Chinese jade vase

Contributed by Charles Oliver

This jade vase is about 5 inches high and is totally valueless. It should be green, but is completely black.
My father had a small business dealing in Chinese jade, with a showroom in Chancery Lane, London, which he had taken over from his father who had died suddenly in 1937. In World War Two, my father, a diabetic, was not allowed to join the army, so he served as firewatcher. One night during the blitz, a firebomb dropped directly on the building where his showroom was on the second floor. The whole building was destroyed in an inferno, and the safe in which my father kept all his paperwork fell three floors down into the basement. When the safe had cooled down, it was opened. There was nothing inside except a pile of fine grey ash, and this little vase, its delicate carving still intact, its fall broken by the papers, and its green jade baked right through.
This was the only item of his stock of jade with which he could start his business again. His father-in-law lent him a modest sum of money, and he began the business again after the war.
To me this vase symbolises something of the spirit of the Blitz, and the stoical optimism of my late father.

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