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What these added up to was a sound sale of middle-range material lacking any real stars but full of good stock pieces and a number of the later, good-looking pieces of furniture currently doing well.

One area where prices for later pieces went well above estimates was clocks, a couple of longcases in particular. One was a mahogany 9ft 6in (2.42m) late Victorian Sheraton Revival example by Thomas Armstrong, Manchester, the other an early 19th century 7ft 8in (2.05m) work.

The later, more florid, clock with triple chain movement with anchor escapement behind a 121/2in (32cm) brass dial with Whittington/Westminster chimes to the arch had a case inlaid all over with flowers and foliage and with a long glazed door. It took £4200 against hopes of up to £3000.

The other, an elegant piece with an inlaid lancet arched hood above a long lancet arched trunk, had a 12in (31cm) diameter enamel dial with a twin train movement and an anchor escapement striking bell. Against a £1200-1800 estimate, it sold at £4800.

The furniture proper sold well enough although there were disappointments such as when the potential sale star failed to get away.
This was a mahogany writing/games table catalogued as “George II Harlequin, possibly Irish”.

With a rectangular top and an elevating section fitted with pigeonholes and drawers, it sounded an intriguing piece of furniture.

Not intriguing enough, however, for bidders to go to the £4000-6000 estimate. By way of compensation, some lowly rated pieces went way above hopes.

A 16in (45cm) wide George III mahogany cellaret of lancet form with fall front revealing a lined and fitted interior on square tapering legs was one example. With the current enthusiasm for any wine-related items, it was probably under-estimated at £1000-1500 but the £3100 it took was still a surprise.
Similarly, in a market where age no longer comes before beauty, or even good looks, a late 19th century mahogany chest on chest in the George II style was always likely to go for more than the £800-1200 estimate.

The 3ft 10in (1.16m) wide piece with moulded cornice above three short and three long drawers flanked by blind fret corners on a base with a slide and three long drawers sold at £4000.

A 6ft 10in (2.05m) wide, 1900 olivewood breakfront bookcase, with four panelled glazed doors above a central fitted secretaire drawer and three cupboards went a little over hopes at £3900.

From the early 20th century came a Sheraton Revival satinwood breakfront bookcase. A manageable 6ft 6in high by 5ft 5in wide, with four astragal glazed doors above frieze drawers and cupboards, all inlaid with harebell, rococo scroll, foliate and trophy work and decorated with penwork, it took £4600.

An ever-reliable Regency mahogany table in the manner of Gillows extending with a concertina action and four extra leaves (two later) to 13ft 5in (4.09m) long, went a little over hopes at £5000.

While 19th and 20th century crafted repro sold well, period material tended to sell within estimate. A William and Mary walnut featherbanded chest with quarter veneered top made £3900; a c.1700 walnut crossbanded chest with inlaid panels had suffered the usual restorations and went at £2000 a George III mahogany and line-inlaid bowfront sideboard with typical central arched recessed drawer flanked by a cellaret and cupboard took £3100.

The decorative maxim of what looks good is good extends, of course, to ceramics where, as so often, a piece of George Jones majolica outsold a limited amount of 18th century material on offer.

This was a 121/2in (32cm) high Stilton dish and cover moulded with lotus flowers on a dark blue ground.
Several hairline cracks and small chips to the cover kept the estimate down to £1000-15090 but the cheese dish sold at £4200.

Bonhams, Ramster, December 10
Number of lots: 573 Lots sold: 70 per cent
Sale total: £258,000
Buyer’s premium: 15/10 per cent