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Prevalent at some of the major showground fairs for a number of weeks have been a series of three graduated 'Union Jack' bulldogs – produced in imitation of the patriotic Royal Doulton originals made during the Second World War. The counterfeits carry the circle, lion and crown mark but are lighter in weight than originals and carry a 'weaker' colour scheme. The Union Jack should be a very dark blue and a rich red, not the lighter blue and orange palette which appears on suspect pieces.

BBR Auctions of Elsecar, Yorkshire also contacted the Antiques Trade Gazette with news of a McCallum character jug in a treacle glaze over a white body entered for sale from a North Wales collector along with the story that it had come from a Longton family, whose mother had worked at the Doulton factory. Initially it was thought to be a factory prototype (there was talk of a five-figure sum or even a factory record) but a call from Australia alerted the auctioneer to a number of “difficulties” with the piece which forced a withdrawal from the sale.

Doulton character jugs are slip cast (handles are made separately and applied in the 'green' state) but in this example both handle and body are produced in a two-piece mould with a hollow handle and a visible air hole – a technique employed by the Wade factory who also produced a McCallum jug.

Accordingly, although this piece carries a Doulton backstamp, it is more probably a doctored version of a Wade jug, produced to exploit the premium which collectors place upon unusual or prototype models.

As always, a recognised specialist dealer is the best defence against getting your fingers burnt.