Boston Antiques Roadshow


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Boston

Michael Aspel presents an edition from Boston, Lincolnshire. Interesting finds include a valuable dining table and a Chinese fertility figure rescued from a shipwreck.


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We've taken a trip to Boston.

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No, not Boston, Massachusetts, but the original authentic prototype -

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Boston, Lincolnshire.

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There is a connection, of course - the ancestors of today's Bostonians

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went off and helped to found a new continent.

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The Domesday Book barely mentioned the hamlet which became Boston,

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its name taken from a 6th-century missionary, St Botolph.

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But in 1142, a sluice was built to improve the flow of the River Witham

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and the hamlet soon became the outport for Lincolnshire.

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By the 14th century, it was the fourth richest provincial town.

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Merchants from all over Europe flocked to the Great Fair held on St Botolph's Day every June.

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Boston had arrived.

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All that was needed was a symbol to celebrate its new power and wealth.

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St Botolph's is believed to be the largest parish church in England.

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It became known as the "Boston Stump",

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probably because the steeple has the appearance of a tree with its boughs lopped, ready for felling.

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One of the treasures of this church is found

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under the parson's nose - if you see what I mean.

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These seats are called misericords and they tip up,

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enabling the user to relax

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while still technically standing.

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And how's this for light relief?

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Some wonderful carving, dating back to about 1390.

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Ironically, as work went on to build this symbol of power,

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Boston's fortunes as a trading port were fading.

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Commerce declined and was replaced by a spirit of religious radicalism

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personified in 1612 by the new vicar, John Cotton.

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John Cotton was a Puritan. Puritans wanted the Church of England

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to dismantle its elaborate structure and sermons and return to a simpler, purer form of worship.

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There was a price to pay for rebellion.

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Persecuted within the church and the community, a band of Puritans

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set sail from Plymouth in 1620 aboard the Mayflower.

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They were bound for the New World and religious freedom.

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This was the inspiration that John Cotton's flock needed

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and in 1630, members of the congregation sailed on the Arbella, bound for Massachusetts.

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There they founded the new Boston.

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More than 300 years on, Boston, Lincolnshire still thrives

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as a busy market town and port, so let's join today's Bostonians

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at the Peter Paine Sports Centre.

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Well, fantastic African art apart, what happened?

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-Er, car crash.

-What did you do?

-I broke my neck and fractured my skull and cheekbone.

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You look well for having broken your neck...

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Anyway, we're here to talk about your collection of African art.

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This is all - or the majority of the collection is -

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West African, Nigerian and Yoruba twin figures. Where did they come from?

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My granddad lived in Nigeria in the '60s and worked there

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and collected them while he was there in that area.

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The nice thing about them is that they were actually used as fetishes

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rather than sold on to tourists, or carved for tourists.

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This pair are rather nicely worn, which shows that they've been used.

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-Do you know why these figures were actually made?

-Er, no, not really.

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Well, what happened back in the...

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I think it was the 18th century, the Yoruba tribe had more twins

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per head of population than anybody else, I think, anywhere else in the world, and when one of them died,

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or if both died, that was unlucky, and the mother would commission

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the woodcarver of the village and would have these figures made.

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They wouldn't exactly worship them,

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but they would offer food and drink and all that sort of thing to them.

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I like that pair particularly. This pair are more modern. I think these are 19th century...

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This is probably 20th century.

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It's much more alarming, very much more typical, I suppose, of 20th-century art...

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And the wonderful coffee-bean eyes that they have, it's very typical,

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particularly on the big figure. Do you have a favourite?

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I like this one. I like all the markings on the body.

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The scarifications on the body.

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And - very typical - the nails for eyes, which is typical of this,

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and the blue colouring on the hair, and the beading, of course, which is absolutely tremendous.

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I have a particular pair here which I think are rather splendid.

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Most wonderful headdresses,

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absolutely lovely.

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Now, a pair of these, certainly the pair I first picked up,

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would be worth somewhere in the region of £600 to £800.

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These a little less because I think they are more modern, but there,

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we have a table full of it, so where do you think we're going as far as price is concerned on this?

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-No idea.

-Well, I would have thought you've got the best part of £5,000-worth here.

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I'm not sure what this is. Um, I think it's a correction chair, but we've had it in the family

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for generations, and the only one I've ever seen similar - not quite so ornate -

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is at Mapledurham in Oxfordshire, at that house, but other than that, I know nothing about it.

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I actually don't call them a correction chair,

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because that makes it sound rather brutal.

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They're known as deportment chairs.

