The mid-Victorian, gilt-brass and engraved strut clock, by Thomas Cole sold to the London trade at £9400.

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At Lawrences' Surrey rooms, auctioneer Howard Page pointed out that charges to vendors of 11 per cent hammer, plus one per cent insurance, and no charge for bought-ins, compared very favourably with London rates. Furthermore, a common London practice of charging a £500-per-lot minimum, while keeping quality up, also deferred many vendors.

A case in point at the December sale at Bletchingley was a 40-lot dispersal of pictures, furniture and works of art from a large Kensington house.

This consignment included the first of the sale's two sleepers: a signed Lalique smoke glass perfume bottle and stopper, decorated with stylised chrysanthemum heads. Estimated at £80-120, the bottle was later discovered to be one of only 100 such vessels specially commissioned by Chanel.

Lawrences, like most auction houses, have developed a substantial presence on the Internet and the bottle attracted international attention.

Several collectors spotted its rarity and it sold over on the phone at £2400 to a French collector bidding sight unseen on the basis of a condition report.

The top price of the day, from a different private source, was another sleeper - a mid-Victorian gilt-brass engraved strut clock in its original case bearing the London retailer's label of F. Hancock and consigned with pre-sale hopes of £350-550.

Although it bore no signature to its blue enamel dial, and was catalogued as French, the movement was signed by the great English clockmaker Thomas Cole. Dating to the 1860s, its superb and original untouched condition sparked a bidding battle between a London dealer on the telephone and a specialist dealer in the room. It sold to the London dealer at £9400.

The 73-lot clock section was a strong area of the sale, fielding few casualties and many of the highlights. A George III London-made mahogany longcase, with a sheet silvered dial signed William North dating to c.1790, was a good commercial size at 6ft 3in (2.2m), and this, coupled with its original condition, saw it fetch £5400.
An Edwardian mahogany longcase clock with a three-train movement striking on tubular bells by Aberdeen makers George Jameson and Son, sold to a collector just below its lower estimate at £4900.

Clocks aside, one of the most contested entries was an 18th century Ralph Wood type creamware toby jug decorated with brown and blue slip, that fetched £1200.