Family tradition had it that this Mughal silver spice box was looted during the siege of Delhi in September 1857.
But it was not until auctioneer Philip Rance prized open a compartment in front of his vendor that a document was found detailing its 'liberation', probably from the palace of the last Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar II, by a Captain Ellis Cunliffe of the First European Bengal Fusiliers.
Made in the form of a Mughal helmet, the late 18th/early 19th century box was handed down through the Cunliffe family and was offered for sale on March 1 at Netherhampton Salerooms in Salisbury, Wiltshire.
Estimated at £2000-3000. Bidding reached £10,500 before it was hammered down to a private collector.
The buyer's premium was 15%.