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The collection of miniature Japanese sculpture, valued at up to £45,000, belong to an elderly collector who lives near Oswestry.

Carved from ivory and boxwood, the collection covers the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries and was amassed by the owner from London salerooms in the 1960s and ’70s. The individual netsuke are valued from £100 to £2000.

“As a private and eclectic collection of this sort is rarely seen in provincial salerooms, the sale will present a great opportunity for private buyers to start collecting netsuke,” said Jeremy Lamond, of Halls Fine Art.

“We are organising the sale as a single-owner event on June 18 to coincide with Asian Art Week when there will be collectors in the country from the Far East and other parts of the world. The sale will be promoted on the Internet and we anticipate great interest in the collection from foreign collectors and the main London dealers.”

Netsuke served both functional and aesthetic purposes. As the kimono, the traditional form of Japanese dress, had no pockets, women would tuck small personal items into their sleeves, but men suspended their tobacco pouches, pipes, purses or writing implements, on a silk cord, from their obi (sash).

These hanging objects are called sagemono and to stop the cord from slipping through the obi, a small toggle, called a netsuke, was attached. The entire ensemble was then worn, at the waist, and functioned as a sort of removable hip pocket.

All three objects, the netsuke, the ojime and the different types of sagemono, were often beautifully decorated with elaborate carving, lacquer work, or inlays of rare and exotic materials, including wood, ivory, precious metals, shell, coral and semi-precious stones.