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The piece was a fairly standard example of type which would barely have cleared £500 had not details of its ownership and the discovery of historical documentation collided in a spectacular provenance.

The dresser had come from the deceased estate of local resident Osmar Carter, who had inherited it from his uncle Fred Mason, who served as George V’s steward aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia.

A regular at the Cowes regatta, this opulent vessel was so beloved of the King that he left instructions in his will that it should be scuttled lest further pleasure should be derived by anyone. These drastically romantic wishes were duly obeyed by the Royal Navy, who sunk the ship at midnight in the Solent, but not before the furnishings and accoutrements had been dispersed at auction. At Marvin’s on June 24, 1936 the booms, sails, blocks, cordage, spars, seats, chairs, lifebuoys, wheel, compass and tiller went under the hammer, although a certain dressing table was witheld from the sale.

We know for sure that it was the table in Shanklin’s recent sale because the auctioneers found a passage in John Irving’s book The King’s Britannia which described its distinctive stylistic features: “At the upper corners were deep-graved the emblems of the three kingdoms, the rose, the thistle and the shamrock, rearing their heads boldly from a common stem. At the lower corners Britannia herself with shield and trident stood out in bold relief.” Unfortunately the corners of the dresser are so recessed as to be cast into shadow on the illustration above, but the carving is exactly as mentioned in Irving’s book.

Estimated at £7000-9000, the dresser was entered in good condition and was sold on the strength of a website image for £15,000 (plus 10 per cent premium and VAT). The purchaser Oliver Swann, a London dealer in marine paintings, said after the sale: “There is an increasing interest in this sort of artefact, and we are delighted to have been able to secure it on behalf of a client.”