Hidden treasure: unsuspecting Devonian sells Sèvres teapot for £32,000

PUBLISHED: 15:51 18 June 2014

The Sèvres teapot and plate were discovered in a Devon home

The Sèvres teapot and plate were discovered in a Devon home


Local auctioneer discovers rare items and makes £38,125 at London ceramics sale

A Sèvres plate and teapot set discovered in Devon have sold for a total of £38,125 in the European Ceramics sale in London today.

Local expert, Sam Tuke of Bonhams fine art and antiques auctioneers, unearthed the piece from a client’s house shortly before Christmas.

“I spotted something that looked interesting on the pine dresser in the kitchen. It turned out that I’d found a rather special Sèvres tea pot with a very unusual colour,” he explains.

After another short rummage, he also found a Sèvres plate, which once held pride of place at Paris’ famous Grand Exhibition in 1851.

“The client had inherited the teapot and plate but had no idea that either of them might be valuable. She just thought them rather pretty, which they certainly are.”

Pretty enough, in fact, to have captivated the attention of Madame de Pompadour, who was well-known for her penchant for porcelain. De Pompadour, who was also Louis XV’s mistress, assisted with the development of the Sèvres factory, which swiftly grew in regional esteem.

Nowadays, these impressively-detailed high Rococo period ceramics are held in high regard (and high price) the world over, particularly due to their rarity. Most pieces are mere copies dating to the 19th century with a market value of just £500, and the only other known saucer and milk jug in a similar style known to have survived sold for $25,000 in New York.

Meanwhile, Tuke’s client’s teapot sold today in London for £32,000, and the plate for £5,625.

Whilst he claims to be “delighted with this result”, he doesn’t hesitate to add a word of caution, as this is the second high-value item to have been found in an unsuspecting client’s home – the other, a carved Indian temple step, which sold for £553,250 last year.

“If you are not absolutely sure of what you have, do dust carefully!”

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