CHINESE silver items that gathered dust in a Dorset attic for 40 years could sell for thousands of pounds this spring.

The collection, including a tea and coffee service, is set to go under the hammer at Charterhouse Auctioneers, Sherborne, as part of an Asian art sale.

Charterhouse's Richard Bromell said: "It is a classic case of the owner having inherited items and putting them up in the attic as they had little use or interest in them.

"The owner decided that having items stored in the attic for decades is perhaps not the best way to keep them, and not looking to store problems up later on in life bit the bullet, emptied the attic and called us over to look through the items which had been brought down."

The Chinese silver tea and coffee set, just one of a number of silver items found, is estimated to make up to £2,500. It was originally a wedding present in 1915 to the owners' grandparents, Mr and Mrs Mousley.

Mr Mousley worked for the Shanghai Mutual Telephone Company. However, exactly what he did for the company is uncertain, said Mr Bromell, as he appeared to spend more time in the British Consulate than he did in his company offices. "Rumours of him being a spy have been mooted by the family for years, not only because of his regular attendance at the consulate, that he worked for a telephone company with its listening possibilities, but also because he was known to have flown with Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin to Russia on one occasion," said an auction house spokesman.

The items were in an attic of a home in north Dorset.

The silver tea and coffee service was made by the well-known Chinese silversmith Luen Wo in Shanghai.

Each piece has a simulated bamboo handle and spout and is embossed in relief with Chrysanthemums, a popular design in Chinese silver, ceramics, textiles and pictures.

Accompanying the service are also a formal photograph of Mr Mousley with his staff, believed to have been taken outside the British Consulate in Shanghai, and a Chinese hardwood tray with a wedding presentation inscription and dated 1915, all adding to its provenance and intrigue.

Charterhouse is now accepting entries for this April 19/20 auction of Chinese and other Asian silver, ceramics and works of art.

For further information or to arrange a home visit, please contact Richard Bromell at Charterhouse on 01935 812277 or email images for valuation at