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-Oh.

-And as a young lady, in the Victorian times particularly,

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it was extremely important, and part of your education,

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to sit up straight, carry yourself properly,

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and for children brought up in a nursery with a governess and nanny,

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part of their learning during the day would be etiquette, table manners, deportment,

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and so a chair like this would have been in a sense correctional, because, of course,

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if you sat on this, with its very straight high back, and you weren't sitting up properly, you'd tip off.

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You couldn't sit with this little narrow seat

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in any way other than in a perfect posture, upright.

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This is a nice example and we can date it quite accurately

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-because of this decoration on the top.

-Yes.

-It's like an open fan,

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and I would suggest that that would date it to around 1880,

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and it's a country piece, because it's made of beech.

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They are very collectable because they're a nice piece of furniture,

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but they also appeal to people who deal with dolls and those things,

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because they're a good size to display things on.

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I think probably, um, if you were to look to find another -

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and they are not that common, as you know, because you've not seen it before -

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-I think it would probably be worth insuring it for about £350.

-Really?

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Six of the figures from Lord Of The Rings, made by the Doulton factory.

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-How did you come by them?

-It started off, I bought that one...

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and then the rest were presents from my mother-in-law for Christmas and birthday.

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Do you remember how much he cost?

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-I remember this one cost my mother-in-law £20.

-£20.

-Yes.

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They came out in the 1970s, and then they went out of production,

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and they weren't limited editions.

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There were actually nine of them. You haven't got the other three?

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-I haven't.

-You'll have to try and get the other three,

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-but they're zooming up in price.

-Yes.

-These early ones.

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Generally, figures that aren't limited editions don't go up in price much, not for a long time,

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but the films have boomed the whole thing

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and nowadays you have to pay a lot of money for these things.

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If you had the full set of them,

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-they would fetch something like around about £1,500.

-Really?

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-Much more than they did a year ago.

-Right.

-But with just the six...

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-I suppose one's still looking at something like about £750.

-Oh.

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Do you have an Irish connection?

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No, I don't. I did try and find out the origins of the chairs after I purchased them.

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-You have a pair?

-Yes, they're a pair. They were very distressed.

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After I'd bought them, I traced the second previous owner, and from that I was told

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that there had been a chap who'd been buying furniture in Ireland and retailing it in this country.

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And, I mean... this upholstery, YOU put on?

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-Yes, it's been renewed.

-Were there layers of upholstery underneath?

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-No, it'd been very, very badly upholstered, possibly in the '70s, I would think...

-Right.

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-..with foam rubber and red Dralon.

-Lovely(!) Good for fire risk too!

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Apart from the scale, it's an incredibly comfortable chair

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that one sees being made by people like Howard & Sons -

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very comfortable easy chairs, and they have turned legs,

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but the real thing that stands these chairs apart from almost any others are these distinctive legs.

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-If you could give me a hand...

-Sure.

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-They're made of walnut rather than being mahogany.

-Right.

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And they've got this incredibly stylised foliate cabriole leg,

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-although it almost looks like it's drapery in a funny kind...

-Yes.

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It's a very idiosyncratic motif,

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and then with these rather nice sort of lion-paw feet...

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I've only ever seen this model of leg once before,

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and that was on a suite of Irish chairs, Irish side chairs.

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-They're thinner and they were in mahogany, not in walnut.

-Right.

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But they were mid 18th century and the real key is...

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Let's just have a look to see

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what the rails reveal - because with the upholstery, of course,

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you can never see whether it's a 20C copy or an 18C one.

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The form itself is not a form you would see in the 18th century.

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The concept of an easy chair like this, with a padded bergere side,

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-the whole proportions of it, is a different shape to any 18th-century prototype.

-Right.

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The construction of the rails...

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They've actually got rather a nice old, quite pure surface

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with oxidised timber, and there's also, at the bottom of the legs,

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there's a good amount of wear actually on the feet themselves.

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These aren't, I'm glad to say,

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20th-century chairs, but they're not 18th-century chairs either.

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You bought them as being...?

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I suppose either sort of late Victorian or Edwardian repros.

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Right. Actually, it's a very, very gutsy chair and its shape...

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I wonder whether it may originally have been covered in leather or...

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as library armchairs, and with this scrolled out section,

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in terms of construction, I think they date from the mid to the second half of the 19C.

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Characteristically Irish on the bottom. How much did you pay for them in their distressed state?

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-They were £500.

-£500.

