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Mixed-owner events seldom see the same success rates as single owner dispersals, especially such a specialised event as the March sale. The auctioneers’ latest Doulton and Beswick offering, a much more wide-ranging gathering of just over 400 lots drawn from various vendors held on May 31 ran true to form. It netted £178,000 and only two thirds of the material got away, although the much higher 83 per cent selling rate by value suggests some keen spending on pieces that did take bidders’ fancy. None of the different Doulton categories in the sale escaped the selective mood but some had a better reception than others. Doulton Lambeth wares (on something of a roll recently compared to a decade ago) and Bunnykins saw the strongest take-up while the Burslem decorative and Series ware and the opening 22 lots of Beswick proved hardest to shift.

Even if it didn’t compare favourably with the Doulton archive sale, it was interesting to see that the prototype model was still capturing attention since pilot and rare colourways also provided the highest prices at this event. Topping the list at £5200 was a Hatless Drake character jug with a green collar issued as a pilot colourway in 1940-41 with the raised title Sir Francis Drake picked out in white on the back of the character’s coat.

This was followed at £4400 by Mandarin, the rare 1919 prototype glaze study in amber, blue and green on a titanium body pictured here. A less typical offering, was the trial piece also illustrated, the 71/2in (19.5cm) Centaur’s Embrace. Produced and signed by David Evans and dated 1928, the auctioneers reckoned there were two reasons why Doulton chose not to put this into production. First, the mythological subject may not have been favourably viewed at a time when historical subjects were all the rage, and secondly, its erotic overtones may have been considered commercially risky. It sold last month for a low estimate £3000.