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A carved Benin throne (c.1890), also from the Dimsey Collection, doubled hopes to sell to the European trade for €60,000 (£40,000).

Two more bronze plaques from Benin, of roughly the same size and period (16th/17th century) though not in quite such good condition, surfaced next day at Sotheby's (23.92/14.35% buyer's premium) - and these, too, had been acquired by a participant in the 1897 raid, Dr J.P. Howe.

Adding to their academic interest, the masks were lent to the British Museum from 1934 until they were sold at Sotheby's London in 1961. The slightly larger one, 16 x 7 3/4in (40 x 20cm), below right, featured a crocodile (symbol of Benin's Oba sovereigns) with a mudfish between its jaws; it sold to a European collector for a double-estimate €240,000 (£160,000). The second plaque, measuring 16 x 7in (40 x 18cm), featured an erere horn player and went to an unidentified buyer for €100,000 (£66,670).

Exchange rate: £1 = €1.5