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Lot 888 of a series of 'Estate and General' sales offered from Billingshurst, West Sussex on December 15 measured a mere 11/2in (3.5cm) diameter in its copper frame but it carried expectations of £500-700 on account of its association with perhaps the 18th century's most important political event.

The decoration may be slightly naïve but it details a scene of figures in quasi-military dress (bicorn hats and blue uniforms draped with sashes) dancing around a stepped podium surmounted by two flaming torches and a plinth.

The exact nature of the iconography was unidentified but an inscription below was thought to read Sa ira Sa ira – the name and refrain of a popular French patriotic song which became the Carillon National of the French Revolution.

It was a rallying cry borrowed from Benjamin Franklin (who used the phrase in relation to the American Revolution of two decades earlier) and was sung to the tune of the Carillon National – a favourite of Marie Antoinette who apparently played it repeatedly on her harpsichord. The lyrics adopted on the barricades were unsophisticated: Ah! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira, Les aristocrates à la lanterne roughly translated as It will go, it will go, it will go, String up the aristocrats.

A remarkable survival and one which an American dealer/collector (willing to pay more) secured on commission for £1200 (plus 15/10 per cent buyer's premium).