A rare 18th century plate inspired by the Ming dynasty is tipped to be sold for £150,000 after it was found at the back of a kitchen cupboard.
The precious antique carries the reign mark of Emperor Yongzheng (1723-1735) and is decorated on both sides with white flowering blossoms borne on leafy branches.
It was first bought by Scottish businessman Alexander Robertson in 1911, but after 95 years his family have decided to sell it at auction.
The plate has already attracted interest across the world, with several potential Chinese buyers flying in to the UK to take a closer look, ahead of the auction on Friday.
This rare plate, inspired by the Ming Dynasty, is tipped to fetch £150,000 when sold at auction
Despite its historical importance, he plate had been tucked away in a carboard box after its owners inherited it from their grandmother two years ago.
A version of the same plate is on display at the National Museum of China, while a similar dish is on show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
The design derives from the Ming prototype of the 15th century.
Mr Robertson went to the US to seek his fortune as a 20-year-old in 1881 and rose to become president of the Continental and Commercial Bank of Chicago.
He purchased the Chinese plate or an unknown fee, but after his death in 1922, all his possessions were shipped back to Edinburgh and divided between relations.
Scottish businessman Alexander Robertson bought the plate in 1911 and it was passed down to his relatives after he died in 1922
The antique has remained in the family for almost a century but they have decided now is the right time to put it on the market.
A member of the family, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: ‘We knew the dish was valuable because our auntie took it along to TV’s Antiques Roadshow in the 1990s and they said it was worth £20,000 then.
‘My auntie, who lived with my granny, used to hang it on the wall but I was too scared to have it on show when my family inherited it two years ago. I put it away in a box inside a cupboard.’
Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons Auctioneers, in Derbyshire, who are selling the plate, said: ‘This Chinese plate, which had been hidden away in a kitchen cupboard in south Derbyshire, could now easily exceed £150,000.
‘Interest in it was strong from the start but when we revealed that replica versions of the plate existed in the National Museum of China and the Guangdong Museum, it became extremely hot property.
‘Potential Chinese bidders have made special journeys to our saleroom in Etwall to view the plate privately.
The plate was brought on the Antiques Roadshow during the 1990s (pictured) where experts estimated that it was worth around £20,000
The plate (left) is decorated on both sides with white flowering blossoms borne on leafy branches and carries the reign mark of Emperor Yongzheng (right) (1723-1735)
‘There is also a similar plate in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and all of these factors make it even more desirable for Chinese collectors and dealers as well as European ‘Chinamaniacs’.
‘The ‘reverse blue’ technique used on the plate dates back to the early Ming dynasty and the Yongzheng emperor, being a noted porcelain connoisseur, commissioned high-quality pieces in the Ming style.
‘To own such a rare and important piece is hugely appealing to many collectors.
‘The plate had been kept in a box in a kitchen cupboard at a house in South Derbyshire ever since our client inherited it from her granny two years ago.
‘It’s in good condition – even though granny did put a metal plate mount around it!
‘That has now been professionally removed.’