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A picture of the cauldron before it was smashed. Photo:

‘US$1 million’ ancient Chinese cauldron smashed after being sent by courier

Man who sent the antique may get only a fraction of the value back in an insurance payout, according to newspaper report

A man in southern China may be out of pocket by nearly seven million yuan (US$1 million) after he sent an ancient bronze cauldron in the post and it ended up smashed to pieces, according to a newspaper report.

The man agreed to sell the cauldron dating to the Zhou dynasty (1046BC-256BC) to a collector in Shenzhen for 6.8 million yuan, the Southern Metropolis News reported.

The man, who was not named, said the item had been handed down the generations by his family and that the price paid was relatively low as the true value of the piece could be much higher.

The cauldron was shipped by courier from an undisclosed location in Hunan province to Shenzhen, but was found to have shattered into pieces on arrival.

The man said he paid more than 900 yuan to send the package, including insurance, and that he had told the delivery firm to be careful, noting the item was valuable.
The shattered remains of the cauldron. Photo:

The courier firm has accepted responsibility for the incident, but said it would only able to pay the man 30,000 yuan in an insurance payout, according to the article.


One grey area posed by the newspaper was if the package had been properly labelled to ensure it was handled with more care. It also questioned if the expert who vouched for the authenticity of the cauldron was qualified to judge on the item.

Internet users were not overly sympathetic, saying the sender should have taken more precautions.

“If that piece is authentic, then only the seller can be blamed for trusting delivery couriers,” one person wrote.

Another joked: “Good thing they didn’t write ‘antique’ on the package or else all of the pieces would have gone.”