Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

“From the latter half of last year until now, business has been fantastic,” said Oxford auctioneer Ben Lloyd. “Cheap stuff is very cheap and the expensive stuff is very expensive. A certain look is very saleable but something like a Victorian card table is ridiculously cheap.”

A traditional look which appealed to several UK dealers at the 590-lot outing on March 31 was a highly decorative and good-quality 18th century Dutch mahogany and floral marquetry bombé bureau. The 3ft 8in (1.12m) wide bureau featured the familiar fall front, fitted interior, four graduated drawers with rococo gilt metal handles, carved cabriole legs and a shaped frieze. A provincial UK dealer secured it at £6100.

“It is nice to see Continental furniture selling well,” said Mr Lloyd. “We have always sold a lot of it because of Oxford’s strong international flavour. A lot of Europe’s academic migrants came to Oxford between the wars. One flat I cleared still had packing cases with swastikas stamped on them.”

More recently, Arts and Crafts has become the look everyone wants and at Oxford this demand was enough to see two branch candlesticks, stamped Liberty & Co., London 1909, propelled from a £600-900 estimate to a winning bid of £1850.

Like Arts and Crafts material, plain country oak furniture can also sit well in contemporary interiors and demand has remained fairly steady. Here, a George III North Country oak dresser, of small proportions at 6ft 3in (1.9m) tall, was not an exceptional example but still managed to top its estimate, selling to the trade at £2600.

An attractive, if repolished, Regency rosewood library table was also of manageable proportions at 4ft 5in x 2ft 4in (1.35m x 71cm) and sold at £2000.

A 3ft 5in x 23in (1.04m x 58cm) 18th century pine centre table had undergone more changes than repolishing, having been painted in the Edwardian period. Nevertheless, it had plenty of decorative appeal in the form of a carved gesso rectangular top with classical medallions and foliate scrolls, and it sold to a Midlands dealer at £2700.

Overall, the sale was 75 per cent sold by lot and totalled £110,000.