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Reasonably priced pieces that would have walked out the door earlier in the year – such as a 19th century mahogany pedestal dining table extending to 8ft 3in (2.52m), estimated at £2000-2500, or a set of eight 18th century-style oak and upholstered high back chairs carrying hopes of £1000-1200 – failed to get away and it may be autumn before such pieces pick up again.

That said, the Banbury sale also saw the familiar reaction to fresh-to-market quality for which dealers will still dig deep to secure.

One such item underlined the current seemingly insatiable demand for good-sized 18th century stools – even if, as here, they have been messed around with over the years. Discovered languishing in a garage during a routine valuation, the stool had actually at some point been converted into a coffee table with a mahogany top.

Nevertheless the original quality of the 18th century mahogany piece, 3ft 8in by 21in (1.12m x 53cm) with carved lion mask cabriole supports with hairy paw feet was apparent. Holloways’ £600-800 estimate reflected the conversion job but the fact that it received both a black and white and a colour illustration in the catalogue was an indication more was hoped for.

Such hopes were more than realised when a local specialist dealer, who presumably will have another bill to meet when he has the table reconverted to its original use, went to £5900 to secure it.

No doubt auctioneers will soon be having to explain to hopeful vendors that the demand for stools is specifically for the large and decorative types – not the more common and plainer varieties. Here at Banbury, for instance, a pair of oak joined stools in the 17th century South Yorkshire style with carved horizontal rails, solid seats and baluster legs tied by stretchers, went at a mid-estimate £180.

Also from a private local vendor was an unusual George III mahogany pedestal desk, an ordinary enough looking item at 4ft wide by 2ft 1in deep (1.22m x 64cm) when closed but, as the illustration shows, far from ordinary when the reeded-border hinged top is lifted on its ratchet and the long top drawer is pulled out. With a raised slide above a range of lidded compartments with ivory alphabetical lozenge panels, it was designed for a purpose and catalogued as an estate manager’s desk.

Three drawers to each pedestal with reverse false drawers and cupboards and side drop handles completed the picture and, against an estimate of £3000-4000, it sold to a local dealer at £5800.

The other major seller came among some 47 lots of Oriental rugs and carpets, pieces which had come in over the months and held to make up a specific section in a sale. For the most part they were estimated at two or three figures, and with only 16 selling there was plainly not much to attract the specialist trade. There was one though – a 25ft by 16ft (7.62m x 4.87m) Sultanabad carpet of Shah Abbas design with meandering flowers on a dark blue field. Dated c.1890, it had suffered general wear and tear over the years and was patched, but it was of sufficient quality for Holloways to put a £4000-5000 estimate on it and for the London rug trade to go to £12,500 to secure it.

Finally, if mid-summer has proved a somnolent time at auction generally, was this the time to put up an early 20th century painted rocking horse – the sort of item more usually associated with Christmas presents? Yes, as it turns out, it was. There seems to be no closed season for these favourite toys and this 4ft 2in (1.27m) example on its original stand was a piece with some quality. It had no difficulty leaping beyond its estimate to sell at £550.

Holloways, Banbury,
June 27
Number of lots: 405
Number of lots sold: 263
Sale total: £75,000
Buyer’s premium: 15 per cent