Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

Standing 7 1/4in (18cm) high and weighing 21oz, the silver and enamel Arts and Crafts piece dates from the turn of the last century and was very probably made to a Charles Robert Ashbee design.

It was entered for sale by a long-standing client of the Guildford auctioneers, a retired lady from Ewell, with a modest £1000-1500 estimate, but with all the phone lines booked well before the viewing days and interest from major decorative arts dealers, the auctioneers were thinking more in terms of £4000-5000 by the time of the auction.

In the event none of the phones got a look-in, with competition centred on three bidders in the room as the price soared to £19,000 (plus 15 per cent premium).

The buyer was specialist decorative arts dealer John Jesse of Kensington Church Street.