Two Cartier watches and an oboe were among the lost items that earned Transport for London almost £300,000 this year.

More than 260,000 items were left on the transport network between January and October this year — the largest number for years.

Over the same period 4,292 unclaimed items were auctioned off, raising £296,327 for TfL, the Standard has learned.

TfL says it does not profit from the proceeds. Instead, the income subsidises the cost of running its Baker Street lost property office, now in its 80th year.

Last year, 6,027 items were auctioned, raising £488,554.

The Cartier watch went for £1,480 in May

A freedom of information request revealed the items that went for the biggest sums at auction. The most valuable item was a Canon EOS digital camera and lens that sold for £2,301 in March. In the same month a Cabart oboe raised £599.

A ladies Cartier Panthère wristwatch with an 18-carat gold case and bracelet went for £1,480 in May, while another Cartier replica ladies Cartier watch sold for £600. Six of the top 10 most expensive auction items were Apple laptops, which cost up to £1,599 new.

They were sold for up to £650 — after any personal data had been wiped. More than 80 per cent of items unclaimed by owners after three months are given to charities such as the Salvation Army and the British Red Cross.

Valuable: Apple laptops were among the items lost most frequently

More than 200 toys still in their original packaging were donated to the Salvation Army to distribute to children in Lewisham for Christmas.

Sue Tyler, of TfL’s lost property office, said: “It is a shame the children’s toys were not reclaimed by their owners, but it is just wonderful to know they will now bring smiles to children who might have otherwise gone without.”

The 261,025 items processed by the lost property office up to October included 20,309 mobile phones, 18,433 Oyster card holders and 11,580 wallets or purses. Last year it dealt with 253,465 items.

Ms Tyler said: “The fact that so many items have been handed in over 80 years is a testament to the honesty of the travelling public in London.”