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An example was the pair of 19th century French boulle cabinets, one shown right, which, outside the pictures, led the day.

The decorative and good looking 3ft 8in wide (1.12m) wide cabinets were estimated at £5000-7000 which was hardly unreasonable by standards a year or so back but in 2002 the vendor was willing to let the pair go at a bid of £4000.

Similarly, a good 7ft 8in (2.39m) George III mahogany eight-day longcase signed to the arched painted dial James Lomax, Blackburn sold on its £3000 lower estimate.

This is not to say that downbeat practicality permeated the whole sale.

The catalogue cover piece – a 19th century amboyna and ebonised side cabinet with raised mirror centre section, an abundance of French porcelain medallions and plaques and with all-over ormolu beading – was one of the offerings to sell well ahead of hopes.

This was obviously the work of a craftsman but such pieces have hardly been in favour of late.

Still, enough bidders – possibly a post-modern ironic decorator among them – took it to a top-estimate £2500.

More of a surprise was the bidding on a George III oak kneehole lowboy, 2ft 8in (81cm) wide with one long and two box drawers on four cabriole supports.

Estimated at up to £750, it sold at £2100.