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Meiji silver and mixed metal koro.

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Given the arcane knowledge required to assess much of the output of the Orient, this is not surprising.

But did the potential of this Meiji silver and mixed metal koro, right, really elude the experts at a major auctioneer, like Dreweatt Neate? Judging from the £500-800 estimate and the winning bid of some 20 times that, it might seem so.

However, the catalogue description along with full colour illustration and its selection, from 526 lots, as a feature in adverts in ATG and glossy magazines would suggest otherwise.

The 51/2in (13.5cm) high koro, weighing 25oz and carrying the maker's mark of Toshiyuki, was undoubtedly an attractive piece, applied around its circumference with a beautifully modelled group of fowl, and with a pierced cover densely decorated in flowerheads.

However, the auctioneers felt that it had been over-cleaned, hence the "come-on" estimate, and the decision was taken to put it into the March 23 jewellery and silver sale rather than a specialist Oriental event.

The tactic, like so much at the sale, proved a shrewd one.

There was tremendous pre-sale interest in a piece of obvious quality by a respected maker and, on the day, there was keen competition in the packed room against bidders on 12 phone lines.

Bidding came down to a three-way telephone battle before a specialist London Japanese dealer saw off a rival from the silver trade with a bid of £14,000.