The Most Precious Antique Ever Sold

The most precious antique ever sold at an auction is the Pinner Qing Dynasty vase which was sold at a private auction through Bonhams Auction House for $80.2 million in 2010. This is another antique piece from the Qianlong Dynasty that was estimated to have been made between 1736 to 1795 and was said to be made especially for one of the palaces of Emperor Qianlong. The vase is decorated with detailed artistic designs of blue and yellow ornaments and fish and water. It also bears the imperial seal which proves the origin, authenticity and the age of the material.

Aside from the age, material and intricacy of design, the origin of furniture pieces is one of the considerations for assessing the value of an antique piece. The Chippendale-style Kentucky desk sold for $498, 750 in Cincinnati on October 21, 2017. The desk was made by an unknown cabinet maker for a prominent Kentucky pioneer, Capt. John Cowan. This is not just a desk, it is also a bookcase; hence, it measures 8 ½” tall.

The desk was made of walnut wood. Another American furniture that is sold as a valuable antique is a fine antique secretary desk built by Nicholas Brown in the 18th century. It was sold for $11.4 million during an auction in 1989. It is made of mahogany wood and stands 112 inches tall. The Goddard -Townsend antique secretary desk was sold for $12.1 million at Christie’s in New York in 1989. The 112-inches tall desk was handcrafted by a Quaker cabinet maker out of mahogany wood. It dates back to 1760. The badminton cabinet which was sold in an auction at Christie’s in London in 2004 set a record for the most expensive cabinet. The 12-foot ebony cabinet was sold for $36 million. It is not actually as cabinet used for the sport badminton. It was named after the Badminton House which was the Duke’s Gloucestershire residence.

The Clark sickle-leaf Persian carpet was sold for $33.76 million at a Sotheby’s auction in 2013. The rarity and the condition of the carpet, despite its age, made it reach a record-breaking record. The rug is rare because it is the only known red Persian rug to have used the vase technique that we know today. It is on of the valuable collections from the William Andrews Clark estate.

Leonardo da Vinci’s codex Leicester which dates back to the sixteenth century (between 1506 – 1510) was sold for $30.8 million in 1994 to Bill Gates who scanned and made a digital copy of the manuscript available online. This 72-pages book contains the signature mirror image of Leonardo da Vinci. It contains personal notes, drawings, diagrams and sketches of da Vinci which are a blend of science and art.

Other popular and valuable antiques that still exist until today are the Robby Robot movie prop, the Honus Wagner Baseball card, Dracula record-setting movie poster, world record antique doll, Olyphant battle horn and some carved decoys by important makers.

Jewelry, Ceramics, and Silverware are Prized Antiques

Another famous piece of antique jewelry is the La Peregrina Necklace of Elizabeth Taylor made by Catier (Parisian jeweler of the rich and the famous). The latest edition of the La Peregrina was designed by Elizabeth Taylor, herself. Before the La Peregrina landed in the hands of Elizabeth Taylor, the jewelry was owned by eight Spanish Kings, Joseph Bonaparte of France, Prince Louis Napoleon of France, Duke and Duchess of Abercorn. The SSEF Swiss Gemological Institute certified the authenticity, rarity and exceptional historic provenance of La Peregrina in 2011. It set two auction records for Christie’s (a premier British auction house), historic pearl and pearl jewel amounting as high as $11, 842, 500 at an auction.

Clocks and timepieces usually become valuable because they are adorned with precious jewels and gems. Same is true with metal wares or metalworks. Patek Philippe’s Supercomplication Pocket watch made a record at a Sotheby’s auction in 2014. This 1932 rare pocket watch was sold at $24 million in a Sotheby’s auction in 2014. This “complicated” watch, as the name goes, was commissioned by Henry Graves Jr. as a product of his competition with the car manufacturer James Ward Packard.

Napoleon Bonaparte’s gold-encrusted sword was sold at an auction in France for $6.5 million dollars in June 2007. This was the sword he used in a battle at Merengo in Italy in June 1800 where the Austrians were forced out of Italy two hundred years ago. The Egyptian inspired designed sword achieved a world record for a weapon, a souvenir of the emperor and a sword sold at an auction.

