AUCTIONEER Martin Lawrence of Petersfield firm Jacobs & Hunt was not expecting much when asked to conduct a probate valuation in a top-floor council flat in a rundown part of Southsea.

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Haida grease bowl – £56,000 at Jacobs & Hunt on March 23.

Instead, he emerged with what he called the best consignment of his career - over £200,000 worth of antiques acquired by the deceased's parents who had been dealers in the immediate pre- and post-war eras.

One of a number of valuable ethnographic objects discovered during the clearance of the property was this Haida grease bowl. It was found in a kitchen cupboard.

The fine example of (probably mid 19th century) Northwest Coast American art would have been used for serving rich foods such as oolachen or candlefish grease, a butter-like condiment eaten with dried fish or meats.

A high-status object, it would have been brought out during feasts or potlatches celebrating the rank and lineage of chiefs. It is carved and painted in the form of a stylised seal and measures around 12in (30cm).

On March 23 it look bids from buyers in Canada, New York, Belgium and Australia before it sold in the room to a collector at £56,000 (plus 20% buyer's premium).