Chinese Bronze Incense Burner Discovered in Local Charity Shop Fetches £3,300

Posted On: 04 Mar 2024 by Felix Turner

A rare Chinese bronze incense burner or 'censer' has been sold at Wimbledon Auctions on behalf of Wimbledon Village Oxfam for £3,300.

Chinese Bronze Incense Burner Discovered in Local Charity Shop Fetches £3,300

On a visit to the local Oxfam in Wimbledon Village, auctioneer Felix Turner discovered a rare 18th or 19th Century Chinese bronze incense burner (known as a censer). The censer was discovered downstairs in the storeroom, where new donations are sorted and sifted, ready for sale on the shop floor. An eagle eyed Oxfam staff member had noticed the bronze censer for being an item of quality, and had put it aside in a separate box with other items that were possibly more valuable than the average donation. Beneath a pile of Louis Vuitton and Chanel scarfs lay the large bronze censer, with beaded rim, two lion head handles and three paw feet. The item was marked with a six character mark for the Xuande emperor (1425-1435), but was a later example most likely dating to the 18th or 19th Century. 

Felix remarked 'the first thing that struck me as exciting about this censer was the sheer weight. It was a particularly heavy example, weighing 2.6 kilograms. The lion heads were of a fine quality, and most importantly the mark to the underside was precise and clear'. 

Chinese bronze items of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) often had apocryphal marks underneath for previous emperors. The Xuande mark pays tribute to the Ming emperor, but in fact the censer dates to the 18th or 19th Century. Nonetheless, these censers are highly sought after and command strong prices on the open market at auction. 

The censer was entered to Wimbledon Auctions 25th March Auction, which also featured a good private collection of Chinese antiques from a local house in Wimbledon. 

Estimated at £300-500, the censer attracted interest from UK, European and Chinese Bidders. Numerous online bidders competed with two telephone bidders. The the hammer eventually fell to the telephone buyer in China at £3,300. 

A great outcome for a wonderful local charity.  

Do you have Chinese antiques at home, and wonder about their value? Please contact [email protected] for a free and confidential valuation.