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Decorated in typical palettes of turquoise, iron red and green with panels of dragons and chrysanthemum on unglazed ‘fish roe’ ground and the neck with birds in flight over waves, the tankard measured 51/2in (14cm) high and dated to 1670 or thereabouts.

The vendors’ mother had acquired it from Ettington Hall half a century ago and, considering that Sotheby’s in 1969 was the last time that an example had appeared on the open market, collectors were not going to overlook this opportunity.

Rather surprisingly there was a distinct lack of interest from the trade, which left Guildford dealer Richard Barker battling with a persistent collector in the saleroom before securing the tankard on behalf of the Ashmolean Museum at £21,000 (plus 15 per cent buyer’s premium).