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Amongst the artists and designers represented are Augustus Pugin, Christopher Dresser and Louis Solon.

They are being advised by auctioneers Bonhams with the aim of conducting a private treaty sale of the archive. Mark Oliver, Bonhams’ director of design who organised an exhibition of highlights from the archive at the auction rooms in New Bond Street several years ago, described the collection as “one of the most important ceramic archives in the world”.

Together, Doulton and the auction house are attempting to find a British institutional home for the entire archive to be displayed in its entity for the first time not only for historians but also for the wider public.

Bonhams have previous experience of working with Royal Doulton, selling ceramics from Doulton’s own holdings including a major auction in 2002 of pieces from the Minton Museum collection.

“We are delighted that the archive can now be offered a home in a single location,” said a Royal Doulton spokesperson.

By Anne Crane