A small vintage ceramic vase that was bought for $3.30 at a UK thrift shop will go on auction later this month with a surprisingly large estimate: $11,800, according to CNN Style.
The four-inch vase was discovered in Surrey, England, by Karen and Ahmet, a couple who had “wandered into a charity shop to have a look around.” In a press release by Canterbury Auction Galleries, who is handling the vase’s sale, the current owner said she always heads straight for the books, while her partner looks for “art and vintage stuff.” (The sellers only provided their first names in the release.)
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“He’s not an expert but he does have great taste and an instinct for the ‘real thing,’” Karen said.
A keen-eyed Ahmet noticed etch marks on the vase’s bottom that he thought might be significant, though at the time he didn’t know how valuable the delicate cloisonné vase would be, according to the auction house.
After inspection the vase was found to be the work of one of Japan’s most famous artists from the Meiji period, the ceramist and cloisonné artist Namikawa Yasuyuki, who lived between 1845 and 1927.
Highly polished and beautifully intricate, cloisonné involves soldering fine strips of metal onto an object to make a design, then filling in the empty spaces with enamel paste. The object is then fired in a kiln before it is smoothed out and polished into a glassy shine.
“The beautiful work by Yasuyuki’s Kyoto studio is held in several collections and is highly sought-after,” said specialist Cliona Kilroy, co-director of Canterbury Auction Galleries, in the release. “He and Namikawa Sōsuke were the most famous cloisonné artists of the late 18th and early 19th centuries – the ‘Golden Age’ of enameling in Japan.”
A larger vase made by Yasuyuki sold for $38,000 at Canterbury in April 2019, the house said. The thrift shop discovery will go up for sale during a two-day auction starting on July 29. According to CNN, the couple plans to use some of the proceeds to the store where they found the vase as a “generous donation.”