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Trade buyers took all three of the five-figure best sellers.

“The real buoyancy is still at the top end of the market,” he said. “But it seems that buyers are a little less selective than they have been.”

A case in point was the day’s top money spinner – the 'basically 19th century' late George III Cumberland dining table illustrated . Measuring 11ft 4in (3.45m) with its three extra leaves it was an example of a table very much in demand and perhaps £45,000 could be expected for a particularly good one.

The privately-entered Dorset piece, however, had been repolished to Brigade of Guards boots standard and Mr Schwinge settled on a broad estimate of £5000-10,000. Dealers seemed confident a little restoration was all that was needed, even if the original patina could never come back, and the table went to a dealer with a client in mind at £25,000.

Dorset, it seems, can still throw up the sort of good-quality, privately entered period pieces that always found buyers through the various depressions the trade has suffered. With a more confident air about the market they are selling rather better than ever, as in the case of two George III pieces – a Chippendale-design bureau bookcase and a mahogany and marquetry bouffant sideboard.

The bookcase was a familiar classic – dentil-carved broken-arch pediment with blind fret frieze above astragal glazed doors and base with fall front concealing a fitted interior above four long graduated drawers, with brass furniture on a moulded plinth and ogee bracket feet.

Auctioneer Mr Schwinge put a conservative – rather than ‘come hither’ estimate of £4000-6000 on the bookcase but a trade battle took it to £12,500.

The Sheraton-design sideboard was one of those 'found in a barn’ stories beloved of auctioneers, but one with a difference. More, indeed, a case, as the golfing maestro observed, that ‘the harder I practise, the luckier I get.’ Mr Schwinge had known of the sideboard and barn for some five years but only when a member of the owner’s family decided it was too large to accept as a gift for her London flat was it put into auction.

Illustrated bottom right, the 5ft (1.52m) sideboard was crossbanded with rosewood and strung with ebony, the swept arch was inlaid with satinwood and olivewood and the cellaret and deep drawer had acorn and oakleaf corner sections. The gilt brass leaf embossed handles to the central drawer were Regency replacements but this was hardly a problem and competing dealers took the sideboard to £10,500.

Not everything went the auctioneer’s way. Possibly the strength of sterling deterred Continental buyers and one of the projected stars of the sale – an 18th century German walnut commode, 6ft wide (1.83m) and with an attractive arrangement of two shaped moulded doors in the form of three long dummy drawers – failed to get away against hopes of £3000-5000.

It wasn’t the only furniture casualty but there were compensations elsewhere.

A George I walnut chest on stand, with herringbone crossbanding and brass escutcheons was catalogued as basically early 18th century and although it too had suffered from over-enthusiastic repolishing. It too became an example of the way big-money buyers are becoming a little less perfectionist when it doubled the mid-estimate to bring £7000.

A Hepplewhite-design George II mahogany settee had been cut down to 7ft 8in (2.34m) and this, combined with a very obviously spliced centre leg, put the trade off. Not so the private buyers who liked its size and its impressive – and original – scroll arms enough to bid it to £3800 against hopes of £800-1500.

In the clocks section, the potential star – a George III mahogany bracket clock by Conyers Dunlop, London – failed to get away in the room against expectations of £3000-5000 but was subject to post-sale negotiations. Local pieces had no such trouble. They all sold and a George III mahogany case eight-day longcase with brass dial signed Arthur Mitchell, Dorchester, led the way at £2000.