Ming Dynasty box sold for $358k at auction

A 15th-century Chinese box that has been sitting in an attic for decades was sold at auction for $358,000 on May 18, beyond its initial estimated price.

The box, which was created during the 1430s in the imperial workshops near the Forbidden City in Beijing and bears the marks of Xuande, the fifth Emperor of the Ming Dynasty, was initially estimated to sell for between $7,400 and $12,000.

“It is one of the only five known in the world; three of the five pieces are in museums or institutional collections, and one is in a private collection,” said Dreweatts auctioneers.

This is the box’s first time to be auctioned in 77 years, after being considered lost and later found among Maj. Edward Copleston Radcliffe’s collection when he died after buying it in 1946 for $24.

The circular piece is 12 cm in diameter and features a design of ripe pomegranates, gold branches, and blossoms. Pomegranates were a symbol of fertility in the 15th century.

The auction had strong bidding between nine bidders over the phone and was finalised with a private collector in Asia buying the box.

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