A Cup Kept in a Couple’s Garage Is Revealed to Be a Qing Dynasty Treasure Worth Thousands

Antiques Road Trip star Charles Hanson discovered the cup during a regular house visit, but what he found in a Cotswolds garage was anything but.

Charles Hanson Holds Libation Cup. Photo by Mark Laban / Hansons.

When Antiques Road Trip and Bargain Hunt star Charles Hanson was doing a home visit to clients in their Cotswolds home, no one expected that a rare Chinese Qing Dynasty cup made from rhino horn would be found in their garage.

Hanson owns Hansons Auctioneers, which has six locations across the U.K., and home visits are commonplace for him. But what he found in the Gloucestershire garage was anything but. Just as Hanson was leaving the property, the couple presented him with the cup, which they had inhered from a grandfather.

The decoratively carved rhinoceros horn libation cup was found to date from the Kangxi Period (1662–1723) during China’s Qing Dynasty, and would have primarily been a display item and occasionally used for important ceremonial drinking.

Libation Cup. Photo by Mark Laban / Hansons.

Libation Cup. Photo by Mark Laban / Hansons.

In ancient China, rhinoceros horn was believed to hold aphrodisiac properties. It was also thought that the color of rhino horn cups would change if they came into contact with poison, warning drinkers of nefarious activities.

Today, because the animals have become an endangered species, rhinoceros horn is a regulated material, and can’t be imported into many countries. But certain items are exempt from these controls if they were acquired before 1947, and have been carved into works of art, practical items, or musical instruments.

The cup will be going up for sale at Hansons Auctioneers on November 30, as part of their Christmas Fine Art Auction, with a guide price of £3,000 to £5,000 ($3,750 to $6,250). However, the vessel could likely fly past its high estimate because of the current popularity for Chinese antiques in the art market.


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