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It came in the form of a pair of rectangular plaques catalogued as 19th century Italian maiolica style and estimated at £100-150.

On the day, however, the 7in by 91/2in (18cm x 24cm) privately-entered plaques painted in the Castelli style with groups of classical figures in open landscapes, were identified as 17th century and triggered a bidding battle which ended in a dealer’s £5200 winning bid.

The best of the British pieces also went above hopes – a pair
of Wedgwood Candlemass lustre vases and covers. Dated c.1922-25, the 81/2in (22cm) shouldered oviform vases each featured three tall panels representing the Spirit of Christmas. One of the domed covers had a large chip to the rim but the vases went comfortably over the top £3000 estimate to sell at £4300.

Best of the glass was a pair of 121/4in (31cm) late 19th century Bohemian overlay flared-neck vases decorated with panels of flowers which tripled the mid-estimate at £1550.

Bonhams, Knowle, March 13
Buyer’s premium: 17.5/10 per cent