Huge profit for the eagle-eyed: The man buys "Three-legged incense burner" from the 18th century for £2 at a Somerset charity shop sold for £21,000 after being discovered as a treasure

Huge profit for the eagle-eyed: The man buys “Three-legged incense burner” from the 18th century for £2 at a Somerset charity shop sold for £21,000 after being discovered as a treasure

AN ORIENTAL bowl snapped up for just £2 in a charity shop has sold for an extraordinary £21,000 after it was discovered to be an 18th century treasure.

The censer smashed its pre-sale estimate of £5,000 when it went under the hammer at auction.

Brightly-coloured bowl was snapped up for just £2 from a charity shop by an eagle-eyed collectorCredit: JohnNicholson’s/BNPS

An eagle-eyed collector bagged the coveted item after spotting it in the shop in Somerset.

Made of metal, measuring just 4.5 inches high, and weighing 445g, its sides are decorated with a formal scrolling lotus on a turquoise background.

The base has scroll stemmed flowerheads encircling a square plaque with a four-character Qianlong mark.

Specialist Mark Grant described it as “an 18th century cloisonné period tripod censer. Its mark and period dates it to the reign of the Qianlong emperor, seen as the zenith of Chinese cultural development”.

The Qianlong Emperor, the sixth emperor of the Qing dynasty, reigned officially from 1735-1796. He abdicated in favour of his son, the Jiaqing Emperor, but retained ultimate power as the emperor until his death in 1799.

John Nicholson, head valuer at auctioneers John Nicholson, who sold the item for its overjoyed owner, said: “The lady who bought it didn’t have a great deal of knowledge but she knew it was good, just not how good.

“It’s an absolutely fabulous little thing of the finest quality and there was a lot of interest in it. We priced it conservatively.”

He made an appeal to charity shops to get their antiques valued so they don’t miss out on a princely sum on a marquee piece in the future.


Bowl features an inscription which dates it to the era of the Qianlong Emperor in the 18th centuryCredit: JohnNicholson’s/BNPS

He said: “Charity shops that are local to us have learnt to bring in their antiques for us to value but some charity shops, like this one, still don’t.

“I’m pleased for the vendor but slightly disappointed for the charity. They lost out in a great big way and we could have told them that.

“The charities we work with come in with bundles of stuff and we go through it for them. If there’s anything we feel we can make more from we sell it for them.”

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