Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

Billie Pain chose her collection very carefully. She went for choice pieces from the early years of English
porcelain production and importantly was very fussy about condition.

Accordingly, the sale had been keenly awaited by collectors and they were determined to pull out all the stops to gain ownership of its highlights. As a result, the best pieces were pursued not just well past what were generally viewed as attractively pitched estimates but to levels that left them far behind. The Chelsea milk jug pictured right, which was illustrated on the cover of the catalogue and provided the top price of the day, was a case in point.

The little 31/4in (8cm) high piece, which dates from c.1750, has charming decoration by Jeffreys Hamett O’Neale of a stag and doe prancing in a landscape. It was
estimated at £12,000-14,000, but ended up selling for £31,000. It was secured by a London dealer bidding over the phone who held out against an almost equally determined man at the back of the room who had already seen off another phone competitor.

Any other number of dramatic prices were obtained during the course of the day-long sale (as well as some more predictable results for less exceptional items).