Phone battle to win the cup

An exciting ten-way phone bidding war has seen a highly carved 16th century Ming Dynasty libation cup sell for four times it estimate to a British collector for £200,000 at Sworders Fine Art auctioneers of Stansted Mountfitchet.

 16th century Ming Dynasty libation cupOf exceptional design, the 400-year-old 7½ wide by 5½in high (19cm x 14cm) cup is made from rhinoceros horn, so subject to strict international laws, drawn up to protect endangered species, that allow for the sale and export of such pieces under highly restricted conditions.

The sale at Sworders, which included a number of other highlights, is part of a wider celebration of works of art from China, Japan, Korea and India that has grown up during the ten-day Asian Art in London festival of auctions, gallery shows, museum exhibitions and talks that bring in collectors and academics from all over the world.

Sworders’ libation cup, which had carried a top estimate of £50,000, is just the latest in a series of exceptional Chinese works sold by the Essex auction house. In April 2014, they took £150,000 hammer for a very large, carved Zitan wood ‘Hundred Boys’ bitong or brushpot, dating to the late 18th or early 19th century, that had been used as a doorstop in a Hertfordshire cottage for over 40 years.

“We have taken a special interest in Asian art – and particularly Chinese works of art – for a number of years, and are privileged to have native Chinese speaker among our specialist staff who has been of invaluable help in developing this area of expertise for us,” said Sworders managing director Guy Schooling.

“Together with the expert knowledge of our other specialists in this field, this has led to a number of outstanding sales of this type at our Essex saleroom.”

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