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Well, I think, just as a very good, over-scale pair of 19th-century Irish bergeres like this -

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incredibly comfortable as you say, going with your recommendation -

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they would probably fetch £4,000 to £6,000 at auction, so, distressed they may have been...

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-I'm delighted.

-..but they're happier now!

-So am I! Thank you.

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This is brilliant!

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Modern medicine - Clark's miraculous salve

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for the cure of ulcerated bad legs,

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boils, abscesses, fistulas...

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-HE LAUGHS

-..bad breasts and gatherings of all kinds.

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One and a ha'penny... One shilling and one ha'penny per pot.

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Absolutely brilliant.

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-As toucans go, this is impressive. Michael, you remember these, don't you?

-Oh, I say, yes.

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I remember the film with Glenda Jackson - Only Two Can Play. That was excellent.

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-One of the most famous advertising symbols, isn't it?

-Absolutely.

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-Yes.

-And there was the other one... "My goodness, my Guinness."

-Yes.

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Where the boy's lost his glass down an ostrich's neck. It's fabulous.

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-How long have you had it?

-Over 40 years.

-What's the history of it?

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-My father used to work in the pub trade...

-Did it stand on the bar?

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-Yes.

-Yes, as an advertising symbol.

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-And it would have had a glass of Guinness on the back?

-I think so.

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Which unfortunately's been...

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Rough evening in the pub, perhaps. The glass has gone, as you can see.

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It's made of papier-mache

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and there are a lot of collectors of this animal, the toucan, because of the advertising symbol,

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and I think a collector of Guinness memorabilia would probably pay £300 or £400 for this,

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-even in that condition.

-Excellent.

-Cheers.

-Terrific.

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So, ruby and diamond cufflinks in the form of owl's heads.

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-Tell me about them.

-I didn't know they were ruby and diamond, to start with.

-You didn't?!

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-No, I didn't.

-That's a good start then, isn't it?

-It is rather, yes!

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We want to know who they belong to.

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I bought them for my husband as a birthday present.

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Well, what a brilliant thing...

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So, gold and silver and rubies and diamonds

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and I guess they date from about 1910, something like that.

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How much were they?

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I can't remember exactly, but I'm a generous wife but not over the top -

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-about £300, I think.

-£300...

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Well, everybody would want these. They look fantastic on the cuff,

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they're not too noisy and they're not insignificant,

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and very desirable, and I'm going to value them at £1,250.

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-I think I deserve brownie points for years!

-You do!

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-Do you drink tea out of this?

-No, it's in a display cabinet.

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How did it come to you?

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Well, it came from my grandfather's side of the family...

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-Sorry.

-Excuse me.

-I heard the word "teatime".

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You've come all the way from China?

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-Do you know what that is?

-No.

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-It is a lump of compressed tea.

-Really?

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Yeah, and they export it just like that,

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-and I bought one for my daughter. Sorry I interrupted.

-Absolutely!

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-I thought it was a coincidence.

-The perfect moment! You haven't got the cream?

-We'll grind it up, make tea.

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It's a tea brick.

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Actually, they made those for the Russian market.

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We, of course, were drinking leaf tea in the 18th century,

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and this is for leaf tea. You call it a service, but is it really?

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Well, we keep it as a service in the display cabinet,

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-but the patterns are slightly different on some of the items.

-The patterns ARE different.

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The odd one out is actually the teapot.

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The reason is... these are all porcelain,

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albeit of different patterns, but this is made of earthenware.

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If you hold this up to the light, you will not see light through it.

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It is earthenware. Let's do that.

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You see? Nothing coming through at all.

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This is a pottery body, but it is a beautifully made piece of pottery

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that is actually imitating contemporary porcelain.

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The porcelain probably was made in Staffordshire,

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maybe at a factory called New Hall, but this earthenware teapot

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could have been made in a number of places. Liverpool is a possibility,

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Staffordshire, Yorkshire - they all produced this pearlware.

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I do like that swan on top. Isn't that pretty?

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These tea bowls date circa 1790 and you can buy these in shops for £20-£40 a tea bowl and saucer,

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but the teapot - this modest piece of pottery imitating porcelain with its broken swan finial -

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it's something for which you'd pay somewhere in the region of £100 -

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maybe anything up to £200.

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-We don't collect. It came to me through my father...

-Yes.

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And it was given to him about 55-60 years ago, all in tiny little pieces.

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-The leading had gone.

-Yes.

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And at the end of the war, he brought it all out, he made a little crate, made up the jigsaw...

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-Yes, it is like a jigsaw.

-It is.

