Bell rings up big price

Publish by Antiques Trade Gazette

A highlight of the dedicated Asian sale at Tessier & Sarrou (28% buyer’s premium) on December 16 was an example of a bronze ritual bell or bianzhong from the Qing dynasty bearing an inscription with a date corresponding to 1716.

Such bells are created as part of a carillon of 16.

Another piece with a desirable old provenance, the bell was brought back to France by Robert de Semallé (1849-1936). He had been sent to China to pacify the political tensions between France and China generated by the ‘Tonkin Affair’ and worked at the Beijing embassy from 1 880-84.

The bell had been kept in his family ever since his return to France in 1884. Estimated at €200,000- 300,000, the bell ended up selling for €520,000 (£444,450).