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Made less than 100 years ago and comprising more than 10% elephant ivory, they fail to qualify for any of the proposed exceptions.

However, until the legislation becomes law (and a judicial review and the ongoing distraction of Brexit will doubtless add to the delay) these much-coveted works continue to command substantial but reduced sums at auction.

Spring in her step

This risqué 13in (33cm) model by Ferdinand Preiss is known as Spring Awakening. It is particularly unusual in this blue-tinted colouring.

It was brought into Barbara Kirk’s (15% buyer’s premium) rooms in Penzance after being rejected by the representative of a London auction house.

Examples of Spring Awakening have included a c.1925 model sold at £21,000 hammer at Bonhams in 2016 and another, c.1930, which made $41,000 (then about £26,000) at Christie’s New York in 2011.

However, the Cornish example suffered the drawback of lacking both of her ivory hands –“just empty sleeves”, said Kirk, who decided on a £2000-3000 estimate while hoping for more at the July 16 sale.

It drew interest from Russia, South Africa and the UK before selling to a Continental buyer at £13,400.

Somerset figures

Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson remains a market of its own, appealing to an established core of collectors, many of whom seldom stray too far beyond the adzed oak of Kilburn.

Some juicy prices have emerged of late for ‘prime period’ pieces, capped at £10,000 by a pair of elephant bookends sold by Lawrences (25% buyer’s premium) of Crewkerne on July 4.

At this price they outplayed two typical Art Deco bronze and ivory figures c.1935. First up was a female javelin thrower signed to the onyx base for Preiss, followed by the Seated Violinist signed by Paul Philippe.

Both sold at £8000 apiece. At a higher point of the market versions of these textbook models have sold for twice as much.

Doulton rarities


Charles Noke Piper Minstrel figure – £650 at Lawrences of Crewkerne.

The fall in prices of Royal Doulton figures has been equally well documented but rarities buck the trend.

The large 14in (35cm) Moorish figure, titled to the base The Piper Minstrel, Potted by Doulton & Co, HN 301, was designed by Charles Noke and issued in only small numbers from 1918-38.

This example had repaired damage to its base but sold at £650 against a £60-100 estimate.