Broken soup tureen which served royalty sells for thousands at Exmouth auctioneers

PUBLISHED: 08:00 29 January 2018

An 18th Century soup tureen, which recently sold for £5,000 at Piers Motley Auctioneers, in Exmouth, was part of one of Louis XVI services and would have graced the table at The Palace of Versaille.

An 18th Century soup tureen, which recently sold for £5,000 at Piers Motley Auctioneers, in Exmouth, was part of one of Louis XVI services and would have graced the table at The Palace of Versaille.

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“The Soup Tureen had a poorly restored lid, a foot snapped off and glued back on, numerous hairline cracks, a large firing crack inside and other significant faults! Condition is usually all-important in the antique and collectors world, but there are occasional exceptions,” said Exmouth auctioneer, Piers Motley.

An antique soup tureen, which recently sold for £5,000 at Piers Motley Auctioneers, in Exmouth, despite being badly damaged.An antique soup tureen, which recently sold for £5,000 at Piers Motley Auctioneers, in Exmouth, despite being badly damaged.

A piece of broken kitchenware unearthed in an East Devon house clearance surprisingly sold for thousands at auction after experts revealed a royal connection.

On Monday, January 11, a soup tureen found in a Lympstone house clearance went under the hammer with a guide price of just £30-£50, at Piers Motley Auctioneers, in Exmouth.

But to many people’s surprise, the item – which was badly damaged – went for far more, with a last-minute bidder buying it for £5,000.

Auctioneer Piers Motley explained why on the surface the result was unexpected.

“The Soup Tureen had a poorly restored lid, a foot snapped off and glued back on, numerous hairline cracks, a large firing crack inside and other significant faults!

“Condition is usually all-important in the antique and collectors world, but there are occasional exceptions,” he said.

However, Mr Motley explained the sale being viewable online in various auction-specific sites meant experts were able to recognise its historic significance.

And the out-of-town bidder who won the historic tureen revealed it had been used to serve soup to 18th Century French royalty, giving it a strong historic significance, despite it’s poor condition.

The tureen sold on the first sale day of the year, with the busiest saleroom the auction house had have ever had and more than 100 people in the room.

Mr Motley said: “Prices were exceptional, with dealers needing new stock after Christmas and numerous private buyers contending with them.”

But as the lot with the tureen approached, the office had to shut because all staff were needed for the seven phone lines booked to London and Europe.

“Interest began to come in via email and over the phone giving us an indication that this was still of some note despite the extensive damage.

“We knew the piece was by Limoges and c. 1775. Marie Antoinette and John Adams, the second president of America, owned one but both decorated differently.”

The tureen finally ended up selling to a London porcelain specialist, for £5,000, plus a 21.6% buyer’s premium. They then provided the detail that this was part of one of Louis XVI services and would have graced the table at The Palace of Versaille.

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