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The nation's favourite antiques experts. One big challenge.
Who will make the most profit buying and selling antiques, as they drive around the jolly old UK?
Is that your very best you can do?
At the end of their trip, they should have made some big money,
but it's not as easy as it sounds.
Only one will be crowned champion at the final auction in London.
This is the Antiques Road Trip.
This week, it's the turn of former PE teacher Philip Serrell,
now an established auctioneer and valuer in Worcester.
There's only one idiot in the world who is going to do a deal with you on that - and he has just walked in.
He's passionate about home-grown Worcester porcelain.
His strategy for the road trip?
The point is to buy something to sell on.
If you buy what you like, there is a fair chance other people will like it.
Philip's opponent is the baby in the team, Charles Hanson.
They call me Hawkeye Hanson, you see, so obviously it's trying to look here, there and everywhere.
He's an up-and-coming auctioneer from Derbyshire, with a penchant for history. What's his game plan?
It is very much buying for a commercial market,
knowing what sells well in sale rooms across the UK,
looking at things which we know will make a profit.
Their road trip is taking them from North Wales all the way to Devon.
In today's programme, they're taking the scenic route, from Llandudno
to auction in Birmingham, via the historic market town of Conwy.
En route, you pay a toll to help preserve the nature reserve.
Thank you very much, sir.
And the heritage coastline is well worth the money, with its stupendous limestone headland,
known as the Great Orme, which is Viking for "serpent". Rawgh!
Just a few miles further on, is the walled town of Conwy.
Its magnificent fortified castle was built in the 13th century
and continues to dominate this classic little medieval town.
Each expert is starting with £200.
Charles, eager to get going, has spotted his first shop, so Philip's heading off on his own.
This dealer specialises in Welsh clocks, but there are plenty of other goodies to catch the eye.
I love this wonderful big Staffordshire pottery, twin-handled loving cup.
-It's a fabulous example, isn't it?
-Yes, it is indeed.
-And we've got two frogs in here, as well.
The frogs at the bottom were a humorous Victorian device to suggest you'd had enough ale.
You were seeing things - and it was time to go home! Hic!
This must be 160 years old.
I would have thought so, yes. I would have said Victorian.
Philip's popping back across the Conwy estuary to Deganwy,
where there's a shop that might just float his boat.
With his collection of traditional wooden toy yachts, known as pond yachts,
and plenty of other quirky nautical knick-knacks,
New Zealand-born Noel Jamieson is a man after Philip's heart.
-You have some great things in here.
I love pond yachts, I've always loved pond yachts. Tell me about this one.
It's probably 1930s, that one.
-How much is it?
-I'm asking 600 for that.
Yeah, well, I can't say I blame you for that.
The only problem I have got, my pockets don't stretch that far.
I quite like this mirror here.
It's got a real seaside feel that one, isn't it?
It's like me, mate, it's seen better days.
It's a bit tired, isn't it? And how much is that?
25 would be a nice price for that.
-Is that for you or for me?
You've got such an eclectic mix of things, haven't you?
Is this all your taste?
I suppose it is, really. I only buy what I like.
Finding it is like half the job, selling it is the other half.
So, yeah, if someone likes what I like, all the better.
I love your pond yachts, but they're a bit rich for my pocket. Have you got any others?
-I have got a few that need a bit of work on, mind.
-Oh, go on, then.
What do you think of that one?
What's nice about this one is it has its age on.
They are the original sails, and you can see it was used by a boy or something like that.
What's that on the bottom? HRR?
-Is that the owner?
-That would be the owner's initials, no doubt.
15, 6, of the 11.
The rudder's fallen off. You can do a bit of work with that sail, fitting it properly again.
Not a lot of work, and it's a nice thing.
How much is that one?
I think that's worth 50.
While our ancient mariner ponders over a toy yacht called Doris,
Charles is bounding around town, keen to spend some cash.
-A Davenport. Named after a certain Captain Davenport.
This is a small desk with a sloping hinged top that lifts up to reveal a storage space and drawers.
But here, it's in disguise.
-Can I say something ?
-It's not a Davenport.
-Is it not? Oh no, it's a desk, it's a wash stand.
-Isn't that unusual?
-Yes, it is, I've never seen one before.
Do you know what that was made for?
-No, tell me.
-It was made for boats.
-Was it, really?
-Yes. Very unusual, isn't it?
Nine people out of ten think it's a Davenport, because it looks...
You would think the top would lift and you'd have your pen divisions in there. But it is completely vacant.
-They used to put the water in there.
-Isn't it interesting? Is that something native to...?
