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UK: PERHAPS the most encouraging aspect of this catalogue was the sustained demand for the mid-range late 18th/early 19th century pottery and porcelain which traditionally provides the weaker aspects of the marketplace. An 80 per cent success rate was much improved.

Neither was there a shortage of funds available for a number of heavyweight entries, including a rare mid-18th century lead-glazed redware teapot and cover, 71/2in (19cm) wide, modelled as a recumbent camel supporting a howdah moulded with panel of Oriental pavilions and figures.

This particular form c.1760 is relatively common in white saltglaze but examples recorded in this redware body are few and far between.

The estimate of £3000-5000 should have proved adequate for an example in saltglaze but – despite some rim chipping and repairs to the handle and cover – this lot was competed by the usual suspects among the London trade to £11,500.
The same buyer was the purchaser of a Prattware plaque, 73/4in (19.5cm), depicting the Death of Wolfe – the pick of a single-owner collection of late 18th/early 19th century reliefs. The composition to this plaque – drawn from the ‘modern history’ painting exhibited by Benjamin West to much acclaim at the Royal Academy in 1770 – appears to be pretty scarce. Estimated at £500-700, this example with a restored rim chip realised £3000.

Choice porcelain entry was provided by two Bow porcelain groups c.1758, each modelled as scantily draped putto seated on the back of a leopard and a lion, 6in (15cm) high. The unlikely palate (which saw one of the pair with purple hair on a purple lion) distanced this duo from other examples of this well-recorded model but appeared to count in their favour. Some restoration and small chips failed to restrain a Canadian trade bidder who parted with a treble estimate £3600.

Unlike other areas of the catalogue, the 20th century featured heavily during the ceramics – and specifically a small collection of the charming figure groups produced by Charles Vyse from his workshop in Chelsea during the 1920s and ’30s.

The market for these stylish porcelain figures appears to operate on much the same basis as Royal Doulton HN figures (for whom Vyse designed). If I remember correctly, Halls of Shrewsbury established a saleroom high for these models back in February 1997 when a group of a stern-faced Victorian mother and child entitled Barnet Fair was competed to £4800.

The seven Vyse figures which sold this time, illustrated middle right, were (clockwise from top left): In Petticoat Lane – £1700 (estimate £700-900), Scarecrow – £3600 (est. £700-900), Morning Ride – £600 (est. £600-800), The Gypsies – £2600 (est. £1000-1500), The Clown – £4600 (est. £800-1200), Market Day, Boulogne – £1800 (est. £700-900, and The Madonna of the Racecourse – £1600 (est. £700-1000).