It’s fair to say Bargain Hunt contestants are a big fan of the quirky little teapots found in the back of living room cabinets on the popular daytime show.

But BBC One viewers were in for quite a surprise after one lucky fella brought in his humble goods after a much-needed lockdown spring clean.

As excited clients queued up around the block with their hidden gems, one gentleman brought a slew of ornaments which were collecting dust around his house that he hoped would bring in a pretty penny or else end up in his local charity shop.

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And it’s fair to say his humble stash may just go down in history as the most valuable items to enter the lucky auction house after it was valued at an eye-watering £390,000.

Antiques expert Charles Hanson was overwhelmed with surprise to see the prized 18th Century find – originating from China – tucked away in a little home in Burton-Upon-Trent.

The Hansons auctioneer founder described the historic item as “the most important item I've ever sold” as he explained the value of the tiny teapot to presenter Natasha Raskin Sharp whose story aired back in 2020.

She said: “Of course, valuable items aren’t found every day but our next story might just restore your faith that hidden gems are out there.

“I’m joined now by auctioneer Charlies Hanson who has brought something rather special for us to peruse. Charles at first glance, a wee teapot, but what exactly is it?”

Her introduction gave the BBC expert the chance to gush over the small ceramic which almost ended up on the shelves of a charity shop.

He gushed: “It’s amazing, I think this is the ultimate Bargain Hunt find; our client came into the salesroom with a bag for charity but then this came out and he said, ‘Is it worth anything?’

“What we’ve got here Natasha, is a [teapot] and it would’ve been a ceremonial [teapot] used by the court of Emperor Qianlong in the 18th century.

“So it’s an imperial piece of enamel on copper, with that imperial yellow ground, very sacred, very important and very rare.”

Charles went on: “Emperor Qianlong who was that great Emperor of the Arts, he wanted his Beijing enamellist to make the very best. And the quality is simply out of this world.

“This is one of only three known, one’s in a museum in Taiwan, one’s in the museum of Beijing, China, and out of humble Burton-Upon-Trent, voila! Unbelievably we have another.”

The auctioneer then went on to reveal how the item had spent the best half of the last five decades hidden away in a loft after the owner’s grandfather, Ronald Wadsworth, went to Japan in his youth.

Natasha spoke about the inevitable international interest in the pretty antique, particularly from the Far East.

Charles agreed: “I think you’re right, it’s probably what Faberge is to Russians and what imperial enamel is to Chinese billionaires and this to me, is a must-have object for any important Chinese connoisseur wishing to but the best of Emperor Qianlong’s treasures.

“This object for me, is in its historical placement, the most important object I've ever sold,” he proudly admitted.

Meanwhile the owner of the valuable ceramic – a construction worker from Swadlincote, shared his thought on the family hand-me-down after he inherited the humble teapot from Burma Star medal owner Ronald, went under the hammer.

He confessed: “I’m thrilled, this will change a few things for us all. I sat and watched the auction live at home with my brother and family.

“It was tense. I got a few cans of Guinness in beforehand. We’ll be going for a drink tonight and toasting granddad.”


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