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Made from finely carved ivory, lace and gouache-decorated parchment, the fan was a late entrant to the firm’s winter catalogued sale with an estimate of just £100-200.

However, a clue to its appeal was the presence of signatures for both Alexandre (exhibitor at the Paris Exposition Universelle) and Ed Moreau for the painter Edouard Jean-Baptiste Moreau (1825-78). Moreau was well known as a miniaturist and worked for a number of Parisian fan makers.

“Without doubt, the fan was of very fine quality, even though one of its sticks was damaged,” said David Elstob of Thomas Watson. “In addition to the signatures of Alexandre and Moreau, it featured Belgium lace, which is highly sought after.” On the day it was heavily contested with online bids from Spain and Italy, but the final battle was between a bidder in the room and the eventual buyer on the phone.

Head masters

A collection of fans from a private collector formed part of the sale conducted by Special Auction Services (18% buyer’s premium) in Greenham, near Newbury, on November 10. Leading proceedings at £920 (estimate £400-600) was the 18th century Vernis Martin brise fan pictured right.

Painted with the triumphant David holding the head of Goliath and to the reverse with classical figures in landscapes, the guards are carved with figural design and inlaid with mother-of-pearl.