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Estimated at £400-600, the group of 14 figures of peasants in traditional costume was catalogued as ‘late 19th century’.

However, the figures appeared to be in the manner of the Gardner Porcelain Factory and may well have an earlier date.

The factory dates back to 1766 when the English entrepreneur, Francis Gardner, established a porcelain manufactory in Verbilki, near Moscow – at the time it was the only porcelain factory in Russia other than the Imperial Porcelain Factory which worked solely for the royal court.

Among the most popular ranges made by Gardner during the early to mid-19th century were figures of ordinary Russians including peasants and street characters.

Such figures are not uncommon on the market in the UK nowadays, usually fetching four-figure sums for individual examples with rarer figures making substantially more.

Two Gardner figures of a coachman and a berry picker dating from c.1830-40 for example sold for £5500 at Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood in October last year.

While the set at Tennants did not appear to be impressed with a factory mark or incised with an identifiable number, it was unusual to see a large group offered together in a single lot.

Bidders were clearly prepared to overlook a few condition issues, including a few pieces with missing fingers, as multiple parties were prepared to go to considerable lengths to acquire them.

The winning bid of £190,000 came from an online bidder.