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The decoration to this 3½in (8cm) Worcester crescent-marked mug c.1770-76 is most unusual – possibly unique. Hand painted in underglaze blue it includes a coat of arms – a talbot passant atop a torse – above the initials J.P.’W. The boldly painted hound is incontestably male.

It was perhaps a special commission in the manner of a series of four surviving ‘George and the Dragon’ mugs made for Ann Dunn of Birmingham and dated 1776. One of these mugs, that were possibly made for a tavern, was offered as part of the Billie Pain collection at Bonhams in 2003 and sold for £7500.

The JPW mug came for sale in remarkably good condition at Belfast saleroom Ross’s Auctioneers on September 12 with little in the way of family history or financial expectations. The tempting estimate of just £60-80 was considerably less than the price of the most routine transfer printed Dr Wall period mug.

It attracted huge interest from the dealing and collecting community before selling at £7400 (plus buyer’s premium).