Episode 17 Antiques Road Trip


Episode 17

Antiques experts James Braxton and Thomas Plant continue their tour of north east England. James sees a collection of rare mineral sculptures made by 19th-century miners.


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Transcript


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The nation's favourite antiques experts, £200 each and one big challenge.

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Testing, testing!

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Who can make the most money buying and selling antiques as they scour the UK?

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-I don't mean to drive a hard bargain!

-The aim is, trade up and hope each antique turns a profit.

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But it's not as easy as it sounds and there can only be one winner.

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Punching the air!

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Will it be the highway to success or the B-road to bankruptcy?

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I will be like Rocky - I'm going to come from behind.

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This is the Antiques Road Trip. Yeah!

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Our two antiques experts this week, looking like bandits, are James Braxton and Thomas Plant.

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-Glorious day, isn't it?

-So where are we off to today?

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-Corbridge.

-More buying?

-More buying.

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Auctioneer and surveyor James Braxton loves handsome little items and knows how to get what he wants.

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I'm not a hard man, I'm a desperate man.

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Art Deco and Art Nouveau expert Thomas Plant has a great eye for objects,

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even when they're a bit out of his league.

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That's why it's good, that's why it's £350!

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And, relatively new to the Road Trip, he's already started tormenting antiques dealers.

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-You're a hard man.

-I'm not a hard man, I'm quite a nice man.

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Both experts started the week with their £200 starter-packs

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and we separated the men from the boys at auction in East Boldon on yesterday's show.

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James had a strong start and proudly walked away with £318.48 to spend. Not bad!

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Thomas, however, made a couple of schoolboy errors.

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Well, you'll probably take that to your grave, Thomas, there we are.

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So Thomas starts today's show a bit down, with £195.15.

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Well, I'm very happy with my strategy because I had a good day.

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Do you think it's going to continue? Your roll you're on?

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Oh, I very much doubt it!

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This week's Road Trip is around England's gorgeous North East.

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On today's show, James and Thomas are leaving East Boldon

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and hitting the antiques trail,

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heading for auction in Darlington, County Durham.

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First pin in the map today is Corbridge, Northumberland,

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along Hadrian's Roman Wall.

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Corbridge is a pretty old town all right,

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growing from the original Roman town of Corstopitum.

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But most of what we see today is 13th century. Lovely, isn't it?

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Just like our experts, really. The shops are open. Time to split up and get spending.

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Cor, it's cold out there.

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Well, it's British summertime, isn't it? What did you expect, Thomas?

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Arts and Crafts copper casket.

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Firm attribution, because of the fish. £325.

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That sort of money, I'm going to leave it.

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I must revert back to type and look at silver and jewellery.

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Wise choice, Thomas. Stick to what you know!

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Today's shopping has only just begun and you're leading the charge.

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These are military bugles for a military bugler but the problem is it's missing its mouthpiece.

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-There's no...

-AIR RUSHES THROUGH

-..piece in it.

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On the subject of blowing your own trumpet, how's James getting on?

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He's fun.

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A little Dachshund.

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Running on the success of my mercury resting on a rock yesterday,

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this is me, non-ferrous metals.

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Lovely bronze fellow, good weight to it.

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James clearly wants to emulate his great success with a bronze statue on yesterday's show.

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But I don't think this little dog will be coming to the rescue.

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Meanwhile, across the road, Thomas is making friends.

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Hello, I'm Thomas. Bill?

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-Margaret? Nice to meet you.

-Harry.

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Could I have a look at something?

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That's the great thing about the Antiques Road Trip - our experts get to travel around, meet lovely people

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and then ruthlessly haggle with them till they drop.

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Just have a look at this little funny thing.

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This is probably a needle case actually,

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a needle bucket, 19th century.

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I quite like this bucket, it's quite sweet.

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It is ivory. You can see the cross hatching within the grain.

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It's a nice bit of work of art, really, isn't it?

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Thomas, you really do like some strange little things.

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A needle pot, designed as a bucket, made in France from ivory!

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Ivory is technically legal to buy and sell

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if it's of an appropriate age.

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Only items made before 1947, when the conservation of elephants

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quite rightly became an issue, are legally tradable.

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What's your very best on that?

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I've got a figure in mind so you tell me and then I'll tell you.

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-Um...20?

-No.

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A rather interesting new tactic emerging here.

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Make them guess what your terribly low offer's going to be.

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Very sneaky, Thomas, and I like it!

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-25?

-Oooh!

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-Less.

-18?

-Less.

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Go on - 14?

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-£14?

-Yes.

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It's very nicely done, and 14's a steal, isn't it?

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Well, if it's a "steal" then Thomas will definitely take it.

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In the meanwhile, any interesting purchases from James?

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Nope, doesn't look like it.

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Back to you, Thomas!

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I'll have a look at that brooch in there if it's possible.

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This is like an enamel.

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You've got little flowers just there, and silver back.

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Brooches are probably the oldest jewellery items known to man,

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or indeed woman.

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Dating way back to the Bronze Age as fasteners for smocks and cloaks,

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they've come a long way to reach the design pinnacle

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of a pretty lapel accessory such as this.

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And according to Thomas they've got a big future at auction.

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-If you don't buy it you'll regret it.

-You're right.

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Simply because if you walk away, decide to come back and it's gone...

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-Yeah, it's gone.

-Can't argue with that logic!

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It's a thing of beauty. They're getting harder to come by.

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They are, absolutely.

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You've got 45, what would your best be?

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-I would like 30.

-Right...

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Would you take 25 for it?

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I'll take 28.

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Not 25?

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Well, obviously not, if Margaret's saying "28". Thomas!

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Go on then, 25.

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-So it's 39 for the two items?

-Yes.

-Thank you very much.

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Another steal! Thomas clearly knows his jewellery and smalls.

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He also knows how to pay very little for them.

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James had better watch his back today.

