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.

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

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).