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“We chose the moment to sell this consignment,” said auctioneer Ben Lloyd who will offer the second half in April. Top of the January section was a set of 10 (8 + 2) William IV mahogany dining chairs. Like most of the consignment they were in good condition and well maintained. They doubled the top estimate when they took a £6600 bid from the trade.

Dealers also secured two longcase clocks – a 7ft 4in (2.24m) George III mahogany example signed William Avenell, Portsmouth Common, which made £5800 and an 18th century longcase, 7ft 5in (2.26m) which fetched £4500.

An 18th century walnut bureau cabinet met with a frostier reception, taking a below-estimate trade bid of £5200. Oxford, with its resident academics enjoys a healthy trade in library furniture – “We sell an amazing amount,” says Mr Lloyd – and here a set of George IV mahogany three-tread library steps doubled expectations at £580 and a library-friendly George III mahogany-frame wing armchair brought £2500.

Another factor in the healthy furniture market has been the apparent resurgence of the Oxford property market which had been fairly dormant before Christmas with a resulting knock-on effect on interest in more lowly-ranked pieces.

Evidence of a resurgence came with a £1400 trade bid for a Regency mahogany-frame cheval mirror estimated at £250-350 – “we try not to put people off,” admitted Mr Lloyd – while a pair of bergère carved walnut-frame elbow chairs and a Regency-style mahogany sofa table brought £620 each and a 19th century mahogany bedside chest fetched £460.

More out of the ordinary was a striking pair of large 19th century Indian carved wood guards. Standing 5ft 1in (1.3m), on rectangular raised plinths with colourful turbans, top coats and bandoliers, they looked exactly the sort of item the decorator trade would snap up, but it was a private buyer who won them with a bid of £1700.

The continued weakness of the euro against sterling has had its effect on the Continental furniture dealers and the English trade had a clear run at an 18th century South German walnut veneer bureau cabinet.
Standing 6ft 3in by 3ft 10in (1.9m x1.17m) the cabinet, consigned by an Oxford-based Swedish family, sold at £6500.

One of the most unusual entries was a 19th century child’s wooden crib in the form of a clinker built fishing boat which was taken to £1600 by a dealer while a highly collectable 18th century pine frame wicker-back Orkney chair, in need of some work, brought a winning £750 bid.

Mallams, Oxford, January 30
Buyer’s premium: 15 per cent