The auctioneers of Bonhams Chelsea have been doing jigsaw puzzles - it's the only way to find out whether the ones they are selling have any pieces missing. Three of them spent a total of nine hours on each of five wooden 150-piece Great Western Railway jigsaws of the Thirties - and, yes, every one was intact. Would-be buyers are being offered photographs of the completed puzzles.

The five lots are modestly estimated at only pounds 40-pounds 60 each in Wednesday's sale (2pm). Now is the time to buy jigsaws - the London dealer-publisher Richard Dennis intends publishing the first definitive jigsaw collectors' textbook, coinciding with an exhibition of his own secretly-amassed hoard, before Christmas. After that, prices will go up.

Memory Lane, or rather, the Lost Street, is up for sale. That was the name of the museum in Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, that featured salvaged late 19th- and early 20th-century shop fronts stocked with contemporary wares. You might pick up a Victorian child's horsey push-chair (pounds 400-pounds 600, right), a huge horn gramophone (pounds 2,000-pounds 3,000) or a lot of packaging for veterinary products such as pig powder (pounds 200-pounds 300). The shops and contents are at Christie's South Kensington on Thursday (2pm) and Friday (10.30am).

Bargain Dan Dare artwork? Hidden away in Christie's South Ken's British Decorative Arts sale, Friday (1pm) - over 50 original artwork boards of Dan Dare's adventures in the Eagle comic. No, not drawn by Frank Hampson, Dan's first artist: they can fetch pounds 300-pounds 500 per board. But there are plenty by Don Harley, longest-serving Dan artist, such one from The Solid Space Mystery of 1961, one of four lotted together at pounds 300-pounds 500.

It is Islamic week in the London salerooms. But the mystique of the East - harems, the seven veils, that sort of thing - sometimes had its origins closer to home than the myth would have us believe. Look at the rare early 17th-century mural of an alluring decolletee, a Persian maiden (right) estimated pounds 8,000-pounds 12,000 in Bonhams sale of Islamic works of art, Wednesday (2.30pm). In those days, trendy Persian nobles and artists toured Europe - where decolletage was in fashion. But on the wall, back home, in full view of both sexes, Continental-style nudity was considered risque. Still, only a Persian could have painted those eyes, that mouth, and that pertly bulging belly.

More European influence - probably French - is in the rose and acanthus design openwork of the magnificent pair of brass stirrups of about 1800 offered at pounds 1,000-pounds 1,200 in Sotheby's Turkish sale, Friday (10.30am).

Sotheby's is also offering a breathtaking mid-19th century Qajar emerald, ruby and sapphire enamelled-gold pendant in the form of a bird, from the days when the Shah, his court and the aristocracy festooned themselves with gaudy jewellery. It is pounds 5,000-pounds 6,000 in Thursday's Islamic Art sale (11am).

The Michael Parkington collection - biggest-ever private collection of British glass at auction - shows the collector's expertise in detecting the final flourish of old craftsmanship on new designs. A hand-cut green pear-shaped Stevens and Williams "Transparent Cameo" vase of about 1900 is estimated pounds 200-pounds 300 in the sale at Christie's South Kensington, Thursday (2pm) and Friday (10.30am).

John Windsor

Comments