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The timber’s lack of pronounced grain meant that it could be easily carved, as can be seen by the profusion of pokerwork decoration on this piece.

Unfortunately, the weak grain also means that cypress wood does not develop a patina with the richness of oak, and consequently it is less desirable as a commodity in the antiques market.

Nevertheless, as a survivor from the mid-17th century in good condition with relatively few repairs, this coffer was keenly sought after by trade and private collectors at the July 25 sale held in Taunton by Greenslade Taylor Hunt (10% buyer’s premium).

Measuring 4ft 7in wide by 2ft 7in high (1.39m x 79cm) and emblazoned with an enormous Carolean coat-of-arms, the chest was estimated at £3000-5000 but contested to £9000.