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Barysheva's third specialist sale on June 18 ran to 190 lots, of which 70 per cent sold, bringing €155,000 (£103,300) hammer. The sale attracted plenty of interest from Russian buyers - whether based in Russia or abroad. "Insignia and decorations sold particularly well," reported Barysheva, "as did anything with a history."

Leading the sale on €6000 (£4000) was Feodor Korobov's signed but undated, 18th century, 13 x 12in (34 x 30cm), portrait of Tsarina Sofia Alexeyevna (1657-1704), half-sister to Peter the Great, seen top right.

A crown-topped gold insignia, with the profiles of Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra facing each other, seen bottom right, took €3200 (£2135), while a ring-topped oval gold insignia in the form of a double-headed eagle and oval medallion with the profiles of Nicholas and Alexandra, inscribed on the back 1909 Livadizhsky Palace 1911 climbed to €4000 (£2665), over double estimate.

But it wasn't all Tsarist glamour. A commemorative silver insignia struck in St Petersburg in 1899 in honour of the association of "cashiers, saleswomen and book-keepers", with two hands shaking each other, made €400 (£265).

A terracotta figure of a blacksmith (c.1900), 19in (48cm) high, imbued with prescient Socialist Realism, also fetched €400 (£265) - though a smaller bronze version, estimate €4000-5000, went unsold, as did a carved and painted wooden group of Four Russian Officers Playing Whist by court architect Nicholas Benois, father of the celebrated artist Alexander Benois. The military card-sharpers had been expected to land €25,000.