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..and put it on top of his Austin 7 car and off we went up to London

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-and he took it to the firm of Kelly's...

-I see.

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And this was 1947, and it was all re-leaded,

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-and we noticed there is a signature...

-Oh, yes.

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-There it is.

-..Which says H Hughes, 1870.

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Of course, stained glass is a long tradition in English art.

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It goes back to the Middle Ages.

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The Victorians revived the medieval method of doing stained glass,

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which was basically to colour each piece. Each piece of glass

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was individually coloured and put together, and then they painted over it as well,

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usually in a sort of enamel.

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The famous maker of stained-glass windows was William Morris and Co,

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-and Burne-Jones their most famous designer.

-Yes.

-There were others.

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There were many others, and of course Henry Hughes is as yet, you know, not well known or remembered,

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but he obviously, clearly, was a first-rate artist.

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Now, what about the subject? I see here it says "Black Prince".

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-Black Prince.

-Son of Edward III.

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Yes, Crecy and Agincourt.

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And this explains, therefore, why his shield here has both

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-the French arms and the English.

-Yes.

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Because at that time we owned,

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-or laid claim to, large parts of France.

-Parts of that country.

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But tell me, where do you have it in your house?

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-Because it's quite difficult to put stained glass in...

-We had to redesign the porch

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-and entrance hall to take it.

-So it's on an inside wall?

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-Yes.

-An inside wall.

-Does the light come through it?

-Yes.

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The whole essence of stained glass is you've got to have light coming through.

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Otherwise you lose the point of it. This is a very handsome figure,

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but not many people collect stained glass. It's a minority activity.

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But they are beginning to, and it's beginning to be appreciated again,

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and I certainly think a panel like this must be worth £2,000 or £3,000 now...

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I would think, without question.

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-It was bought locally in a small cycle shop owned by a German gentleman in Boston.

-Oh, locally?

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-Yes, locally.

-How nice. Well, it's a fantastic piece.

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How the publican earned money out of it -

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you threw a penny in the side, and it came down here

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and that started the movement which revolved the disc.

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-Shall we give it a go?

-Yes, please.

-Give it a wind.

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SOFT MUSIC

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-Plays wonderfully, doesn't it?

-Yes, it's lovely.

-Any idea about value?

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It was bought for three pound ten shillings, a long while ago...

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-That was quite a lot of money then.

-It was.

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-Well, my suggestion is today, you insure it for about £3,000.

-Really?

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I didn't know how much it was worth. It's just a treasure. Love it.

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-You love it?

-Yes.

-You keep it, but do insure it.

-I will now!

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This is truly a whopper. How did it come into your life?

0:20:550:20:58

Well, we bought it off the internet, which sounds a bit strange...

0:20:580:21:03

We didn't realise it was as big as this when we bought it.

0:21:030:21:07

We bid for it on an auction site.

0:21:070:21:10

-Were you looking for something like this?

-I was looking for a sideboard

0:21:100:21:14

and I showed the wife this, and we both like old antique furniture,

0:21:140:21:19

and because of the carvings on it,

0:21:190:21:22

we both fell in love with it.

0:21:220:21:25

-Did you have the full dimensions?

-Yes, but it's one of those things

0:21:250:21:30

where you don't realise how big it actually is when you measure it.

0:21:300:21:36

It is gigantic.

0:21:360:21:38

-What did you pay for it?

-We paid... This is the secret of bidding.

0:21:380:21:42

We actually paid £300 and a penny!

0:21:420:21:46

-Three hundred pounds and one...

-We actually won it by a penny.

0:21:460:21:50

-And did the price include delivery?

-No, it was about £50 for delivery.

0:21:500:21:54

-So you spent about £350.

-£350.

-And one penny.

0:21:540:21:58

And a penny, yeah. And a penny.

0:21:580:22:00

-And what do you actually know about it?

-Well, we know that it's oak.

0:22:000:22:04

We was told that it was Flemish. And, er, basically, that's about it.

0:22:040:22:10

We were also told it was late 19th century, but we don't actually...

0:22:100:22:15

Well, one of our experts was sauntering past

0:22:150:22:19

and gasped, and told me that it's Renaissance revival, about 1900,

0:22:190:22:25

and that with that sort of specialist appeal, you could get at auction between £500 and £800.

0:22:250:22:31

That's OK. Not a bad profit, is it?

0:22:310:22:34

-So that's one for the internet.

-Yeah.

0:22:340:22:37

My dad was at the 1936 Olympics and he brought this back.

