Mason’s ironstone stilton cheese bell, £3600 at Gorringe’s.

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The famous red, gold and blue-decorated ‘Patent Ironstone China’ first made by Charles James Mason in 1813 and a factory staple throughout the 19th century, was the peak of collecting fashion in the 1980s and 90s but has fallen away in the 21st century.

The classic ‘hydra’ jugs in particular now bring very modest sums.

There are, however, still collectors prepared to pay for rarities from the first period of production.

Two fine lots made multi-estimate sums at regional auctions in July.

Cheese bell

Offered at Gorringe’s (25% buyer’s premium) in Lewes on July 3 was a stilton cheese bell, c.1820, standing an imposing 18in (46cm) high and decorated with a simple Imari style design. The base has a pair of stylised dragon handles decorated in green and yellow.

It’s a rare form but as recently as 2021 one sold for around £500. The example pictured top, guided at £150-200, took £3600.

Wine coolers


One of a pair of Mason’s ironstone wine coolers, £3100 at Bishop & Miller.

Less than a fortnight later, a pair of slightly later 19th century Mason’s ironstone wine coolers was offered by Bishop & Miller (25/12% buyer’s premium) in Glandford, near Holt.

The 10in (25cm) high duo with similar dragon handles was part of the contents of Ubbeston Hall Farm in Halesworth, Suffolk offered for sale on July 12. Guided at £200-300, they took £3100.