Indian casket could unlock small fortune

A metal box set aside for scrap could fetch thousands of pounds at auction after being spotted by an antiques expert.

Adrian Rathbone, associate director of Hansons Auctioneers, came across the object during a routine home visit in Lichfield, Staffs, to value items uncovered in lockdown – and immediately knew it could be highly valuable.

Antique Indian casketHe said: “A client had requested a home visit for some general advice on items they were clearing out after a good sort out during lockdown. Laid out on the dining room were numerous tea sets and general china and glass. Unfortunately, the tea wares and other items did not carry any notable value but when the client pointed out a metal box described as scrap and destined for the tip I couldn’t believe my eyes.

“Among the old candlesticks and pewter wares was a small steel casket with gold decoration. I  knew immediately it could be something special, so took it away to carry out research. The 15cm wide casket with hinged lid and intricate gold surface decoration turned out to originate from North India and dates from the 1850’s. It is a type of ware known as Sialkhot Koftgari. As it has a lock it’s likely someone of great stature used it to hold their precious jewellery.”

The Indian casket has been valued at £2,000-£3,000 and will be go under the hammer in Hansons’ October 8 Country House Fine and Decorative Arts Auction at Bishton Hall, Staffordshire.

Adrian said: “It’s great when you find something unexpectedly lurking in a corner. I really feel happy for the owner because, when you tell them an item they were going to discard is actually worth a lot of money, it really makes their day.

“These types of caskets rarely turn up at auction so there are few to compare it to, and they vary in size, but all have the most distinctive intricate gold surface decoration mimicking Indian architectural features.

“The message to anyone who’s been having a lockdown clear-out, is don’t dismiss anything. In an ever-changing market, it is more crucial than ever to gain expert advice on your possessions.”

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