Page last updated at 20:36 GMT, Thursday, 24 July 2008 21:36 UK

Drilled vase gets 25,000 at sale

The Chinese vase
It is believed the vase was bought in the Far East in the early 20th Century

A rare 250-year-old Chinese vase worth 50,000 in mint condition has sold for 25,000 after a hole was drilled in its base so it could be used as a lamp.

The porcelain, which dates from 1736 to 1796, was sold at a Dorset auctioneers to an anonymous private collector.

The seller's great-grandfather was believed to have bought the vase in the Far East in the early 20th Century.

The family, from south-west London, did not realise its value and made an 0.3in (8mm) hole to use it as a table lamp.

The vase was used as a lamp in the family's home for 40 years and the seller's great aunt carried on using it to light her West Country cottage.

A family friend then spotted the vase, which features plantation leaves, lotus flowers and leafy scrolls, and took it to be valued.

Experts dated the 15 inch (38cm)-high bottle-shaped piece to the reign of Emperor Qianlong.

Hole drilled into Chinese vase (picture Dukes of Dorchester)
The 8mm (0.3in) hole was drilled to allow electric cabling to power the lamp

It was also revealed that if its matching vase had not been lost, the undamaged pair would have had a value of 250,000.

Similar Qing Dynasty porcelain vases from the era have sold for up to 50,000.

Auctioneer Deborah Doyle, of Duke's of Dorchester, said: "I don't think the owners knew how much it was worth before they drilled a hole in the base.

"The lady who brought it in was obviously disappointed but happy it was worth something, she had no idea."

The item was listed to sell for between 3,000-6,000 although the auctioneers had said it could fetch up to 20,000.

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