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Following the lead of the Imperial Porcelain Manufactory, the Gardner factory in Moscow began production of a series of porcelain figures based on idealised Russian characters – typically peasants, vendors, tradesmen and other lower-class craftsmen and manufacturers.

Together they presented a romantic image of old Russia and the different ethnic groups who lived in the empire. They are widely collected today across the countries that made up the former USSR, as evidenced by two examples sold recently.

A group of 11 Gardner figures was offered at Adam’s (25% buyer’s premium inc VAT) in Dublin on June 30. Estimated at €1000-1500 each, they sold for between €3600-6000 (£3210-5360) apiece, the latter sum purchasing a 7in (18cm) figure of a cheesemonger and a similar-sized figure of a woodcutter.

Vodka vendor

The larger 10in (25cm) figure of a street vendor selling vodka c.1850 formed part of the Mellors & Kirk sale on June 26 (see main story this week).

It was not in good condition – the cover of the barrel was broken and restuck and there were other chips – but it improved on hopes of £200-300 to bring £4800.