A Japanese lacquer box containing costly and exotic objects mounted in gold is the centrepiece of Bonhams European Ceramics sale in London on 17 June. This rare survival from the age of splendour at the Holy Roman Imperial Court is estimated at £120,000-180,000. The box holds three porcelain tea flasks, and was designed to be used at tea picnics, a Japanese fashion which spread to Europe in the 17th century. They are very early examples of Du Paquier porcelain – the manufactory established in Vienna in 1719 and patronised by the Imperial Court. At the time, porcelain was considered so precious that it was mounted with the finest filigree gold, probably by the court goldsmiths in Vienna. The box also contains a beautiful, faceted agate cup with similar gold mounts, and an inscription that speaks of a magnificent Imperial provenance: „De la cassette de thé/de

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