One of the pair of Qianlong figures of golden pheasants sold for £170,000 at Plymouth Auction Rooms.

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The glazed famille rose enamel birds had suffered some damage, with one beak rebuilt and one tail broken, but were a striking model, vibrantly decorated and a good size at 15in (39cm) high.

Estimated at a mere £800-1000 at the sale on November 4, they attracted interest from specialists in Belgium, Paris, Portugal and London.

They were won at £170,000 (plus 18 per cent buyer's premium) by a Continental collector, who was underbid by Cohen & Cohen. The price was a house record for the auctioneers - their previous high was £32,000 for a George III gold pattern two pence coin, sold in 2008.