Dish that cost 20 pounds fetches 276,000 pounds

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The Independent Online
A DELFTWARE dish was sold for pounds 276,000 yesterday, 60 years after it had been bought for pounds 20.

The owner had no idea of the dish's importance when he took it to Phillips for valuation. He had somehow assumed it was of Maltese origin. But the auction house's Jo Marshall identified it as a London Delftware marriage dish of 1638 and gave it a tentative estimate of 'in excess of pounds 100,000'.

Yesterday's price was a world record for English Delftware. It is is one of the earliest dated documentary dishes to be auctioned.

The dish bears the potter's initials, R I - believed to be those of Richard Irons, who worked around Southwark, south London, and was buried there in 1664. He was one of several potters working in the area at the time.

The commemorative dish also bears the initials of the couple who were married in St George the Martyr church in Southwark.

The vendor's mother found the dish in a West Country antique shop. A religious woman, her eye had been drawn to its subject - an image of the Holy Family and John the Baptist. However, Ms Marshall discovered that they are superimposed on an interior of a typical 17th-century Southwark house.

It was bought by Jonathan Horne Antiques, on behalf of a collector. Mr Horne, commenting on the dish's superb condition, noted that it survived both the Great Fire and the Blitz. During the latter it hung undisturbed in the dining-room of the vendor's south London home.

A sale in Paris, at the Drouot salerooms, has broken the world record price for European ceramics. A blue and white plate dating from about 1568, made in the Medici workshop in Florence, sold for 8.80m French francs ( pounds 1m).