Stoke & Staffordshire

Ming cup found at Staffordshire University sells for £3m

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Media captionA rare Chinese cup donated to a Midlands university has sold for £3.1m

A "dusty old cup" found in a university cabinet has sold for £3m after it was found to be a rare piece from the Chinese Ming dynasty.

The cup, thought to have been made for an emperor in 1425, was among a collection of antiques discovered by chance at Staffordshire University.

Valued at £2m, an unknown buyer paid £3.17m at auction in Hong Kong.

Professor Flavia Swann said she was "delighted" at the sale and the money will fund a national ceramics centre.

More on the Ming cup and Staffordshire news

Little is known about the collector of the rare Chinese artefacts other than his name was Ernest Thornhill and he was a chemist in London.

He donated his collection of more than 270 pieces to protect them from being bombed during World War Two.

Image copyright Auctioneers Lyon & Turnbull
Image caption The collection was donated to Staffordshire University during World War Two

Prof Swann said the antiques had been discovered in the 1970s after a chance conversation with the head of the Ceramic Technology Department.

It was after they said: "I've got some dusty old pots cluttering up my corridor, would you like to have a look?"

The pots, including the cup, were put into storage at the university. The cup only emerged again last year, when it was revalued.

The remaining collection is stored at a secret location in the West Midlands.

Image caption Professor Flavia Swann said the money will be spent on a new ceramics centre at the university

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