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The two samplers that romped to quadruple-estimate sums at John Nicolson's (15% buyer's premium) February 4-5 sale were nice examples from what became the Victorian school, but they commanded a premium because they were completed by sisters.

Each measuring 17 by 12in (43 x 30cm) and mounted in an original rosewood frame, and both depicting a typical arrangement of a house, trees and a verse within a floral border, one carried the name Margaret Lockie and was dated 1835, the other Isabella Lockie and the date 1838. The first of the sisters was arguably the better seamstress – her work had a large water stain to the right but it sold at £2200, while the second needlework made £1900.

Keenly contested in the room, and on four telephone lines, both sold to the same buyer.

An Archibald Thorburn watercolour, an original illustration from the twitchers’ bible British Birds, sold at £16,000, was the highlight of this sale.

However, the Surrey/Sussex based auctioneers were also fortunate to receive a consignment from a descent of the 5th Duke of Sutherland, including a very fine Victorian Scottish specimen agate vinaigrette which sold at £1300. Of lobed egg shape (one panel was cracked), its foliate engraved grille and mounts inscribed Lilly were apparently unmarked and the auctioneers were unsure if they were silver gilt or gold.

Although the auctioneers made reference to “the ever-decreasing interest in brown furniture” there was a bid of £6000 taken from the trade, some distance below the estimate, for an 18th century Italian gilt lacca and marble-topped console table in the neoclassical taste and cleared from a house in Cadogan Square, London.