Pot donated to charity is worth £360,000
ONE of Bristol's best-loved hospices has hit the jackpot after a dusty old brushpot handed in to one of their charity shops turned out to be worth a cool £360,000.
The ornate bamboo Chinese pot was one of the items in a house clearance that was donated to St Peter's Hospice, and an eagle-eyed worker at the charity's shop branch in Clevedon spotted it and got in touch with a local auctioneer.
Toby Pinn, from the Clevedon Sales Rooms, gives regular training to managers of the hospice's 46 charities in and around Bristol, advising them on how to spot one could be a valuable antique if it is handed in.
And after years of being consulted on what would turn out to be ordinary items, the training paid off as staff pulled out the small pot and gave Mr Pinn a call.
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His colleague, senior valuer Mark Fraser, realised it could be worth a few thousand pounds and devoted hours of research to establish it could be an important 300-year-old Chinese artefact.
He then got in touch with the one of the nation's leading experts of Asian antiques – Woolley and Wallis in Salisbury – and on Wednesday it went under the hammer with the hope that it could fetch a five-figure sum.
In the end, bidding was fierce and it was sold to a businessman from Hong Kong for an amazing £360,000. St Peter's Hospice has already decided where they will spend the money. The charity relies entirely on fundraising to run its valuable £6 million a year hospice, but the £360,000 windfall makes up around a third of the usual income it receives from all its 46 shops in Bristol.
"We are shocked but delighted that this brushpot far exceeded the amount even experts believed it would raise at auction," said Janet Loud, St Peter's Hospice head of shops. "It is a fantastic boost for St Peter's Hospice in these difficult economic times when fund-raising is tough.
"The amount raised enables us to launch fatigue and breathlessness management courses for patients in Bristol and South Gloucestershire in outreach centres, helping those with life-threatening illnesses in the community.
"We are grateful not only to the anonymous donor but also to the antiques experts at Clevedon Salerooms and Woolley and Wallis, who achieved such a marvellous result for us through their knowledge," she added.
Woolley and Wallis's head of Asian Art, John Axford said the full proceeds from the sale will go to the hospice – with both auction houses waiving their fees. It was Mr Axford who confirmed the piece was in fact a rare carved 'landscape' bitong, or brushpot, made in China between 1662 and 1722 by one of the most famous artists of the period.
"We are delighted with this result for the charity – we hope such a significant sum will really make a difference to their work. The brushwasher is a very fine and rare example and generated a lot of excitement at the auction," he said.
Mr Pinn said: "We have a great relationship with St Peter's and every year I go and do some training with all their shop managers, just to give them some advice on what to look out for.
"We always say to them that if they think something might be a bit valuable to give us a call, and we regularly pop in to their shops all over Bristol to check things out. Sometimes it might be something that could raise more money in an auction, but more often than not we'll have to say that they might as well put it on their shelf. This time, though, the training really paid off. Not in our wildest dreams did we think it would be worth this much."