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Wall plaque designed by the multi-talented Lucien Boullemier for the Maling factory on Tyneside which sold for £650 at Boldon Auction Galleries on June 5.

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However, the 12½in (32cm) diameter wall plaque offered at Boldon Auction Galleries (17.5% buyer’s premium) on June 5 was something of a rarity with local appeal: it was among the more deluxe pieces designed by the multi-talented Lucien Boullemier (1877-1949) for the Maling factory on Tyneside.

Although estimated at just £50-80 (prices for many more pedestrian Maling wares have tumbled across the past decades), it it sold very well to a local private buyer at £650.

It is little known that in the early part of his career Boullemier, the son of the celebrated French decorator Antonin Boullemier who had left the Sèvres factory for Stoke-on-Trent after the Siege of Paris, played top-flight turn-of-the-century football in England and in the US.

After a stint with Philadelphia Hibernian FC, he returned to England in 1905, first to follow his father at Minton, then to head up the decorating department at Maling where he introduced a range of upmarket designs into the mass-market range.

Most famous hangman 

Top-seller of the day was a collection of items belonging to Britain’s most famous hangman, Albert Pierrepoint (1905-92).

It included a plaster cast of Pierrepoint’s face and hands, his notebooks with details of the condemned prisoners pertinent to hanging them, his official ledger, letters, photographs and personal items belonging to him, his father Henry and his Uncle Thomas, who were both hangmen.

The collection (that had failed to sell with slightly higher expectations at an earlier auction appearance in Sussex) sold on the lower-estimate £20,000 to a local collector.