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Admiral Lord Rodney toby jug, c.1785 – £65,000 at Bonhams.

It sold for £65,000 (plus 27.5/25% buyer’s premium) as part of a Chicago collection in London.

The 11½in (29cm) high jug, from the so-called Midshipman family of Staffordshire wares, is attributed to the Foley potter Jacob Marsh whose name appears on two other known examples.

A dozen such Rodney jugs, the largest models in the Midshipman group, are recorded. Two of them, sold at auction in Sotheby’s and Phillips in 1967 and 1989 respectively, are inscribed J Marsh Folley which is thought to be for the Foley-based Staffordshire potter Jacob Marsh to whom this group is attributed.

The jug appeared in a December 15 sale which included a 38-lot collection of Staffordshire pottery toby jugs.

Not only did all bar two lots sell, the collection provided five of the sale’s highest prices.

The collection had been assembled by the late James and Timmey Challenger of Chicago over a period of some years. Some of the couple’s examples had been acquired directly at auction, others via the trade.

“There was a mixture of dealers and collectors buying the jugs… Many of the dealers were bidding on most lots but were often pipped to the post by collectors,” said Bonhams’ specialist Jim Peake.

In terms of nationality, UK and US buyers were major players (the toby jugs market being very much UK centred) but, interestingly, Peake noted that they did have a few buyers and bidders from Portugal.

“The Portuguese made many fine toby jugs to emulate the English versions in the late 18th and early 19th century and there is a dedicated following of collectors of Portuguese jugs over there where they can make many thousands of euros in Portuguese auctions.”

Read about more ceramics highlights from the Bonhams sale in this week's issue.