The Royal Doulton ‘Stanley Matthews’ character jug D7164 (part three) sold at for £19,000.

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The standard model, made in an edition of 5000, depicted the 'Wizard of Dribble' in his England shirt and was given the serial number D6171.

The handle was modelled as a bottle kiln and Blackpool Tower - references to his time as a player for both his home town club, Stoke City, and Blackpool.

However, alongside this 4in (10cm) high jug - that currently sells for around £50 - was Stanley Matthews D7164, made in a limited edition of just three. Stan's facial expression is different (he is smiling) and he wears a V-neck shirt with the red and white stripes of Stoke City.

One (numbered 3 of three) was kept for the factory museum, one (number 2) was donated to the Stoke City F.C. while another (number 1) was sent for auction at Stoke-on-Trent saleroom Louis Taylor on June 11 2001. The proceeds were to go towards the erection of a bronze statue of Sir Stanley in the Britannia Stadium.

Bidding opened at £200 but 15 minutes later the two biggest players in the character jug market were still slugging it out. The hammer fell at a record £32,200 - a price that, with both a 12.5 per cent premium and VAT at 17.5 per cent thrown in, saw leading dealer and collector Nick Tzimas of UK International Ceramics in Woodbridge, Suffolk, sign a cheque for almost £42,000. But then again it was the only one that would ever come onto the market. Or was it?

Forty two grand is a lot of money and it was not long before Stoke City F.C., then languishing in the depths of Division Two, began to look at that toby jug gathering dust in the trophy cabinet and wondered whether or not it might not be more useful helping the club's ailing finances. A private sale was struck with Mr Tzimas at £32,000. He now had a pair, the only two likely to come onto the market.

And then, earlier this year, cash-strapped Royal Doulton contacted Louis Taylor again, looking to raise funds by dipping into the 'reserve' collection. Proprietor Clive Hillier persuaded them to part with more than just some quirky backstamps and colourways for a bespoke catalogue of October 29. Stanley Matthews D7164 part three made the front cover with an estimate of £20,000-£30,000.

The American underbidder in 2001 would have been a suitable candidate as a buyer this time around, but the news that he has since stopped collecting threw its sale into doubt. However, at £19,000 - again subject to both buyer's premium and VAT - UK International Ceramics now own all three. But, it seems, not for long.

His latest purchase will be the 'carrot' in Mr Tzimas's ingenious marketing of a series of 16 limited edition character jugs of WWI generals and great military leaders to be produced by Doulton for UK International Ceramics next year. Buy all 16 and you could enter a prize draw to win a £25,000 toby jug.