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If there is a cloud in this generally sunny prospect, it is to be found in the disadvantageous dollar rate for Americans who in recent years have been the main factor in burgeoning prices for Royal Doulton figures and jugs.

“They are still making bids but not at the same level,” said Mr Hillier, who saw Royal Doulton as the one area where prices were a little disappointing.

An Australian, however, stepped into the gap left by the Americans to take the top Royal Doulton seller – a character jug of The Juggler (D6835) with a rare colourway which sold on its mid-estimate at £3000.

Among the figures, a multi-coloured, 6 1/4in (16cm) prototype figure of Fisherman Mending His Net led the way selling to the trade well above estimate at £1050, while Leslie Harradine figures of London Cry (HN752), introduced in 1925 and withdrawn in 1938, and Dolly Vardon, (HN1514), 1932-38, went at £1200 and £1000 respectively.

A pair of Royal Doulton Dickens bookends, 4 1/2in (11.5cm) tall figures of Mr Pickwick and Sairy Gamp, were the first such to be offered at the salerooms and went above the £900-1300 estimate to take £1700.

The market in Moorcroft ceramics has generally flattened off after the heady prices of a couple of years ago but the right piece will still sell well.

Here this was a pair of Moorcroft MacIntyre Florianware vases in the Violet pattern on a blue ground. Set apart by their considerable size at 11 3/4in (30cm) and in excellent condition, the signed vases merited a £3000-4000 estimate.

This figure was already exceeded by sale day with a £4800 bid on the books but a buyer new to the rooms (and obviously welcome to return) went the one bid extra to secure the vases at £5000.

The importance of size and a pair was underlined by the following two lots, single signed Florianware vases, the first in blue a with floral decoration, the second decorated in green and gold. Each stood just 4 1/4in (11cm) tall and went fractionally over estimate at £600 and £620 respectively.

Meanwhile, there seems no stopping the Beswick market although Mr Hillier does wonder how long it can keep rising. Star turn in the section was a standing mare, model 818 Skewbald.

Had this 8 1/2in (21cm) tall ’Sixties model been a standard all-brown shire it would, said Mr Hillier, have made about £50. The rare brown and white colourway put it into a different class and against an estimate of £1200-1600 it sold at £2550.

Away from the ceramics, one of the pre-eminent lots of the second day was a piece Mr Hillier came across at an insurance valuation at a local country house. Among what the lady owner described as “a tray of junk” was a Lalique glass mantel clock modelled with budgies – the Inseparables design.

Stamped R. Lalique to the base, the 4 1/4in (11cm) square clock with 2in (5cm) circular dial, had an eight-day movement and trebled the top estimate selling to a private buyer at £3100.

Standard furniture on the second day sold steadily enough with dressers, as expected, leading the way.

A dealer went to £2450 for a George III oak dresser with an eight-shelf rack above four small drawers and a base fitted with seven drawers. It sounded a fine piece but at some point it had been cut down to its present dimensions of 6ft 3in wide and 6ft 1in high (1.90 x 1,85m).

A dresser to go well above hopes was an early 19th century Anglesey oak example with marquetry crossbanding and parquet inlay. Standing 5ft 7in wide by 6ft 11in high (1.70 x 2.11m), it had a three-shelf surmount with acorn finial and a base with six drawers flanked by cupboards. Carrying hopes of up to £1600 it sold at £2100.

Best of the clocks, and doing unexpectedly well for a 30-hour timepiece by a maker unknown to Baillie, was an 18th century oak longcase, 6ft 7 1/2in (2.02m)tall and signed to the brass dial T. Hanley, Rugeley. Estimated at £400-600, it sold at £3500.