The gold tripod vessel from the Xuande Period of the Ming Dynasty was sold for $15 million at a Sotheby’s auction in Hongkong on April 11, 2008. This well-crafted and extremely rare embellished golden vessel is made up of masterfully-crafted, thinly-hammered gold body with intricate designs which are delicately done. It is one of the only eight of its kind still in existence. Its value came from the precious materials used in making this vessel and of course its age.

The Germain Royal Soup Tureen was sold at $10, 287, 500 in November 1996 at a Sotheby’s auction in New York. Thomas Germain, a French silversmith of the Racoco, designed this antique piece for Louis XV in 1733. It weighs 30 lbs. and measures 25.4 cm. in height, 54.6 cm. wide and 41.3 cm. deep. It set a new record for the most expensive piece of silver sold at an auction.

Porcelain, ceramics and pottery pieces are also popular antiques sold at auctions. The Pink-enameled blue and white porcelain moon flask was sold for $15 million at a Sotheby’s auction in Hongkong on November 24, 1987. Now its owned by J. J. Lally and Co., New York, not far from the BMP headquarters. It is said that the antique piece is traced from the 15th century Qianlong Dynasty period, between 1736 to 1795. Another porcelain antique piece is the nine hundred-year old Ru Guanyao brush washer bowl that dates back from the Northern Song Dynasty. It was sold for $37.68 at a Sotheby’s auction in Hongkong in 2017 where it set a new world record for Chinese ceramic. Although the antique ceramic looks very ordinary—it’s not ornate or fancy—it reveals attributes of that are often reflected in the Chinese values and philosophies. Another reason why it is deemed to be precious is that there are only very few productions of kilns in China’s central Henan’s province; it lasted for only around two decades and the Ru Guanyao brush washer bowl was only one of the six ceramics examples from the Ru ceramics that were auctioned since 1940.

The Historic Appeal of Valuable Antiques

Many people love collecting valuable things or materials. Some collect out of hobby while others do it for business. Some collect because they want to keep memories; still others do it just for pleasure. People collect different valuables such as stamps, coins, toys, shoes, clothes, paintings, jewelry and others. For whatever reasons why they do it, they have their own criteria for choosing what is valuable and what is not. Some collect things which are unique or rare because for some, when you own something which others don’t, it somehow gives you a sense of prestige. The aesthetic quality of a thing is also another consideration.

Some people collect things which are pleasing to their eyes. They love looking at it or at these things. People also collect because of sentimental reason. They keep something because it reminds them of pleasant memories. Some people collect because of the desirability of the material—maybe a lot of people want it but there are only a few in the market; hence, it becomes a thing of value. Usually, aside from these aforementioned traits, people desire to keep antique materials. These antique materials are of great financial value because they have already weathered through time; the older they get, the more expensive they become.

The common antique collections of people fall under the following categories: jewelry, silverwares or silver works, pottery, clocks or timepieces, ceramics and porcelains, metal wares or metalworks, furniture, rugs, Asian artifacts, dolls or toys. Here are some of the most popular and at the same time most expensive antique collections of all time.

Pieces of jewelry are a common precious collection of people. The materials used, where it came from, who or which company made it, how old it is, how it is acquired are just some considerations in identifying how precious these collections are. The emerald and diamond tiara of Princess Katharina Henckel von Donnersmarck was sold at $12.7 million at Sotheby’s Magnificent and Noble Jewel Sale in May 2011 in Geneva, Switzerland. The tiara owned by the German Princess was said to have been commissioned circa 1900 by her husband, Guido Count von Henckel, First Prince von Donnersmarck, from Chaumet, the Parisian Jewelry House. The tiara which is embellished with 11 rare Columbian emeralds weighs over 500 cts. and may have originally a necklace of a Maharajah. It also became a part of the collections of Empress Eugenie de Montijo (Doña Maria Eugenia Ignacia Agustina de Palafox y KirkPatrick, 16th Countess of Tiba, 15th Marchioness of Ardales).