FOUND > $1 Secondhand Bowls Fetch $83,000

"I just can’t believe it. I’ve had to sit down.” - Owner

Hanson's assistant Emma Leatherland (pictured) holding two of three bowls.

January 7, 2018
By Ruthie Bowles, Contributing Author for What Sells Best News

ETWALL, UK - Hansons Auctioneers and The Birmingham Mail are reporting, three small Chinese bowls, purchased for $1 each at a secondhand scrapstore, have garnered $83,000 (£62,000) collectively at auction.


A Midlands couple celebrated some Christmas good fortune at the end of 2017 when they found out that three Chinese bowls they placed for auction pulled in a much larger sum than previously expected.

The couple, wishing to remain anonymous, initially took the bowls to Hanson’s free antique valuation day in Lichfield, where experts told them each bowl was valued at $675 to $1,000 (£500 to £800). They decided to purchase a new carpet for their stairs after the December 19th sale.

With that settled, they didn’t think of the bowls again until Hansons Auctioneers called them to discuss the results of the sale. The owner told The Birmingham Mail in an interview “I’m absolutely amazed. I just can’t believe it. I’ve had to sit down.” The couple believe the wife may be able to retire on this unexpected sum.

The wife described her father as a Chinese pottery collector. He picked up many pieces in scrap shops during the 1940’s and 50’s in Nottingham. He rarely paid over £1 ($1.35) for anything.

Many Chinese men served in the British Navy during World War II. At the end of the war, the government forcibly repatriated them, while their wives and mixed children remained behind in the UK. It is easy to imagine the sad tale that might have led to these lovely bowls being placed in a junk shop.

The three bowls are yellow, red, and light blue, and are almost 6-inches (15 centimeters) in diameter. They were purchased by Chinese buyers trying to reclaim a small piece of their heritage.

The bowls were likely used as rice bowls. At a meal, each diner has a small rice bowl, and portions of each entree are placed inside of it. Each bowl is elaborately decorated with pastoral scenes, pomegranates, chrysanthemums, and other floral decorations.

The bowls have the Daoguang mark on them, meaning they were created during the Daoguang reign of the Qing Dynasty (1821-1850).

Charles Hanson of Hansons Auctioneers knew the bowls would sell but was quoted as saying “I was excited about these Chinese bowls and we thought they could do well but this result is exceptional.”


President Xi Jinping (China’s president since 2013) has expressed on many occasions that protecting and preserving Chinese culture is important to rejuvenate the nation. Coupled with China’s steady 30-year economic growth, China’s richest collectors vie for a chance to reclaim a bit of their heritage.


Among the Treasures, and rare Chinese porcelain we have tracked, the final sale prices for these bowls is still startling. It’s likely buyers will continue to compete fiercely for rare Chinese items. 

Small details make a big difference in the prices of Chinese porcelain. If you believe you have found something, you may want to check with the experts at Hansons, or on our free appraisals page.


Hansons Auctioneers sold the bowl trio on December 19th, 2017 for  £24,000, £20,000 and £18,000, or, £62,000 ($83,000) total. The resultant bidding war obliterated the original £500-£800 per bowl estimate.