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One such at the Lewes sale was the vinaigrette, top right, by Nathaniel Mills, Birmingham 1842, engraved with a view of St Paul’s Cathedral.

It was given a fairly tempting estimate of up to £200 but made much more. ”I was expecting quite a lot of interest but not as much as transpired,’ said Mr Dean. “It’s not a castletop after all, just an engraving.“

What happened was that two collectors seemed determined to have the box and one of them finally did so with a silver section-leading bid of £1900.


It was also a matter of a small piece standing out among a huge offering at the 1600-lot sale held at Aylsham by Keys (10% buyer’s premium) on May 11 and 12.

This was the fine early/mid 19th century Continental gold snuff box, bottom right. Engraved with flowers and scrolls to all sides and with a central cartouche of a cherub on a swing on the lid, the 3 by 2in (7.5 x 5cm) box was stamped to one edge Konika. Complete with its red leather fitted case, the box sold at £2180.