THE “rags to riches” tale of a Scot who went from a Dumfriesshire village to the top of American banking has come to light – thanks to a 300-year-old Chinese dish.

Dating back to the reign of Emperor Yongzheng in the early 1700s, the blue-and-white item was traced to the collection of Alexander Robertson, who left rural Scotland to become vice president of a major US bank.

It was discovered in a cupboard at a house in South Derbyshire and is expected to fetch up to £100,000 at auction next month. Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons Auctioneers in Derbyshire, said: “It could fetch far more. We expect the world of high-brow Far Eastern collectors to fly in and have a hand in competing for this wonderful dish. It truly is a magical find.

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“To find a Chinese Imperial blue and white dish fit for an emperor in Derbyshire is remarkable.

“There is a rags to riches story behind it.”

Robertson, from Thornhill, was the grandson of a blacksmith and emigrated to Canada sometime after 1881, moving on to America where he later became vice president of the Continental and Commercial Bank of Chicago.

The organisation was formed in a merger between two local institutions, one of which dated back to the US civil war, and held $175 million in deposits at its foundation in 1910, making it a major financial player.

It is understood that Robertson bought the Chinese plate one year after the merger. He had no children and his possessions were shipped to Edinburgh and divided between relatives.

It current owner has kept it in a box in a cupboard since inheriting it from her grandmother two years ago and the piece is said to be in “exceptional” condition.

The woman, who does not want to be named, said: “I was too scared to have it on show.

“I hope someone buys it who will cherish it – and be brave enough to have it on display.”