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The withdrawal came after protests in the press about the Treasury’s decision to sell items of historical importance and suggestions that they should be given to a national museum.

“National institutions have expressed an interest and we are looking at the situation,” a Treasury spokesman told the Antiques Trade Gazette. Bonhams & Brooks will continue to provide expertise and advice to assist in determining the items’ future. The four withdrawn lots were late 17th/early 18th century candlesnuffers and trays. Two 19th century pieces that remained in the auction, a pair of meat skewers and a pair of chambersticks, sold for £2800 and £6000 respectively.