London - A wooden ornament that a couple used as a doorstop for 40 years has turned out to be a Chinese relic worth £250 000 (about R4.5-million).

The nine-inch tall item is a carved brush pot dating back to the late 18th century, when it would have been used to store calligraphers’ brushes.

The unnamed couple inherited the ornament, which propped open their living room door. But when they invited an auctioneer to their home in Hertfordshire to look at some other items, they discovered its true value.

Expert Richard Harrison spotted the doorstop on the floor and instantly recognised it as an 18th century Chinese brush pot.

He said: “The carving is three dimensional almost, and shows figures of little boys doing things like setting off fire crackers.

“It is in superb condition, which is remarkable given what it was being used for.” - Daily Mail