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However, no fewer that 50 bidders were on the telephone and from one of them came a huge price for an unrecorded pair of Staffordshire equestrian figures.

Modelled as a lady and gentleman on prancing black and grey horses, they were modelled with black and white pointer dogs on raised four-footed bases, 10in (25cm).

Although the bocage bases were in the style of Obadiah Sherratt, Staffordshire figure scholar Professor Hodkinson was sure they were not by the great man, making them, such is the value of rarity, even more desirable. Consigned from a Lancashire blacksmith, they had restoration to the extremities and were given a £4000-7000 estimate. But they were contested to £12,700 by a London dealer who fought off eight other telephone bidders.

The same London dealer took a number of items including three late 18th/early 19th century Bovey Tracey pottery entries.

Foremost was a late 18th century pearlware pottery plate printed with The Ladies Amusement chinoiserie figures taking tea, c.1780, that brought £600.

With demand exceeding supply, ceramics’ buyers are becoming more ready to accept restoration.

A Wedgwood Egyptian Revival patterned lustre vase, c.1920, decorated with Egyptian figures riding elephants brought a £1200 bid, despite restoration to the rim.

And a restored Staffordshire spill vase modelled as a giraffe with yellow and black markings, c.1860, was knocked down to the trade at £1700.

S.J. Hales, Bovey Tracey, February 28
Buyer’s premium: 10 per cent