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A vase found loose in a box of donated bric-a-brac is set to make thousands of pounds for a Dorset charity.
It was spotted by the relief retail manager for Julia's House Children's Hospice as he was rummaging through items in a store room looking for lots for a fundraising auction in Weymouth on October 24th.
Little did he realise he was about to strike gold when by chance he came across the simple brown stoneware piece languishing in a pile of knick-knacks.
Luckily for the charity, Paul Cartlidge has a background in antiques and soon realised he was looking at something really rather special.
For the vase turned out to be a highly sought-after piece by Bernard Leach CBE (1887-1979) who is widely regarded as the father of British Studio Pottery.
The vase bears both the Leach pottery mark and Bernard's BL Mark and is estimated to be worth between £1,500 and £2,500. The last one to come up for auction went for more than £3,000.
"Most people wouldn't give it a second glance," said Paul.
"But when I saw the marks I knew it was an exciting find. You're more likely to see something like this in a museum than up for sale."
The vase which will now be sold off at the charity's first-ever auction. The lots are all pieces that have been donated to Julia's House charity shops, but have been singled out as valuable or unusual and worthy of being put under the spotlight.
Instead of sitting on a charity shop shelf, the items will be auctioned off at the Weymouth Pavilion.
Bidding starts at 10am and buyers will pay the hammer price only, there will be no commission charges.
Among the other lots are two Carlton vases in the Temple design dating from the 1920s, an Eichwald Majolica pipe stand from around 1880, and a 1960s doll's house and furniture. Further donations are still being sought.
Retail Manager Marta Longmire said:
"Sometimes things come into the shops which are actually quite hard to price. We know they are a little bit special, but because they are out of the ordinary it's sometime tricky to know their real value. This is the easiest way to get the best price we can for them.
"We've never had an auction like this before and we are expecting a lot of interest from collectors. We hope to make a lot more money than we would have done if we had just sold these items in our shops."
A catalogue listing all the items up for auction is available from the charity's 10 shops or phone 01202 644220 for more information.