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But even accounting for competition with an estimated 28 other auction houses in the vicinity, auctioneer Phillip Taylor can still count an average of 2500 lots at his three-day monthly sales in Lewes, and a further 1000 lots at his colleague Mark Hudson’s two-day monthly dispersals from the Bexhill-on-Sea salerooms.

On this occasion, the highest price outside the paintings was tendered for a George III serpentine mahogany sideboard which had been consigned by an English family in advance of their return home from South Africa.

Measuring 4ft 11in (1.50m) wide and comprising a crossbanded drawer over a paterae apron flanked by deep drawers on tapering legs and spade feet, the sideboard had arrived in good untouched condition and sold to the English trade above-estimate at £5400.

It was refreshing to see period furniture take the majority of the higher prices, as a George III mahogany and rosewood crossbanded bowfront cabinet, 3ft 9in (1.14m) wide, with two panelled doors enclosing four graduated drawers, went to the South London trade at £3300, a 3ft 11in (1.19m) wide Georgian mahogany tambour desk of two short and two long drawers went privately at £3200 and a George III satinwood and rosewood crossbanded demi-lune card table with later painted decoration also sold privately, at £3000.

Of the 6000-7000 bids recorded by Phillip Taylor at this sale, over half were taken from private individuals.

But the one lot which attracted the most private bids – a Regency rosewood folio cabinet of four sliding shelves flanked by baluster pilasters over a base drawer – eventually sold to the trade at a double-estimate £4200.

Other Regency furnishings included a mahogany ‘waterfall’ bookcase of six open shelves on scroll brackets with an understage drawer which made £2800, a William IV set of eight mahogany dining chairs with cresting top rails and foliate scroll spars at £3300 and a set of six mahogany dining chairs (two with later arms) comprising tablet top rails, brass strung spars and reeded rails, which sold at £2400.

Among the later furniture two writing tables were to the fore.

A Victorian mahogany partners' example 5ft 6in wide by 3ft 5in deep (1.68 x 1.04m) stamped M.Willson, 68 Great Queen Street and comprising six frieze drawers on fluted tapering legs, had been consigned by Lewes district council and so attracted VAT on top of the buyer’s premium on top of the triple-estimate £3700 tendered by an East Anglian dealer.

The other writing table was an Edwardian rosewood marquetry piece with a central stationery compartment to the raised back flanked by short drawers over a central drawer, 3ft 6in (1.07m) wide, which sold to another East Anglian dealer at £3000.

The earliest items of furniture were a Charles II set of four oak and elm dining chairs which brought £3000 and a late 17th century oak chest on chest of five long bone inlaid drawers flanked by fluted pilasters, 3ft 8in (1.12m) wide, which sold at £2900.

Jewellery was led by a silver and enamelled latin cross pendant set with a citrine on a ropetwist chain, which was consigned among a job lot of three Art Nouveau pendants and 16 other items which improved upon a group estimate of £300-400 to bring £2800, and there was no less of a gap between expected and realised prices for a number of ceramics offered at the beginning of proceedings.

Best of a good selection ceramics was a pair of Royal Worcester ewers painted with panels of orchids, signed Roberts against a floral gilt dark blue ground, each measuring 131/4in (33.6cm) high, which improved upon expectations of £700-1000 to take £4700 from the trade.

A late 17th/early 18th century pair of Savona maiolica waisted albarellos inscribed Q.ad Xalape and Adip Hiru, each measuring 8in (20.3cm) high and estimated at £300-500, attracted £1600 from a furniture dealer while an early 20th century set of four Chinese rice bowls and covers, each measuring 4in (10cm) diameter and estimated at £50-100, were underbid by S. Marchant before selling to another London specialist at £1500.

Elsewhere, a late 19th century Meissen group of a classical woman consoling a sedentary warrior attracted a double-estimate £1400, while more modern decorative ceramics included a Moorcroft flambé baluster vase decorated in cornflower pattern, 12in (30.5cm) high, which went above-estimate at £3100 and a Mabel Lucie Attwell group entitled 'Our Pets’ LA19, which took £1900.

Since the Japanese department stores stopped buying it a couple of years ago the supply of Lalique to the open market has decreased, but the couple of pieces at Gorringes attracted solid prices from collectors; Ornis, a frosted and opalescent vase with a tiny chip, 71/2in (19cm) high, attracted £1400 and Saint François, a frosted opalescent and blue stained vase measuring 7in (18cm) high, sold at £1100.

Gorringes, Lewes, March 9-11
Number of lots offered: 2503
Number of lots sold: 85 per cent
Sale total: £520,000
Buyer’s premium: 10 per cent