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Of course, there was no disputing the commercial appeal of the finest piece of furniture – a late 17th century gateleg table with a rectangular top of solid burr elm and a walnut undertier.

This sort of sophisticated country furniture is the height of popularity and the smoky, resinous colour of the burr elm top was a real draw.

Measuring 23in (59cm) wide with a single frieze drawer and slender turned legs, the table was consigned in original condition from a Wheathampstead house, and slight warping in the top barely deterred bidders on five telephone lines, with a London dealer making the winning bid of £11,000 against a £1200-1500 estimate.

About a dozen other lots besides the £11,000 table, enlivened the sale.

One of these was a George III cutlery set, which was unusually complete, attractively naive as well as being mounted with green-stained ivory handles in a chequer and crossbanded cutlery box.

Comprising six silver old English pattern spoons and a serving spoon, London 1809, six dessert forks, six dessert knives, 12 forks (three pronged and with steel tines) and 12 knives with steel tines and blades, the silver collars apparently unmarked, the set was chased to £2700 by the trade.

The name of Omar Ramsden is reliably commercial and the Arts and Crafts silversmith had put his name to a 4in (10cm) pot-bellied inkwell with Tudor Rose decoration which attracted five commission bids and three telephone bidders before selling in the room at £820.

There was also interest from America among five commission bids for a late Victorian silver-mounted glass lemonade jug and pair of beakers, Chester 1898/99.

The ensemble was plain, but apparently the American market likes swirled, translucent glass, as opposed to crystal cut transparent glass in most late Victorian decanters and jugs.

The set made £580 against forecast of £100-150.

Imported white metal animals are still doing well. A late 19th century parrot with detachable head and hinged wings, stamped BM for Berthold Muller and perched on an onyx column, 12in (31cm) high, attracted £1100 from the decorative trade.

A group of wooden and cloth puppets may not look as though they are worth more than £200 but if they are early Pelham puppets manufactured for Wonky Toys in the late 1940s/early ’50s, like the nine examples offered with an estimate of £150-250 at Sworder’s, then they could be worth £2000 – £2200 in this case.

A possible sleeper among the works of art was a '14th/15th century' Indian model of a sacred cow, 5 1/2in (14cm) wide, which sold at £700.

Another piece from the sub-continent, a 19th century quillwork and Vizigapatam workbox, 12in by 9 1/2in (32 x 24cm) was the sort of piece that could be picked up for less than £100 in the 1990s. At the Stansted Mountfichet sale it fetched £520.

There were several rare and high-quality features of an encased mounted fish that elicited strong bidding from fishing fanatics.

The dace, one of the rarest coarse fish in the UK, was a large specimen at 10.5oz. It had been caught at Thetford in 1897 by W.Ransom, chairman of the Lychnobite Angling Society, and preserved and encased by the reputable London firm of Cooper & Sons.

Five telephone lines were busy as the case was bid to £1700.

Top price of the ceramics was £950 made by a 7in (18cm) First Period Worcester King of Prussia jug, dated 1757, but the highlight of proceedings was an 8 1/2in (22cm) red lustre vase by Zsolnay Pecs, unusually decorated with starfish.

Marked 5056 and 246N, the vase was sold to a US trade commission bid of £900 against underbidding on the telephone from Hungary. Some felt that, despite the international competition, the American may have got something of a bargain.