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Both prices however were eclipsed by this 71/4in (18.5cm) elephant ivory shibayama/Tokyo School
okimono, right, carved as an elephant with boy musicians ascending a rope ladder to join their fellow bandsmen in the howdah.

Incised Dai Nihon, the elephant was inlaid with red, green, gold and silver metal details and had a mother-of-pearl plaque incised with the date equivalent to 1883 and for the artist Tokusei. “It was in spanking good condition,” said auctioneer Adam Schoon, who, as the back cover catalogue illustration suggested, was hoping for more than the £1000-1500 estimate. “The detail was superb and given the documentary aspect I had hoped it might take off and bring up to £7000,” said Mr Schoon.

Even so, the £10,000 winning bid from a London specialist came as a very pleasant surprise for him and the vendor alike.