A teapot sitting on a shelf as an ornament has sold for £1million.
The owner wasn’t aware it was a rare Chinese artefact from the 1700s.
The teapot was expected to sell for just a few thousand pounds but an international bidding war saw it reach £1,040,000 with fees.
Lee Young, of Duke’s Auctioneers of Dorchester, said a telephone buyer beat nine rivals to win the piece.
He said: “As the owner handed me the teapot for an opinion my heart missed a beat.
“As I turned it over and saw the beautifully drawn blue seal mark of Qianlong I realised immediately that I was handling a piece made for the Emperor himself.
“The battle for the teapot between ten telephone bidders took ten minutes with the price jumping in £20,000 increments.
“At one stage the price jumped by £100,000 as a buyer tried to frighten off other bidders.