Page last updated at 16:46 GMT, Thursday, 15 April 2010 17:46 UK

Rare jade elephants found in Dorset to go under hammer

Pair of Jade elephants
The elephants will be auctioned in Salisbury on 19 May

An "exceptional and highly important" pair of Chinese jade elephants found in a house in Dorset are expected to sell for more than £1m at an auction in May.

The rare animals were made for Emperor Qianlong in the 18th Century and were bought by one of the Queen Mother's goddaughters, Mary Anna Marten.

The elephants had been in her house near Wimborne since 1952 and were found after she died in January, aged 80.

Each elephant is 19cm by 17cm (7.5in by 6.8in) and weighs 6kg (13lbs).

'Incredible objects'

The ornaments have rare Qianlong four-character reign marks - stamps indicating when the objects were made.

Clare Durham, from Woolley and Wallis auction house, described the elephants as "incredible objects which are very rare".

"Nothing really similar has been seen on the market before, not two of them certainly.

"Elephants are very significant in Chinese culture, which could boost their value."

Last year a jade buffalo sold at the auction house for £3.4m.

The ornaments will be auctioned by Woolley and Wallis in Salisbury on 19 May.

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