Measuring a massive 15in (38cm) across, the large pachyderm is modelled standing four-square, its trunk curled to the right and a gentle expression on its face. A cover with a double row of apertures for the smoke to escape allows it to function as a censer.
Once possibly covered in a cold-painted decoration, the base is inscribed with lines of calligraphy possibly the names of the worshippers at a temple who commissioned the piece for local community use. Similar inscriptions appear to the Kakiemon model of a lion dog offered to the Sonobe Shinto shrine in 1692.
This elephant, from a private collection in Suffolk, shared the same thick, bluish glaze and deep firing faults with a 2ft 4in (70cm) model of a seated deer sold by the auction house in June 2000 from the collection of Lord and Lady Broughton, 3rd Baron Fairhaven of Anglesey, in Cambridge. It had made £11,500.
The W&W elephant, with its obvious condition issues, was guided at £1000-2000 for the auction on November 22, but did much better, selling at £24,000.