Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

Prices, when contrasted to in-demand 20th century material, make for sobering reading for vendors – albeit being encouraging information for buyers and the few collectors coming into the market.

“It was a mix of private collectors and dealers who were doing the buying, but all were being very selective,” said auctioneer Chris Large after the April 26-27 sale at Peter Wilson (20% buyer’s premium) in Nantwich.

Most of the 18th century English names were represented by coffee cups. The selection included a Worcester example c.1753 painted across a ribbed body with flowers and insects (£900) and another by the Bow factory c.1755, painted with floral sprays, which sold at a more modest £90.

From the Caughley factory, a c.1780 cup and saucer printed with the Bridge and Windmill pattern went above estimate to £400. It had a minor footrim chip to the saucer.

Prices for such venerable survivors have been put into focus by the recent rise in 20th century ceramics.

Along with her associate Hans Coper, Dame Lucie Rie remains the major name even for minor pieces such as the 2¾in (7cm) tall brown-glazed cup and saucer offered by the saleroom.

With scratched line decoration and impressed monograms, the lot was estimated at £300-400 but sold at £2200.