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Wiltshire Police are asking the trade for their help to recover the haul, dubbed Britain’s biggest domestic break-in, and have issued images of close to 100 items now formally identified as stolen. Together the images - and the knowledge that many more are to come shortly – chronicle more than 40 years of passionate collecting and only serve to underline Mr Hyams' enormous personal loss.

His knowledge and enthusiasm for 18th century English and Continental porcelain is well known in the upper echelons of the dealing community. His collection – now decimated by the theft – included works from an A-Z of European factories, from Meissen, Vincennes and Du Paquier to Chelsea, Longton Hall, Lund’s Bristol, Vauxhall, Limehouse, Bow and Worcester.

Most of these pieces are easily identifiable but some are iconic factory productions including, from, Vincennes, a 9in (23cm) model of a poodle inscribed Sophie c.1752 and a massive blanc de chine chinoiserie group c.1745, measuring 191/4in (49cm) wide and weighing around 28lbs.

Mr Hyams' Chelsea porcelain holdings included several white glazed wares from the Raised Anchor period including a finch, a matched pair of barn owls, a putto and a pair of crayfish salts.

Some pieces represent relatively recent acquisitions but others had been acquired as long ago as the 1960s when Mr Hyams, a self-made millionaire by his 20s, first began to buy outstanding antiques.

The quality of this connoisseurial collection was highlighted from the outset when Wiltshire Police’s first reports of the theft included an image of a silver-mounted, ebony-veneered barometer by Daniel Delander c.1725. It has emerged that this was one of three barometers taken alongside 16 clocks, many of them outstanding table clocks from the so-called Golden Age of English clockmaking.

Detectives say that the burglars appear to have targeted specific objects. They are looking at the possibility that the break-in could be linked to other recent high-profile country house burglaries. The investigating team are following up a number of lines of enquiry, both nationally and internationally, in the knowledge that many of the items will be extremely difficult to dispose of by sale.

Detective Inspector Watson from Devizes CID is leading the enquiry. Any information should be forwarded to him at Wiltshire Police on 0845 408 7000.