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Certainly, one of the successes of the March 3 sale came in over the counter at Welshpool – a Charles Hull 1864 patent corkscrew.

The 10in (25cm) Royal Club roller-type corkscrew, al-though no stranger to provincial auctions, is a highly sought, quality piece and still commands strong prices.

A collector in the room secured this example at £2100.

While the bulk of consignments, naturally, continue to come from the Shrewsbury area, it was a piece
consigned by a Manchester vendor that headlined the ceramic section.

This was a 9in (23cm) high c.1889, Royal Worcester vase, finely painted by C.H.C. Baldwyn with swans taking flight to one side and swallows to the reverse.

In good condition, it had a ribbed trumpet neck with a serrated rim supported by two dolphin handles.

Good quality has been making consistently strong prices of late, and a collector outbid dealers whose specialisms included Royal Worcester, with a winning offer of £3900.

Stylish Art Nouveau furniture also continues to attract healthy private and trade interest, as was exemplified here by a c.1900 oak mirror-back sideboard, possibly by Heals or Liberty’s. Although not one of the sale’s most expensive lots, it was keenly contested way past its £400-600 guideline.

Its rectangular mirror plate was flanked by harewood-inlaid lily designs and its lower part comprised a cupboard door with two short drawers. The 5ft 4 1/2in (1.64m) wide piece was taken to £1900 by the trade who also secured an Art Nouveau walnut chair with a heart-shaped top rail, slatted sides and legs joined by a stretcher at the base. Dated c.1900, it was in the manner of Liberty’s after J.S. Henry and sold at £1250.

Also of note was a silver-painted desk stand by the Art Nouveau metal worker and designer Richard Llewellyn Benson Rathbone (1864-1939), cousin to Harold Rathbone, founder of the Della Robbia factory.

Measuring 3 1/4 x 10in (8cm x 25cm), it formed an inkwell and integral pen tray and its lightly hammered surface was impressed Rathbone 676-1903. Although it was only estimated at a modest £50-70, it was no real surprise when the piece went well beyond that, finally going to a dealer at £360.

“Rathbone’s work does not come up that often,” said Mr Lamond. “He had workshops in Liverpool and London and produced designs for C.F. Voysey.”

Halls’ policy of nurturing Welsh clients also bore fruit among the traditional brown furniture which provided the sale with many of its four-figure entries.

The best seller was a William IV walnut library table consigned by a Welsh vendor, which sold to the trade at £4600.

Rich patina and good colour were the keys to the successes of two pieces of c.1780 oak.

One, a 5ft 7in (1.7m) wide box-seat settle, sold at £3400. The other a dresser base, generated enough private interest to see it fetch £3000.

Auctioneer Mr Lamond was also encouraged by the £1550 bid on a set of six standard, c.1860, mahogany balloon-back dining chairs.

“These sets of chairs have been making £400-600 for some time so this price represents a glimmer of hope in the demand for middle market furniture,” he said.

Less of a surprise was the bid on a good-quality George III mahogany bowfront stick barometer which took four times its probate estimate. Barometers are in demand and this example, with a 3ft 3in (99cm) long glazed case enclosing a silvered scale marked Tulley Bath, sold to the specialist trade at £3000.

Most hotly contested of the collectable ceramics, was a pair of 7 1/4in (18cm) high, early 20th century Wemyss hatpin holders of cylindrical trumpet form with trefoil rims and painted with sweet peas. Their unusual form saw them sell to the trade at £480.