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It sold to a buyer in Belgium at £76,000, becoming the most expensive single tinplate toy ever sold at auction in the UK.

In addition to making the front page of ATG, the event received Europe-wide media coverage - including an article in a Dutch newspaper seen by a family who just happened to have a Märklin 'first series' battleship of their own.

They consigned it for the SAS sale at the Greenham Business Park, Newbury on January 31.

The Sachsen, a 2ft 1in (62cm) spirit-fired vessel loosely modelled on the Siegfried class of the Imperial German Navy, was contemporary with HMS Terrible, made at the height of the Göppingen factory's creative genius c.1905.

At the time, toys of this calibre were accessible only to the cream of European society. An inscription to the rudder blade reading RE/g and 46/06 is believed to represent the cipher of the Queen of Holland at the time (Reina Emma) and suggests the boat was built in week 46 of 1906.

A royal connection is quite possible, although it is understood to have been the boyhood toy of Lord Adolf Frederik Willem Lodewijk Jacob van Pallandt.

When he died at the tender age of 11 in 1911, it was given to his sister, Julia Elisabeth Baroness van Pallandt van Waardenburg en Neerijnen. The current owner's father was given it as a token of gratitude for long years of service in 1970, a year before Lady Julia passed away.

The provenance was good but key to its commercial fortunes was its excellent condition. Sachsen retained its original paintwork and all of its original components save a missing lifeboat.

Estimated at £30,000-50,000, it sold for £57,000 to a Continental buyer - proof again that, in the auction business, success so often breeds success.

The buyer's premium was 15%.

Märklin House at Cottees

Märklin tinplate toys from the inter-War years have neither the charm or the build quality of those from the golden age period, but they remain highly desirable.

A small building - modelled as a pair of modest British semi-detached houses - is quite a rarity.

Although known from Märklin advertisements of the 1930s, it is thought few were made.

The two buyers who travelled together from Germany to view this one item at Cottees of Wareham on December 1 did not have a wasted journey. Against four telephone lines, they were the successful purchasers at £4600.

The buyer's premium was 15% .

Boxed Bing takes £3200

Meanwhile, a Gebruder Bing 'De Deon' type clockwork tinplate car was consigned to Brightwells sale by a member of a family who had owned it since new.

The model was first introduced in 1904 and is pictured alongside a celebrated range of tinplate automotive vehicles in the Bing 1906 catalogue.

Kept in its original card box with a GBN label and the serial number No 14138/4, it had survived in fine condition. Only the visible chips to the yellow, maroon and red paint and the missing key marred a toy that retained all its original components, including its brass lantern.

Although not quite in the league of the Bing brake c.1902 sold for £14,400 by W. & H. Peacock in Bedford in October 2012, it nonetheless took £3200.

The buyer's premium was 17.5%.