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Antiques Roadshow discovery valued at $1 million to appear at auction at Sotheby's
In this Saturday, July 23, 2011 photo, Asian art expert and veteran "Antiques Roadshow." appraiser Lark Mason poses with a collection of Chinese rhinoceros horned cups in Tulsa, Okla. PBS says the collection was judged by Mason to be worth $1 million to $1.5 million, the most valuable item brought in for appraisal in the history of "Antiques Roadshow," which will air its 16th season next year. AP Photo/WGBH.

NEW YORK, NY.- A group of five Rhinoceros Horn cups that first came to light when they were appraised during an Antiques Roadshow event in Tulsa, Oklahoma will be a highlight of Sotheby’s Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art auction on 20 March 2012. The value placed on the cups by expert and Antiques Roadshow appraiser Lark Mason was, and remains, the highest ever given on the show. The cups had been collected by Douglas Huber over the course of 40 years; they are in superb condition and represent a fine and comprehensive group that showcases the different styles of these extraordinary objects. Following the appearance on the Antiques Roadshow, the collection was on display at the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, OK, from August to December 2011. Overall the group is estimated to fetch approximately $700,000/1 million and goes on public exhibition from 16th March.

Douglas Huber acquired the first rhinoceros horn cup whilst on holiday in Bath, England in 1969. He was told that the cup had come from the estate of a sea captain who had been active during the China trade. The second cup was purchased at Sotheby’s 1977, and after that he set out to acquire different rhinoceros horn carvings with the plan of having one in each style. When Mr. Huber heard that the Antiques Roadshow was coming to Oklahoma he rallied everyone in his office to apply for tickets and out of 19,000 applications a coworker was lucky enough to receive a pair. The appraiser Lark Mason immediately realized the quality of the items and gave the highest ever valuation in the Antiques Roadshow’s history.

The highlight of the group is A Rare And Exquisite 'Eight Immortals' Rhinoceros Horn Cup, Qing Dynasty, 17th/18th Century (est. $180/250,000, right). The piece depicts a lively interpretation of the eight immortals welcoming Shoulao, the god of longevity - a popular birthday motif that is used to wish the recipient a long life filled with blessings. The cup is similar to many in major museum collections and is notable for the carver’s attention to detail and skillful use of space.

The other cups in the collection are - A Petal-Rimmed Rhinoceros Horn Libation Cup, Late Ming/Early Qing Dynasty, 17th Century acquired by Mr Huber from Sotheby's in 1977, cups with this type of wide and flared hexafoil rim rarely appear on the market. (est. $120/180,000). A Rare and Unusual Petal Rimmed Rhinoceros Horn Footed Bowl, Qing Dynasty is completely clear of surface decoration allowing the subtle grain, color and unusual shape of the bowl to be shown off to good effect (est. $120/150,000). A Rare Rhinoceros Horn Archaistic Libation Cup (Jue), Qing Dynasty, 17th Century is in the form of the well-known bronze ritual vessel jue and is particularly notable for the skillful carving techniques (est. $150/200,000). A Rhinoceros Horn ‘Lotus Leaf’ Libation Cup, Qing Dynasty, 17th/18th Century rounds out the group (est. $150/200,000).

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