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Although it looks like he's now wandered into Thomas' marked territory. Risky!

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-Have you come to have a look round?

-I'm going to have a look round.

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-Really? Muscling in on my territory?

-Yeah, definitely.

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Rather nice Japanese Imari plate - very decorative.

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Brings a bit of colour to a room, that. Or you have it on a table.

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What's nice about it, you've got this scallop...this low border,

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but the nice thing about it, it's a very asymmetric design.

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Imari is a generic name for Japanese imported porcelain,

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exported from, believe it or not, the port of Imari in Japan.

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And Kakeimon is a style of enamel decoration on porcelain

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dating from the early 17th century.

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There was a lot of this asymmetry stuff first came over

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and it wasn't selling terribly well in Europe.

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And what they said is, "Look can you tell all your decorators

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"to decorate similar to the silk panels that were selling well?"

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And that's what they did,

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so they influenced what was being manufactured.

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I think I'm in a buying mood.

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Good. Well, that's a relief. It would certainly help the competition if you did buy something, James.

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I always love these.

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These funny little newspaper, magazine Canterburys.

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Way back in the 20th century, when people read printed periodicals,

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these Canterbury magazine racks were very popular

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for keeping the house tidy between reads.

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Lovely to look at,

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and much more fun than a double click on a desktop document.

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A-ha, the good old days!

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Would you take 20 for that?

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-You want to pay how much?

-20.

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-Too cheap.

-No, can't do it for that, no.

-No budging there, James.

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See if you can distract proceedings with another item.

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I want to try and improve on that Imari dish.

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Could you do 35 on that?

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Yeah, and I'll do 60 on the two, but I can't do any less than that, really.

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-I'm just being cheeky.

-Yeah.

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We expected nothing less, James.

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But, remember, Margaret's just been brutally handbagged by Thomas.

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So be kind to her.

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Would you do 50 for the two?

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-55.

-55, OK, come on. That's very kind, thank you very much indeed.

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Well, that's about as kind as you get from Mr Braxton.

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You'd better leave the shop quickly, James, and let's hope Thomas has the engine running.

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How many items have you bought now?

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-Eh, two.

-Two? Oh.

-Every one a winner.

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There's confidence for you. Now, quick! Get out of town!

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New towns, new shops and even new adventures await our two experts.

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-How about you?

-Two as well.

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-Winners?

-Yeah, definite winners.

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James' car is a vintage British treasure.

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But sadly completely useless in British summer weather.

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The soft top doesn't allow for passenger comfort

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and the local trees don't provide much cover either.

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-It is quite chilly.

-It is chilly, isn't it? Brrrr.

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The shower lightens, the decks are swabbed,

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and SOMEONE needs to give the car a push.

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Going to put my back into it, sir!

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Well, at least we now know who wears the trousers in this relationship.

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Albeit a rather large, pink pair.

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All antiques roads lead to Rome, or thereabouts.

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In fact they lead a mere three and a half miles from Corbridge

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to the former empire border town of Hexham.

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NARRATOR SPEAKS ITALIAN

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It's a cheeky break from shopping.

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Thomas has come to view some really, really old antiques

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that make our antiques look modern.

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Almost two millennia ago, in the days of the Romans, this fort was part of Hadrian's Wall,

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the northernmost frontier of the Empire,

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built to keep out the barbarian Picts or defiant Scots.

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Today, this borderland has a healthy mix of Scottish and English culture.

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-Hello, I'm Thomas.

-Nice to meet you Thomas, I'm Barbara.

-Barbara, very nice to meet you!

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The Vindolanda Trust - this is not a restaurant - has been running since 1970

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to research the wonderful ruins of this former outpost.

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Barbara, the assistant curator, has been here since 1999.

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Wow, it looks pretty ordered.

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Yes, yes, it was. What you can see here is the actual fort itself,

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but we have evidence that basically women and children and everyone are living pretty much all together.

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Lovely! The Romans ran this part of the world, and many other parts, for centuries.

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They kept order in a time before the Scots and English began fighting over borders.

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We've got the Vindolanda writing tablets,

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small slivers of wood that actually have the writings from the Romans,

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and we find out all sorts of fabulous things, like soldiers sending socks and underpants.

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-What, being sent?

-Yes.

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Well, I can understand that because here I am standing.

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-I'm wearing a jumper. It is cold. Can you imagine?

-Yeah.

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Ooh, lovely warm socks. How modern!

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The Roman Empire really was terribly advanced and terribly organised.

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Some would say terribly civilised.

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But did they take care of their pots?

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This is our collection of the Samian dinner service.

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It's actually from southern Gaul, from a place called La Graufesenque,

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modern town of Millau,

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and it's interesting with this collection,

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because it was broken in transit.

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So, like sometimes some antiques are broken in transit.

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-Exactly, exactly.

-It happened then.

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So for thousands of years clumsy delivery men have plagued this land.

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Amazingly, this dinnerware was ordered from a manufacturer

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in France, a thousand miles away,

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but 2,000 years ago.

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Not so different, when you think about it, from import/export today.

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Possibly a commanding officer, one of the other head officers,

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would have had the money to buy this whole dinner set.

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So I'm just imagining, 1,900 years ago,

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the officer is waiting for this,

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or the lady of the house, his wife,

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and it nearly gets here and then it gets broken. Bad day.

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Bad day, very, very dark day for that person.

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So it gets chucked in there, or he probably lied, "Oh, I never got it, it never came off the boat."

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-We have evidence that they're fixing it.

-Really? I'd love to see that.

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Here it is - quite a good one to show

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because it would have held these two bits together.

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Wow. So some sort of soul got some lead...

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-Was lead mined around here?

-Probably.

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That was one of the main reasons the Romans came, for our minerals.

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And so they got the lead and they melted it and made a little bracket

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and then as the lead cooled and tightened it would pull the pot together to make it strong again.

