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With its roots in the 14th century, the craft, still practised, has enjoyed intermittent fame across the centuries encouraged by, among others, Catherine the Great and Stalin.

A 9in (23cm) wide 18th century casket with stained bone panels signed and carved with hunting scenes was offered at Mallams (20% buyer’s premium) in Abingdon on October 8. Estimated at £1500-2500, it sold to a Russian collector at £6000.

Two other small boxes impressed. A medieval, 12in (30cm) wide beechwood and iron coffret, covered with tooled leather depicting knights and maidens, went to the Continental trade at a double-estimate £4800.

The other was a c.1580, 10in (25cm) wide French Renaissance jewellery box with fitted interior and secret drawers and an exterior decorated with monograms and symbols. Supposedly once owned by Louise-Marguerite de Lorraine, Princess du Bourbon-Conti (1588-1631), it sold to a UK collector above estimate at £2200.

Casket stars in Suffolk

The 17th century Indo-Portuguese casket above, with tortoiseshell ground and all-over mother-of-pearl swag, was an unexpected star at Bishop & Miller’s (19% buyer’s premium) October 20 sale in Stowmarket.

With a white metal loop handle and elaborate lock plate and clasp and a velvet-lined interior, the 8¼in (21cm) tall box was guided at £1000-1500. After strong competition from the Continent and South America, it sold to a London dealer at £5000.