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That said, there was an understandable reason for what seemed one of the most startling bids on the day. Quite simply, the unusual iron corkscrew found in a box of kitchen pots consigned from a house clearance and estimated at £20-40, was a sleeper.

Of cage form with a simple helix and T-handle, the 41/2in (11.5cm) item turned out to be an 18th century French example and a specialist buyer, who may have dreamt of being the only such expert at the sale, had to go to £3700 to secure it.

But among the furniture on offer, pieces clearly catalogued and, though modestly, not unreasonably, estimated, also took off.

One major surprise came on a George III architect’s table in mahogany.

It was not the prettiest piece of furniture, but it was beautifully made and in untouched condition and it brought a staggering £24,000 bid against a £800-1200 estimate.

Then there was the William and Mary walnut and marquetry chest, 3ft wide (91.4cm) and dated c.1690.

Fitted with two short and three long drawers it had a quartered top inlaid with a central oval and spandrels of bird and scrolling foliage and, despite replacement feet, it was in good overall condition.

Nevertheless, the £7000 top estimate didn’t seem particularly optimistic and there was real surprise when it sold at £14,000.

Bidders at these heart-of-England rooms tend to be fairly cosmopolitan in outlook as well as background and what counted against a large Austrian marbled turquoise faience kacheloven (stove), was less its exotic origins and more the fact that it lacked its innards.

The c.1860 stove assembled in small sections and tenuously held together by plaster, thought once to have graced a palatial apartment on Vienna’s stately Ringstrasse, also suffered problems of size at 8ft 2in by 2ft 4in (2.49m x 71cm).

Nevertheless, the stove, consigned from a private collection in the West of England, made its bottom estimate selling at £3100.

Neales, Nottingham,
February 22 & 23
Number of lots offered: 1766
Number of lots sold:
approx. 85 per cent
Sale total: approx. £500,000
Buyer’s premium: 15 per cent