'Plymouth Market' by Beryl Cook – £37,000 at David Lay.

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The most expensive of four valuable works from a Cornish estate offered at David Lay on January 28-29, Plymouth Market from 1978 drew strong interest against a £16,000-18,000 estimate and was knocked down at £37,000 to a West Country private collector.

The subject matter was fairly restrained for a work by the artist – without the same focus on bosoms, stiletto heels or sailors as appears in many others.

However, the fact that it has been suggested that this painting inspired the Post Office advertising campaign 12 years later (using Beryl Cook-style animated characters with Les Dawson doing the voices) seems to have given it a special appeal to collectors.

The 2ft 3in x 3ft (68 x 91cm) signed oil on board was also a good-sized painting depicting a landmark location in her local area which made it a highly commercial prospect in any case.

In terms of all-time auction prices for the artist, this result falls behind only two works that sold at the same sale at Bonhams in July 2008 – Granny with her Pet Mouse that made £58,000 and The Dolphin that made £55,000.

While fans of the artist would like to see a major institution stage a retrospective of her work, which would no doubt bump up values, the Beryl Cook market still offers something for buyers at almost every price point – fitting for such a popular artist.

More accessible

Original works now routinely command four-figure and occasionally five-figure sums, but limited-edition signed prints can be acquired for sums in the hundreds of pounds. Among such works at the David Lay sale was a signed copy of Lunchtime Refreshment from an edition of 850 that made £250 (estimate £100-150).

Dog in the Dolphin, also signed and from an edition of 850, fetched £520 (estimate £50-100).