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While a sizeable proportion, around 39 per cent, of the more standard entries failed to enthuse buyers, there was strong bidding on the more singular pieces. Leading the list, for example, was the 3oz Scottish provincial presentation snuff box, pictured here, marked for WC Greenock and bearing an inscription reading Given as a Premium to Mr L McLachlane by the Greenock Florists Society for Auriculas and Carnations 1799 and 1800.

On the rarity scale for Scottish provincial hallmarks, Greenock is somewhere in the middle but most of the pieces that appear on the market are flatware rather than holloware (although Christie’s knew of a cream jug also presented by the Greenock Florists Society as a prize for tulip in 1796).

As well as the presentation inscription, it had a floral engraving to its cover of the prize-winning auriculas and carnations. The engraving was a little soft but “it had a huge amount of charm”, according to Christie’s Jeffrey Lassaline. It was contested by the room and the phone, selling for a treble-estimate £5200. The sale’s other highlight was an Irish strainer marked for Thomas Isaacs, Dublin c.1740.

Weighing in at 5oz, this had cross piercing to the bowl and flat lug handles engraved with a crest, while the reverse of the handle was notched to enable it to rest on the receptacle’s rim. “One of the nicest we have seen,” said Mr Lassaline of this piece which duly sold for £4200.