Just imagine walking home on a wet and windswept evening balancing an umbrella and your bag precariously as you try to shelter from the elements. You just want to get home, shove the umbrella in its stand, make a warm cup of tea and dry out.
Just imagine if that neglected 'umbrella stand' turned out to be an 18th century Imperial Chinese vase valued at up to half a million pounds!
Exactly this happened to a couple who recently invited auctioneer Guy Schwinge of Hy Duke & Sons in Dorchester to their home for a routine valuation. Just imagine their shock! Schwinge believes that the vase was almost certainly made for the Emperor Qianlong around 1740, and it may also have been owned at one time by Florence Nightingale.
Given to the couple as a gift around 50 years ago, it is sadly damaged as one would expect after a few wet, wintry evenings of being irritated. Had it not been damaged, it may have fetched up to £1million.
The vase comes up for auction on Thursday 11th February - I wonder what it will fetch? Fresh to market, fine quality and rare Chinese porcelain has been soaring in the auction rooms lately, with literally millions of pounds exchanging hands. Only last year, my old colleague and friend James Bridges of auctioneers Martel Maides found two ignored bowls in a house on the Channel Islands which went back home for a total of nearly £1.2million. One to watch for sure.