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When English decoration does move away from still lifes or full-blown summer flowers into topography, it tends to take the form of a landscape or a named country house in its rural setting. An industrial scene is a very rare choice, which is what makes this Derby porter mug of c.1820 with its two reserves of factory sites with smoking chimneys so unusual.

Both views are titled. That shown here reads Phoenix Foundry, Peel and Williams, while the reverse, showing a canal boat and more buildings, reads Soho Foundry, Peel and Williams. Both views have various ironworking products shown scattered around the foreground.

Peel, Williams and Peel was one of Manchester’s most renowned engineering and wheelwright works, but, tantalisingly, nothing is known about the history of this piece. Perhaps it was a special commission by the foundry? Perhaps the London dealer who paid £3800 (plus 19.5% premium) for it in Bonhams’ March 3 sale of British glass and ceramics will research it and fill in some gaps. The price compares with an estimate of £2000-3000. This was a satisfactory result in auctioneer John Sandon’s opinion given that, at 5in (13cm) high, the porter mug was a large piece rather than a tea or coffee cup whose small size makes them more desirable to today’s collectors.