Bionic Reading

Unassuming Café Worker’s £8.50 Purchase Turns Out to Be Worth Thousands

• Cafe worker buys vase for £8.50 at charity shop in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex
• Unaware that it's a valuable Ming-dynasty Chinese relic
• Sees similar vase on Antiques Roadshow valued at £10,000
• Takes it to Lockdales Auctioneers who confirm its importance
• Vase sells for £4,195, proceeds will be used to repair a Volkswagen Golf

In a twist of fate, a humble café worker embarks on a remarkable journey after an ordinary visit to a charity shop. Mary Lawler, 23, stumbled upon a seemingly ordinary vase while perusing charity shops in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex. Little did she know that this chance encounter would lead to an unexpected turn of events. Unaware of its true worth, Mary purchased the vase for a mere £8.50, with the intention of adorning her mother’s toilet.

The unassuming 10-inch tall vase, featuring a captivating double green celadon design, ended up serving as a doorstop in the family’s porch after a brief stint in the downstairs toilet. However, fate had more in store for this unsuspecting treasure. Mary’s eyes were opened to its potential value when she caught a glimpse of a similar vase on the renowned Antiques Roadshow, a popular BBC program showcasing valuable antiques. Astonishingly, the vase showcased on the show was valued at £10,000.

Driven by curiosity, Mary sought the expertise of Lockdales Auctioneers in Ipswich, Suffolk, who confirmed the vase’s significant historical importance. Subsequently, the vase was sold at auction for a staggering £3,400, with additional fees bringing the final amount paid by a UK private collector to £4,195. Overwhelmed by this unexpected windfall, Mary decided to use the proceeds to repair her trusty Volkswagen Golf.

Amy Lawler, Mary’s mother, who had initially tasked her with finding a simple ornament for the toilet, was astounded by the turn of events. Reflecting on their journey, Amy shared, “We were decorating the downstairs toilet about three years ago in a 1970s style, and my daughter went around some charity shops to find something to put in it.” Amy had given her approval for the vase after Mary sent her a photo, and they had only planned to spend a meager £5.

The vase’s resemblance to the one on the Antiques Roadshow caught the family’s attention, prompting them to take it to the auctioneers. The revelation of its true worth left them both shocked and thrilled. As Amy exclaimed, “We are really pleased with the result, and Mary can do up her car now!” The unexpected discovery not only brought financial gain but also a sense of excitement and adventure.

Chris Elmy, a specialist at Lockdales, marveled at the exquisite craftsmanship of the vase, describing it as a rare piece of ceramic art. The vase’s intricate design, featuring a “vase within a vase” concept and delicate lattice-work sides, showcased the expertise of an accomplished potter. Its rarity and artistic quality set it apart from the typical finds in charity shops, leaving experts and enthusiasts alike astounded.

This extraordinary journey, triggered by a serendipitous encounter and propelled by the revelation of its true value, serves as a reminder of the hidden treasures waiting to be discovered in the most unexpected places. Mary’s remarkable story emphasizes the power of chance and curiosity, leaving us captivated by the thrill of the unknown and the potential for remarkable outcomes.