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The morning, given over to ceramics, toys, and vertu, benefited hugely from a 50-lot consignment of Troika pottery entered by Paul Longthorne, the Yorkshire dealer/collector whose enthusiasm for the Cornish factory has earned him the nickname "the Troika Man".

All bar a couple of very minor items sold to other collectors, generally way above printed estimates which, themselves, were well above Mr Longthorne's reserves. "I'd say prices met Mr Longthorne's hopes rather than his expectations," said Ms Pepper-Darling after the consignment totalled nearly £22,000.

Top sellers, all illustrated in George Perrott's book, Troika Ceramics of Cornwall, published last year, were a 1970s Cycladic mask and a 1963-65 St Ives Calculator plaque, a Newlyn whiteware candle holder and a globe or Ball vase.

The 10in (25cm) green and blue-glazed mask monogrammed for Simone Kilburn took £2300 against an £800-1000 estimate and the 12 x 9in (31 x 23cm) brown and white-glazed plaque with blue-painted vase sold at £2200 against top hopes of £1500.

The 7 x 7 x 3in (18 x 18 x 7.5cm) double candle holder with painted mark, and the 71/2in (19cm) diameter vase in brown and ivory, monogrammed for Avril Bennet, both dated from the 1970s and went way over estimates. Mr Long-thorne believes the £1250 which secured the Ball vase, estimated at £350-450, is a new record and the £1350 taken by the candle holder came against an estimate of £500-600.

Up until lunch, the saleroom was buzzing. Then came the afternoon furniture offering. "In 25 years I've never seen the room quite so dead or known furniture, which really wasn't at all bad, meet such a poor response," said Ms Pepper-Darling.

Sympathisers who mentioned that other provincial auctioneers were experiencing similar days, were told by Ms. Pepper-Darling: "Yes, I know. It's rather scary isn't it?"

Top seller among the furniture was a Victorian giltwood and gesso arched overmantel mirror 5ft 5in high by 7ft wide (1.70 x 2.14m). A hugely ornate affair with an heraldic shield, foliate scrolls and floral swags to the main frame and porcelain plaques of classical females supporting the mirrored side panels, it went just above the lower estimate at £1900.

While times are hard for sellers, buyers are benefiting. A private buyer furnished a large dining room by securing an Edwardian mahogany and satinwood crossbanded suite comprising a table extending to 6ft 10in (2.08m); six shield-back single chairs and a bowfronted sideboard, 5ft (1.53m) wide with two drawers flanked by a cupboard and cellaret. He got the lot for a mid-estimate £1050.