Was this a case of one crazy bidder chasing another? No, it was not. Rather, there were two close underbidders, as well as some serious mid-level bidding.
In building my collection, I have always bought ordinary subjects only when they are of stunning quality--and I have always been more than ready to pay the price premium for that quality. I thought I was a lone soul here, but clearly, other people felt the same way on eBay last night. Reassuring to know that there are others with my mindset.
A tithe pig group is a relatively ordinary---or at least well-known---figure model. There are umpteen varieties. So if you want one, you should try to find the very best one you can find. I have one that I bought with just this mindset many years ago, and last night other collectors did the same thing. Congratulations to the new owner. His/her new acquisition will give him/her a life-time of pleasure, while the price will fade from memory.
This tithe pig group is attributable to the Leather Leaf Group.
See Vol. 1 of Staffordshire Figures 1780-1840 for info on Leather Leaf attribution.
Vol. 2 has a chapter showing multiple tithe pig models.