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Biddle & Webb auctioneer Jeremy Thornton

Jeremy Thornton’s top pick of the March sale goes to a beautiful Japanese Meiji period satsuma tea caddy by craftsmen Yabu Meizan.

In each of Biddle and Webb’s auctions there are always stand out pieces which get the team and buyers excited. This month’s special item realised an incredible £18,000.

Auctioneer Jeremy Thornton spotted the tea caddy canister at a couples home in Kenilworth Warwickshire. They were looking to downsize their home and thus their collection of ornaments and antiques which they had collected over the years from antique fairs. Most items looked to be valued at no more than £100. However one item which stood out among the others was a uniquely detailed tea caddy canister. After further research by another one of Biddle & Webb’s auctioneers Steven Bruce, it came to light that the Japanese tea caddy was by expert craftsmen Yabu Meizan and worth much more than first thought.

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LOT 659: Japanese Satsuma tea caddy canister – Yabu Meizan (1853-1934)

The satsuma pottery tea caddy is by expert craftsmen Yabu Meizan (1853-1934). It is of hexagonal shape with intricately detailed imagery on the panelling depicting animals and landscapes. What makes this particular tea caddy such a high value item is the one panel on the canister with its unique monkey design.

The tea caddy had an estimate of between £1,000- £2,000, however as time went on interest in the item increased with commission bids placed far above the estimated price. On the day of the auction there was excitement in the room as Jaanika Okk took to the rostrum and started the bidding for LOT 659. There were a mix of bidders from the UK and abroad all vying to be the lucky winner of this unique Japanese piece.

The hammer finally fell at an astonishing £18,000 – sold to an absentee bidder. This result was far beyond anyone’s expectations and a more than pleasant surprise for the owner of this item!

This story just goes to show that any of us could have a hidden gem lying around in our homes just waiting to be rediscovered…

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