Well, to be perfectly frank with you, I've been dabbling in this business for 40 years,
-and that's the first one that I've ever seen.
Interesting, isn't it?
I'm going to be realistic, I think in the current auction market today,
if that came into my auction rooms in the Midlands and I valued it,
I'd perhaps suggest to a client its market worth on a really good day could be up to £100.
But my guide price might be between 50 and 100.
Be honest with me, I will make you an offer of...
-Really? Really? Thanks, Ken.
-I'll take it!
-60 quid! Should turn in a nice little profit on that.
Meanwhile, Philip's reflecting on his seafaring collectibles.
What I'm thinking of doing is perhaps if I could buy the both of these off you.
I think they might make a nice little lot in the sale.
How much was the mirror, again?
-And the little pond yacht?
I'd like 50 for that.
-So, for the two, it's £75.
-Yes, that's right.
I think that's too much.
If I'm buying mean, I think that's worth £30 and I think this is worth a tenner.
Because this, it's been totally unloved, I've got to rebuild it, put some polish into it.
I think the mirror you could live with, but I think that I'm looking at £30 and £10.
What was my price?
It was 50 and 25. 75 against 40.
Halfway would be...
Yeah, my maths ain't that good, Noel. I mean, for me,
halfway between 40 and 75, is 45.
I was never that good at maths, it's been a failing all my life. Go on, £45 and I'll have the two.
If you make it 50, we've got a deal.
You're a hard man, Noel, you're a hard, hard man. I'm a poor innocent.
I'm a generous man, to be honest.
-Knew you could, matey. Thank you.
But Philip's not leaving quite yet.
He wants that mirror ship-shape before he takes it to auction.
Come on, make yourself useful. You start buffing up the other side.
Dear me, stood there doing nothing.
-This is what they elbow grease, isn't it?
I think that's what they call taking liberties, me!
If I don't make any money, I'll come back and see you.
Back to Conwy to pick up Charles.
HORN BEEPS Come on, Charlie!
-How are you, Charles, all right?
-Enjoying it? It's hard work, though, isn't it?
-Yeah, it is.
-And the strong arm of the law appears from nowhere
-Can you move your vehicle, please?
Yes. Do you want me to pull out after you or before you?
That'll teach Philip about dodgy parking.
Struggling with the seatbelt, hold on a sec.
Quick getaway required, and an escape from the cloudy weather.
Off along the coast to Penmaenmawr, or Pen, for short.
They say it was William Gladstone's favourite holiday spot,
and it's where the man who claims to have the biggest antiques stock in North Wales has his shop.
Mick King's been a dealer for 40 years.
His showroom is over three floors, so there's room for both experts to browse.
Well, I'm quite pleased. I'm in the basement already, without Philip,
which obviously means I'm here to discover, he's up there, and the eyes are drawn everywhere.
And they call me Hawkeye Hanson, you see, so obviously it's trying to just look here, there and everywhere
to really find something, just something to really beat Phil Serrell. That's my plan.
To look hard and see what I find.
You come into a shop like this and Mick has got it really set up nicely.
That looks like a piece of shabby chic.
Problem is, you go and put that in a saleroom,
and it just looks like a piece of shabby.
From a single shabby stool, to three seats for the price of one.
-Those are interesting.
-I think it's out of a theatre.
-Aren't they wonderful?
-They are beautiful.
-They must be, what, 1900?
1900, Edwardian, that's what I think.
Aren't they wonderful? They have these wonderful tableau concave backs. Each numbered.
-They're fantastic, aren't they?
I quite like them, but high risk.
Now Philip's found a shabby old saddle.
I like that.
It's come off a work horse or a work donkey, who'd have been down the pits.
And the harness would have gone through there.
Who's going to buy that?
Good Lord, I don't know.
-I'm going to see if Mick will take a tenner for that or a fiver.
Is Philip is about to saddle himself with a non-runner at the auction?
And what's Charles thinking about those theatre seats?
-Mick, you've got this old bit of a saddle here.
It was priced up at 15 quid. I reckon that's been here forever and a day. How long have you had that in stock?
Probably only about...
-No. Five, we've had that.
You've had it about five years.
There's only one idiot in the world going to do a deal with you on that, and he has just walked in.
-If you give me a tenner, I'll take it away.
Hold your hand out.
-One price, one price.
-One price. £6.
-You're a gentleman.
It's a deal. Charles, however, is stalling.
I'm quite upbeat. I think these theatre stalls or the three chairs, have a certain spark about them.
OK? A certain magic.
