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A single – and damaged – majolica centrepiece, 10in (25cm) high by 101/2in (26cm) diameter, modelled with a lion and a lioness below a palm tree glazed in cobalt blue and turquoise was spotted seated on a table in the corner of the unassuming property and it was a great bonus when, on the eve of the catalogue going to press, the vendor unearthed a second example from another property, modelled with bison. It was apparently in good condition.

Neither piece bore a cipher or lozenge but were recognisable as part of the well known and much coveted series emblematic of the Continents produced by George Jones from his Staffordshire factory in the 1870s.

This group include – arguably the most dramatic of the group – a comport representing Africa incorporating a giraffe which sold for £8000 at Tennants of Leyburn back in 1997 and there are others comprising stag and doe and a camel.

The two groups offered here, the lion and lioness representing Africa and the pair of bison – making its first appearance in the saleroom in living memory – representing North America.

The Leyburn price tag achieved two years ago for their badly damaged piece, is evidence of the sort of money the auctioneers should have expected: they did not illustrated the animals in their April 14 catalogue but sold them at £17,000. The buyer was an un-named private collector in the room, underbid by two telephones.

Goldings, Grantham, April 14
Buyer’s Premium: 12.5 per cent