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-Exactly, yes.

-Well, like brackets, like staples.

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At least this Roman home-delivery customer tried to put

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his broken pots back together before he chucked them out.

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This is some of the pieces from the actual dinner service.

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Wow, look at this. Oh, it's absolutely wonderful.

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I can't believe I'm handling a 1,900-year-old piece of pottery.

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Yeah, broken, but still.

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-It's been a pleasure. I could spend all day here. Thank you very much.

-Wonderful to meet you.

-And you.

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What a fascinating find, eh?

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Course, all that damage would never happen on the Road Trip.

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Not much!

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But seriously, there are some more modern antiques

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waiting to be unearthed by James and Thomas around the corner.

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So, James, my one request out of all of this, these antiques shops had better be worth it!

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The Road Trip is taking our experts 22 miles from Hexham.

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Destination, Alston.

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Alston's old town dates back to the late 17th century,

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with this handsome square surrounding its troubled Market Cross.

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First built in 1765 and rebuilt in 1880,

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the cross tragically fell victim to a runaway lorry in 1968,

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and then another one in 1980.

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So, keeping his foot firmly on the clutch is James Braxton

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as our experts arrive in town.

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Straight away, our boys find a companion four-wheeled antique

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to match James' vintage car.

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But the owner scoots before they can put in a cheeky low offer on it.

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Hello.

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Good afternoon. I'm Thomas.

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-Hi, I'm Gary.

-Nice to meet you, Gary.

-Nice to meet you.

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A big eclectic mix, it looks like.

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-Everything interesting and unusual.

-Oh, right.

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My old friend, Sunderland lustre.

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Nope, I'm not buying you.

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Good call, Thomas. No more Sunderland lustre ware for you.

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We all remember the awful events of yesterday's show

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as if it was...well, yesterday.

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I'm not laughing, I'm really not.

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Look at this. Ypres.

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This is what we call trench art.

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And this was made by a soldier in Ypres in 1917,

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and that's also where we had the miners who mined underneath

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the German trenches and blew them up.

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This would have been a shell case,

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and this is just a bullet from a .303 Lee Enfield rifle.

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I imagine what it was, it might have been he made it as a letter opener, or...

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Amazing thing.

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There's me complaining that I'm getting wet and hailed on

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in James' car with no roof,

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and these boys were stuck out in the trenches,

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no way of knowing when it would all end, really.

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Fine words, Thomas. Well said.

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I think I might have to give JB a call, Mr Braxton.

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He was complaining that he was getting very wet.

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Well, that does look nice and warm.

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Could it be useful in bad weather?

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There's no such thing as bad weather. It's bad clothing.

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And James has experienced that today.

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Well, poor old James was feeling cold and miserable.

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Let's get him into a nice cosy antiques shop for a bit of a warm-up.

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Out of the rain and hail! HE CHUCKLES

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But then a strange-looking antique catches his eye.

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Oh, dear. I'll just quickly do my hair.

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I generally walk around looking like the man from the Hamlet advert.

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I suggest you stay away from mirrors today, James.

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No-one needs the awful truth.

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Cast your eyes over some lovely objects instead.

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This Chinese, made of black wood, rosewood, bit damaged,

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typical sort of thing that was made in the 19th century,

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was exported over to the UK.

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They were just stands for planters.

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They make great occasional tables.

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Very stylish. 265.

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I wonder if she would do that for 150. That would be worth a punt.

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It's quite interesting - they've got a lot of oriental stuff in this shop

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and it might just reflect stuff that is locally, you know,

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people did colonial service.

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Went off, worked for international companies, came home,

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brought loads of souvenirs with them.

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-You've got a pink, marble-topped Chinese table upstairs.

-Yes.

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With, er...

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..quite a princely sum on it.

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Yes. You pay for quality, yes.

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If I offer an outrageous £150,

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is that tempting? Or are you going to chuck me out of the shop?

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Sorry, it's not tempting. I paid more than that.

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-We don't do losses.

-No, no.

0:18:260:18:28

Brave attempt, James. But you're not going to get the help you need in this shop, I fear!

0:18:280:18:34

-MOBILE PHONE RINGS

-Suddenly, an important call.

0:18:340:18:36

Could it be advice from the auction house?

0:18:360:18:38

Or a fantastic offer on a fine antique treasure to take there?

0:18:380:18:42

-Hello, Thomas.

-'Hi, James.'

0:18:420:18:44

You know you got a bit wet?

0:18:440:18:46

-'Yeah, yeah.'

-I've found something for you.

0:18:460:18:49

Oh, fabulous. I'm standing here like a sort of limp rag.

0:18:490:18:53

Are you like a limp piece of lettuce?

0:18:530:18:55

What I need is something slightly warmer.

0:18:550:18:58

Why don't you pop down and have a look?

0:18:580:19:00

Yeah, brilliant stuff. OK, I'll be down.

0:19:000:19:02

Whilst Thomas waits for James to arrive,

0:19:020:19:05

something handsome and useful catches his eye.

0:19:050:19:08

So, what I've got here is some pens,

0:19:080:19:11

a Parker, a lady's one. But it's got no nib.

0:19:110:19:15

The fountain pen was perfected by the American school teacher George Safford Parker

0:19:150:19:19

in the 1880s,

0:19:190:19:20

fed up with constantly repairing his students' old pens.

0:19:200:19:26

The Parker Pen Company then became a strong success in the 1890s

0:19:260:19:30

and the pens are still highly desirable as new and antique today.

0:19:300:19:34

Pens are collectable. You know, people like pens

0:19:340:19:37

and they're a great thing to collect because they're small

0:19:370:19:40

and they're easy to send in the post.

0:19:400:19:43

This one here, another gents' pen.

0:19:430:19:45

It says Swan.