0:22:370:22:41

Wow, an American baseball! Look - "American Baseball Team

0:22:410:22:45

-"at Olympiad, Berlin, 1936..." He was there?

-Yes.

0:22:450:22:48

Fantastic. That was, of course, the Games that Hitler attended

0:22:480:22:52

to show off the power and physical prowess of the Third Reich.

0:22:520:22:57

-So these are the signatures of the American baseball team?

-Yes.

0:22:570:23:01

But it wasn't an official Olympic sport, was it?

0:23:010:23:04

-No. It was a demonstration game.

-Right, that all makes sense.

0:23:040:23:08

There's going to be a huge interest from the US in this.

0:23:080:23:12

It's a difficult one to value. I've never seen one.

0:23:120:23:15

But if you could get these signatures looked at

0:23:150:23:18

by somebody who perhaps knows about the players whose name this bears,

0:23:180:23:23

-it's potentially worth at least £2,000 or £3,000.

-Really?

0:23:230:23:27

-Or more.

-Wow.

-The sky's the limit. It's a unique item.

0:23:270:23:31

-What a great little chap.

-He is, love.

0:23:310:23:34

I like the, er, bottom bits.

0:23:340:23:36

-This is a fertility figure, I suppose.

-It is a fertility figure.

0:23:360:23:40

-Intended for...young ladies...

-An engaged couple.

-Engaged couple.

0:23:400:23:45

To help them produce, I suppose...

0:23:450:23:48

-Establish a family.

-He's very well endowed...

0:23:480:23:51

-I think he's lovely.

-He is.

-From the Tek Sing ship's cargo.

0:23:510:23:55

-That's right, love.

-Which has been fairly recently discovered.

-Yes.

0:23:550:23:59

-Have you got much stuff from the Tek Sing cargo?

-Quite a bit.

0:23:590:24:03

-How did you get hold of it?

-Well, my husband worked for Mr Hatcher.

0:24:030:24:07

Mr Hatcher's uncle did the deep-sea diving and found all the pottery.

0:24:070:24:13

-That's Captain Hatcher?

-That's Captain Hatcher, yes.

-How wonderful.

0:24:130:24:17

-He's a lovely man.

-Yes, he's great.

-He is, yes.

-I met him once.

0:24:170:24:21

-You have?

-He asked me to go deep-sea diving with him.

-Oh!

-I can't swim!

0:24:210:24:27

I think he's absolutely lovely

0:24:270:24:29

and one of the most valuable things on that Tek Sing cargo.

0:24:290:24:33

-These fetch hundreds of pounds.

-Oh, yes.

0:24:330:24:38

-Dealers ask, some of them, almost £1,000 for one of these.

-Yes.

0:24:380:24:43

-So you've been very fortunate.

-Yes.

-I think he's wonderful. Yes, he is.

0:24:430:24:48

Of English furniture, dining tables are the most problematic things

0:24:480:24:52

-because they're used. This has seen some good use.

-Over the years...

0:24:520:24:57

Well, since I've had it, yes, but previous to that, grandparents.

0:24:570:25:01

-Right.

-And my mother.

0:25:010:25:03

-Oh, so you've known it in the family for...?

-60-odd years?

0:25:030:25:08

60-odd years.

0:25:080:25:10

And the difficult thing is, there are more reproduction dining tables than you'll ever see

0:25:100:25:16

and they make them beautifully, very, very good timber, copying the same designs exactly.

0:25:160:25:22

-What date do you think this table is?

-Haven't a clue. I just thought it was reproduction.

-Right.

0:25:220:25:28

There's a few good giveaways.

0:25:280:25:30

One always looks for the construction on the underside.

0:25:300:25:34

The top can be repolished and refinished.

0:25:340:25:38

Looking at the underside,

0:25:380:25:40

one of the things I always like to look for is the catch itself.

0:25:400:25:45

This is a very nice traditional design of catch.

0:25:450:25:49

Can you see where the light catches bits of old lacquer on the brass?

0:25:490:25:55

It's a wonderful finishing technique which most reproduction dining tables don't have.

0:25:550:26:01

-That is a very nice Georgian catch.

-Is it?

0:26:010:26:05

You also would expect to see quite a lot of corresponding wear between the top and the base,

0:26:050:26:12

because the tilt top section...

0:26:120:26:14

these end sections and the central pedestal should mark the top.

0:26:140:26:19

You've got corresponding wear here.

0:26:190:26:21

-I wondered what that was.

-When it's down there, it's pushing through.

