A tiny Chinese teapot-like container discovered during a garage clear-out may fetch £100,000 during its auction sale on September 24 at Hansons Auctioneers UK. The rare ewer, measuring about 15 cm, is owned by a 51-year-old construction worker from Derbyshire who wished to remain anonymous. The item was a gift by his grandfather who was stationed in Asia during World War II.

According to Hanson Auctioneers, the centuries-old artefact may have once belonged to an emperor and is estimated to get price bids between £20,000 and £40,000. However, they are confident that Chinese collectors could offer up to £100,000.

Initially, the owner had planned on sending it to a charity shop. It had enjoyed many years on his mother's display cabinet and found its way into a ubiquitous box in a relative's garage in Church Gresley, Derbyshire. Having been forced to do a deep clean during the lockdown, the owner was able to go through his garage storage and came upon the item.

"I admit, we'd been thinking of sending everything to a charity shop," he said.

"I'd always thought the teapot, which is what I called it, was special. Even so, when I took it to Hansons I was still unsure, so I dug out a few other bits and pieces for them to value in case they laughed at me when I pulled it out," the man added.

Valuers at Hansons' Auctioneers were able to identify the ewer as a wine decanter dating back to the 18th Century and was probably an item used in the palace of Chinese Emperor Qianlong, BBC reports.

Emperor Qianlong was known for being a collector as well as a curator. He had followed market trails of rare paintings and antiquities with the help of a team of cultural advisers. He had an unquenchable thirst for collecting and had acquired much of China's "great private collections." His extensive art acquisitions were an intimate part of his life. He would often take his landscape paintings on his travels to make actual comparisons of the landscape.

During his rule, he had also commissioned Italian Jesuit Guiseppe Castiglione for his Western-style mansion. He also listed the services of French Jesuit Michel Benoist to design timed fountains and water features for the imperial mansion in an effort to satisfy his obsession with exotic buildings and objects.

Hansons' owner said there are two other "almost identical" objects resembling the tiny teapot that exists to this day and they are housed in separate museums in Taiwan and China.

Qing vase smashes world record in glowing China art sales
Hong Kong-based connoisseur Alice Cheng holds a yellow-ground famille-rose double-gourd vase that she bought at a Sotheby's auction in Hong Kong October 7, 2010. The vase, with a seal mark and period of Qianglong, was sold for HK252,660,000 ($32.4 million) on Thursday, said to be a world record for any Chinese work of art or porcelain at auction. Reuters