An intricately-decorated walking cane made aboard a whaling ship in the early 1800s sold for a staggering £46,000 at the Perry and Phillips auction house in Bridgnorth.
The cane, made from whalebone, walrus tusk and turtle shell, featured tiny images of the New World and the whaling industry, including an American bald eagle, a musket, a harpoon, a fox and a man on horseback.
“The lady who sent this item in for the sale had no idea how her family came by it,” said auctioneer John Ridgway.
“She had kept it packed away in plastic on top of a wardrobe for the past 60 years and she had hoped it might sell for £500, but once we had done some research and contacted several US maritime museums we realised it was worth a good deal more than that.
“Our original estimate was between £2,000 and £4,000 but there was a huge amount of interest and we thought it could well sell for up to £15,000.
“We had to draft in extra staff to handle telephone bids for the sale and the atmosphere in the auction room was electric – the cane eventually sold for an amazing £46,000 to a dealer bidding on the phone and we believe the item was bought on behalf of a US customer.”