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A case in point was the bid tendered to secure a 6 1/2in (17cm) high, Guild of Handicrafts, two-handled silver pedestal cup. It had a hammered finish and was set with two small green cabochons and rested on a domed base with beaded border.

Consigned from a collection of early 20th century silver (Bruton Knowles hope to disperse other pieces in the coming months), the small cup weighed just 3oz. It was initially estimated £350-400 - later adjusted to £800-1200 - and was not illustrated in the catalogue.

Guild of Handicrafts work, however, is in considerable demand - particularly, as in this case, material with the look of Charles Robert Ashbee about it.

A week before the Southam sale a silver and enamel comport, probably made to an Ashbee design, soared to £19,000 at Clarke Gammon Wellers (see front page of Antiques Trade Gazette No.1657 September 25).

A number of enquiries from specialist dealers and collectors about the small cup suggested that it may go well above revised hopes and so it did when it was contested on the telephone to £5200.

A very different, but equally collectable, lot whose estimate also bore little relation to its price, was a Victorian painted Noah's Ark. The figures of Noah and his family, and some 200 animals and birds, were in poor condition - many repainted or with broken limbs - but the Ark was a sought after model with its decorative frieze and it was in reasonable order with its sliding door intact.

Consigned from a private local vendor, it generated interest from specialist dealers, collectors and local privates selling on the telephone at £3500 against pre-sale hopes of £100-150.

From the same private source came an 18th century blue and white pickle dish that had previously been stored in the Noah's Ark. Given a here-to-sell estimate of £40-60, it generated colossal interest through the Internet with some speculation that it may have been a piece of early Bristol porcelain from the 1770s.

In good condition apart from a tiny rim chip, it realised £1200.

One of the most decorative furniture entries was a large, mid-Victorian Gothic wall mirror with a carved foliate surround. Measuring 10ft by 7ft (3.05m x 2.14), this local private entry caught the attention of a private buyer who secured it at £2100.

Elsewhere, an early 20th century plaster of Paris Huntley & Palmers biscuit advertising sign measuring 2ft 6in x 22in (76cm x 56cm) sourced from a local village store and in almost mint condition with a wonderful stylised border fetched £500.

The top furniture entry was a mid-17th century oak serving table.

Had it been in good condition Bruton Knowles specialist Simon Chorley thought it could have made £15,000-20,000. Although its top was intact, its base had been cut in half and re-stuck. It realised £3700.