Jeremy Lamond with the surviving drawer front from the unique Great Exhibition sideboard.

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Its significance, says Mr Lamond, lies in the fact that, "it established a great tradition of exhibition sideboards and its grandness was to be imitated by every cabinetmaking firm which exhibited in the latter half of the 19th century."

Originally measuring 17 feet by 17 feet, all that remains of the massive French sideboard, which has been described as "one of the most significant pieces of furniture of the 19th century", is the central drawer front from the main section, ornately florally carved in walnut. Its value, had it survived intact, is estimated at £1m.

Mr Lamond began his search after learning that the sideboard once graced the Great Hall at Leighton Hall, near Welshpool. John Naylor, the new owner of the Leighton Hall estate, purchased the sideboard, created by Paris-based cabinetmakers Fourdinos, from the Great Exhibition for 1200 guineas. The piece then disappeared from furniture history for 150 years until a breakthrough came in 1998 when Barry Shifman, curator of Decorative Arts at the Museum of Indianapolis, found a picture of the Fourdinos sideboard in an article by Edward Morris.

His excitement at this discovery inspired Mr Lamond to find the prize-winning piece. He found that the sideboard was dismantled in the 1960s by its owner, Senator Rupert Davies, and sold off for timber by a furniture dealer in Wolverhampton. Sadly it is unlikely that large portions of the sideboard still exist, as Mr Lamond himself said: "The rest of this great, valuable and vast Exhibition sideboard has been lost forever. Unless, of course, a shop counter in Wolverhampton appears to be unusually well carved…"

He is appealing for help from readers to complete his academic studies on furniture from the Great Hall at Leighton Hall and is interested to hear from anyone who has other pieces of furniture from the Great Exhibition. He can be contacted at 01743 231212.