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Plate worthy of National Museum of China found in Derbyshire - 09/09/2017

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A plate worthy of the National Museum of China has been found in South Derbyshire.


The centuries-old gem - which was hidden away in a box inside a cupboard – is expected to fetch up to £60,000 at auction due to its historical importance. The hugely rare item carries the reign mark for Emperor Yongzheng and dates back to 1723-1735.


But Hansons Auctioneers in Derbyshire, which found the plate, say their initial estimate may now look conservative as news has emerged that could make the item even more desirable for Chinese collectors and dealers as well as European 'Chinamaniacs'.


Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons Auctioneers, said: "We have recently learned that a version of the exact same plate is at the Guangdong Museum in China and the National Museum of China, which is astonishing.  A similar dish is also in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.


“We also know that 'reverse blue' technique used on the plate dates back to the early Ming dynasty and that the Yongzheng emperor, being a noted porcelain connoisseur, commissioned high-quality pieces in the Ming style.


 “The plate has been kept in a box in a cupboard at a house in South Derbyshire ever since our client inherited it from her granny. It’s in good condition - even though granny did put a metal plate mount around it!


Measuring 13 inches in diameter, the plate is decorated on both sides with white flowering blossoms borne on leafy branches. Against a vibrant powder blue background, the flower petals and veins of leaves are detailed with fine slip trailing. The design derives from the Ming prototype of the 15th century.

The plate has ended up in the UK due to the business acumen of a Scotsman a century ago.

Mr Hanson said: “The plate belonged to Alexander Robertson, who was born in Thornhill, Scotland, in 1861. 

“Though from a humble background, he had big dreams and, sometime after 1881, he went to America to seek his fortune. He succeeded, becoming vice president of the Continental and Commercial Bank of Chicago in 1906.


“He set up a household that befitted a prosperous man. Solid silver cutlery, English bone china and objects d’art were accumulated. It is believed he purchased the Chinese plate in 1911. 

“Though he married he never had any children and, on his death in 1922, all his possessions were shipped back to Edinburgh and divided between relations.”


A member of the family selling the dish, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “We knew the dish was valuable because our auntie took it along to TV’s Antiques Roadshow in the 1990s and they said it was worth £20,000 then.” 


The dish will be sold in Hansons Auctioneers Fine Arts and Asian auction on Friday, September 29 with a guide price of £40-60,000.


For details about the auction and for advice on entries before the September 9 closing date, contact Charles Hanson or Adrian Rathbone on 01283 733988 or email


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