Chinese bidders buying back their heritage saw prices hit new heights at a North East auction.
Eleven albums of 19th Century Chinese scenes, put for up for auction by a seller from Tynemouth, were estimated to fetch between £1,000 and £1,800.
But they sold for £32,000 at Anderson & Garland’s Newcastle auction.
The same vendor also put up for sale a late 19th Century yellow woven Chinese silk cover, which was expected to go for £300-£500, but ended up fetching £18,000 from a Chinese buyer in the United States.
And a seller from Blyth in Northumberland who placed a set of amber beads into the auction, with a price tag of £100-£200, saw them sell for £10,500 to the Chinese market.
Anderson & Garland auctioneer, Fred Wyrley-Birch said: “The amber necklace which sold for £10,500 was brought in as part of a box of costume jewellery.
“ It was the honeycomb amber which is sought after by Chinese buyers because it is one of the seven lucky stones in Buddhism and is also used in Chinese fertility and calming medicines.”
Chinese buyers from China, the US and the UK were registered to bid online and by telephone. A total of 13 telephone lines were booked for the sale, and staff had to handle two telephone bidders at once to meet the demand.
“It was a very hotly contested sale both on the telephones and the internet,” said Mr Wyrley-Birch.
Four years ago Anderson & Garland sold an 8cms high porcelain Chinese water pot, thought to date from around 1700, for a North auction record of £270,000
The estimate for the pot was £60,000-£80,000. But the price soared after a Chinese art dealer flew into Newcastle from Beijing to view the piece.
Other Chinese pieces in the same sale included a white jade pendant which made £15,500, compared to a pre-sale estimate of £3,000-£5,000.
“You can put what seems to be a sensible estimate on such items but then they are completely blown out of the water,” said Anderson & Garland director Julian Thomson.
The Chinese market has taken off a with the growth of both the country’s economy and middle class.
“Initially it meant that anything Chinese was bought but now they are concentrating on fine, high quality items, Buyers are now very discerning,” said Mr Thomson.
The Newcastle company is part of the Triple A Association of Accredited Auctioneers , a set up which makes it easier for Chinese buyers to bid in UK auctions.
The association, which sent a delegation to a Beijing trade fair, is seen by Chinese buyers as a stamp of approval, with the group of around 30 provincial auction houses offering Asian bidders security.