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Perhaps rarest of all is a series of wares produced for Britain’s Masonic lodges. They receive only scant reference in the major books on the subject perhaps because – although made between 1900-1914, the boom years for the crested china craze – many of these pieces still reside in lodge collections or in private Masonic museums. All are very hard to find but those showing Masonic symbols rather than the crests of the Grand Lodges are the most coveted of all.

All this helps to explain the remarkable heights scaled by a single Goss miniature offered on eBay earlier this month.

According to a recent edition of Nicholas Pine’s Price Guide to Goss China the 21/4in (5.7cm) high Hythe Mortar is hardly an exciting find. It’s a model that would usually command around £9 for one crested with any arms or up to £16 for an example with matching arms of Hythe. But the unusual enamelled decoration of three types of Masons’ levels marked this as one of perhaps only 25 examples recorded worldwide.

Before the sale closed on July 8 it was estimated by experts in the UK Goss collecting sphere that this piece would fetch £250-350, but the interest of Masonic collectors and private Masonic museums pushed the price up to what is believed to be a record level for a Masonic Goss piece. It received 22 bids before it sold at £622.

So where had it come from? This was one of eight Masonic Goss pieces bought for a snip at a provincial auction house by Cheshire dealers Darren & Jacqueline Hill of Yeoford Antiques eBay Shop. Three have been listed so far – the previous week (closing June 30) the Hills had also sold a damaged two-handled vase carrying the Masonic symbol of the all seeing eye set in the letter G for £217 – with the remaining pieces to be offered over the coming months.