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Rare 16th Century Italian Plate Found in a Drawer Sells at Auction for World Record $1.7 Million

People logo People 10/8/2021 Glenn Garner

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A rare 16th century Italian dish, which was found tucked away in a drawer, sold at auction for a world record £1,236,000 ($1,721,000).

The maiolica (tin-glazed pottery) plate was originally estimated to sell for somewhere between £80,000 and £120,000 ($109,000 and $163,000), and bidding began at just below the lower end of the estimate.

With the auction streaming live online, bids flooded in from all over the world via phone and email. The winning bid was made by an anonymous bidder.

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"As the auctioneer, it was a real joy to bring the hammer down at over £1million on this incredibly rare dish – a new world record price I believe," Gavin Strang, Lyon & Turnbull's managing director and head of private collections, said in a statement.

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"The whole story of its discovery tucked away in a drawer, through the meticulous research carried out by our specialists, and then fierce international bidding on auction day has been exciting from beginning to end!"

The plate, which depicts the Biblical story of Samson and Delilah, is believed to have been made by Nicola da Urbino, circa 1520-1523. His real name was believed to be Nicola di Gabriele Sbraghe, who was considered the master of the istoriato style of maiolica decoration (a painted scene that covers the entire surface) in the early 16th century and has been described as the "Raphael of maiolica painting."

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Among 400 items auctioned off from the Lowood House in the Scottish Borders, the auction house's European ceramics specialist recognized the plate as a "rare piece of exceptional quality," according to CNN.

The auction also featured furniture, books, silver and other works of art.

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