A Chelsea white model of an owl (circa 1745-49) sold for £40,000, over double its estimated price, at Gloucestershire auction house Chorley’s this month.

The final hammer price realised at the auction was a staggering £500,000, proving that despite the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, Chorley’s continues to be one of the UK’s leading auction houses.

The owl, estimated at £15,000, was one of the stars of the auction which featured an array of rare early British porcelain.

Naturalistically modelled in great detail and perched on a rocky base, the owl was made by the Chelsea porcelain manufactory – England’s first leading porcelain manufactory.

The Chelsea porcelain manufactory was established around 1743-45 and operated independently until 1770. I

Other key lots of the auction included a collection of rare early British porcelain, as well as a large selection of book and maps dating back as early as the 16th Century.

The most notable of which was The Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho, an African (1782) by Charles Ignatius Sancho, the first known Black Briton to vote in England.

The letters detail the fascinating life of the British abolitionist who was born aboard a slave ship in the Atlantic and later went on to become a successful businessman, writer and composer. Sancho’s letters were valued at £200-300 but greatly exceeded this, selling at £3,500.