A pair of marble busts are due to go under the hammer – but this doesn’t mean they are to be demolished! Instead, they will be included in Chilcotts Auctioneers’ September 23 sale.

The busts graced the entrance to the Honiton Pottery since they were installed in the 1930s by the business’s second owner, Charles Collard. Although the pottery was opened in 1881 by James Webber, it was Collard who built it up into a world-renowned business, with its innovative and instantly recognisable designs becoming highly sought after.

Although there were originally four busts, just three remained when Paul Redvers took over in the 1960s. Of the two to be sold at Chilcotts, one is estimated at between £1,500 to £2,000 and the other, in less pristine condition is valued at £200 to £300.

The superior bust has the inscription ‘Baily 1830’ on the back and may well have been sculpted by Edward Hodges Baily. A member of the Royal Academy of Arts, Baily created many portraits, statues and busts from 1821 onwards, including the statue of Nelson in Trafalgar Square.

Auctioneer, Duncan Chilcott said: “It’s been fascinating to muse on the reason the marble busts were installed in the first place, as they don’t really represent the idea of a pottery.

“There’s a theory suggesting that these imposing heads were put there purely to impress VIP visitors, such as the Egyptian Ambassador who moved from London to Luppitt during the Second World War.”

It’s known that the Ambassador purchased tableware from the pottery for his own use. When he married a local woman, Patricia Priest, he invited King Zog of Albania and Queen Geraldine and is believed to have presented them with a personalised Honiton Pottery tea set.

In the book ‘Collard the Honiton & Dorset Potter’ by Carol & Chris Cashmore is a press cutting about the reopening of the pottery after the war: ‘A gateway flanked by two busts is the entrance to a small oasis for the austerity-tired, for in the sun-brightened showrooms of the Honiton Potteries, Devon, are shelves of delightful, coloured and dainty articles ranging from ash trays to large decorative vases and wall plates.’

“Perhaps someone has a gateway that they’d also like to make more impressive for VIP visitors! But, wherever the busts end up, we hope they stay in public view,” added Duncan.

Also included in the sale are some pieces of Honiton pottery, including large and early pieces, such as chargers, by Charles Collard.

The Ceramics, Pictures & Works of Art; Good Antiques & 20th Century Design sale opens for viewing at the Dolphin Saleroom in Honiton High Street from September 16 and the auction begins at 10am on September 23.