0:19:450:19:47

Made in Britain by the American company Mabie, Todd and Bard from 1909,

0:19:470:19:53

these Swan fountain pens were advertised as the pen of the British Empire.

0:19:530:19:57

The company ceased production in the 1950s, a victim of the ballpoint era.

0:19:570:20:02

This is a Parker Duofold.

0:20:020:20:03

It's a big, heavy gents' pen.

0:20:030:20:06

What have you got on the Parker?

0:20:060:20:08

I could do the Parker pen for £12.

0:20:080:20:10

Oh...

0:20:100:20:11

But if you were interested in buying a collection of pens I could do you a deal on a job lot.

0:20:110:20:16

Oh, really? See what you can do the lot for, and then I'll go and get the other one for you.

0:20:160:20:21

We've got a Conway, we've got a Swan and then you've got another Parker without a thing.

0:20:210:20:27

-35 for the lot.

-For the lot?

0:20:270:20:30

How about...

0:20:320:20:34

28?

0:20:340:20:35

-OK.

-Yeah?

0:20:390:20:41

Well done, 28. Awesome. A collection of pens.

0:20:410:20:44

I said I was going to buy silver and jewellery and I'm buying pens and ivory buckets.

0:20:440:20:49

-What am I doing that for?

-Well, I'll tell you, Thomas.

0:20:490:20:52

You're making rules for yourself and not sticking to them.

0:20:520:20:56

You just keep getting distracted by everything that you like.

0:20:560:20:59

-What do you think of that?

-Sure it's not a bit big?

0:21:020:21:05

Yeah, with room to grow into.

0:21:050:21:07

Something to accommodate the wine barrel.

0:21:070:21:09

-Gary, come on, let's go and talk price.

-No problem.

0:21:110:21:15

Well, third item bought today.

0:21:150:21:18

You may think I'm being completely bonkers.

0:21:180:21:22

Why would a Parker pen like this one be worth me buying, huh?

0:21:220:21:27

I tell you, I sell these Parker pens for at least £20 a piece.

0:21:270:21:32

If you went to buy that in a stationers today

0:21:320:21:34

you'd be looking at 50 plus.

0:21:340:21:36

Truly mightier than the sword, the Parker Duofold fountain pen

0:21:360:21:40

was famously used by General Douglas MacArthur in 1946,

0:21:400:21:45

to end the American war in the Pacific by signing the peace treaty.

0:21:450:21:49

I reckon we'll make at least £10 profit. 38, 40 at least.

0:21:510:21:55

Yes, they're a great purchase Thomas, if slightly off-plan.

0:21:550:21:58

Could they be your silver bullet to go with the bucket at auction in Darlington?

0:21:580:22:03

Meanwhile back in the shop, James has dipped into his personal money

0:22:030:22:07

and bought the vintage coat.

0:22:070:22:09

Now he's taking a butchers at a few items for his antiques arsenal.

0:22:090:22:14

I like this bit. Again, hardwood. Chinese.

0:22:140:22:18

Rather nice.

0:22:190:22:21

Another jardiniere stand?

0:22:210:22:22

And from China again?

0:22:220:22:24

James is right about antiques in this area - there's certainly an ex-colonial theme here.

0:22:240:22:29

We've got this rather nice sprays of bamboo here.

0:22:290:22:32

It's been extended. I doubt the Chinese ever had things this high

0:22:320:22:36

so it's evolved from their low opium tables and the like,

0:22:360:22:42

to a table that the Victorians would have loved to have had

0:22:420:22:47

with an aspidistra coming off or some sort of torchere, candle branch.

0:22:470:22:52

So, a very keen observation from the man who would be King of the Auction.

0:22:520:22:56

Ah, this is more my sort of thing.

0:22:560:22:59

Do you think it can bear the weight of a Braxton?

0:23:000:23:03

That is fabulous, isn't it?

0:23:030:23:07

All I need is some sort of native sceptre of office.

0:23:070:23:11

Oh dear, James. Are you sure that little stool is strong enough for you?

0:23:110:23:16

You see, James, you have to be careful with antiques.

0:23:170:23:20

Or perhaps the chiefs of this particular African tribe

0:23:200:23:23

were possibly a little lighter in build?

0:23:230:23:25

African basketwork,

0:23:250:23:26

receiving a new lease of life.

0:23:260:23:29

Luckily, Cathleen is on hand in the back room for a rapid repair.

0:23:290:23:34

Fabulous! Thank you very much indeed, you see? Done in a trice.

0:23:340:23:37

You broke it, James!

0:23:370:23:39

Now I think you should buy it.

0:23:390:23:41

And how about that lovely, tall jardiniere stand?

0:23:410:23:44

-How much on this one, Gary?

-Could do that for 20.

0:23:440:23:48

Would you do this and the nice basketwork stool for 30?

0:23:480:23:53

Wow, haggling on the stool YOU broke, eh?

0:23:530:23:56

You have the cunning charm, James.

0:23:560:23:58

-No problem.

-Excellent.

0:23:580:24:01

-Clothing me... Now you're furnishing me.

-Another excellent deal!

0:24:010:24:06

And James did the decent thing, buying the African stool.

0:24:060:24:09

But is it something he can sell at auction in County Durham?

0:24:090:24:13

Time will tell. And it's time to be moving on again.

0:24:130:24:16

Let's go.

0:24:160:24:18

HE BEEPS HORN

0:24:180:24:20

Oh dear. Get a move on.

0:24:200:24:23

No roof, no roof?

0:24:240:24:26

James, where's the roof?

0:24:260:24:27

The next morning, James and Thomas are up with the lark

0:24:320:24:35

for a full day's hunting and gathering.

0:24:350:24:38

Beautiful cloudless day. Looking forward to getting a bit of wind rushing through my locks.

0:24:380:24:42

A bit of wind, yeah.

0:24:420:24:44

James has had a cracking first day's foraging.

0:24:440:24:47

So far he's spent £85 on four items.

