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The auction of a Benin bronze (right) contributed “a substantial seven-figure sum” to the Salisbury auctioneers’ total hammer sales of £22.9m.

The headline figure (representing a 67% increase on £13.66m in 2015) means W&W has been the number one fine art auctioneer outside London for nearly a decade.

It is also close to a provincial record, second only to the £23.36m the firm posted in 2010 when £9m was provided by just seven Qing jades.

The January to December figures showed particularly strong contributions from Asian art (£4.38m), jewellery (£3.72m) and silver (£1.81m).

Chairman Paul Viney said: “It’s been a good year. Our overall selling rate by lot for the year was 79% which is satisfactory.

“Prices seem unaffected by the Brexit vote and we had a remarkable fortnight in the late autumn where our silver, jewellery and Asian art sales had a combined total of £5.7m.”

Fellows up 30%

Six leading salerooms provided ATG with year-on-year data.

In terms of auction sales, the Salisbury firm was pushed close by jewellery and watch specialist Fellows.

The Birmingham saleroom, showing year-on-year growth since the turn of the decade, enjoyed another strong year with sales up across most departments and a hammer total of £17.6m.

Managing director Stephen Whittaker said the increase of 30% on 2015 (the firm’s previous record year with sales of £13.5m) came from a greater number of high-value consignments and an improved sell-through rate.

He added that Mayfair viewings (now conducted from a permanent office space) were making a real difference on both counts.

Despite the modest bullion prices – scrap silver and gold remain significantly down from the highs of four years ago – there have been compensations in the markets for coloured gemstones, saltwater pearls and the coral, amber and agate beads that appeal in the Far East.