0:26:210:26:25

With shrinkage over time,

0:26:250:26:27

this piece lifts up and stands a little bit proud of the platform.

0:26:270:26:33

Let's have a look at the base.

0:26:330:26:36

It's got this very confident ring-turned baluster shaft

0:26:360:26:40

running all the way down, very, very nicely turned,

0:26:400:26:44

lovely colour, dense timber with these nice reeded legs

0:26:440:26:47

and with a good amount of wear

0:26:470:26:50

round the bottom where fidgety feet

0:26:500:26:52

have scraped along, so you've lost some of the definition that's raised here.

0:26:520:26:58

That's a good sign. The sandwich construction of the platform,

0:26:580:27:03

made of pine in three sections, is exactly as one would like to see.

0:27:030:27:08

These are all promising signs of its being an antique dining table.

0:27:080:27:13

I hadn't noticed the sandwiching.

0:27:130:27:15

-These, however, are not so good.

-Oh.

0:27:150:27:19

I mean, they've got these rather...

0:27:190:27:22

badly defined...

0:27:220:27:24

-supports.

-Mm-hm.

0:27:240:27:27

Those would suggest that this is not a period dining table if you're looking at those alone.

0:27:270:27:33

-The good news for you is that these are not the original supports.

-Oh.

0:27:330:27:38

And the real giveaway is that you've got here, filled holes

0:27:380:27:42

-and shadow marks for longer bearers which originally went here.

-Right.

0:27:420:27:46

But if we just swing it round a little bit

0:27:480:27:52

and then let's see how it goes.

0:27:520:27:55

Now, it's a very, very nice, good three-pedestal dining table,

0:27:570:28:02

and they're extremely desirable.

0:28:020:28:05

One thing that affects the value of a dining table - and this isn't a reproduction, as you feared...

0:28:050:28:11

-Oh, great.

-It is a late 18th-century dining table,

0:28:110:28:15

which is quite close, in the design of the plinth, to the dining tables

0:28:150:28:19

that Gillows of London and Lancaster produced in the 1790s,

0:28:190:28:24

but the colour of the top has been taken back.

0:28:240:28:27

That was in our attic for a long time and those two have been used.

0:28:270:28:32

-Right, because there's a slight colour difference.

-There is, yes.

0:28:320:28:37

-It's had a lot of use over the years, has it?

-Yes.

0:28:370:28:41

In fact, we used to put the table tennis net across here and play table tennis round it.

0:28:410:28:47

-From end to end?

-Yes.

-Oh, my goodness! Slightly more difficult with a rounded one.

-Yeah.

0:28:470:28:53

-I wouldn't recommend that.

-No.

-Even with the alterations,

0:28:530:28:57

this George III, three-pedestal dining table is probably worth

0:28:570:29:02

£15,000-25,000.

0:29:020:29:04

-Really? Wow.

-Because they're such good plinths.

0:29:040:29:08

Alistair, of all the priceless pieces of silver you've discovered,

0:29:080:29:13

you have brought in a table full of fakes.

0:29:130:29:17

-How do you know they're fakes?

-It's largely down to experience.

0:29:170:29:21

You have to know where certain pieces were marked at a particular period in time.

0:29:210:29:28

In the 18C, they marked particular objects in a particular way.

0:29:280:29:33

The most important thing to remember about silver...

0:29:330:29:37

is that it's the only part of antiques that's governed by Act of Parliament,

0:29:370:29:44

so you're limited to what you can and can't do to a piece of silver.

0:29:440:29:49

So a fake is something that has contravened that?

0:29:490:29:53

Yes, that's the short answer to it.

0:29:530:29:56

There are different types of fake. Probably the most common one,

0:29:560:30:01

is that you cannot change an object from the original purpose for which it was hallmarked.

0:30:010:30:07

If we look at this coffee pot here, which is rather an odd shape,

0:30:070:30:12

does it strike you as being reminiscent of anything else?

0:30:120:30:16

-A good old tankard.

-Well, that's exactly what it is, yes.

0:30:160:30:20

If you mask away the spout there...

0:30:200:30:23

-Yes.

-..there you have an absolutely standard mid-18C tankard,

0:30:230:30:27

hallmarked here for 1755 by a firm called Gurney and Cook,

0:30:270:30:31

but it's been to the Goldsmiths' Hall

0:30:310:30:35

and they've stuck marks on it to show that it has had additions.

0:30:350:30:40

What they forgot to do was put the marks on the addition itself,

0:30:400:30:45

but as this piece was from the first year that this law came in, 1844, I think we can let them off.

