A PLATE valued at £300 fetched more than 100 times that sum at auction when it was revealed to be a piece from the Ming dynasty.

The blue and white Chinese plate, which was brought to Summersgill Auctioneers in Easingwold by its owner, has been repaired using a traditional technique with gold staples at some point in its history.

Tim Summersgill, owner of the auction house, said the 25cm diameter plate had originally been valued at £300 but went under the hammer for more than £31,000.

He said: "A lady just brought it in, she had it for a long time but it was broken.

"We thought it was from the 19th century. But people came in to look at it all week. Then we got a bid for £13,000 before the auction."

And on the day of the auction, a buyer from Japan flew in especially to pick up the plate. Mr Summersgill said: "He had got a taxi from Heathrow to Easingwold and after fierce bidding on the telephones and internet he bought it. He then put it in his suitcase and the taxi was still waiting outside the saleroom with the meter ticking to go back to Heathrow.

"The seller was amazed, she was sat on the front row at the auction and she said she was just delighted when she came up to us afterwards. It was fabulous."

Mr Summersgill said the item turned out to be an early example of Ming dynasty ceramics and the buyer said it would have been worth £250,000 to £300,000 if it had not been broken. Mr Summersgill added: "It does look quite ordinary, I thought it was old but this was quite amazing. With Chinese items you don't know - one piece will be £50 and another can bring in £59,000.

"That's why I enjoy the job, it's fascinating."

And it is not the first time the company has sold ceramics for a five-figure sum this year - a Chinese pen brush pot fetched £59,000 at an earlier auction.

The plate has now gone into a private collection.

The next auction at the Roxby House Estate centre on July 14 includes items made of Yorkshire oak.