Reporter Alex Dawson went along to a local auction to find out what happens when the bidding get going.
At just 27cms (11 inches) across, with a simple blue-and white pattern and a chip, it didn’t look like a bowl that would break the bank.
Even experienced Market Harborough auction house Gildings weren’t convinced it was a winner - they’d put a guide price on it of £300 - £500. In fact Lot 228 at Tuesday’s Gilding’s Auction, a Chinese blue and white bowl, went for £96,000.
“There were three bidders who all went to the bitter end - two on the phone and one on the internet” said managing director Will Gilding.
“It’s a perfect illustration of the complete unpredictability of the Chinese market.”
But a day at Gildings seems to confirm that the entire antiques market is bewilderingly unpredictable.
Take that lovely 1940s British Air Ministry military navigators watch, for example. Guide price £600-£800; sold to a phone bidder for £1,900.
Or that Opal and Diamond Bracelet, only a little above guide price at £540, and elsewhere there were jewellery bargains to be had.
Or that early 20th century Northamptonshire Imperial Yeomanry uniform, more than doubling its guide price when it sold for £800.
It sounds thrilling, but bidders strive to be inconspicuous in the wooded-beamed auction room or anonymous on the internet or - occasionally over the phone.
And the Lots themselves whizz by at about six or seven hundred a day.
Nevertheless as auctions get popularised by TV and made more accessible by the internet, this is a good time to be an in the auction business.
Company founder John Gilding said: “I started in the business in 1961, and started this business in 1989, and it’s a sheer delight to pass it on to another generation.”
As for Tuesday’s sale, it seemed to be a big success.
Around £280,00 was paid for almost 700 lots in one day, with bargains to be had - especially in jewellery - as well as fortunes to be spent.