By James Bateman
Lot 519 was always going to be the star at Bearnes Hampton Littlewood Fine Art sale in Exeter on 30th January.
So valuable it had to be kept separately in a secure location during the sale preview, I was lucky enough to be given a private view by resident ceramic expert Nic Saintey.
It was a beautiful blue and white baluster vase with a six-character Qianlong seal mark to the base. The Qianlong reign was 1736-1795, part of the Qing Dynasty. Painted with scrolling paeony, it had a pair of handles in the form of ruyi. A ruyi was a curved decorative sceptre.
The vase had been in the same family since being purchased by an ancestor in Shanghai in the early 20th Century.
A £5,000 deposit was required before one could bid.