A vase spotted under a table by an antiques expert soared to a five-figure sum at auction – much to the amazement of its seller.
The colourful vase was seen languishing on the landing at a house in Richmond, London, by Chris Kirkham, associate director of auction house Hansons London.
He’d been called in to see if any house clearance items might be of value - and immediately recognised the object was by celebrated 19th century French art potter Théodore Deck.
It sparked a bidding war when it under the hammer at Hansons London on June 27, finally selling to a private European buyer for a hammer price of £10,000. With the addition of buyer’s premium and VAT, the total price paid was £13,000.
Chris Kirkham with the vase. Inset Théodore Deck. Wikipedia image.
Seller Mr Paul Totham, 55, from Surrey, said: “I had no idea it was so valuable. All credit to Chris Kirkham, he spotted its potential straight away. He realised it was by Deck.
“We settled on a guide price of £500-£1,000 but I would have been happy with £400 at auction. It was so exciting watching the sale online. The price just went up and up. Afterwards I sent Chris a text and thanked him enormously.
“The vase belonged to my godmother who died in 2019 at the age of 85. I am co-executor of her estate and have been involved in clearing her house in Richmond.
“The vase was under a table on the landing, not in a prominent place. We didn’t realise it was special. We invited Chris in before lockdown to have to look at a few items, including some bits of jewellery and a watch, when he spotted the vase.
“We have no idea where it came from. My godmother was not an art collector. She was a music teacher who never married. The proceeds from the sale will go to the beneficiaries of her estate.”
Aspects of the richly-decorated vase.
Mr Kirkham said: “I saw the vase during a routine valuation visit. It was hidden under a table by the stairs. I was excited straight away. I recognised it to be the work of Théodore Deck. Its monumental size probably means it was made as an exhibition piece.
“I have owned a few pieces by Deck and have always admired his work. He was influenced by Chinese and Islamic designs with celadon and turquoise glazes. I recognised it from the turquoise glaze.
“I suggested it could sell for between £500-£1,000 but being a fan of Deck, I am delighted it sold for ten times its estimate. And, of course, I am even more delighted for Paul and the beneficiaries of the estate he is taking care of. It was a lovely surprise for them all.”
Théodore Deck (1823–1891) was an important figure in late 19th-century art pottery. Born in Guebwiller, Haut-Rhin, France, he moved to Paris at the age of 24. In 1856 he established his own faience (earthenware) workshop, Joseph-Théodore Deck Ceramique Française, and began experiment with styles from Islamic pottery. When Japonisme arrived in the 1870s he embraced this and other art pottery trends, finally conquering the French establishment when he was made art director of Sèvres porcelain in 1887.
Entries invited for Hansons London's next sale
Hansons London, which is based at the Normansfield Theatre, Teddington, TW11 9PS, is now gathering lots for its August 29 auction with entries of all types of antiques, collectables, jewellery, gold and watches welcome until August 8. To arrange a free valuation, please email [email protected].