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One theory is that the furniture was produced by a Jewish cabinetmaker for wealthier members of the expat community, another that it was made for an Arimathaean cult, inspired by the myth that Jesus visited Cornwall with his uncle Joseph’s merchant fleet.

A recent example of such furniture in a provincial saleroom was the partners’ desk from the home of a Middle-Eastern academic which made £13,000 at Mallams, Oxford on December 5. This was a high price for a Victorian partners’ desk but, given the way davenports have plunged from fashion in recent years, perhaps the £3800 this example achieved was the more surprising.