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Unusually, and disappointingly for the auctioneers, it was the lower priced pieces which engendered most interest.

Many of the better furniture items, such as a good-looking George III mahogany breakfront bookcase, 10ft 4in (3.15m) wide, were among the 40 per cent casualty list. It did not seem a case of over-ambitious vendors and too-high estimates – the bookcase, for instance, seemed in line with Wintertons’ policy of realistic estimates at £6000-8000.

Rather it appeared simply to be a case of the right buyers not turning up, and auctioneer David Smith believes many of the better casualties will sell easily enough in the autumn. Moorcroft, however, will find buyers at any time and one of the £75,000 sale’s better prices was taken by a 51/2in (14cm) baluster vase in the Blackberry and Leaf pattern under a flambé glaze. With signature and impressed mark, the vase, estimated at £200-300 was a trade buy at £1450.

Other Moorcroft baluster vase successes included a Macintyre example, 51/2in (14cm) high with the Blue Poppy pattern which despite a chipped rim and a crack to the body went over ten times estimate at £650, and a cracked 4in (10cm) flambé vase with the Clematis pattern which took a double-estimate £130.

Best of half a dozen four figure furniture prices was the £1500 bid on a Victorian mahogany dining table extending to 7ft 10 in (2.39m) with two extra leaves, on lotus fluted and turned legs.

It was indicative of the sale that a superior and earlier such table, with square central section on four outswept and scrolled legs and two rectangular end sections giving a length of 8ft 91/2in (2.73m), failed against hopes of £3000-4000.

Wintertons, Lichfield, July 25-26 Buyer’s premium: 10 per cent