Wednesday, September 12, 2012

B.C. church gets windfall from sale of chairs

From Vancouver-

A financially challenged Anglican church in B.C. has received a remarkable $630,000 windfall after discovering that a pair of antique armchairs donated to the parish decades ago were actually 300-year-old Qing dynasty treasures from China.

The chairs, described as a "godsend" by the Rev. Robert Arril, rector of St. Matthias Anglican Church in Victoria, were sold Tuesday at a Sotheby's auction in New York City for about triple their estimated value of between $180,000 and $250,000.

An antique furniture buff's fortuitous visit to the church two years ago for a Bible study session led to the identification of the chairs as rare pieces expertly crafted in 17th-century China.

They were donated to St. Matthias at some unknown point in the church's history, possibly even before the congregation's building was opened in the 1960s.

In recent years, the parish has struggled to survive a 2009 schism over same-sex marriage that saw about 95 per cent of the church's former members leave to join a more conservative offshoot.

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