Sotheby's sale of Important Americana in New York at the weekend had a clear leader in the form of an ornate Cornelius Kierstede silver punch bowl, dating from 1701-2.
The piece had been estimated at $400,000-800,000, but the first bid (from Ian Irving of Ian Irving Ltd) was for $500,000 and the bids followed thick and fast from six interested parties, advancing into seven figures with little fuss.
The bowl finally sold for $5,906,500 to an anonymous man seated in the hall, to a huge round of applause.
Whilst the piece is obviously beautiful and valuable in its own right - the bowl is thought to be the largest piece of 18th century silver in existence - its history may well have added to its hammer price.
It was offered with two 18th century letters: one of which states "Silver Bowl, Belonged to Joshua Loring & was buried in a well during the War of American Independence (the Loring family was then living in America) & brought up when it was over."
Joshua Loring and his family were loyal to Britain during the American Revolution, and left his home in August 1774 to stayin Boston, following whichthey immigrated to London in 1776.
The previous highest price for a piece of American silver was a relatively modest $775,750, for which two pieces tied: the Richard and Alice Brackett Cup, sold in 2001 and a two- handled grace cup and cover (also with a Loyalist history) sold in 2002, both at Sotheby's.