A 400-year-old Chinese table made during the Ming Dynasty and found in a modest terraced house is tipped to sell for $127,399.
The rare rosewood table, standing 31in (79cm) high and 37in (94cm) wide, was made around 1600.
It is valued at between $63,699 and $101,919 but is likely to spark a bidding war at Hansons Auctioneers in October.
Bargain Hunt’s Charles Hanson discovered the remarkable piece in a two-up-two-down property in Derby, England.
He said: “It’s a really important table. Though it was made centuries ago, its simplicity reflects modern design. It is a work of art. It was crafted during the Ming Dynasty period which dates back to 1368-1644. Its simplicity defines modern style.
“Hansons’ Asian works of art consultant Adam Schoon has dated the table to around 1600. To put that into historical context, that was the end of the Tudor period in England and Wales. The Banzhuo side table is made of huanghuali wood, which was used to make fine furniture in China centuries ago.”
The unique floating panel construction is supported by three dovetail transverse stretchers underneath.
Charles, who owns Hansons Auctioneers, added: “It is an example of the finest Ming furniture, the pinnacle of table design. Items like this are mentioned in 16th century Chinese novels about life in grand houses.
“Its design has been seen in wall murals relating to the Jinyuan Dynasties of 1115-1368. It would have been owned by a high-ranking member of society, perhaps a government official or magistrate.
“Banzhuo literally means ‘half table’ and is so-called for its size, which is half that of an ‘eight immortals table’.
“The banzhuo was mainly used for serving wine and food and is also sometimes referred to as a jiezhuo, meaning extension table.”
Similar tables take pride of place in London’s Victorian and Albert Museum and in the Central Academy of Arts and Crafts in Beijing, China.
The sellers inherited it from a relative who was an avid collector of Asian artifacts. Charles said: “The sellers were aware of its importance and potential high value.
“They inherited it from a relation who was ‘head-over-heels for anything Asian’ and had a real understanding of architectural beauty.
“Despite its age, it displays minimal lines to suit modern interiors. The simplicity of its construction is impressive too. It has mortise and tenon joints, which have been used by woodworkers round the world for thousands of years.
“The industrial revolution of the early Ming Dynasty led to a golden age in furniture design.”
Emperor Longqing lifted a ban on maritime trade which allowed huanghuali, a tropical hardwood, to be imported from South-east Asia.
Due to the wood coming from slow-growing, small trees, the availability of furniture made from it is extremely rare.
Charles said: “The wood itself is a thing of beauty. Its dense, beautifully-figured grain displays a broad range of colors from pale honey to rich mahogany.
“It polishes to a translucent golden sheen. The finest huanghuali has a translucent shimmering surface with abstract patterns. Ming huanghuali furniture was admired for its simplicity and purity by wealthy Europeans who savored the Ming aesthetic.
“After a long period of China being closed off from the world, it was seen as a symbol of an emancipated China that had once again opened its doors. Today huanghuali furniture it is in demand at auction. It appeals to wealthy collectors from the Far East due to its elegance and historical significance.
“They’re keen to repatriate works of art to their homeland to celebrate and honor their culture.”
Produced in association with SWNS Talker