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“If it is reasonably estimated it will sell,’ he said. But even he admitted there were exceptions to the rule. “I can’t give away run-of-the-mill Pembroke tables,” he said. “Nobody wants them.”

The policy seemed to be pay dividends at their two-day Norfolk auction on 8-9 January where the highlight was a Regency mahogany secretaire bookcase, 3ft 41/2in (1.1m).

Purchased by the vendor for £3400 ten years ago at a Keys country house sale, flexibility on the part of the vendor enabled it to sell to a private buyer at £3000.

Mahogany extending dining tables are perennial favourites and at Norwich, an Edwardian example sold in line with expectations at £2500.

One of the most unusual entries was a plasterwork collection box modelled as a turreted country house, 111/2in (29cm), and with different size coins slots.

Mr Goodley posited a c.1800 date for what he thought may have been a church’s charity box. It sold to a dealer at £450. A more surprising trade buy was a pair of 19th century lead crystal lustres in poor condition.
Although one lustre was chipped and the other had a repaired stem, the pair was taken to £1150 by a London dealer. Elsewhere, two popular Carlton ware pieces, the Guinness Toucans, brought £300 each.

Keys, Aylsham, Norwich, January 8-9 Buyer’s premium: 10 per cent