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They were consigned by a local collector who, with his late wife, put the collection together over some 20-30 years, and it emerged from packing cases in his attic often still with their receipts.

Only three items, all relatively modern, failed at the January 24 sale at Battle.

The rest all went to Hungary.

Saleroom visitors

“A few bidders had travelled from Hungary for the sale,” said auctioneer Mark Ellin. “One bidder was on the phone throughout that section but most bids came online. As soon as I asked for an opening bid the internet leapt in, and every single bid showed HUN as the origin.”

In love, then, but not blindly. Modern reproduction items are available on very tight budgets, such as a 6in (15cm) tall figure with a green Eosin glaze which sold at £40.

Vilmos Zsolnay founded the factory in 1853 but today its most keenly sought products are the Art Nouveau (or more accurately Vienna Secession) pieces made after Zsolnay perfected the iridescent Eosin glaze in 1898.

At Battle, the top-seller was a pair of late 19th century 2ft tall x 16in wide (60 x 40cm) vases painted and gilded with arabesque designs and with pierced wing-shaped handles.

They took £10,200 against an estimate of £1500-2000.

A reminder that Zsolnay had its admirers in the UK, prepared to spend well long before Hungarians could begin to claim it back, was the fact that the vases had cost the consignor £3000 back in the 1970s.

Expected to sell well, and doing so, was a porcelain centrepiece illustrated above, formed as a gilded brass carriage drawn by a pair of griffons.

Measuring 14½in high (37cm) overall on its brass plinth, the centrepiece bore marks for 1890-1900 and sold just above top hopes at £3200.