A recently discovered collection of rare Meissen pottery is getting collectors excited ahead of its auction at Bonhams' Fine European Ceramics on May 23.
Found in an Italian cellar, the collection will include rare 18th century vases, plates and bowls.
Established in 1710 by Johann Böttger in the German town of Meissen, the factory was the first to produce hard-paste porcelain.
A circa 1715 set of four Meissen porcelain vases and covers is estimated to make £60,000-80,000 at the auction.
The baluster shape pieces, crafted by Johann Jacob Irminger, come in three sizes. Each features moulded prunus branches and caryatid masks, along with serrated leaves and blossom.
It is suggested that the set was originally made for elector of Saxony Augustus the Strong.
"Although individual elements of the applied decoration are familiar on Böttger porcelain, no other examples of these forms appear to be recorded in the literature and the survival of a set, albeit no longer complete, is of the utmost rarity," commented director of European ceramics at Bonhams, Sebastian Kuhn.
A circa 1730-35 rare part table service will also star, with a £30,000-50,000 valuation.
The service includes plates, soup plates, circular dishes and oval tureens, and bears a never-before-seen pattern featuring three geese and flowering plants.
"It is unusual for so many pieces of an 18th century service to remain together, and all the more exciting that they are decorated with a pattern unrecorded in the literature," said Kuhn.
"The re-emergence of this service adds to our understanding of the important early period of Meissen porcelain."
A circa 1755 Meissen gold mounted snuff box sold for a snuff box world record of £860,000 at Bonhams in July of last year.