0:24:470:24:50

The brass oak Canterbury, the Imari dish,

0:24:500:24:54

the African leather stool and the Chinese jardiniere stand.

0:24:540:24:57

And he's still got a whopping £233.48 left to play with.

0:24:570:25:02

-Steady work, I haven't dropped yet, just sort of steady jabs.

-Steady jabs!

0:25:020:25:06

Thomas has also shopped whole-heartedly and bought three items.

0:25:060:25:10

The controversial ivory bucket,

0:25:100:25:13

the enamel bar brooch and the set of fountain pens.

0:25:130:25:16

He launches into the day with a sturdy £128.15,

0:25:160:25:21

but needs to work hard to catch up with James' success on yesterday's show.

0:25:210:25:26

Looking good, feeling good.

0:25:260:25:29

The unstoppable antiques juggernaut continues on.

0:25:300:25:34

Alston is but a blur in the mind as our experts take a sharp turn

0:25:340:25:38

towards Bishop Auckland.

0:25:380:25:41

That bounder Braxton is feeling rather comfortable in his current financial lead over Thomas.

0:25:410:25:46

So he's decided to give himself a little treat.

0:25:460:25:49

Well, it's all right for some, isn't it?

0:25:490:25:51

This is my stop, Tom.

0:25:510:25:53

Is it your stop? That's the way to do it!

0:25:530:25:55

Right on time, our man arrives at Killhope Lead Mining Museum.

0:25:580:26:03

Killhope was the setting for WH Auden's famous 1927 poem, The Watershed.

0:26:060:26:13

The mine opened in 1853 and closed in 1910 as demand for lead fell away

0:26:130:26:19

but restoration began in 1980 to turn the site into this wonderful museum.

0:26:190:26:24

Today, it's an account of the historical pleasures and pains

0:26:240:26:28

of this heavy industry, and a fascinating glimpse into Britain's past.

0:26:280:26:32

Hello Liz, lead me on.

0:26:320:26:35

Liz has been an information assistant here for nine years

0:26:350:26:38

and she's our guide for the day.

0:26:380:26:41

In the beginning there'd only be about 10 people

0:26:410:26:43

-working on the surface to one man working underground.

-Really?

0:26:430:26:48

And the other thing was that they would be miners/farmers,

0:26:480:26:52

-so again they would go home and do more work at the end of their working day in the mines.

-I see.

0:26:520:26:58

So this is the entrance to the mine?

0:26:580:27:01

How far away would the workings be? 100 metres?

0:27:010:27:04

-The furthest fain was a mile underground.

-Really?

0:27:040:27:09

It took them 20 years to reach it.

0:27:090:27:12

This is very well done. This wouldn't look out of place on the facade of a house, would it?

0:27:120:27:17

No, the men were incredibly skilled.

0:27:170:27:21

Take me to your crystals, Liz!

0:27:210:27:23

The British miner is a rare breed today, but they do exist.

0:27:230:27:28

This was once a very hard and very proud industry.

0:27:280:27:32

But life was not without its art and pleasure.

0:27:320:27:34

Right Liz, what have you got in here?

0:27:340:27:36

Well, this is some of the spar boxes from our biggest collection.

0:27:360:27:40

Spar boxes are one of Britain's most fascinating artistic phenomena

0:27:400:27:45

and yet almost entirely unknown.

0:27:450:27:47

Strange, coral-like, mineral constructions housed in Victorian specimen cases.

0:27:470:27:53

As this was a lead mine, the mining company

0:27:530:27:56

just didn't want the other minerals it unearthed

0:27:560:27:58

and threw them away.

0:27:580:27:59

There was this tradition

0:27:590:28:01

of collecting minerals and swapping them.

0:28:010:28:04

This was going on between the working man,

0:28:040:28:07

but it was introducing people to the world of minerals.

0:28:070:28:11

Amazingly, these Victorian oddities were not created by artists.

0:28:110:28:16

It was the men and women working the mine in the 19th century

0:28:160:28:19

who produced these peculiar and dazzling displays

0:28:190:28:22

in their short, precious leisure time.

0:28:220:28:24

What about this magnificent fellow?

0:28:240:28:27

I love the idea

0:28:270:28:28

that it's this sort of Victorian tableau tradition, isn't it?

0:28:280:28:32

Here we see an architectural tableau.

0:28:320:28:35

-The cabinet always reminds me of a bit of a fairground with all the bright colours.

-It does, doesn't it?

0:28:350:28:40

-Garish colours, yeah.

-Again you've got your curiosities.

0:28:400:28:43

You've got a bird from north Africa, your roller bird,

0:28:430:28:48

you've got your nightjar,

0:28:480:28:49

and you sort of think, where did the men come across these things?

0:28:490:28:53

It's just the detail of little pot plants at the windows,

0:28:530:28:58

you know, and some of the curtains open, some with the blinds drawn.

0:28:580:29:03

This small array at Killhope is the nearest Britain has to a national collection of spar boxes.

0:29:030:29:09

There were a few recorded local competitions in the 1880s and 90s.

0:29:090:29:13

Other than that, these are a lost art form.

0:29:130:29:16

The mystery is that not many people know the history of the spar boxes

0:29:160:29:21

and however much we try and research the history we don't come up with many answers.

0:29:210:29:26

It looks like James is utterly captivated by these mysterious mineral structures.

0:29:260:29:31

He's forgotten all about the rather important search for great antiques.

0:29:310:29:36

Thankfully, there's a great man out there.

0:29:380:29:40

He is serious about antiques shopping. He wants to buy more.

0:29:400:29:44

His name is Thomas Plant.

0:29:440:29:47

Thomas has gone on ahead and is en route to Bishop Auckland.

0:29:470:29:51

James has clearly given up on the shopping

0:29:510:29:54

and settled with his four items from yesterday.

0:29:540:29:56

So you're our last hope, Thomas, and time is pushing on.

