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Measurements focus on good quality representative pieces, rather than museum quality items, and retail prices are taken from broad demand at shop, fair, market and auction.

Within these limits, oak saw the biggest rise during the year (13 per cent), with early dressers and side tables, as well as refectory tables showing popular demand.

Walnut furniture came next with a nine-per cent increase, while mahogany furniture of the Georgian period rose between six and eight per cent.

The index also compares furniture prices with house prices in the South East, excluding London, for the same period, as well as with the FT 250 Share Index and the Mars bar Index.

“”There has historically been a correlation between house prices and antique furniture index movements, so that the continued strength of the housing market is a sign that the Index should continue to rise,” said a spokesman for the Antique Collectors’ Club.

The house price index for the sector quoted has always run below the antique furniture index since 1968, but closely reflects it, enjoying a similar increase for 2001.