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Duke’s, Dorchester A late 17th-century nutmeg grater in the shape of a teardrop, which carried a pre-sale estimate of £300-£400 sold for £2,400 at the Dorset auction house’s recent sale.

Measuring 4cm x 3.5cm x 2.5cm high, it has the typical ‘stand away’ hinge of the period with the cover engraved with a rose and tulip. Early nutmeg graters were either heart-shaped or teardrop form, and big enough to hold a nutmeg.

Used as a status symbol, it was fashionable for men to carry a personal supply of the spice and a small grater tucked into a vest pocket.

The nutmeg grater defied expectations in the Dorset saleroom

Dawsons, Maidenhead A circular painting, or tondo, catalogued as “from the circle” of Angelica Kauffman sold for £67,000 at the Berkshire auction house. The oil on copper, titled Return of a Knight in Armour measured 13in (33cm) in diameter.

Kauffman (1741-1807) was a Swiss neoclassical painter who found success in London where she was befriended by Sir Joshua Reynolds. Works “from her circle” usually sell for less than £1,000 but such was its superb execution, 18th-century date and good condition it sparked a heated bidding war.

The tondo, catalogued as from the “circle of Angelica Kauff-

man” sold for


Elmwood’s, Notting Hill An iconic Birkin bag by Hermès, bought directly from the maker last year for €8,400, sold for £19,500 at the London auction house’s specialist sale of designer bags.

The price achieved for the leather Sellier Birkin 25 proved its enduring popularity. Elmwood’s co-owner, Ben Gosling, said: “Due to their immense popularity buyers can be on a waiting lists for years to buy at retail.” Inspiration for the Birkin came about about when Hermès chief executive, Jean-Louis Dumas, spotted the French actress Jane Birkin on a flight from Paris to London struggling with a straw travelling bag.

Buying a Birkin at auction is one way to avoid years-long waits for the iconic design

The large portrait of a woman was “from the circle” of Mary

Beale (1632-


Mallams, Oxford A portrait of a lady catalogued as “from the circle” of Mary Beale (1632-1699) estimated at £2,000-£3,000, sparked a bidding war before selling for £31,000 at the auction house’s recent sale.

The 4ft 2in x 3ft 5in (1.27m x 1.04m) oil on canvas was of a woman in a brown dress and blue cape who may have been one of the Fairfax family – well known land owners in Yorkshire.

Suffolk-born Beale was an English portrait painter and part of a small band of female professional artists working in London.

Roseberys, London A Belle Époque platinum, sapphire and diamond bracelet, expected to make £2,000-£3,000 sold for £32,500 at the auction house’s recent sale.

Dating from c. 1910 and measuring 16cm, the collet-set oval sapphire is set in an oldbrilliant-cut diamond bracelet.

The ring, made from lapis lazuli and jade-

like maw sit sit, was a saleroom hit

At the same sale a lapis lazuli and maw sit sit ring, c. 1970, attributed to Augustin Julia-Plana, exceeded its pre-sale estimate of £200-£300 to make £3,900.

Augustin Julia-Plana was born in Mataro, near Barcelona, in 1934. In his youth, he was a talented track and field athlete, and in 1954 was the Spanish 4 x 400m relay champion. After military service, he attended art school before joining the Swiss jewellers Simon Schlegel in 1963. He was known for using unusual materials in his designs, such as wood, meteorite, maw sit sit (a bright green metamorphic rock often confused with jade) and selecting materials for their innate beauty rather than monetary value.

The Belle Époque platinum, sapphire and diamond bracelet sold for



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