Ming vases discovered in Northamptonshire

Centuries-old Chinese Ming vases worth thousands of pounds have been discovered by TV antiques expert Charles Hanson at a garden party in Northamptonshire. 

Charles, a familiar face on Bargain Hunt and Celebrity Antiques Road Trip, attended the event at Jeyes of Earls Barton and guests were invited to bring along interesting antiques. 

He said: “Antique-inspired fun is always exciting, even more so when you uncover something special. My eye was taken by a rare pair of Chinese celadonglazed vases. Celadon is a pottery term denoting wares glazed in the jade green celadon colour. I recognised from their reticulated or pierced design that they were from the Ming dynasty, which ran from 1368 to 1644. The bases showed ware evident of the period and their square, pierced outline demonstrated a Cong form.   

“It was a wonderful discovery dating back nearly 500 years. These vases were made in circa 1550. To put that into historical context Henry VIII was King of England until 1547.  They were purchased from a country house sale in the 1940s. Europeans admired the quality, design and ingenuity of Chinese ceramics and these objects would have been proudly displayed.  

“They are examples of Longquan celadon, a type of green-glazed Chinese ceramic produced from about 950 to 1550. The Longquan kiln in China’s Zhejiang Provence is renowned for its celadon glazes. Longquan ceramics were an important part of China’s export economy for more than 500 years, particularly in the Ming period, a time when porcelain and ceramic production flourished.   

For centuries, celadon wares were highly regarded by the Chinese imperial court, before being replaced in fashion by painted wares, especially blue and white porcelain. The similarity of the colour to jade, traditionally the most highly valued material in China, was a major part of the attraction. 

The vases have a porcelaneous stoneware body and would have been among the finest products in  ranges produced at the time.  The shade of green together with the technical advancement demonstrated by the pierced work make examples like this highly collectable. These vases have a real history and culture within the story of Chinese ceramics.   

“Oriental antiques are highly sought after because wealthy collectors from the Far East are keen to repatriate items to their homeland. The pair of vases, which are 20cm high, are expected to realise between £2,000 and £3,000 but it would be no surprise to see them hammer much higher.” 

The Ming vases will be offered in Hansons Auctioneers’ October 6 Fine Art Auction.