Pair of Imperial porcelain vases from late Hong Kong tycoon's private collection fetches US$640k

A pair of Imperial porcelain vases performed the most brilliantly in the Yidetang Collection Sale last week. It was held in Sotheby's Hong Kong. 

The vases from 18th century China were hammered at HK$4 million dollars 5 times its low estimate of HK$800,000 dollars. It was sold at HK$5.01 million (around US$640,000) dollars, with buyer's premium. 

The vases were part of the 46 out of 48 Imperial porcelain lots sold, achieving a sale total of HK$72 million (around US$9.2 million) dollars. 

Yidetang Collection was owned by a Hong Kong real estate tycoon. He had a wide collection of Chinese Imperial porcelain and works of art – from the dawn of civilisation in China all the way to the rise of the Republic of China. In this sale, the porcelain pieces span across the reigns of three of the most important emperors who ruled China during the Qing dynasty (1644-1911). 

Back section of the two vases

Inscription on the vases

Lot 3 | Pair of small guan-type bottle vases

Seal marks and period of Yongzheng Emperor (reigned 1722-1735)
Length: 14.3 cm

  • Collection of Stephen Junkunc, III (d. 1978), and thence by descent
  • Christie's New York, 21st September 1995, Lot 242
  • Christie's Hong Kong, 3rd November 1996, Lot 734

Estimate: HK$800,000 – 1,200,000

Hammer Price: HK$4,000,000

Sold: HK$5,015,000 (around US$640,000)

Bluish crackled glaze and mid-section of the vase

This pair of vases was once owned by the prominent Hungarian-born Chinese art collector, Stephen Junkunc III and his family. During his childhood, he moved to Chicago. His father founded the General Machinery & Manufacturing Company in 1918. He collected many Chinese antiques, with his first acquisitions made in the early 1930s. 

Throughout the years, Junkunc acquired some of the most highly sought-after examples of porcelain. They were bought from leading dealers from around the world, such as C.T. Loo, Bluett & Sons, W. Dickinson & Sons and John Sparks.

The three Qing Chinese Emperors - Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong  admired artworks from the ancient times. The Imperial porcelain workshops therefore made imitations from China's Song ceramics, during the 10th to 13th centuries. There are five famous kilns of the Song dynasty (960-1279 CE) ru, guan, ge, ding and jun. Guan was owned by government officials. The more resplendent the guan ceramics are, means the sale price would be multiple times higher.   

This pair of vases is remarkable for its bluish crackled glaze. It is also well-proportioned in terms of form and its small size is unusual during the early 18th century. 

Other highlight lots: 

The five lots below also achieved very favourable results. They were hammered at multiple times of their estimate, and have been arranged in terms of sale price.  

Lot 17 | Large doucai ‘floral’ jardiniere

Seal mark and period of Qianlong Emperor (reigned 1735-1796)
Diameter: 32.7 cm

  • A New York private collection
  • Christie's New York, 19th September 1996, Lot 328
  • Yidetang Collection

Estimate: HK$1,200,000 – 1,800,000

Hammer Price: HK$3,700,000

Sold: HK$4,652,000 (around US$600,000)

Lot 4 | Pair of doucai ‘lingzhi’ winecups

Marks and period of Yongzheng Emperor (reigned 1722-1735)
Diameter: 7.3 cm


  • Sotheby's Hong Kong, 2nd November 1998, Lot 404
  • Yidetang Collection


  • Sotheby's Hong Kong, 24th November 1987, Lot 158
  • Sotheby's Hong Kong, 30th October 2000, Lot 159
  • Yidetang Collection

Estimate: HK$1,600,000 – 2,400,000

Hammer Price: HK$3,100,000

Sold: HK$3,906,000 (around US$500,000)


Lot 5 | Pair of lemon-yellow ‘mallow’ cups

Marks and period of Yongzheng Emperor (reigned 1722-1735)
Diameter: 6.5 cm

  • Sotheby's New York, 18th September 1996, Lot 221
  • Yidetang Collection

Estimate: HK$800,000 – 1,200,000

Hammer Price: HK$2,800,000

Sold: HK$3,528,000 (around US$450,000)

Lot 15| Blue and white ‘lotus’ conjoined vase

Sale mark and period of Qianlong Emperor (reigned 1735-1796)
Height: 24 cm

  • Christie's Hong Kong, 1st May 2000, Lot 694
  • Yidetang Collection

Estimate: HK$1,200,000 – 1,800,000

Hammer Price: HK$2,700,000

Sold: HK$3,402,000 (around US$440,000)

Lot 25| Pair of yellow-ground iron-red decorated ‘dragon’ bowls

Seal marks and period of Qianlong Emperor (reigned 1735-1796)
Diameter: 11.9 cm

  • Sotheby's Hong Kong, 19th November 1986, Lot 292
  • Christie's Hong Kong, 30th October 1995, Lot 724
  • Yidetang Collection

Estimate: HK$600,000 – 800,000

Hammer Price: HK$1,950,000

Sold: HK$2,457,000 (around US$320,000)

Auction Summary:

Auction House: Sotheby’s Hong Kong

Sale: The Three Emperors: Imperial Porcelain of the Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong reigns from the Yidetang Collection

Date: 12 October 2021

Number of lots: 48

Sold: 46

Unsold: 2

Sale Rate: 95.8%

Sale Total: HK$71,961,400 (around US$9.2 million)