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Most notably, the pair of George II walnut library armchairs illustrated above. In the manner of the noted cabinetmaker Giles Grendey (1693-1780), they were almost certainly first bought for Ravensworth Castle, near Gateshead, home to the Liddell family, barons of Ravensworth, from 1607-1910.

The castle is now in ruins and the chairs had passed by descent to the family member whose deceased estate also provided the speculative Old Master.

Estimated at £3000-5000, they sold to the UK trade at £35,000.

From the same estate came a 19th century champlevé enamel presentation box inset to the 3¾in (9.5cm) top with the cypher of Friedrich Wilhelm IV.

The family had assumed it was brass. In fact it was 18ct gold and bore marks for CM Weishaupt Sohn of Hanau – ensuring it attracted bids from Central and Eastern Europe before selling to the UK trade above estimate at £6500.

Lucan lots

Deceased estates generally have a melancholy air about them for vendors but that of Lady Lucan, wife of the infamous Lord Lucan, seemed particularly sad.

Estranged from her family and believing, wrongly, that she had Parkinson’s disease, she committed suicide aged 80 at her Belgravia home last September.

Sixty pieces from her estate were sold to raise money for the charity Shelter.

Although of little intrinsic value, they sold unexpectedly well for just shy of £15,000 as bidders sought mementos of the Lord Lucan story.

Three lots in particular seemed redolent of the impecunious gambler ‘Lucky’ Lucan’s life.

A 9in (23cm) diameter plated bucket-form wine cooler bearing the Prince of Wales’ crest made £1500 (estimate £80-150) and, against the same estimate, a vintage Locke & Co silk top hat monogrammed L for Lucan sold at £2200.

Top-seller of the Lucan material was a yacht’s chrome-plated flagpole, a red ensign flag and a yachting cap purported to have come from Lord Lucan’s boat. Estimated at £50-100, the lots sold at £3400.

About 40 pieces of mainly vintage designer clothing from the late Dowager Countess’s own wardrobe generally sold in the low two-figure price range.