THE owner of a small vase made by renowned potter Lucie Rie had a welcome surprise when it sold for £7,000 more than its asking price at a Nantwich auction house.

Art potter Lucie Rie liked to keep her customers happy – they arrived by appointment at her London mews studio and were always invited upstairs for tea and cake while they chose which of her uniquely different pots they would take home.

One customer who went away happier than most was the lady whose pot was offered in a sale at Peter Wilson Auction House in Nantwich. Instead of the £1,000 to £1,500 she was expecting to receive for the pink, brown and green ribbed vase, it sold for £8,500.

The price was driven by massive interest from Japanese collectors, one of whom secured it on the internet.

The vendor said she had attended one of the potter’s London exhibitions in 1983 where she had been entranced by their simple beauty and their colours.

She telephoned the potter to arrange a visit and after being shown upstairs at her Albion Mews studio, she chose a small hand held pot with a deep foot, which cost £80.

“It could hold sugar, sweets, nuts,” she said.

“But really it best holds the colour of itself, pinks and the colour of the flash of a kingfisher and gold.”

Lucie Rie (1902-1995) was born in Vienna, where she studied pottery and opened her first studio, exhibiting at the Paris International Exhibition in 1925. She fled Nazi Austria in 1937 and settled in London, surviving at first by making and selling ceramic buttons and jewellery.

She became one of the leading figures in 20th century studio pottery.