Ming cup found at Staffordshire University sells for £3m

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media captionA rare Chinese cup donated to a Midlands university has sold for £3.1m

A "dusty old cup" found in a university cabinet has sold for £3m after it was found to be a rare piece from the Chinese Ming dynasty.

The cup, thought to have been made for an emperor in 1425, was among a collection of antiques discovered by chance at Staffordshire University.

Valued at £2m, an unknown buyer paid £3.17m at auction in Hong Kong.

Professor Flavia Swann said she was "delighted" at the sale and the money will fund a national ceramics centre.

Little is known about the collector of the rare Chinese artefacts other than his name was Ernest Thornhill and he was a chemist in London.

He donated his collection of more than 270 pieces to protect them from being bombed during World War Two.

image copyrightAuctioneers Lyon & Turnbull
image captionThe collection was donated to Staffordshire University during World War Two

Prof Swann said the antiques had been discovered in the 1970s after a chance conversation with the head of the Ceramic Technology Department.

It was after they said: "I've got some dusty old pots cluttering up my corridor, would you like to have a look?"

The pots, including the cup, were put into storage at the university. The cup only emerged again last year, when it was revalued.

The remaining collection is stored at a secret location in the West Midlands.

image captionProfessor Flavia Swann said the money will be spent on a new ceramics centre at the university

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