13-05-20-2092NE01A boulle casket.jpg
Boulle casket and stand – £88,000 at Thomas R. Callan.

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Consigned from a prominent Scottish family in the local area, the piece was catalogued as "19th century" with an estimate of £4000-6000.

However, not only is it thought to be earlier, probably late 17th or early 18th century, it could also be the work of distinguished French ébéniste Nicolas Sageot (1666-1731), who specialised in the production of opulent commodes, armoires and desks in the early decades of the 18th century.

Commodes by Sageot crop up occasionally at auction, but portable caskets of this design, opening to reveal drawers and a writing desk, are highly unusual. Typical Bérainesque arabesques worked in tortoiseshell, brass, pewter, and stained horn adorn its surfaces.

It may have been brought over during the days of the Revolution by French aristocracy who had family ties in Scotland, the source of a number of other fine pieces of French furniture which have turned up on the Scottish market.

Measuring around 3ft 3in x 3ft 9in (1 x 1.15m) and in exceptional condition, it sold on May 4 for £88,000 (plus 17.5% buyer's premium) via the phone. The buyer is believed to be a French dealer operating out of Paris and the underbidder was from the UK trade.