Punch bowl

Chinese export famille rose Beggars Bennison punch bowl, $5000 (£4040) at Sotheby’s.

Image courtesy of Sotheby’s

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The secret Scottish society was founded in Anstruther in Fife in 1732. The so-called gentleman’s club encouraged an early libertine culture that welcomed sexual experimentation.

Many objects relating to the society were destroyed after it dispanded in 1836, but the few survivors that escaped such censorship do make occasional visits to the auction room.

Sotheby’s Hyde Park Antiques sale turned up two export punch bowls c.1760- 70. One can only imagine what the Chinese decorators must have thought when asked to paint a badge which graphically details the society’s raison d’être.

Offered without reserve, these bowls were both allowed to sell well below estimate at $5000 (£4040) each.