Bidding battle for chipped Chinese jar at Louth auction

The 18th century Italian cabinet which made the top price and (inset) the Chinese pot pourri  jar
The 18th century Italian cabinet which made the top price and (inset) the Chinese pot pourri jar

A chipped Chinese pot that was expected to go for less than a hundred pounds triggered an international bidding battle when it went under the hammer at a Louth auction room at the weekend.

John Taylor’s auction room was buzzing as the 34 cm tall blue and white porcelain pot pourri jar went for £2,950 - 30 times the pre-sale estimate.

Chinese jar

Chinese jar

The sought after piece was knocked down to a buyer based in Beijing, who was bidding live on the Internet.

Auctioneer James Laverack said: “Ahead of the sale we did have reservations, because the piece did not carry any maker or date marks and it did have some slight damage to the top rim, but everybody loved it anyway.

“Bids of close to £2,000 had been made even before the auction and on the day we had bidders in the room, on the telephones and on the Internet.”

The vase was just one of the treasures that came from the extraordinary antiques-filled home of the late Max Bilbe, a one-time Grimsby newsagent who spent more than 30 years buying period furniture, antique silver and collectables, mainly from the county’s antiques auctions and shops.

James said: “Max’s three-bedroomed Immingham semi was one of the most unusual places I’ve ever seen.

“He loved the fine antiques and antiquities of every period and all countries.

“Every room was packed. It was like walking into a rather good antiques shop.

“Apart from the quantity and quality, it was the vast range of his interest that was so startling.

“He had furniture and furnishings from the 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries and it was not only English but also Irish, French, Italian and Oriental.”

The top price of the auction was paid for an 18th century Italian ebony veneer cabinet on a stand, decorated with ivory inlay depicting the story of Noah’s Ark, which made £3,900, double the pre-sale expectations.

James added: “It was after another international battle that in the end saw a Lincolnshire buyer beat off the challenge of a French bidder.

“The range of ceramics from the house was similarly wide ranging, taking in Chinese, Japanese and continental pieces as well as English.

“Whilst the Chinese pot pourri jar provided the surprise of the day other Oriental items did well – as did a Doulton Lambeth jardinière decorated by Hannah Barlow.

“The condition of the piece was superb and that made £680, four times pre-sale estimate.

“Meanwhile the collectables went from Thai bronzes to a traditional Middle Eastern Jambiya knife that made £860 and is now on its way back to that part of the world after being bought by a Kuwaiti bidder.”

James added: “The Bilbe collection contributed 300 lots, almost half the sale, and they achieved close to £50,000, double expectations.

“The auction continued the strong run that the saleroom is having and we’re pleased that it is also contributing to the local economy too.

“The event attracted large crowds to the town on both viewing days as well as the auction day.

“There were numerous people staying overnight ahead of the sale and of course many going into town for meals, refreshments and that sort of thing.”