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Such a lot led his January dispersal at Phillips Bath – a near set of 14 (12 + 2) late 19th century mahogany Chippendale-style dining chairs consigned from Phillips’ Cardiff offices. With pierced backs with interlaced vase-shaped splats above stuffover seats and on foliate carved cabriole legs, this was not an absolutely matching set and the chairs were in need of a repolish and some minor repairs. Nevertheless, they still brought an above-estimate £8200 from a private buyer.

The selectivity of buyers was noticeable in the way a 19th century mahogany triple-pillar extending dining table only managed its bottom estimate of £4000 because of the ‘marriage’ of top and base, and again in the failure of a George III mahogany and marquetry bureau bookcase estimated at £7000-9000 which was ascribed to its having later inlay to the drawers and fall.

By contrast, a “very attractive and good quality” Edwardian mahogany and marquetry inlaid cylinder bureau was wholly original and needed only a polish to bring it up to saleroom condition. Measuring 3ft 4in (1.03m) wide, it was fitted to the top with a three-quarter brass gallery rail and three short cavetto drawers above a cylinder top decorated with swags of flowers and ribbons enclosing a sliding fitted interior, and it went over the phone at £3900 – more than double the top estimate.

Among the ceramics was a 9in (23cm) creamware jug catalogued as late 18th century but with a later inscription. It was transfer-printed to one side with an American naval officer, the Stars and Stripes and success to America whose militia is better than standing arm, may its citizens emulate soldiers and its soldiers heroes, and to the reverse with a frigate, an American eagle and peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none – Jefferson, Anno Domini 1804.

Expert trade opinion was that jug and transfer-printing were probably contemporaneous and a little later later than 1804 – when the sentiments would still have a whiff of treason about them in an English manufactory. One specialist reckoned that even given the large chip to the base, the jug was seriously under-estimated at £200-300, but was still surprised when a dealer went as high as £2800 to secure it.

The top seller among a large section of Oriental ceramics were four Qianlong period famille rose exportware salts. Each 3in (8cm) long, of canted rectangular form, these were rather conservatively estimated at £350-450 and after they took £2100. Mr Toynbee remarked that “they were obviously rarer than we thought”.

A large selection of netsuke held few surprises, with all going for the mid-hundreds and a set of three late 19th/early 20th century Samson vases and covers, each of slender baluster form and painted in the famille rose palette with dragons among pearls, flames and clouds, brought £260 despite minor damage to the cover of one.

Phillips, Bath, January 29
Number of lots: 334
Number of lots sold: 83 per cent
Sale total: £233,000
Buyer’s premium: 15 per cent