0:29:560:30:01

In fact, where is Thomas?

0:30:010:30:03

-He's out there, shopping, somewhere.

-Wow!

0:30:030:30:07

Ah, there he is. He's found lovely Yvonne in this antiques shop

0:30:070:30:10

and has taken a fancy to something quite close to her heart.

0:30:100:30:14

I love your Lalique, I love that.

0:30:140:30:17

This is a piece of jewellery.

0:30:170:30:19

This is by Rene Lalique.

0:30:190:30:21

Legendary French designer Rene Jules Lalique pushed the envelope of glass design in the late 19th century.

0:30:210:30:30

He returned to his first love of jewellery during the Art Nouveau period,

0:30:300:30:34

and made stunning items such as this.

0:30:340:30:36

You've got this beautiful sort of exotic fish around it

0:30:360:30:39

against that frosted glass, and it's just lovely.

0:30:390:30:42

If I could find something like that...

0:30:420:30:44

A lovely item, Thomas.

0:30:440:30:46

But hands off - she's wearing it! I'm guessing it's not for sale.

0:30:460:30:49

Come along, there really is no time to waste.

0:30:490:30:52

What is it? That is the big question.

0:30:520:30:55

Well, it looks like it's going to be a preserve, a mustard.

0:30:550:30:59

-Yeah, it could be, couldn't it?

-Have you been using it for your sausages?

0:30:590:31:02

It's these classy little items again, and Thomas really can unearth them.

0:31:020:31:07

This late-19th-century Dutch mustard pot has a solid silver frame, so it

0:31:070:31:12

could be the auction heavyweight that Thomas is searching for.

0:31:120:31:15

But it's pricey, £125. Risky!

0:31:150:31:20

What is your very, very best on that?

0:31:200:31:22

I could do 90 on it.

0:31:220:31:24

-That's quite a lot of money, isn't it?

-It is.

0:31:240:31:27

I'd like that for a bit less, to be candid!

0:31:270:31:31

I'm sure you would, Thomas.

0:31:310:31:33

"A bit less" is kind of the name of the game here, isn't it?

0:31:330:31:36

If you could go to 80 on that.

0:31:360:31:39

75?

0:31:390:31:41

That's pushing the boat a bit.

0:31:410:31:43

I know, but, you know...

0:31:430:31:45

-I don't mean to be...

-No, 75 sounds good to me.

-OK.

-Yeah.

0:31:470:31:51

I'm pleased. I hope the auction house likes it.

0:31:510:31:55

I hope there's people out there to buy it. What's it going to make?

0:31:550:31:58

It could make £120, it could make 150, it could bomb and make 40.

0:31:580:32:01

Good old Thomas, he sneaks in one last purchase,

0:32:010:32:05

and not a moment too soon. It's show and tell time again.

0:32:050:32:08

-So, James, bit like golf, as you were the winner.

-OK, am I teeing off first?

-Yah.

0:32:080:32:13

So an Imari plate, 1920s.

0:32:150:32:18

£35 as well, bought it for that.

0:32:180:32:21

Go on, match it. Oh, very nice!

0:32:210:32:25

Practical for pins, and bought for pin money.

0:32:250:32:30

I think that's very pretty.

0:32:300:32:31

I think you paid somewhere in the region of £50.

0:32:310:32:35

No, £14.

0:32:350:32:36

Ooh, that is a winner, Thomas.

0:32:360:32:39

I am going to try and expunge that from my memory.

0:32:390:32:42

-A magazine...

-I think you're being a bit cute here.

0:32:420:32:45

It's a pretty one, quite fashionable.

0:32:450:32:48

Now, let me guess, £28.

0:32:480:32:51

Nearly, nearly. 20.

0:32:510:32:53

-Really?

-See some growth there.

0:32:530:32:54

-I'm a bit disappointed.

-Come on.

0:32:540:32:56

You've got something even smaller than the bucket.

0:32:560:32:59

It's quite titchy witch, a little brooch.

0:32:590:33:02

Plant the brooch!

0:33:020:33:04

I know, it's another brooch.

0:33:040:33:06

Silver and enamel, marked at £45, I got it for £25.

0:33:060:33:11

-With a rather chintzy design.

-Chintzy, no!

0:33:110:33:13

It's roses. It's lovely.

0:33:130:33:16

-That is chintzy. Right, I'm going to have to get up for this one.

-Are you?

0:33:160:33:19

OK. You're breaking a little bit of it there.

0:33:190:33:22

-Breaking a little bit there.

-Well, it broke a whole lot more, earlier!

0:33:220:33:26

It bore my weight, unfortunately with some consequence, so

0:33:260:33:29

I think its future is bearing wine glasses and coffee cups.

0:33:290:33:34

-I hope you paid less than £20 for it.

-I did.

-Er, 10?

-10.

0:33:340:33:38

I think we're going to see five, five, five.

0:33:380:33:43

I must say, I hope it finds a purchaser before it falls apart!

0:33:430:33:46

-Falls apart, James? Maybe just keep off it till the auction!

-So.

0:33:460:33:52

Ah, Mr Pen Man.

0:33:520:33:55

This is the lot I bought it for.

0:33:550:33:56

It was the Parker Duofold, and it's a 14-carat gold nib, and then we've got a swan.

0:33:560:34:01

-That's rather nice.

-Well, it's quite stylish, gold nib as well.

0:34:010:34:04

-What do you think I paid for these here? Eight pens.

-50.

0:34:040:34:07

No, less.

0:34:070:34:09

-25.

-£28.

-Really? Very nice, well done.

0:34:090:34:12

-OK, come on.

-You're taking my smile away.

0:34:120:34:16

-Really?

-Fourth and final, probably best viewed from the top.

0:34:160:34:19

Yes, I can see that, mother of pearl, bamboo, bit of teak.

