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Two items among a 150-lot collection offered at Chilcotts (19.5% buyer’s premium) of Honiton on December 2 underlined the point.

One was a 12¼in (31cm) tall pearlware pair of Isaac Newton and Geoffrey Chaucer, the other a 10in (25cm) tall pair of murderer James Rush and his mistress Emily Stanford on gilt titled bases.

Each estimated at £300-400, they were the highest-estimated pieces in the South Molton collection which attracted Australian and US as well as UK interest and contributed £20,000 to the Devon room’s best-ever total of £144,500.

Part of the 30% of sales which went online, the poet on a repaired base and the scientist, with a damaged telescope, sold to a bidder from Dallas at £1250.

The Rush and Stanford figures were produced immediately after the 1849 trial of the notorious murders at Stanfield Hall. Norfolk tenant farmer and fraudster Rush shot and killed his landlord and the landlord’s son. Stanford, who refused to give him an alibi, was found not guilty. Rush’s notoriety lived on as a Tussaud’s Chamber of Horrors waxwork until 1971.

Nevertheless, the pair are fairly rare and also took £1250, going to a bidder based in the Pacific island of Guam.

“The vendor of the Staffordshire collection was absolutely delighted with the outcome,” said auctioneer Duncan Chilcott, who was doubtless aware that this is, generally speaking, a soft market.

The sale swelled local pride in offering 36 lots from the Honiton Pottery.

Set up in 1918 by Charles Collard (1874-1969), it reached peak production in the 1930s before being sold in 1947.

It remains collectable but a prize among the Chilcott offering was an earlier apprentice piece: a c.1889 tankard signed Charles Collard, Aller Vale, the Kingskerswell pottery where he learned his craft.

The 4¾in (12cm) tall mug decorated with the Persian pattern was estimated at £40-60 (none was rated higher than £70) but sold in the room at £1100.