Reliving those old theatrical days from the early 20th century, and there is something which
I could just see making £150-£200 and really doing very well.
At the same time, they could falter.
They could fall off the stage and I could be into a serious depression.
-But they've got me thinking
-You'd better think fast, Charles. Philip's caught the scent.
This is my patch, OK. I'm looking up here now.
No, it's my patch.
Oh, Charles, do behave. This is the trouble when you deal with children.
-Those blooming cinema seats are something else, aren't they, Charlie?
-I like them. I think they're fantastic.
How much are they, Mick?
-I'm keeping those to myself, OK?
-Keep those under reserve, Mick.
Ah, so Charles has made up his mind!
I can see a bidding war starting off here.
I really rate them. I think they're really quirky, interesting, and have a really good quality.
Right, Charlie, I'm not going to get involved with your negotiation,
-but I shall do the honourable thing and retire.
-Thank you, Philip.
So, Philip doesn't see the deal being done.
And anyway, how on earth is Charles going to get those seats in the back of the Jag?
Charles hops back into the driving seat, giving nothing away
about whether he's bought the theatre seats or not.
-Oh, it's stunning, isn't it?
-Yeah, it'll do.
They're heading for Llanrwst, hoping to squeeze in some last-minute antique hunting.
It's getting late, and they'll be lucky to fit any more buying in.
What time is it? Half past seven?
Yeah, shop's shut.
Surely not, there's more down here, isn't there?
Antique shops. Look here.
-I'm sure it's open, Phil.
-Charlie, it's shut.
What are the Welsh working hours?
Same as the English working hours, Charlie, and that is shut.
Night is falling in beautiful Snowdonia, and our happy, hungry,
hopeful hunters head for dinner after a busy day's shopping.
-I hope they're still serving food.
-Shall I just pull in?
-Absolutely right, Charles.
Well, it's been a good, fun day, I've enjoyed it. Thank you so much.
There we go, engine's off. That's our day complete.
Up bright and early in Betwys-y-Coed.
They're on the road again, returning to Llanrwst and the shops they missed before.
Charles has already bought two items and has just £50 left.
Super-cautious Philip's only bought one object, and still has £150.
Not wasting any time, he's hitting the first shop.
Llanrwst, the gateway to Snowdonia, is top tourism territory.
Its ancient roots as a market town go back to the 14th century.
Our experts enjoy a browse in some local antique shops and eventually,
Philip emerges, keeping his latest purchase to himself...
The boys press on to Llangollen in Denbighshire,
where the local canal crosses the River Dee valley in spectacular fashion,
via the longest and highest aqueduct in Britain.
Charles is keen to spend the rest of his cash, while Philip is on the trail of a moving love story.
-Right here. Right, right, right, Charlie. Lord's sake!
In 1780, Lady Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby triggered a scandal
when they eloped from Ireland and set up home together in this house, Plas Newydd.
The Ladies of Llangollen, as they became known, caused a sensation,
not only because of their love affair
but for the way they redesigned a modest cottage into this extraordinary gothic retreat.
The house is looked after by Jane Horovitch.
-What can you tell me about that?
-This is a lovely piece, probably the most important in the house.
Why were they famous?
They had met when Eleanor was 29 and she was asked to help at a boarding school
and teach a 13-year-old girl called Sarah Ponsonby, who had been tragically orphaned.
And that was the forging of a friendship and destiny for the two of them.
I would say, the reason they ran away was because they had very serious reasons to run away.
It wasn't just that they met and then they did this thing.
Eleanor was going to be incarcerated in a convent for the rest of her life,
and Sarah was being pestered by her guardian,
and the situation in Ireland was extremely fraught and dangerous for them both.
There are certain things in your life that you do.
You see that, it makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.
They were inseparable for over 50 years, until Eleanor, the older lady, died.
While Philip revels in an 18th-Century scandal,
-Charles is determined to splash his remaining £50.
-This is nice.
-Isn't it nice? Yes, yes.
And this flicks over and you can mix your colours on it.
Oh, I love that.
I could almost take that with me and paint a view.
Normally, I wouldn't buy it, but I just think it's so curious to a collector,
and it is fairly complete. But I've got £40 on me.
I'm not sure dealer Marie Evans is falling for Charles' sob story.
£45. I'm sure you can manage £45.
-Would you do 40?
I've come down a lot.
Would you meet me halfway at £42?
I can offer you £42.50.
-Do you know what, Marie?
-You've got a gift.
-Your shop is called...
Passers By, and I've passed by and I've been rewarded with a lovely object.
So thank you very much for that.
