By Hayley Pugh
A pot used as a toothbrush holder, which was bought for £2 at a car boot sale, has been snapped up at auction after it was revealed to be a 4000-year-old ancient work of art.
Karl Martin, from Derby, picked up the little jar, which features an antelope, five years ago at a car boot sale along with a vase – bagging the pair for a bargain £4.
He used the piece of pottery to store toothbrushes and toothpaste in his bathroom for years before realising it was actually a genuine ancient antiquity made in 1900 BC.
The 49-year-old said: “I liked it straight away. I used it in the bathroom to store my toothpaste and toothbrush – it even ended up getting a few toothpaste marks on it.
“I haven’t even cleaned them off.
“I suspected it might be very old but forgot all about it.
“I bought it purely for practical purposes. It was the perfect size to fit three toothbrushes and some toothpaste in.”
Karl discovered the true origin of his toothbrush holder after spotting something similar while helping unload a van at Hansons’ Auctioneers – where he works as a valuer.
It eventually sold for £80.
He said: “One day at work, I was helping Hansons’ antiquities expert James Brenchley unload a van and noticed some pottery which was similar to my toothbrush pot.
“The painting style looked the same and it had similar crudely-painted animal figures.
“I rescued the pot from my bathroom and asked him to examine it for me. He confirmed it was a genuine antiquity from Afghanistan and dated back to 1900 BC.
“That means it’s around 4,000 years old – made 2,000 years before Christ was born.
“I’ve done this all my life but this one really foxed me.
“I collect Georgian ceramics, pictures and porcelain and thought this might be a late Victorian African piece.
“It’s amazing, really. How it ended up at a South Derbyshire car boot sale, I’ll never know.
“There was interest straight away with advance bids placed and it eventually sold for £80 – not a fortune but a decent profit.
“Perhaps I should have held on to it. I feel a bit guilty about keeping my toothbrush in it now.”
James Brenchley, head of antiquities at Hansons Auctioneers, added: “This is an Indus Valley Harappan Civilisation pottery jar dating back to 1900 BC.
“This was a Bronze Age civilisation mainly in the north western regions of South Asia.
“Along with Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, it was one of three early cradles of civilisations of the Old World, and of the three, the most widespread.
“The civilisation was primarily located in modern-day India and Pakistan as well as Afghanistan.
“I do come across items like this from time to time and was familiar with the painting technique.
“It was probably brought back to the UK years ago by wealthy travellers.”