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The Louis XIV ebony, ivory and tortoiseshell cabinet that sold for £65,000 at Simon Chorley.

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The remarkable cabinet on a probably later stand, measuring 5ft 8in (1.74m) wide, dates from the heyday of ebony cabinetmaking in Paris c.1640-60.

The doors depict stories from classical history - those of Marcus Curtius and Gaius Mucius, two young men prepared to give up their own lives in order that Rome should survive.

They open to reveal an inlaid interior 'caisson' with hidden drawers and a miniature 'stage' where treasures could be displayed. It bears comparison with a similar cabinet in the Victoria & Albert Museum attributed to Jean Mace.

The cabinet - that had been kept in damp conditions and required considerable restoration - came for sale at Prinknash Abbey Park from a local family, the heirs of the Hon. Francis Bridgeman of Ennismore Gardens, SW7, in payment of a bad debt from a French client.

It had been at Dowdeswell Manor, Gloucestershire from 1943-1980.

Interest from French and UK trade saw it comfortably surpass its £20,000-25,000 estimate.

By Roland Arkell