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His name first appears in the Minton records in October 1873 and is listed up until 1876. During those three years in the Potteries he produced some of the factory’s finest animal models, ones that lent themselves perfectly to majolica glazes.

Some, such as the heron or the peacock, are well known. Others, such as this rare walking stick stand offered by Denhams (20% buyer’s premium) in Warnham, near Horsham, on February 28, seldom appear for sale.

Standing 2ft 9in (84cm) high, and modelled as a fallow deer standing beside the trunk of an oak, it includes both the impressed model number 2077 and the signature P Comolera. It is one of only a handful of Minton pieces to carry his name. Denhams had found this rarity in a lean-to greenhouse in Surrey.

Under a covering of leaves and cobwebs, it was badly damaged. As well as multiple chips to the extremities, the back right leg was broken (with a piece missing) and one ear was detached.

However, there were many takers at the estimate of £2000-3000, particularly from the French bidders who dominated the bank of phone lines.

The French collector who won at £17,000 said they were overjoyed with the purchase: they had been looking for an example of this model for 20 years.

Another example of the model is illustrated by Paul Atterbury and Maureen Batkin in The Dictionary of Minton. In better condition, it was sold by Bonhams in 2006 for £14,000.