Hugo Lonitz pair of owls – £11,500 at Mitchells.

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Lonitz exhibited at several of the 19th century international shows.

A cataloguer to the 1876 International Exhibition in Philadelphia described Lonitz’s majolica as follows: Hugo Lonitz, Neuhaldensleben; near Magdeburg, Prussia. Exhibits a collection of animals and animal heads—some of them life-size, for wall and other decorations, as horses, dogs, deer, wild boar, etc. Some of these are artistically modelled and expressive, and coloured with judgment.

Typical of the wares one might have encountered at the Lonitz stand is this pair of models of owls, each standing 15in (38cm) high. They emerged for sale at Mitchells (20% buyer’s premium) in Cockermouth on September 4-6 where – despite some minor faults to the extremities – the pair took £11,500 from a US buyer.

The price was many times the estimate of £400-600 but then just a single figure of the long-eared owl had sold for $15,750 when offered by majolica specialists Strawsers in Indiana in 2013.

“Our best sale total in recent years,” was the assessment of auctioneer Mark Wise following the £410,000 raised at the 1900- lot three-day event.