Liverpool creamware transfer-printed frog mug produced by the Herculaneum factory c.1830-33 – £2200 at Tennants.

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To the exterior of the 4¾in (12cm) mug is George Stephenson’s Rocket, the only one of five locos to complete the mile course, and his Northumbrian, a second model which was actually used when the Liverpool and Manchester Railway line opened a year later.

The interior, as well as a crouching frog, shows carriages, scenes of Liverpool and the Braithwaite & Ericsson loco The Novelty. It had been the fastest engine at Rainhill but broke down.

Rare buying opportunity

Only a handful of these rare mugs have appeared for sale in recent years. Damaged examples sold for £420 and £950 when Mallams dispersed the Captain Hugh Vivian collection of railway ceramics in 2014, while another took £1400 at Peter Wilson in Nantwich in November 2008.

Bringing considerably more was this well-preserved example offered at Tennants (20% buyer’s premium) in Leyburn on January 8.

Pitched at £500-700, it sold at £2200.