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One reason they do so is the fact that Mitchells’ location has meant the firm can count on sizeable entries of oak furniture cleared from local farmhouses providing the ‘vernacular’ pieces that have come into their own as mahogany furniture has become increasingly scarce and expensive.

That said, Mitchells are even happier to offer ‘townhouse’ classics such as the mahogany concertina action extending dining table which comfortably led the field in March.

Consigned from a deceased estate with, said Mr Harrison, “a good honest coating of dirt,” the table was completely plain apart from a moulded edge and with its four extra leaves extended to 11ft 8in (3.55m) long on 12 ring-turned legs and brass castors.

Naturally enough, the four leaves were of a slightly darker veneer than the table top proper, but not so dark as to suggest Victorian rather than Georgian origins. Normally one might expect such a piece to attract London dealers but in the absence of such interest a Yorkshire buyer took it at £10,200 (estimate £5000-8000) against underbidding by a Harrogate dealer.

The preceding lot was a Victorian mahogany regulator longcase clock signed John Bradley, Manchester, which had been entered from a Grasmere estate. Measuring 6ft 5in (1.96m) high it incorporated a four-pillar movement with a mercury compensated pendulum and a finely divided degree scale with a compensating weight. It attracted interest from the Manchester trade before selling to a Norfolk dealer above-estimate at £4200.

From the same Grasmere estate came a number of pieces of country oak and mahogany furniture.

These included an 18th century oak dresser base, 4ft wide by 19in deep (1.22m x 48cm) comprising three short drawers with later brass knob handles flanked by a pair of panelled cupboard doors which went to a Sussex dealer at £2850 (est. £800-1200), a George III mahogany tallboy with two short and three long drawers flanked by fluted and canted corners on a base of three long drawers and later bracket feet, 6ft 1/2in(1.84m) which went above-estimate at £1400 to the Irish trade; and an early 19th century oak court cupboard of typical foliate carved and panelled composition, 4ft 11in high by 3ft 9in wide (1.50 x 1.14m) which sold to the local trade at £1100.

Elsewhere, the North-East trade purchased a 13ft 6in (4.11m) long, 20th century mahogany and satinwood crossbanded triple pedestal dining table together with a set of 12 shield back dining chairs at £3200, and a Victorian Sheraton Revival square revolving bookcase at £1080.

Irish dealers secured a George III oak corner buffet, 7ft 9in (2.36m) high, with a swan neck pediment and canted corners at £1200 and a Regency mahogany crossbanded foldover card table on four short scroll legs and lion’s paw feet at £900.

An Irish dealer also went for a 3ft wide (91cm) Regency mahogany and rosewood veneered foldover card table with lyre supports stretching to downswept ebony strung feet but was beaten to it by a local private buyer at a double-estimate £2000.

Among the pieces which went to the Scottish trade were an Arts and Crafts four-fold screen bearing the motto Good Words, Kind Hearts Keep Out The Cold at £1400 and a George III mahogany stick barometer by Garof and Co. of Edinburgh at £1500. Scottish hopes of securing a 5ft 1in wide (1.55m) Victorian walnut, boxwood-strung and ormolu mounted breakfront credenza were, however, thwarted by a Manchester dealer who took it at £2150.

The London trade showed more interest in the first day’s proceedings, particularly when it came to silver.

Here two London specialists battled it out for a George III oval tea caddy engraved with foliate swags and a leopard coat-of-arms, marked I.L., London 1785, the winner taking it at a double-estimate £3050. Previously, the London trade had paid a double-estimate £2250 for 60 pieces of Victorian fiddle and thread patterned cutlery, all marked for W R S, London 1849 and weighing a total of 114oz.

Highlight of the ceramics was an 18th century Derby polychrome figural group of a seated gentleman and lady each, rather unusually, holding a large basket (rather than the scallop shell which more commonly appears in such groups).

Measuring 91/2in (24cm) high, and consigned in undamaged condition, this perfect example of a ceramic combining the academic and the decorative sold to a Nottinghamshire dealer (underbid by a Nottinghamshire collector) at a double-estimate £2150.

Mitchells, Cockermouth, March 4-5
Number of lots offered: 1205
Number of lots sold: 88 per cent
Sale total: £220,000
Buyer’s premium: 10 per cent