0:30:450:30:51

But that was transformed from a tankard into a coffee pot.

0:30:510:30:55

I should just add that decoration - and this decoration is also about 1844 - is not illegal.

0:30:550:31:02

You can decorate a piece of silver

0:31:020:31:04

-if you don't change the use of it.

-When you say illegal,

0:31:040:31:08

-are people liable for prison sentences, fines?

-Yes, in the 18C,

0:31:080:31:12

prison was - and transportation -

0:31:120:31:15

was a very common punishment for repeating offenders.

0:31:150:31:20

-There's nothing new in this particular crime?

-Fakes have been going on for centuries.

0:31:200:31:26

That's why we have one of the best hallmarking systems in the world,

0:31:260:31:31

a wonderful form of consumer protection going back 700 years.

0:31:310:31:36

Have any of these pieces got a very dramatic history?

0:31:360:31:40

Well, this little cream jug, which looks harmless enough,

0:31:400:31:45

is part of one of the most famous fraud cases ever to come to light.

0:31:450:31:49

Two characters, Charles Twinam and Reuben Lyon,

0:31:490:31:53

in the late 1890s, made such a substantial number of fakes,

0:31:530:31:58

that the Goldsmiths' Hall published for the first time in their history

0:31:580:32:02

a special booklet listing all the pieces they'd found,

0:32:020:32:07

with all the fake punches.

0:32:070:32:09

This is a cream jug made by these two with a false set of marks,

0:32:090:32:13

with a date letter for 1783,

0:32:130:32:15

and it actually was made round about 1895-1898.

0:32:150:32:21

-So, by being so greedy, they helped the cause of justice.

-They did.

0:32:220:32:27

This is the most extraordinary illustrated diary I've seen.

0:32:270:32:31

It's over three years and each page is covered with these most extraordinary drawings.

0:32:310:32:38

-Where did it come from?

-Um...

0:32:380:32:41

well, it belonged to my great-aunt who was a tailoress

0:32:410:32:45

and from what I've been told, she got it in part payment

0:32:450:32:49

-because a gentleman hadn't enough money to pay.

-How much was the debt?

0:32:490:32:54

-I've no idea.

-Well, this is lovely! Just open this little door...

0:32:540:32:58

and there's wonderful things in the cupboard,

0:32:580:33:02

including some little gremlins drinking pop or something.

0:33:020:33:06

They're all very amateur,

0:33:060:33:08

but nevertheless they're very much to the point.

0:33:080:33:12

This one here gives me a slight clue that it's not English.

0:33:120:33:17

You don't know where it came from at all?

0:33:170:33:20

-No, I don't.

-A slight clue is this is called A Temperance Lecture.

0:33:200:33:25

I'm not saying we didn't have temperance lectures in England,

0:33:250:33:30

but I think they're more likely to have had big temperance time in America.

0:33:300:33:35

And as I go through, I mean, these wacky little pictures...

0:33:350:33:41

Look, this is quite extraordinary.

0:33:410:33:43

"Melting brass burnt through the patty pan."

0:33:430:33:47

And here he is, and this tie is very un-English, don't you think?

0:33:470:33:52

-Yes, yes.

-I mean it IS in English.

0:33:520:33:54

But it suggests to me that it is American, so we're talking about American primitive art,

0:33:540:34:00

and the other thing which backs this up is this wonderful list here, in the back.

0:34:000:34:06

"There are 26 states which consists the Northern, Middle and Southern states." This is all America.

0:34:060:34:13

-Yes.

-And it lists them all here,

0:34:130:34:15

and the territories, "Wisconsin, Iona, Florida..."

0:34:150:34:20

Iona? Iowa, sorry! I can't read his writing.

0:34:200:34:24

"..and Columbia District." But that's absolutely lovely.

0:34:240:34:28

It's in a little green vellum binding, little brass clasp,

0:34:280:34:32

a little bit worn, but I think we will forgive it that,

0:34:320:34:36

but essentially it is just a delight.

0:34:360:34:40

-Value, any idea?

-No.

0:34:400:34:42

None at all, really.

0:34:420:34:45

Well, I think we'll go for £5,000.

0:34:450:34:47

-I hope the debt is now repaid!

-Yes, definitely.

-Thank you very much.

0:34:470:34:53

-Thank you.

-Very exciting to see.

0:34:530:34:55

It belonged to my husband's family. My husband's lived in the farmhouse for as long as we can remember.

0:34:550:35:01

My husband found it when he was a little boy up in the attic.

