Mounted on a later mahogany turned column, the tray featured an arrangement of mother-of-pearl segments in a 12-sided tortoiseshell border. Based on the fact that it featured single- rather than double-pinned segments, it was catalogued as 18th century.
Auctioneer Simon Chorley told ATG that the piece was found during a valuation in a country house outside Tewkesbury where it “jumped out at me – it was unusual”.
The tray originated in Gujarat, India, and measured 21in (53cm) wide. Due to the heavy bitumen adhesive connecting the tray to the later base, the auctioneers were reluctant to separate the pieces for fear of causing damage.
However, the later addition did not seem to dampen interest. Despite a few chipped and missing mother-of-pearl pieces, the tray was in good condition and drew attention from the US, India and Portugal, reflecting what Chorley referred to as the “regeneration of the Indo-Portuguese market at the moment”.
Bidding took place online and over the phones, easily surpassing the upper estimate of £5000 before it was finally knocked down at £35,000 to a member of the London trade.
“It was a wonderful sale, just what we wanted,” Chorley said. He added that, as well as more than 2000 online registered bidders, around 100 people were in the saleroom on day two as the bulk of the furniture went under the hammer.
Some of the other star lots at the came from the collection of Foscombe House, the former Gloucestershire home of Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts.
A pair of 19th century ormolu and bronze three-light candelabra, for example, made a top-estimate hammer price of £15,000. It was followed later by a c.1850 carriage clock from the same place, which surpassed its upper estimate of £8000 to be knocked down at £12,000.
A large 19th century table, which made a lower estimate total of £20,000, also had links to the music industry. It had been part of the collection of Herefordshire’s Cubberley House, once owned by singer-songwriter Roger Whittaker (who penned songs such as The Wind Beneath My Wings).
Better still from that collection was a 19th century French ormolu cabinet, estimated at £6000-8000, but ultimately hammered down at £23,000.
At a lower level, but still far exceeding expectations, was I Miller’s c.1750 Portrait of an Admiral, an oil painting which easily surpassed its high estimate of £800 to reach a hammer price of £7500. The picture is thought to depict Admiral Anson who discovered the breadfruit, an example of which is pictured beside him. He is shown sitting in a wide, green landscape, holding a book and a map of Tierra Del Fuego.
The sale ran from July 24-25 and made a total of £460,000.