A collection of antiques found in the rubbish-strewn council flat of a serial hoarder in Southsea has sold for £250,000.
Experts who entered the Handsworth House property of the late collector were shocked when they found hundreds of treasures buried among boxes of junk.
Among them was a 170-year-old hand-carved bowl from a native American tribe that was found in a kitchen cupboard and worth £70,000.
A 2ft tall solid silver trophy presented to a captain of Nelson’s navy in 1796 was found lying on its side under a bed. It sold for more than £10,000.
An old camera box was opened and found to contain 20 silver snuff boxes worth £7,000.
And a Chinese jade ornament of a fish that was found on the floor was worth £12,000.
The entire collection of nearly 300 lots sold at auction for £250,000.
Auctioneer Martin Lawrence, who thought he was attending a routine probate valuation at the top-floor flat, described the find as the best consignment of his career.
Mr Lawrence, of Petersfield’s Jacobs & Hunt, was called following the death of the unnamed pensioner last autumn.
The eccentric, who was aged in his 80s, had acquired the items from his parents who were antique dealers in London shortly after the Second World War.
Mr Lawrence said: ‘I have never seen anything quite like it.
‘We tried to walk into each room and you could go no further than the doorway because newspapers, boxes and rubbish had been piled high.
‘We cleared it as we went along and that was when we started to unravel this hidden treasure trove.
‘I think the owner had this stuff for most of his life. It was very uncared for and you could just tell it had been in the same place for many years’
The star item was the wooden Haida grease bowl carved into the shape of a seal.
It would have been used by a Haida tribe of natives in north America to serve rich foods in the early to mid 19th century and brought out during feasts to celebrate the rank of chiefs.
Mr Lawrence said: ‘It was kept in the back of a kitchen cupboard and luckily hadn’t been used for many years.
‘We took bids from buyers in Canada, New York, Belgium and Australia on it.’
Other antiques that sold included a 19th century Chinese vase for £10,500, a Tiffany & Co silver oval flask for £1,250, a 19th century African tribal pillow carved from wood for £13,500, and a pair of 19th century antique pistols for £3,400.