A glazed plate that had sat in a make-shift frame hidden behind a door in an English cottage for years was recently discovered to be worth far more than its owner knew.
The 16.5 inch Italian maiolica plate was “uncovered” by an auctioneer who been asked to assess some items in the unidentified woman’s home in Dorset, England.
Only about two inches of it were visible when appraiser Richard Bromell caught a glimpse of the plate behind a door.
“It had been on the wall for a number of years and you couldn’t really see it but it was hugely exciting …” he told the BBC.
When put up for sale by Charterhouse Auctioneers on Feb. 14, the plate brought $880,000, despite having a small chip.
The piece illustrates the story of King Herod and the beheading of Saint John the Baptist. It was decorated after a print by German printmaker Hans Sebald Beham, according to the BBC.
It’s the condition and quality of the painting that drove the price up, according to The History Blog.
“The dish is nearly 500 years old, but the colors are still brilliant and the finish glossy,” it added. “The only damage was a repaired chip about 1.4 inches wide on the bottom of the charger. It’s barely noticeable and doesn’t overlap with any of the figures, just with the yellow border and a green scribble of grass.”
Bromell said when he took note of the plate he expected it to be a 19th century copy. But research showed it was made in Urbino, Italy, around 1540.
The plate was purchased by London jewelry firm S.J. Phillips Ltd.