They were catalogued as 17th or 18th century in date and wearing contemporary dress, and came with the following provenance: ‘purchased from the property of the English princess Margaret 50 years ago in Stuttgart; Austrian private collection’.
Bidding started at €5000 at the auction on June 23 but in the next few minutes the price soared to no less than €210,000 (£187,500), with the hammer falling to an English bidder.
It is possible that the figures are of English origin and were perhaps made as historical models intended for adults, rather than as toys, royal portrait figures such as these being popular subjects from the early 18th century.
Another British buyer secured a 17in (44cm) high silver-gilt and enamelled reliquary in gothic architectural form, which was catalogued as ‘German 16th/19th century’.
Part of its attraction was its provenance: in December 1966, it had been sold in Paris as part of the Collection du Baron James de Rothschild. Against a guide of €15,000-25,000 the hammer fell at €40,000 (£35,715).