The central element of the three-piece garniture sold at Essex auctioneers Staceys for £14,500.

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Apparently in the same family for at least three generations, the vases are of a very similar design to that shown by the Munich retailers Steigerwald at the Masterpieces of Industrial Art & Sculpture International Exhibition in 1862.

Offered on August 9, the three vases were not in perfect condition - one of the smaller 13in (33cm) high examples was badly cracked and many of the glass dowels that held the handles in place had broken - but at their estimate of £1500-2500 they attracted interest from six telephone bidders.

These included a glass museum from New York and a significant London museum but it was bought by a private buyer in France at £14,500 (plus 16 per cent buyer's premium).