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At Nottingham auctioneers' Arthur Johnson (15% buyer's premium), what caught the imagination of collectors and specialist dealers looking at three samplers in the 1200-lot March 13 outing was not so much the quality of the stitching as the fact that all three were by sisters. The rosewood framed samplers were also all in reasonable condition and were of a good large size at around 2ft (61cm) square each. The 1861 sampler by 11-year-old Hannah Cooper featured a stag, oak leaves and posies; the 1860 work of her 12-year-old sister, Eliza, was decorated with peacocks and exotic birds and the 1860 handiwork of Mary, 14, depicted pastoral figures and stylised flowers.

Part of a 200-lot consignment from the estate of a Leicestershire antique dealer, they were offered together as one lot and were contested by a furniture dealer who outbid a specialist dealer for ownership at £9000.

Incidentally, two smaller samplers by siblings also sold for a premium £4100 at John Nicholson’s sale in February.

Elsewhere, although bidding was generally less enthusiastic for Victorian brown, over 80 per cent of the sale got away, the best seller being a pair of late 19th century Italian calamander and ivory inlaid pier cabinets from the same consignment. In good order, the pair sold to the trade at £3800.