This unusual 19th century tea caddy, probably made in Europe for the Russian market, led BK’s sale at £7000.

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ON a day which saw a selling rate of around 85 per cent of the 703 lots, and a hammer total of £130,000, there was plainly little to complain about at the end of the day at Gloucester but the sale did point up one of the problem areas of the market - standard silver tableware.

Back in 1963, Bruton Knowles, as the firm was then called, had sold an early George III silver oval coffee pot for £260. In the Bunker-Hunt-fuelled boom of the '70s one could probably have put a zero on the end of that figure.

On November 11 the pot reappeared at BK and after 40 years of inflation it sold at £680. Actually that's not a bad price these days but it was a painful reminder that silver tea and coffee services have not been the best of long-term antique investments.

That said, although some areas of the market continue to struggle, there appears to be no let up in the demand for unusual quality entries.

An example at Gloucester was an early 19th century tea caddy consigned from a private Cotswold collection.

The 13in (33cm) wide rectangular satinwood-framed glass box, featured original decoupage panels of butterflies, birds and flowering branches and stipple engravings of African and Oriental figures.

It was probably made in Europe but the key to its success lay in the leather-lined interior where the plush-lined hinged cover bore the retailer's label, Nicholls & Plincke Magasin Anglaise à St Petersburg.

The interior, with two glass caddies and mixing bowl was not entirely period.

The mixing bowl's cover was probably slightly later, while the silver covers to the two glass jars were earlier than the caddy. However, they carried St Petersburg marks.
While it would undoubtedly have made considerably more in better condition - there was considerable damage to some of the glass panels - demand for works with a Russian interest has never been higher.

The caddy was also unusual enough to attract interest of both private and trade buyers of boxes and caddies, and it finally sold to a dealer at £7000 to top the day.

Also going down a storm was the Louis Vuitton leather dress trunk auctioned as the following lot.

Its extra attraction seemed to be its date - early 19th century - and the fact that it was made for an army officer. Estimated at £300-400 it went to the specialist trade at £3000.