0:34:190:34:22

Just your kind of thing, isn't it?

0:34:220:34:24

Hopefully Chinese. It's very pretty.

0:34:240:34:26

£25?

0:34:260:34:28

-20.

-Really?

-20.

0:34:280:34:30

I hope somebody's building a Chinese room.

0:34:300:34:33

Oooh.

0:34:330:34:35

Looks very tasty, this.

0:34:350:34:37

I have spent some money on that. Considering I lost money...

0:34:370:34:40

-Ivory again?

-Ivory again, Thomas? Bit of a theme going on here.

0:34:400:34:44

That looks a rather nice item.

0:34:440:34:46

-80 to 120.

-Right, I paid 75 for it.

0:34:460:34:49

That's good, you're playing the game, it's a bullish item.

0:34:490:34:52

You're making me look like a bit of a wimp with my little selection there.

0:34:520:34:57

-Do you think I might be teeing off?

-You could be, you could be.

0:34:570:35:00

LAUGHTER

0:35:000:35:02

Oh, James, don't get too wrapped up in this now.

0:35:040:35:07

May the best man win.

0:35:070:35:08

Thank you, Thomas.

0:35:080:35:11

Whatever has he bought that stool for?

0:35:110:35:14

I mean, it is a piece of rubbish.

0:35:140:35:16

It's bonfire material.

0:35:160:35:18

The whole thing's fallen to bits at the bottom. I mean, it's wonky.

0:35:180:35:21

Lovely little novelty bucket, and that was no money, £14.

0:35:210:35:27

Imari plate, well, yeah, OK, £35, I think that's about its level, really.

0:35:270:35:32

As for the brooch, I'm not convinced.

0:35:320:35:35

It's like an old lady's bathroom, really.

0:35:350:35:37

How terribly rude, James...

0:35:370:35:39

But I know what you mean!

0:35:390:35:41

Destiny awaits our two experts as this leg of the road trip draws to its inevitable finale.

0:35:410:35:48

It's been an inspiring journey from East Boldon, through Corbridge,

0:35:480:35:52

Hexham, Alston and Bishop Auckland.

0:35:520:35:55

Auction day is here and our experts arrive at Darlington, County Durham.

0:35:550:35:59

-Now, Thomas, how are you feeling?

-Quietly confident.

0:35:590:36:02

However, you know how these things can end up, they can go completely wrong.

0:36:020:36:07

£220, 230. 240.

0:36:070:36:10

Thomas Watson Auctions opened their doors in 1840,

0:36:100:36:14

and Peter has been whacking wood on wood here since 1974.

0:36:140:36:17

He has his own thoughts on our experts' shopping prowess.

0:36:170:36:22

African stools probably came over 40, 50 years ago, but they do sell.

0:36:220:36:26

Hardwood lamp stands, not the most popular, I must admit,

0:36:260:36:30

and the brooch, it could be a bit of a sticker, this one, but we'll see.

0:36:300:36:34

James started this leg of the road trip with £318.48,

0:36:370:36:40

and spent a thoroughly decent £185.

0:36:400:36:43

Nice work, James.

0:36:430:36:45

Thomas took his £195.15 and spent a wholly decadent £142.

0:36:450:36:51

Fidgets, stop fidgeting, natterers stop nattering.

0:36:540:36:57

A respectful quiet awaits the commencement of competitive nodding and winking.

0:36:570:37:02

The auction is about to begin.

0:37:020:37:04

Good luck, Thomas.

0:37:040:37:06

Well, that's a nice object to start off with.

0:37:080:37:10

James' handsome magazine rack from Corbridge.

0:37:100:37:14

And I can open this one at £35.

0:37:140:37:17

£15 profit.

0:37:170:37:19

40, 5, 50, the lady has it at £50.

0:37:190:37:23

£50.

0:37:230:37:24

£50. All done.

0:37:240:37:27

-Punching the air!

-And a tidy profit to kick off with.

0:37:270:37:31

-Steady work.

-Steady work.

0:37:310:37:33

Now it's Thomas' turn, as the French pin bucket is next.

0:37:330:37:38

-Feeling comfortable?

-Yeah, I think so.

0:37:380:37:40

I mean, they put a good estimate,

0:37:400:37:42

40-80. I hope that doesn't scare anybody off.

0:37:420:37:44

And you only paid £14 for it.

0:37:440:37:46

£14.

0:37:460:37:48

Good for you, Thomas. But maybe keep your voice down.

0:37:480:37:52

And I can start this away at £20,

0:37:520:37:54

at 20 and 5, at 20 and 5, surely now for this at £20 are we all done at

0:37:540:38:00

5 at the back, 30 to the side,

0:38:000:38:01

30 standing in the door for the bucket, are we all done?

0:38:010:38:07

Double your money, then, for the ivory pin bucket.

0:38:070:38:11

I rather thought this would do well.

0:38:110:38:14

James' Chinese lampstand is now taking the stage.

0:38:140:38:19

Just understated quality and design,

0:38:190:38:22

bit of a quirk, country house feel, you know, look around you,

0:38:220:38:27

it's all T-shirts and singlets

0:38:270:38:28

but they live in country house interiors, I know it.

0:38:280:38:31

And I can open this one at £30. £30.

0:38:310:38:34

45... Same lady, then, at 45, are we all done?

0:38:340:38:39

Double your money and a little bit more.

0:38:390:38:41

James' eye is not just for the object, but for the market.

0:38:410:38:45

Clever boy!

0:38:450:38:46

Do you know, I honestly thought you had dropped one on this one.

0:38:460:38:50

I thought, James has made a mistake, but so far, now I'm being proved wrong.

0:38:500:38:56

Coming out smelling of roses again.

0:38:560:38:59

Now something small and pretty.

0:38:590:39:00

Thomas' silver enamel brooch.

0:39:000:39:03

I can start this one at £15, at 15.

