Great Finds: A Doorstop in England turns out to be Carved Chinese Pot Worth £150K

A Chinese pot made from rare Zikan wood sold for £150,000 ($207,000) at Sworders auction house in England during a special Chinese Asian Arts Sale. The woman who owed the pot had used it as doorstop for the last 40 years. (Photo: Sworders Fine Art Auctioneers)

Quick, go check your doorstops.

A woman in Hertfordshire, England, is happy she decided to see what that old, carved-wood Chinese pot was worth. You know, the one she has been using to prop open a door in her cottage for the last 40 years? See, she needed to buy a new car and was tapped out.

She hoped that she might be able to squeeze a few thousand pounds out of the old thing, so she took it to be valued. It was appraised at £20,000—nice enough—but it ended up selling for £150,000 ($207,000) at Sworders auction house during a special Chinese Asian Arts Sale.

The woman, who is in her 50s and is remaining nameless for the time being, followed the auction on a computer. She told the Daily Telegraph she was “stunned” and “lost for words” when the gavel finally fell.

The woman had inherited the pot from her father, who had bought it from an antique shop years ago when Chinese works could be had for relatively low prices.

This rare blue and white moonflask dating to the Ming Dynasty was being used as a doorstop in a Long Island home. It sold for $1.3 million at Sotheby’s in 2012. (Photo: Sotheby’s)

It turns out that the thing was likely more than 200 years old, give or take, and made from rare Zikan wood. It depicts “The Hundred Boys,” a well-known Chinese folk tale. The carved boys that encircle the bowl are acting just like boys, as they are depicted as setting off fire crackers, playing drums, blowing horns and, of course, chasing bats. 

Guy Schooling, an auctioneer at Sworders, was quoted in the Telegraph saying that “although it was used as a doorstop, she could see it was quite a nice thing and decided to get it valued.”

It is believed that pot could have been used as a brush pot to hold calligraphy pens, but because of its large size, no one is certain what it was used for.

This is not the first time a doorstop of obvious Chinese origin ended up being auctioned for an astronomical price. A blue and white vase from the Ming Dynasty that was used as a doorstop in a home in Long Island, N.Y., sold for $1.3 million at Sotheby’s in September of 2012. The moonflask from the Yongle Period had a flattened, circular body and is described as well-painted in inky tones of cobalt blue, making it the perfect shape to keep that hallway door from blowing closed.

Gregory Watkins is the editor of You can e-mail him at

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