No more time for shopping. The experts have had their items delivered to a hotel in Llangollen
to show and tell.
And Charles has cleverly disguised his big lumps of furniture as ghosts with sheets from the hotel!
-Shall I show you what I bought?
-Please, Phil, I can't wait for this.
This is my cheapest purchase, Charlie.
It's a colliery saddle, a harness, for a work horse.
Yeah. What did you pay for it?
Come on, Charlie, let's have a look.
I'm really pleased with this. Ready?
Look at that, isn't that gorgeous?
-That is lovely, Charlie.
-Look at it, we've got the original labels, the original water colour palette.
-How much was that?
-Well. It cost me £42.
I think you could double your money on that.
Do you think so? I'm hoping, Phil, between £50 and £70.
-You're a cricketer, aren't you?
I bought this earlier today, Charlie.
There's some great, great names on here, look.
Ah. Philip's mystery item he picked up in Llanrwst.
It's a souvenir mini cricket bat, printed with signatures of the MCC touring team in 1958.
-Isn't that just a great little bat?
-That's nice, Phil.
You'd have gone to Headingley, Edgbaston or Trent Bridge and bought that outside the grounds.
OK, Phil, if this went into auction, my auction guide price would be about £25.
-Get your cheque book out, Charlie.
-How much did you pay for it?
-I paid 12 quid for it.
Oh, no! Did you really? I was hoping you'd have paid more.
You know, it could make 15, but no less than that,
but it ought to certainly race away and make £25.
-Well, we are ever hopeful, Charlie.
-Well... Do you remember yesterday, when we were in that room?
-Yeah, I'm ready for this.
-Look at that.
-Lord above, Charlie.
Well, I just couldn't resist. I liked the quality.
It's the original studded tapestry, I think it's really quirky.
They cost me £90.
-I think, Charlie, at £19 that's really cheap.
-No, £90, nine zero.
-What do you think?
-I think it's lovely, Charlie.
-I think your problem is finding two people who are going to want it.
-Well, we'll see what happens.
-Let me show you. My next lot is two for one, Charlie.
I thought this was just a real bit of fun, and I love my seaside stuff.
It's nice. I like it. I think it's nicely warped.
-I beg your pardon?
-What? This or me?
-No! The frame!
Also, you can see the actual mirror plate has worn.
It's completely original, isn't it? This lovely coopering, as well.
-I like it.
-I'm quite envious of that, it's a good object.
-Are you? I'm flattered, Charlie.
I bought this with it. I bought this little pond yacht, Charlie.
-It looks an early one. I hope it's not.
-Right. And I bought the two for 50 quid.
-Is that all they cost?
-Yeah. What do you think they'll make?
Charles has kept his cheeky washstand till last.
Are you ready? Any ideas?
No idea at all, Charlie.
Look at that, Phil. Look at that. OK, first of all, you would say straightaway, "Charles, it's a..."
-Exactly, that's what I thought. I thought, OK, Davenport,
writing slope, mahogany, decorative.
That's really nice. I like that a lot, Charlie. How much is that?
Do you really? I'm a bit nervous, Phil, because, you know how this market is for furniture.
It cost me £60.
-I think you stole that, Charlie.
-Do you really?
-I think if you have a good day out, Charlie, you could make yourself £90 profit on that.
Now, what do they really think?
His paint box? That will do well, profit. His washstand?
That will do well, profit. Where's he going to fall down?
Well, those cinema chairs. If they make what he thinks, he'll win.
-If they make what I think, he'll lose.
-I think Philip has done well.
I think the mirror and the yacht are good objects.
But the other two objects will make a profit, but to me, they're quite tatty. So, small profit.
He'll see a decent return,
and we'll see what happens at the auction.
The shopping trip that started in North Wales is over.
It's auction day, and our two experts arrive in Birmingham.
Reputed to have more canals than Venice,
Birmingham was the powerhouse of the industrial revolution.
This workshop of the world was where gas lighting was invented.
For 50 years, Biddle And Webb have had an auction business here.
This is one of their monthly antiques and fine art sales.
Both our experts are fired up.
Me, being a competitor? I mean, it really doesn't matter whether I win or come second, really.
Not much(!) Of course I want to win, because that's what it's all about.
I am really wanting to win.
Obviously, I'm young, I'm the young pretender. Philip, wise old man.
But it's my day and I really want to do well, so I am really nervous,
but just hoping the right buyers are here to bid my stuff up.
It's the moment of truth.
Charles has blown all but £8 of his £200 kitty.
Philip has spent just £67.
Whose game plan will prove more successful?
