A Canterbury Tale Of Two Bowls

kangxi-bowlAn antiques collector who sold a Chinese bowl may have lost out on £150,000 after forgetting he had another that would have made a lucrative pair. Tony Evans and his family were thrilled when his antique ‘rice’ bowl from the 18th century fetched a staggering £235,000 at auction.

But it wasn’t until after the sale that the family remembered a matching piece Mr Evans had given to son Simon 30 years ago.

The second bowl is now set to command a similar price when it sells as a single lot, making a total of nearly £470,000 for the pair.

But experts believe that had the items been offered together they could have fetched over £600,000.

Mr Evans, from Kent, had inherited the two Imperial porcelain bowls from his father Fred who had brought them back from working in China in the 1920s.

The extremely rare bowls are six inches in diameter, are decorated with pheasants and were made for the Chinese Emperor Kangxi in the 1720s.


Simon Evans, a 55-year-old chartered surveyor, had no idea what his bowl was when given it and has stored it in a box in the back of a cupboard for three decades. Mr Evans, from East Anglia, said: ‘My jaw hit the floor when I found out my father’s bowl sold for a six-figure sum.

‘A few days after the sale he suddenly announced that he thought there might have been a pair of them. ‘He had completely forgotten about giving it to me and I had also forgotten about receiving it. ‘It was my wife, Clare, who said ‘oh yes, we do have a Chinese bowl in a box’ that prompted us to get it out and low and behold there was the twin of the first bowl.

‘I had just put it in a cupboard for safekeeping and simply forgot about it.

‘I’ve decided to sell it not because I need the money but because I’m anxious about having something so valuable in the house.

‘It is easy to wonder with the benefit of hindsight just how much a pair would have been worth had we sold them together. A pair being sold together must be extremely rare.

‘But it seems rather pointless to think like that now because it has been and gone.’

The first pheasant bowl was sold last year by the Canterbury Auction Galleries in Kent that had put a pre-sale estimate of £8,000 to £12,000 on it.

But because the market for Oriental antiques is booming at the moment due to the newly-rich Chinese buying back their heritage, bidding on it took off. It eventually went to an anonymous Chinese buyer, who saw off 11 other rival bidders to net it for £195,000. With the fees added on he would have paid £235,000.

The same auction house is now selling the second bowl. Although the estimate is £150,000 there is no reason why it will not sell for a similar price.

Tony Evans’ father started collecting Oriental porcelain in 1925 during the time he worked for an Anglo/Chinese mining company in the port of Tientsin near Beijing.

His son, now aged in his 80s, began his own collection in the 1960s and 1970s from top London dealers.

Alastair Gibson, an expert of Chinese porcelain and consultant to the Canterbury Auction Galleries, said: ‘We obviously didn’t know about the existence of the second bowl.

‘After the first sold for the significantly high price the vendor popped up and said he might have had a twin to that bowl.

‘Had we known it would have been nice to have the two bowls together in a single sale. Sadly, we didn’t know.’

The auction for the second bowl takes place on April 16-17.


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