It eventually sold at £27,000 at Gorringes' September 2-3 sale in Lewes.
The casket itself, a large example at 16½in (42cm) wide, was a good piece of early 19th century craftsmanship in kingwood with tulipwood crossbanding, but the main attraction was the pietra dura panels which had the look of the late 17th/early 18th centuries products of the Grand Ducal workshops in Florence.
"There was some debate about the age of the panels," said auctioneer Clifford Lansberry. "The flowers were made from beautifully shaded hardstone but the birds were rather simplistic. The general comment was that the plaques were c.1800 in a moderately later box."
A dozen bidders competed over the phone for the casket before it went to a local bidder who was "probably representing an Italian client", said Lansberry.
The buyer's premium was 21%.