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While vendors tend to be local, buyers comprise a broader mix of local, national and overseas collectors and dealers - although the uncompetitive exchange rate for US buyers has seen a tailing off of American demand in recent months.

Louis Taylor specialist Clive Hillier reckoned prices in the September 6-7 sale were slightly down for the lower-range and middle-range Doulton entries.

However, he speculated that if the planned closure of the firm's main factory in Burslem goes ahead next year (production is to be relocated overseas) it could spark renewed interest in these traditional British ceramics.

Whether or not it was a coincidence, following the closure of the Beswick factory a couple of years ago prices spiralled for the most unusual models and have remained strong since.

"There is always lots of competition for Beswick and often ten or 15 people in the room that really want the same piece - especially farmers bidding for the cattle," said Mr Hillier.

There was no shortage of interest for the best of the 445 lots of Beswick and Doulton offered here, with buyers found for 90 per cent of entries.

The two most expensive works were Doulton figures consigned by the same local collector. The star turn was a figure of Mamselle HN659, a model introduced in 1924 and withdrawn in 1938. Relatively few examples were made and those that survive tend to be damaged, making this pristine figure a must-have for several collectors who contested it to a winning £3200.

From the same source came the first version of The Bather clad in her skin-tight, multi-coloured, chequered costume and a matt back and blue gown. Although the head of this un-numbered 1920s figure had been broken and restored, the unusual colourway persuaded an overseas collector to go to £3100 for ownership.

Also in the running was an unusual cloaked figure of Guy Fawkes. Despite having no number, this was an HN347 model produced from 1919-1938. In good condition, it fetched £2400.

The strongest bid for a piece of Beswick was tendered for a matt glazed Dutch Red Friesian cow made for the Dutch market. Estimated to bring £300-500, the beast's unusual matt glaze put it at a premium and an East Anglian collector bid £1100 to secure it. A Beswick Gamecock sold more in line with expectations at £740.

Better known for their birds and beasts, Beswick also produced a range of Walt Disney and classic children's characters and a five-piece set of Rupert Bear and his friends fetched £660.

The strongest price in the Moorcroft section the following day was the £2350 bid for a vase decorated with the highly sought after Pansy design, while a coffee cup and saucer decorated with the Claremont Toadstool design brought £1750.

Ceramics aside, there were few notable furniture or works of art lots, with buyers bidding selectively for the best works such as a late 18th century ivory and tortoiseshell tea caddy inlaid with mother-of-pearl which fetched £1300 despite damage.