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So it proved at Charles Miller on May 12, when the 1:64 scale, 13ft (4m) long version of the Mauretania sailed to £135,000 against an estimate of £30,000-50,000 thanks to a winning phone bid on behalf of the Pullman Gallery in St James's, London.

That result set a new world record for one of these 20th century builder's models at auction, beating the previous high of £67,000 also achieved by Charles Miller in October 2012 for a model of the Royal Navy torpedo destroyer HMS Marksman.

This 1906 model depicted the transatlantic passenger liner Mauretania  built for Cunard and launched in the same year, making its maiden voyage in 1907. It held the Atlantic Blue Riband for speed until 1929, challenged only by its sister ship, the Lusitania (sunk by a German submarine in 1915). Its last crossing was made in 1934, and it was broken up in 1935.

Until the launch of the RMS Olympic in 1911, the Titanic's sister ship, it was the largest ship in the world.

Museum Interest

The model was originally loaned to the Science Museum in 1938 and was latterly exhibited in the Shipping Gallery (until 2013 when the gallery was closed). It weighs a quarter of a ton in its case and was built by Swan Hunter and Wingham Richardson, Tyne and Wear.

On sale day at the saleroom in west Kensington - where Miller is part of the 25 Blythe Road auction collective - about five phone bidders and three in the room competed but in the end it came down to the phone and a person in the room bidding on behalf of the Merseyside Museum. Maritime specialist Miller says: "We had national and international interest with institutional as well as private bidding culminating in a very strong result for the model.

"We are delighted with the auction overall. The sale included many fine and rare examples of significant maritime vessels and instruments that were highly sought after by collectors and this was reflected in the prices realised."

In April 2010 Miller sold the Leviathan builder's model, which was the same size as the Mauretania.

They are the largest he has ever sold - storage was no problem as it was on view down the road from their Fulham office at the Double Tree Hotel by Hilton at Imperial Wharf. It was on display in a cabinet in the foyer for two months up to the sale.

The buyer's premium was 20%.