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Carved in ivory or hardwood, they also cover the same spectrum of subjects: humans, gods, animals or fruit and vegetables – such as this ivory carving of a sweetcorn, offered by Brettells (19.5% buyer’s premium) of Newport, Shropshire, on February.27.

On a wooden stand and measuring 6in (15cm) wide, it sold online to a London buyer at £850, just shy of the top estimate.

Barrel labels

Meanwhile, an unexpected highlight at Brettells in the same sale was a collection of early 19th century creamware barrel labels.

Coming from a house clearance, it comprised a set of five proclaiming the contents as Malgue, Sicilian, Bronte, Bucellas and Toulon; a set of four, Dry Lisbon, Raisin, Tinto and White Hermitage; two singles of more familiar wines, Hock, and Maderia, and a single plain label with the impressed stamp Wedgwood to the reverse. A number of these are unusual titles. Estimated at £80-120, they sold online to a London collector at £1000.