Bonhams oak coffer
The top lot of Bonhams’ latest Oak sale in London, this joined coffer from 1609 sold at £42,000.

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

Made in either Somerset or Devon, it dated from the reign of James I and was a rare survivor of its type.

The key factors in determining value for oak objects like this are form, decoration, colour and condition, and this example ticked all the right boxes.

The 5ft (1.54m) wide coffer was a sophisticated example of its type including a top rail with lunette-carved decoration and three arcaded panels – two carved with five-petal demi-flowers and another with the date '1609' over the initials 'CR'.

Works in such fine condition – the coffer was a superb colour and included original metalwork – rarely appear on the market.

On the day, it easily exceeded its £8000-12,000 estimate before it was knocked down at £42,000 – many multiples of the average price of a standard 17th century coffer.

It was the top lot of the Oak sale on September 20 which generated a total of £1.1m (including premium) from 565 lots.

Royal Coat of Arms

Also bringing strong competition was a large polychrome-painted and parcel-gilt Royal coat of Arms. Dating from the mid-17th century to early 18th century and carved from pine and elm, it measured 9ft (2.76m) wide and had been given to the Church of St Michael in Forden in Powys, Wales in 1794.

Removed during demolition and rebuilding of the church in the 1860s, it was later deposited in the Powisland Museum where it remained until at least 1922 when it was photographed in the collection.

It appeared at Bonhams with a £5000-8000 estimate and, after decent competition, was eventually knocked down at £35,000.