Potter toothbrush pot is ancient treasure

Karl Martin with his car boot sale pot
Karl Martin with his car boot sale pot

A pottery jar that was used as a toothbrush holder has turned out to be a 4000-year-old antiquity, according to a Derbyshire auction house.

The piece of pottery was bought as part of a pair for just £4 at a car boot sale and recently sold at Hansons Auctioneers for £80.

The pottery jar, featuring a painting of an antelope, was snapped up from a stall at a car boot sale in the village of Willington in South Derbyshire some five years ago by Derby man Karl Martin – and he bought it along with another pot, £4 for the pair.

“I liked it straight away,” said Mr Martin, 49, a keen collector who followed his passion for all things old, quirky and collectable by joining the team at Derbyshire’s Hansons Auctioneers seven years ago.

“I used it in the bathroom to store my toothpaste and toothbrush – it even ended up getting a few toothpaste marks on it.

“I suspected it might be very old but forgot all about it.  Then, one day at work, I was helping Hansons’ antiquities expert James Brenchley unload a van and noticed some pottery which was similar to my toothbrush pot. The painting style looked the same and it had similar crudely-painted animal figures.

“I rescued the pot from my bathroom and asked him to examine it for me. He confirmed it was a genuine antiquity from Afghanistan and dated back to 1900 BC.

Ancient pot found at car boot sale

“That means it’s around 4,000 years old – made 2,000 years before Christ was born. It’s amazing, really. How it ended up at a South Derbyshire car boot sale, I’ll never know.

“I like the pot but decided to sell it at Hansons’ November antiquities auction just to see how it would do. There was interest straight away with advance bids placed and it eventually sold for £80 – not a fortune but a decent profit. Perhaps I should have held on to it. I feel a bit guilty about keeping my toothbrush in it now.”

James Brenchley, head of antiquities at Hansons Auctioneers, said: “This is an Indus Valley Harappan Civilisation pottery jar dating back to 1900 BC. This was a Bronze Age civilisation mainly in the north western regions of South Asia.

“Along with Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, it was one of three early cradles of civilisations of the Old World, and of the three, the most widespread. The civilisation was primarily located in modern-day India and Pakistan as well as Afghanistan.”

“I do come across items like this from time to time and was familiar with the painting technique. It was probably brought back to the UK years ago by wealthy travellers.”

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