0:39:030:39:07

-Who's bidding?

-At 25, 30,

0:39:070:39:10

at 25 for the brooch, are we all done at £25? All done.

0:39:100:39:15

Oh, dear, Thomas seems to be buying what he likes,

0:39:170:39:20

and not playing to the crowds.

0:39:200:39:23

Like a roller coaster.

0:39:230:39:24

I always should remind myself every morning, pride before a fall,

0:39:260:39:30

-and that's what I had.

-James, meanwhile,

0:39:300:39:33

is playing to please the local crowd with his decorative Imari plate.

0:39:330:39:37

And I can open this one at £25.

0:39:370:39:41

At 25 for the plate there, 30, at 40, the lady has it 5, at £55, all done.

0:39:410:39:49

And another profit for James.

0:39:490:39:52

Surely Thomas can't catch him now.

0:39:520:39:53

Steady work again from Mr Braxton.

0:39:530:39:56

Or will the pen be mightier than the...plate?

0:39:560:39:59

You've done well on the first lot. I can feel you on my heels.

0:39:590:40:02

Yeah, chasing you down.

0:40:020:40:04

-Chasing me down.

-And I can start this at £60.

0:40:040:40:07

60, straight in there.

0:40:070:40:09

70, 80, 90, 100, 110,

0:40:090:40:13

at 100 and permission to bid at £100 and 10...

0:40:130:40:15

-Well done.

-Ooh, that's not bad!

0:40:170:40:19

Well done, Thomas. When you get it right, you sure get it right.

0:40:190:40:22

I say buy more pens.

0:40:220:40:25

James still has the edge, but another hit like that for Thomas

0:40:250:40:28

could see him close on the Braxton heels.

0:40:280:40:31

108, your African stool.

0:40:310:40:34

Yeah, 30-50 pounds.

0:40:340:40:36

I think that could have killed any possible interest in it.

0:40:360:40:39

James only spent a tenner on this African stool and, even though he

0:40:390:40:43

broke it, there's a certain kooky, decorative appeal.

0:40:430:40:47

£25 for the African stool, at 25, 30, 5, 40, at 35 with me,

0:40:470:40:53

still the bid at 35, at 35, are we all done at £35?

0:40:530:40:58

So the profits keep coming, and James' savvy pays off.

0:40:580:41:02

-Steady Eddie.

-Steady Eddie Braxton.

0:41:020:41:04

I buy nice quality items,

0:41:040:41:07

quality, good condition... You buy some moth eaten broken wicker stool!

0:41:070:41:13

Yes, but I'm going for a sort of country-house style the whole time.

0:41:130:41:17

Yes, but one man's tat is another man's shabby chic!

0:41:170:41:22

Well, here's your last chance, Thomas.

0:41:240:41:26

You went with your heart with this unusual silver mustard pot.

0:41:260:41:30

You're coming from a position of strength, if I might say so.

0:41:300:41:33

Well, I'll just have to wait and see with this lot.

0:41:330:41:36

And I can open this lot at £40, at 40, 50 now,

0:41:360:41:39

at £50, 60, at 50 only, no further interest then at £50.

0:41:390:41:44

-Is that all?

-No, don't worry.

0:41:440:41:45

No, that's it.

0:41:450:41:47

Oh, dear. A terrible end for poor Thomas, and the gap is widening.

0:41:470:41:53

-Oh, dear, Thomas.

-That's a loss.

0:41:530:41:54

The thing I thought was going to make all the money!

0:41:540:41:57

It's disappointing.

0:41:570:41:59

After paying commission to the auction house,

0:41:590:42:02

James made a fair-to-middling profit of £67.40,

0:42:020:42:06

and has a proud £385.88 to fight on with.

0:42:060:42:12

Ever hopeful, Thomas made a smaller profit of just £35.10.

0:42:120:42:16

He's lagging further behind with £230.25 to start the next show.

0:42:160:42:24

So our boys have learned lessons today,

0:42:240:42:27

and there's a lot to think about for the shopping trip ahead.

0:42:270:42:29

-Very disappointed.

-Why disappointed?

0:42:290:42:32

Well, I buy an antique - you buy tat, I buy an antique,

0:42:320:42:37

you buy tat, I lose money on it.

0:42:370:42:40

Where is the justice?

0:42:400:42:42

The market is a cruel place sometimes.

0:42:420:42:44

There's no justice, sadly.

0:42:440:42:46

Just buying the right items at the right price.

0:42:460:42:49

And so far, Thomas, James has you on the ropes!

0:42:490:42:52

-I need to walk with giants.

-Walk with giants, and are you going to, "come on, bring it on"?

0:42:520:42:56

I'm going to be like Rocky. I'm going to come from behind.

0:42:560:42:59

-Are you?

-I'm going to be battered and bruised,

0:42:590:43:01

and then at the last minute, I'm going to sweep in, victorious.

0:43:010:43:04

-That's the spirit. You'll need the eye of the tiger for round three!

-Life is cruel, isn't it?

0:43:040:43:09

Next time on the Antiques Road Trip,

0:43:090:43:12

James and Thomas head for auction showdown in Bedale, North Yorkshire.

0:43:120:43:17

James goes for a new tactic.

0:43:170:43:20

I'm keeping my powder dry. There's another day, and there's another shop.

0:43:200:43:24

Thomas goes off-piste.

0:43:240:43:26

You know, I could finish that and almost have another one, and then finish that one and

0:43:260:43:30

think about another one, but then think, actually, I've got some antiques to buy.

0:43:300:43:33

And they both get going up the antiques highway.

0:43:330:43:37

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:43:530:43:56

E-mail [email protected]

0:43:560:43:59

Antiques experts James Braxton and Thomas Plant continue their tour of North East England. James gets to see a collection of rare mineral sculptures made by 19th-century miners and Thomas sees some of the oldest antiques in the world at a Roman fort.


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