Look at the state of you.
First up is Charles' artist's box.
He really likes this, but it's been put in the paintings category,
not with general collectibles.
Lot 40, late Victorian artist's paint set.
Dates about 1870, nearly complete.
-Somebody start me at £50 for it?
It's got to be worth that, come on. Don't be shy.
£30, then. No movement at all, £30?
£30, there. Any more? Anybody else at £30? 35.
Come on, let's move it.
£35 against you, 40 now, £40.
At £40, it's going to be sold.
-Oh, come on.
-£40 in the middle of the room, and we're all done at 40.
Uh-oh, these buyers are only interested in paintings.
I really thought it was going to make more than that.
Well, clearly, because that's why you bought it, Charlie.
I'm £2 down, plus commission.
Philip's put his nautical curios in one lot.
Rather nice Edwardian pond yacht, dated 1911,
with nautical-themed lifebelt-shaped mirror with rope edging.
Where can we start with this one?
Somebody start me at £100. 50, if you like.
Come on, let's not have so many blank faces. £50 bid. There at £50.
Anybody else at £50? At £50 only. Is that it? At £50.
£60, 70, any more? 80 bid, it's going to go.
At £80, it's going to be sold at £80. All done? £80. Any more?
Finished at 80?
A tidy £30 profit on the two of them. Well done.
Now Philip's betting on his souvenir miniature cricket bat.
Somebody start me at £30. 20?
£20 there, anybody else at 20? 25, 30, £30, 35, £35 bid, sir.
At 35, on the left. It's going to be sold at 35.
Now that's a cracking profit!
Next, the wash stand, that seemed a good buy at £60.
Late Victorian mahogany Davenport-shaped washstand,
Hinged writing slope, revealing wash bowl. Somebody start me at £100.
Come on, be brave, £50, somebody?
Gentleman there, 60 to lady here,
70, 80, 90. £90, gentleman there.
All done? New bidder at 100 in the middle there. £100, any more?
£100 all done. Seated bid. At 100.
That's good, Charlie. Well done, Charlie.
Last of the big spenders, Philip, only paid a fiver for the harness,
so he's got to be in for a profit.
And your next, lot 609, leather, wooden and copper...
Well, he can throw it away and I only lose a fiver.
Where can we start with that? £30? £20 bid there, thank you, any more?
It's in for a profit, isn't it?
Anybody else? 25, 30, any more?
At £30, all done? At £30, going to be sold at £30.
So it's all down to those wacky theatre seats,
which Philip may live to regret not buying.
And lot 670a, three joined cinema/theatre seats.
-Imagine the fun you could have with these.
£100 for them, come on.
They're worth £100. 80, if you like. Thank you, £80 there.
90 bid, 100, 110, 120, 130,
140, 150, 160, 170, 180, 190, 200,
200, back of the room. Anyone else? All finished at 200?
I am absolutely flabbergasted, Charlie. Well done, you.
I think I gambled,
and you're quite right, they could have flopped at £40, but as it was...
I'm staggered, and so are you.
That's put a smile on his face.
And he's still grinning!
I'm delighted. I went in there with this great gamble of my cinema chairs,
and Philip was pooh-poohing them, he was calling them filth and as it was, they made £200. I'm delighted.
Charlie's had a good day, good luck to him, but I think he's been fortunate with his chairs,
and on another day they might have lost him £50.
After paying the auction costs, Philip's got £249.65 to spend in the next leg.
Charles comes out with a respectable £281.53 for the next leg.
That'll keep grumpy old Philip on his toes. Change of strategy, Phil?
It's only the first stage of a long race, so we've only just got out of the blocks.
He's ahead on the first 20 yards, but the finishing tape's some distance away,
so I've just got to keep my fingers crossed and hope that I do well, really.
Obviously, Philip, he's lean and mean. He spent very little.
I was a gambler, I was the young pretender, and I won!
Well, Charlie, that worked out all right, didn't it?
-I'm delighted, Phil.
-Come on, get in there.
Next time, Charles continues to spend big.
-But can he make it a winning streak?
-We'd accept £180 on it.
-Not a penny less?
-While Philip, ever cautious, spends little and still...
-Nobody wants it?
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Antiques experts, Philip Serrell and Charles Hanson travel from north Wales to Devon in a classic open-topped Jag. They set off from Llandudno in search of antiques they can sell for a profit at auction in Birmingham. Philip's strategy is to spend little and make small profits, whereas Charles' more flamboyant style involves taking bigger risks and blowing all his cash. Whose game plan will prove more successful at the auction?