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The material comprised an archive of Minton wares assembled by the Staffordshire factory spanning production from the 1820s to the 1970s and was formerly displayed in a museum at Minton House, Stoke-on-Trent.

The decision by the collection’s owners, Staffordshire-based Royal Doulton plc, to sell and disperse the archive was regarded as controversial in several quarters and provoked considerable media comment, especially in the local press.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has been interested in buying the entire auction contents for their Potteries Museum and Art Gallery since shortly after the sale’s announcement in January with a view to keeping the collection together and has been attempting to raise the necessary funds.

The council finally got the go-ahead, thanks to funds from the Heritage Lottery Fund, to make an offer of £609,660 just over a week before the auction. However, this was turned down by Royal Doulton who said that with the auction date so close, the company had no alternative but to proceed with the sale. “Royal Doulton has a contractual agreement with Bonhams concerning the sale of the pieces which would be both difficult and costly to terminate,” it said in a statement on July 17.

With no chance for outright purchase, the museum went to the auction with what its manager Pamela Mallalieu described as “a shopping list of pieces that would fill gaps in the collection”. Although the museum only succeeded in securing 36 of the 106 lots on their list, these did include a number of key pieces, most notably the potential star of the sale, this rare and impressive 5ft (1.54m) high Minton’s majolica peacock, left, modelled by Paul Comolera in 1873, which they bought at £105,000, just inside the lower estimate. But Mrs Mallalieu said after the sale: “We are disappointed that the collection has been split up.”
Some elements from the Minton Collection were not included in the sale and remain in Royal Doulton’s possession. Asked would happen to these items, a company spokesman told the Antiques Trade Gazette. “No decisions have been made regarding the future of the remaining pieces.”