Meiji Kazaridana cabinet – £11,000 at Mitchells.

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It was one of many objects in the catalogue from the long-empty home of a hoarder. There were the usual challenges of dust, dirt and boxes but also the rewards that occasionally lay therein.

“The quality was obvious as soon as I took the dust covers off,” said Harrison.

Each door and panel to the cabinet was finely decorated in the hiramakie and takamakie techniques (sprinkled with metal including silver and gold in low relief and high relief).

One cupboard handle was formed as a fish, the other as a deity in a boat. It had been given a here-to-sell estimate of £800- 1200 but sold well above hopes to the London trade.

“The Japanese market has been in the doldrums for well over a decade,” Harrison said. “It’s a great time to buy marvellous Japanese antiques. However, some items buck the trend and this was one of them.”

Buddha bonanza

Behind a locked door of the primary property were found 28 figures of Buddha in marble, bronze, gilt metal, stone, pottery and wood. Most sold around low three-figure estimates but one brought an unexpected battle among Chinese bidders: a 15in (39cm) tall, carved wood, red lacquered and gilt Bhairaea Mudra seated figure.

Dated to the 19th century, against a £250-350 estimate it sold to a Chinese buyer at £12,500.

“It may possibly have been 18th century but looking at the construction and patina, certainly no older,” said Harrison.

A number of other leading lots had local connections.

They included a George III mahogany longcase clock by the renowned Cockermouth maker Lott Barwise (1726-99) sold at a treble-estimate £3300. Barwise, born at Oulton Wigton, worked in Cockermouth from 1750 – his descendants later making clocks in St Martins Lane, London.