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The pair of Sevres vases, pictured top right, set a new UK auction record for any item ever sold outside London when they sold to an unnamed buyer at Lacy, Scott & Knight of Bury St Edmunds on March 27 for £500,000 (plus 12 per cent premium).

Then, on March 31, Woolley & Wallis of Salisbury took a double-top-estimate £205,000 plus (10 per cent premium) for the Henry III mazer bowl, bottom right, in the process setting a new record for silver sold at a UK provincial auction.

The Sevres vases came fresh to market from a private source – the vendor’s father bought them from a Cambridge dealer in 1967 for £300. Their quality and provenance helped pack out the saleroom with around 200 people including a lot of the top trade and their representatives. A bank of ten phone lines kept auctioneer Adrian Byrne busy, especially when bidding in the room stopped at around £300,000.

The vases, 19in (48cm) and 181/2in (47cm) high are marked to the bases in gilt with interlaced double Ls, with the letter D at either side forming the date code for 1781, and also with the marks of Chapuis ‘cp’ who painted them and Vincent ‘2000’ who gilded them. In-depth research by the Wallace Collection showed that they are similar to a pair in the Royal Collection, and it is suggested that they were produced from the same mould; the gilder’s mark and date code are consistent with this. From the Sèvres records, it would seem that, of the vases of this form, only one pair was decorated in this manner. The records also report that in 1783 Monsieur Comte d’Artois paid 600 livres for a pair of “vases oeufs cygnes”. The previous provincial record for any lot was set at Hy. Duke & Son of Dorchester on July 2 last year when William Logsdail’s painting The Royal Exchange sold for a hammer price £420,000.

The Salisbury salerooms of Woolley & Wallis (who held the previous record for ceramics courtesy of a pair of Qianlong famille rose hawks which realised £250,000 in May last year) passed another worthy milestone on March 31. They sold a Henry VIII silver mounted mazer bowl for £205,000, more than twice the top estimate and – surpassing the £140,000 paid for the Elizabethan Tredegar Salt which sold in the same rooms back in 1996 – a new auction high for a silver lot sold outside London. It was bought by London dealers S.J. Phillips who competed against another telephone bidder from around the £100,000 mark.

The bowl – a rare secular survival from the years of the Reformation – was marked for London 1527 with the maker’s device of a double-headed arrow and decorated to the centre of the bowl with an enamel floral device of a stylised thistle or pomegranate. It was entered for sale as part of the collection of G.H. Cookson – a local vendor who is a descendent of the well-known Newcastle silversmith – which added a total of £310,000 to a sale total in excess of £500,000.