What sort of plate do you put on a £1,300 stand?

Bidders at a Darlington auction were stunned recently when a plate stand – without a plate – sold for £1,300 at Thomas Watson’s latest Fine Sale. The Chinese huanghuali wood stand soared over its £400-£600 estimate largely thanks to an intricate jade plaque set at its base which is of extremely high quality and has been very skilfully carved to depict four boys. The stand came from a house in Stockton but will be going further afield for its next home having been sold after a fierce bidding battle to a buyer in Spain.

One of nearly 700 lots at the Northumberland Street auction house’s summer Fine Sale, the plate stand wasn’t the only item to reach an unexpectedly high price on the day. Among other successes were a Meissen clock, estimated at £200-£400, which reached £1,800 and a mahogany bergere chair that more than doubled its estimate to sell for £1,400. Jade did well elsewhere in the sale too with a lot comprising a carved jade plaque, a gourd-shaped vase and a short green vase in the style of an apple achieving £1,000 – 10 times the original estimate.

Thomas Watson’s Auctioneer and head of Fine Sales, David Elstob, explained: “The plate stand was definitely a highlight of a great day in the saleroom. ‘Plate stand’ sounds like a relatively mundane thing but this one was beautiful in its own right. The craftsmanship and quality of the jade, which is notoriously difficult to carve, really made it stand out and attract the buyers’ attention. But if you have a £1,300 plate stand, you need a very special plate to put on it – maybe we’ll see something suitable at our next Fine Sale in the Autumn!” he said.

Thomas Watson hosts fortnightly Gallery Sales and quarterly Fine Sales at its saleroom on Northumberland Street in Darlington with full catalogues and details of more auction results at www.thomaswatson.com.

Published by Thomas Watson on September 02, 2014