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The best-selling period furniture came from deceased estates – given their location Olivers wisely insist on private entries only – and the sale-topping William and Mary chest of drawers and the George III partners’ desk arrived from the same property.

Auctioneer James Fletcher reckoned the 3ft 2in wide (97cm) walnut veneered marquetry chest of two short and three long drawers might be a little flash having a top and drawer fronts profusely inlaid in various woods with birds among flowers and with floral arched panels amid geometric satinwood stringing to the sides. However, restraint is not seen as that much of a virtue in these decorative days and the only real problem was that the bracket feet were later. This did keep the price down but the vendors were still delighted to see the chest go to the trade at £7900.

The partners’ desk, with inset leather top above three frieze drawers and three short drawers in each pedestal with the opposing side with dummy drawers, all on bracket feet, was right enough but its only problem was its size. It was standard for its period at 4ft 1in wide and 2ft 7in deep (1.25m x 79cm) but, as Mr Fletcher said, it was neither small and pretty enough to appeal to one market nor large enough for the people “who ring up and ask the size, then say it’s not big enough for their computer”. Nevertheless, it still brought a very satisfactory trade bid of £5800.

A rare private success among the higher prices came when an 18th century longcase clock in a 7ft 10in (2.40m) black and gilt lacquered chinoiserie case was offered.

The eight-day movement with brass dial and date aperture, inscribed J.Hewitt, Sunderland to the arch, was good but the case was too heavily restored for the trade to challenge a private buyer’s offer of £1550.

Similarly, private collectors were prepared to overlook serious damage to acquire a piece of local Hedingham ware pottery. Produced at nearby Castle Hedingham by Edward Bingham from about 1820, this generally took the form of medieval platters, goblets etc. based on museum examples. Bingham was a good potter and there seems to have been no intention to deceive with his spurious marks – the jug offered here carried the moulded initials TB and the date 1700 – but his wares, though rather crude in looks, were delicate in durability and few have survived intact. In good condition, Hedingham ware can bring prices like the £500 on a vase offered at Olivers October sale but the jug offered in December lacked its handle and, typically, it suffered heavy chipping to the rather soft body. Nevertheless, local enthusiasm was still strong enough to see it take £110 from a collector.

Olivers, Sudbury, December 14
Number of lots: 353
Lots sold: 70 cent
Sale total: £50,000
Buyer’s premium: 10 per cent