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Timing doubtless helped – it coincided with the big fairs when everyone was in town. It attracted a good private and trade mix from the UK and overseas, some of whom appeared in the room although there was also a strong input from absentee bidders.

This sale had plenty of animals, the must-have class for Staffordshire collectors, and they featured prominently amongst the highest prices, but the selection was also notable for the volume of bird models: “I have never seen such a large selection of birds coming to auction,” said their specialist Rebecca Green.

Several of the top prices were for desirable, early pearlware animals such as the two bull-baiting groups that fetched £3000 and £3500 to a UK dealer and an anonymous buyer and a pair of late 18th century 11in (27cm) high cockerel jugs that fetched £4600 from a British dealer. All three had some elements of repair, restoration and overpainting.

But one of the strongest results was for a later figure, a mid-19th century clockface group of squirrels. Squirrels are rare subjects and Christie’s knew their £300-400 estimate was modest. They duly fetched £2800 from a British collector.

The main avian subjects in the collection generally sold for more modest sums (there was plenty of opportunity to make purchases in the mid-hundreds) but the pair of 7in (18cm) high brightly coloured 1860s models of chickens featuring in the back of our illustration (right, top) were an exception, contested to a treble-estimate £1800.

The highest price amongst the blue and white tablewares was £2000 paid by a British dealer for a pearlware tureen decorated with the Gamekeeper pattern.