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Carvings of heavyweights Edward Bright and Daniel Lambert – £2800 together at Lockdales.

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All standing between about 11-17in (28-44cm) tall, including plinths, they were offered in 50 lots with expectations around £3000 at the February 17 Lockdales (18% buyer’s premium) sale in Ipswich.

However, they sold to private enthusiasts for more than £15,000 hammer.

Each was engraved to the base describing the historic character they represented and signed for maker H [arold] Pepper who died some years ago.

Often with an East Anglian link, and based on contemporaneous prints, these included pirates, witches, martyrs, scientists and adventurers.

But Pepper had a predilection for figures renowned for being the tallest, smallest or, in the case of the best-sellers, the fattest of their age.

The heavyweight on the left depicts Essex grocer Edward Bright, the Fat Man of Maldon, 1721-50, who weighed 43.5 stone (276kg). After he died of typhoid the wall of his house had to be knocked down to enable the coffin to be taken by carriage to All Saints Churchyard 100 yards away.

Fat of the land

His Fattest-Man-in-Britain title was later taken by Daniel Lambert (1780-1809), right, keeper of Leicester Jail and renowned sporting animals expert. In 1806 he made a small fortune displaying himself around England and in London, where he became something of a society darling.

Three years later he died suddenly in Stamford, weighing 52 stone 11 lbs (335kg).

Both men’s fame lives on in their areas – Bright has a pictorial brass plaque in Maldon High Street and Lambert, noted the Leicester Mercury in 2009, remains “one of the city’s most cherished icons”.

At Ipswich, the two were estimated at £40-60 and sold to a collector of Edward Bright memorabilia at £2800.