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Actually, the term used by the auctioneers was tabacologia, which has an erudite Latin-sounding ring to it. What it means, going on the saleroom evidence presented here, is anything pertaining to the smoking of tobacco – with pipes and cigar cases top of the list.

The sale’s most remarkable pipe was a large 19th century French enamelled clay Dutel pipe, pictured right, with red, blue green and yellow polychromy, signed Osmond; the bowl took the form of a Renaissance-type female bust clad in a breastplate with radiating suns for epaulettes.

Only a handful of similar pipes are known, none enamelled or featuring such elaborate polychromy, and bidding soared over top-estimate to €4000 (£2500).

An 18th century silver pipe, the bowl in the form of a helmeted Minerva, dubbed “very rare” and “in superb condition”, trebled hopes on €3000 (£1875).

Two copper-mounted porcelain pipe-bowls (c.1800), from the Hungarian pipe-making centre, Debrecen, each in tapering hexagonal form with a scrolled base, and delicately painted with alternating figures and birds, sold well: one, with a flat lid, for €800 (£500), the other, with domed lid but no metal shaft-mounting, for €700 (£450).

A 19th century carved wooden hunting pipe, with cherrywood shaft and carved stags beneath the copper-lidded bowl topped by a lying dog carved in the round, took €70 (£45); and an English pipe with slender, turned wooden shaft and a porcelain bowl purporting to represent a youthful Queen Victoria (c.1840), sold over estimate for €750 (£470).

Many of the 70 cigar cases on offer were made in Victorian and Edwardian London, with prices ranging from €40 (£25) for a case in crocodile skin (1901) up to €150 (£95) for a silver-mounted beige leather case by Sprey (1904). One of the more interesting items was a crocodile-skin case made in London in 1899, but featuring the mark of a Bombay retailer, prompting the auctioneers to speculate that it may have belonged to a maharajah or an Indian officer. Such idle musings failed to send the price beyond a paltry €50 (£30).