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This was most true among the toys and dolls sale on March 7, a little smaller than usual and made smaller by the withdrawal of 24 lots of German live steam engines after the sudden death of the vendor. They will be included in the next sale.

The best seller was a c.1906 Bing tinplate clockwork car, a 15in (39cm) model of a vintage open tourer put into the sale by an Australian. There was some repainting, the lamps were missing and the running boards re-soldered, but the car, enamelled in cream with pink interior, padded seats and rubber tyres, was a rare example and had the lithographed GBN label attached. Bidding went quickly above the £5000 going to a London dealer at £8200 – “a pleasant echo from the toy world’s heyday a decade ago”, said specialist Paul Campbell.

As the car came from outside the EU, VAT applied on the hammer price as well as the premium, pushing up the bill to a hefty £11,050 for the same dealer who also took a c.1910 16in (41cm) Carette lithographed tinplate landau-lette at a lower estimate £2000.

Not everything sold – a c.1935 Marklin Constructor toy oil tanker was one of the disappointments against hopes of up to £3500 and a Jumeau Truste pressed bisque doll, c.1880, went under expectations at £4400. However, a £76,000 hammer total on the 208 pieces offered – 183 of which sold – was plainly a good result.

There were some good prices on Teddy Bears such as two c.1910 Steiff mohair examples which went to a collector at £1400 and £1300 and a fine, 1930 rocking horse, probably by Collinson, provided one of the surprises of the day. Finely carved and in its original dapple grey, it had a replacement mane and tail and some surface craft but took £3000 from the London trade against expectations of up to £1200.

Two sales in the series included furniture and on both occasions – March 6 when 135 lots out of 256 found buyers to total £113,650 and March 15 when a 75 per cent success rate on 262 offerings totalled £64,300 – the trade were very much in evidence when it came to the better pieces.

A set of c.1910 George III-style mahogany dining chairs led the first sale at a double-estimate £3000 while popular pieces like a William IV rosewood and marble-topped secretaire Wellington chest and an early 20th century walnut pedestal desk, 6ft (1.82m) wide, albeit with faults both seemed reasonable buys for the trade although both went over estimate at £2050 and £1730 respectively.

The March 15 sale was nothing out of the ordinary but specialist Jeremy Morrison noted: “Pieces like davenports and late 19th century carved oak and ebonised furniture that previously suffered in a selective market were selling well.”

Examples included a Victorian figured walnut davenport with hinged stationery compartment selling privately at £1050 and a late Victorian walnut and ebonised fold-over card table bringing £900 from a London dealer.

Silver on March 7 was geared to the trade, 46 pieces of fiddle pattern flatware (74oz) 1800-1865 leading the way at £900 while the surprise of 245 lots of glass and ceramics on March 14 was a group of 15, mainly 20th century, paperweights., the principle piece being a Dupont Pansy example. Estimated at up to £250 the group took £240 from a collector.

Sotheby’s South, Billingshurst,
March 6-7,14-15
Buyer’s premium:
15/10 per cent.