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A set of 12 English 17th century painted sycamore trenchers that sold for $16,000 (£12,300) at Sotheby’s sale of the Vogel collection.

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The lid of the box is inscribed The laboring bee that sucks of me such sweet, shows unto man, what things for him are meet.

Roundels such as this – used at the end of dinner for desserts and wordy entertainment – appear to have become widespread across society. Indeed, enough for John Donne to joke in 1669 that: “[Aesop’s] fables and fruit-trenchers teach as much.”

This set of 12, acquired from New York dealer James Robinson in 1987, sold at $16,000 (£12,300).