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Its scarcity led bidders to chase it well past its £1500-2000 estimate. A full bank of phones were booked but it was eventually hammered down for £17,000 (plus 22.5% buyer’s premium) to a buyer on thesaleroom.com.

Although unsigned, the purse is similar to others with the initials IL for Jacques II Laudin (c.1663-1729), one of many members of the Laudin family of enamellers.

It is often only the enamel plaques that survive from such items. The period portraits (with minor losses) depict the sitters in court dress which may suggest it was a special commission.

The auction, held in Prinknash Abbey on January 28, contained a range of items from the stores and attics of Spetchley Park in Worcestershire. More than 750 lots from the Regency house, the seat of the Berkeley family since the early 17th century, had already been sold by Sotheby’s for £3.1m in December.

The present house at Spetchley was built in 1811 and was largely furnished from acquisitions made on Grand Tours through Europe and travels in America and India by successive generations.

The family also bought lots from country house sales, most notably Stowe in 1848 where other buyers included Queen Victoria and the National Gallery.

The items sold at Sotheby’s and Chorley’s represent a thinning out to enable the current generation at Spetchley Park to modernise the premises.

Chorley’s offering included more country house furnishings, books and curios priced from under £100 to several thousand pounds. Some noteworthy objects had been passed over for the Sotheby’s sale, including this purse.

Chorley’s director and auctioneer Thomas Jenner-Fust said: “What remains unchanged from the early country house sales until the present day is the excitement which such sales engender.

“The collector is presented with a ‘once in a lifetime’ chance to acquire items that may never have been on the market at all, having remained in one ownership for hundreds of years.”