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Bay of Naples potlid – £2200 at Historical & Collectable.

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This was underlined at veteran specialist Andrew Hilton’s latest biannual sale at Historical & Collectable Auctions (17.5% buyer’s premium). Only one of the 564 lots – 405 Staffordshire potlids plus various commemorative ceramics – failed to sell at the November 17 sale near Reading which totalled £71,500.

All estimates were tempting, in line with Hilton’s policy, but the best-seller, a prattware lid showing the Bay of Naples, was a genuine surprise.

Estimated at £180-220, the lid sold at £2200 to an American collector well known to the rooms as a buyer of lids depicting bears, but this time it was a case of see Naples and buy.

Other top-sellers included How I Love to Laugh, a gold-rimmed portrait of a cheerful fat-faced fellow in red scarf and green jacket, which took £2100 (estimate £800-1600). Pet Rabbits, a mother and daughters outside a rustic cottage looking at the pets, made £2000 (estimate £400- 600), while Belle Vue Tavern with Cart, thought to be unique in depicting the cart without the usual Tatnell name, sold at a mid-estimate £1900.

“Top items are selling well,” said Hilton. “At the other end of the market, lids selling at £20 were making £40 in the 1970s [about £220 in today’s terms].

“As in most markets, there is a limited number of top-end collectors and when they have got all they want, the market sinks until newcomers arrive.”

Early stoneware on the rise

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C.1720 stoneware tankard – £1700.

An area on the rise, says Hilton, is early stoneware such as the tankard shown above.

The 7in (18cm) tall vessel made at the Vauxhall factory c.1720 was applied with a moulded portrait medallion of Queen Anne flanked by animals, buildings and trees.

Crudely incised 3pt beneath the strap handle, it sold to a collector at a mid-estimate £1700.