An Ornament of a Baby, Purchased for $2 by a Bargain Hunter, Turns Out to be a Rare Porcelain. It Could Earn $36,000 at Auction

The treasure dates back to the very earliest days of porcelain production in England.

The sleeping baby porcelain figure. Photo: Hansons Auctioneers.

Car boot sales, a type of flea market common in the U.K., are a great place to pick up some cheap and charming junk. Every so often, however, a lucky buyer might be in for an exciting surprise.

This was the case for one savvy shopper, whose eye was caught by a small white porcelain ornament of a sleeping child in Gloucestershire, England in the 1990s. She snapped the trinket up for just £2 ($2.40).

Though she felt sure it was something special, the decoration would sit on her shelf for almost three decades before she decided to have it valued by an antiques expert.

Amazingly, the trinket turned out to be a very rare early treasure produced in 1745 at London’s Chelsea Porcelain Factory. Run by Nicholas Sprimont, the factory was the first eminent manufacturer of porcelain in England.


“A find like this is the holy grail for any keen collector of early English porcelain,” said auctioneer Charles Hanson. Fortunately for the auction house, the piece has since fallen into the hands of another family member who has decided to sell it.

The unique item will be offered at Hanson Holloway’s Ross Auctions in Oxon on March 4. Its rarity is reflected in its estimated value of £20,000 to £30,000 ($24,000 to $36,000).

“It’s extremely important because it demonstrates early attempts to make figures in the mid-18th century,” explained Hanson. “It would have been inspired by the mid-18th century passion for northern European art.”

He has also speculated that the design may have been inspired by similar objects being produced around the same time by the Flemish sculptor John Michael Rysbrack and the French factory in Vincennes.


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