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Although the maker of these pieces is unknown, Coysh and Henrywood's Dictionary of Blue and White Printed Pottery 1780-1880 attribute the source of many of these arctic views (nine are recorded in total) to John Franklin's Narrative of a Journey to the Shores of the Polar Sea in the years 1819 to 1822, published in 1823.

The animal portraits to the borders, including big cats and humming birds, are less than typical polar species but impressive nonetheless.

Such is the desirability of this pattern, particularly among collectors of polar exploration material, that four phone bidders competed this pair well when they were offered by  Richard Winterton (15% buyer's premium) in Lichfield on January 7, and they were taken above the £80-120 estimate that would have more than sufficed for two more typical transfer printed dishes.

A UK bidder eventually secured them at £1450.

This sale, held against the backdrop of snowbound Britain, was also notable for the small collection of Mouseman furniture consigned by St Joseph's Convent near Tamworth, where they had resided since the early 1930s. As detailed on the front page of last week's issue, enthusiastic bidding took the seven lots to £25,000.