sold for half a million at Woolley & Wallis


A 10 cm. doucai lingzhi bowl: all-in price a shade under half a million pounds sterling

Last week’s Woolley & Wallis sale provided some very good results for the Salisbury auctioneers. A particularly successful result was achieved for a very small Chinese doucai lingzhi bowl estimated at £100,000 to £150,000 and which got £340,000 on the hammer. The end price was just short of half a million as the item was subject to 20% VAT, with premium (and VAT on premium) all to be added, bringing the ultimate cost to over £480,000.

Just 10.4 cm. in diameter, the bowl in question bore a six-character mark to base and was of the Yongzheng period (1723-35). Reputedly acquired in Hong Kong in the 1950s or ’60s, it was bought by a private Chinese collector.

Small Yongzheng cups and bowls are becoming quite a profitable speciality at Woolley & Wallis. Only last November a pair of doucai lingzhi wine cups were sold for a premium inclusive price of £378,200 in the Salisbury rooms.


Jasmine, a Chinese telephone bidder for Woolley & Wallis, pictured with one of the jardinières. The pair sold for £150,000 hammer.

Another high achiever at the sale was Lot 325 – a fine and rare pair of Chinese ImperiaI pale celadon jade models of jardinières. Qianlong, they were particularly rare and beautiful,the flaring bodies raised on three short feet, each jardinière issuing a gilt metal blossoming spray, one of prunus, the flowers in white jade, coral and enamel, the other peach, its flowers and leaves in agate and hardstone, with smaller petals in kingfisher feather, each with a small bird perched in its branches, its body adorned with kingfisher feathers. At the bases rockwork, flowering rohdea, narcissus, nandina (the holy bamboo) and lingzhi fungi are depicted in lapis lazuli, red coral, amber and spinach-green jade, the jardinières each raised on an elaborately carved reticulated five-legged zitan stand, and bearing paper labels for John Sparks Ltd. They were 32.5cm and 31cm respectively, 39cm and 37.5cm overall.

Estimated at £40,000-60,000, they went to £150,000 hammer. Thirty-five lots from the collection of Robert Frederick Hathaway (d. 1991) of Cape Town, South Africa, sold for £240,000 representing a 100% sold rate. The total for the 2-day sale was a very respectable £2.7m.