Salvos shopper stunned as $8 item turns out to be 'rare' treasure worth hundreds

The avid Bitossi collector suspected the cat could be a fake. But now she thinks it could be worth a tidy sum.

Left - The shelf at Salvo's Kilsyth where Laura found her Bitossi cat. Right - Laura holding the Bitossi cat.
A Victorian woman's $8 op-shop find appears to be a "very rare" item by mid-century Italian designer Bitossi. Source: Laura Feeger

An eagle-eyed Aussie collector was left feeling “giddy but puzzled and deeply in shock” after suspecting she'd discovered a rare ceramic on the shelf of a local op-shop for just $8.

When Laura Feeger wandered into a suburban Salvos store on Tuesday, the avid ceramics collector told Yahoo News she had “no expectations” of finding anything rare or particularly valuable.

But sitting between some cheap crystal and striped mugs on the outer Melbourne store's shelves she spotted what looked to be an extremely rare item by the celebrated Italian mid-century design house Bitossi.

“I had pivoted around to then see the cat staring back at me and it felt like I floated over to it,” Laura said.

“I picked it up and was in shock. I collect Bitossi and had recognised the patterns used, but had never seen this shaped cat before.

"I texted my best friend with photos and said: 'What have I just found!?!?'”

After Laura shared her find to an op-shop forum on social media, hundreds of jealous bargain hunters shared in her delight, commenting underneath her post.

"You lucky cow!" one person wrote. "Never seen this style cat before, bloody beautiful find Laura!" another gushed. "Wowzers. What a find," someone else agreed.

But others were sceptical as to whether it was a genuine Bitossi piece. "Doesn't look like Bitossi to me," one sceptic wrote.

Close up of the blue Bitossi cat on the Kilsyth op-shop shelf.
Some suspected the cat might actually be a fake, but Laura's expert thought otherwise. Source: Laura Feeger

Charity stores like the Salvos have been in the headlines recently over claims their prices are getting too high for the community they're supposed to serve, but in the case of the Bitossi cat, it appears to be quite the opposite.

Laura’s mind began to race — because the ceramic was priced at just $8, she considered that it might actually be a pleasant-looking but ultimately worthless knock-off.

“Sadly Bitossi is often faked and also copied. Initially I thought there was a chance this was not real but with confirmation from probably the world’s most knowledgeable Bitossi collector… I was able to confirm its authenticity,” she told Yahoo.

Laura said the collector gave her an estimate of between $500 and $1000 for the piece. But rather than sell the cat, her plan is to simply display it alongside the rest of her collection.

“This specific piece is a very rare form [that] did come in many glazes and decors but there are only a few in the reference albums. At a guess [it's] late 60s to 70s.”

Yahoo has reached out to an independent expert to verify its potential value and authenticity.

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