$17 Thrift Store Plate Auctioned for $32,000

A porcelain dish bought from a thrift store for $17 in 1982 was auctioned for more than $32,000 in Britain.

The dish, made in 1754 in Vincennes, France, during the reign of King Louis XV,was purchased for$17 by Judith Howard at a thrift store in Hungerford, England, in 1982.

Howard's family said she had an uncanny eye for spotting valuable antiques.

"She had a sixth sense when it came to finding the gems among the dross," daughter Charlotte Howardtold auctioneers Wooley & Wallis. "She was a magnet for rare antiques where you would least expect to find them, and the Louis XV plate was not her only discovery."

The plate was auctioned this month for $32,615. Howard's full collection of plates, which also included a plate made for Madame du Barry, Louis XV's chief mistress, and a plate made forMarie Antoinette's brother, Archduke Ferdinand, fetched a total $484,008 at the auction.

"Judith's collection was probably the largest collection of Sevres porcelain in private hands and, in terms of the number of pieces, certainly rivaled that of the queen," Wooley & Wallis ceramics expert Clare Durham said. "She had unearthed some true rarities and, although many of them had suffered damage, collectors were keen to acquire some of these objects which very rarely make it onto the open market."

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