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The 17in (43cm) clock was attractive in itself, the mahogany case featuring ebonised brass pineapple finials, brass spandrels to the arched door, arched glazed doors to the sides and a brass foliate scrolled dial with silvered Roman chapter ring and three subsidiary dials with applied crown spandrels. But what brought dealers and collectors to Newcastle was the backplate with foliate scrolled engraved decoration round a panel numbered 176 engraved Dan.Quare Ste Horseman London. The vendors knew it was of some worth and Jim Railton gave it a fairly tempting estimate of £7000-9000.

"The clock hadn’t been mucked around and was in fairly original condition, but it did need some restoration," said Mr Railton. "Probably when that was done you would be looking at a £30,000 retail price."

Possibly that was also the opinion of a clock restorer who travelled from Wiltshire to buy it. Dealers stayed with him for some time, but the restorer finally took the clock at £15,000.

"He didn’t buy it to sell," said Mr Railton, adding: "He told me it was going to be his pension fund."