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This underglaze blue decorated English soft-paste porcelain mug sold for £18,000 (plus 20% premium) at Stacey’s in Rayleigh, Essex, on September 18.

The 6in (15cm) high mug, which was discovered in a local routine probate assessment, is painted with the armorial of the Worshipful Company of Tylers and Bricklayers, as well as two figures of men and classical architectural ornament. The base features the initials MWE and date Jan’ 1757.

There had been some discussion prior to sale regarding its attribution but a consensus emerged that it was from the Bow factory.

The year 1757 was close to the factory’s high point, when 300 persons employed, 90 of whom were painters, all under one roof at the ‘New Canton’ site east of the River Lea. The mug, with some rim chips and a cracked handle, was estimated at £600-1000.

It attracted six phone bidders and an underbidder in the room.