0:35:010:35:06

From what we can gather, it belonged to a family member.

0:35:060:35:10

Now the interesting part of this helmet... We're in Boston,

0:35:100:35:14

and here around the title is "Holland Cavalry".

0:35:140:35:18

Now, this area is known as Holland,

0:35:200:35:22

-Boston, is it not?

-That's right.

0:35:220:35:25

So we've got a helmet for the locality and really it gets better

0:35:250:35:30

because at the beginning of the Napoleonic Wars,

0:35:300:35:35

they had what was called a tarlatan helmet which the officers wore, and the troopers.

0:35:350:35:41

Some of those tarlatan helmets exist for the officers,

0:35:410:35:45

but you very rarely get other ranks' helmets.

0:35:450:35:49

Now it wouldn't surprise me if this is prior tarlatan.

0:35:490:35:53

-Now, we're talking about 1795 now.

-Right.

0:35:530:35:58

France declared war on us in 1793

0:35:580:36:01

and then it went on more or less without a break till 1815,

0:36:010:36:06

nearly 22 years of war, but these early helmets, they just do not exist.

0:36:060:36:12

I can't emphasise enough,

0:36:130:36:15

they are that rare.

0:36:150:36:18

I think any collector of this period would be willing to pay

0:36:180:36:22

-about £4,000-5,000 for a helmet like this.

-Really?

0:36:220:36:27

-Yes, really.

-Goodness!

0:36:270:36:29

This is a tiny, tiny, little ring. What prompted you to bring it?

0:36:290:36:34

-Well, because I believe it's valuable.

-What made you think that?

0:36:340:36:38

-Well, it says Lalique inside.

-It does.

-Yes.

0:36:380:36:42

-What do you know about Lalique?

-I know they did...

-It's French.

0:36:420:36:47

-They do a lot of...

-They didn't only do jewellery...

-Pottery as well?

0:36:470:36:52

-Yes, glass later on, yeah.

-Well, that's where we realised it could be valuable.

-Mmm.

0:36:520:36:59

Well, it's not only a rare thing,

0:36:590:37:01

-but it's a very beautiful thing, isn't it?

-Yes.

-Who gave it to you?

0:37:010:37:06

Old gentleman who lived next door...

0:37:060:37:09

We looked after him. He was left on his own, we looked after him and so on. He was 94 years old.

0:37:090:37:15

-And did he know about...?

-I don't really know, no.

0:37:150:37:20

-I don't think he realised the value of it.

-But what has to be said,

0:37:200:37:24

is that this is a complete little masterpiece of goldsmith's work

0:37:240:37:29

and it's made by one of the towering geniuses of the Art Nouveau Movement, Rene Lalique.

0:37:290:37:36

He is a genius who chose to work in jewellery, then moved on to glass,

0:37:360:37:41

and this is a tiny expression of his work, but it's all there.

0:37:410:37:45

-Now, what do you think about this green material?

-Is it enamel?

0:37:450:37:50

It's a particular sort of enamel,

0:37:500:37:52

which we call plique-a-jour enamel which means "applied to the day."

0:37:520:37:56

That's a way of saying that it's an enamel without a background.

0:37:560:38:01

Lalique was returning to nature.

0:38:010:38:03

-His inspiration comes from plant life and animal life.

-Yes.

0:38:030:38:08

In order to achieve that, he used a Japanese technique,

0:38:080:38:12

suggesting the veins in leaves and the veins in the wings of buzzing insects with pierced gold,

0:38:120:38:19

and then he'd hold the enamel in suspension, like a bubble,

0:38:190:38:23

and it gives a little bit of naturalism, more than a little bit.

0:38:230:38:27

-Now the reason it's tiny is that it's a ring.

-Yes.

0:38:270:38:31

So this is not marks against it that it is a tiny work of art.

0:38:310:38:35

People collect these things

0:38:350:38:39

-and if it turned up in a sale, two collectors wanting it...

-Yes.

0:38:390:38:43

..I think maybe £5,000-6,000 wouldn't be completely mad.

0:38:430:38:48

I'm not generally in favour of flowery porcelain.

0:38:480:38:52

It's not my taste, and pink roses...eugh!

0:38:520:38:55

But...

0:38:550:38:57

sometimes...

0:38:570:38:59

something is so over the top and blousy

0:38:590:39:04

and in-your-face that it just kind of works.

0:39:040:39:08

And this absolutely works for me.

0:39:080:39:11

I think it's absolutely brilliant.

0:39:110:39:13

-Do you like it?

-I do, I mean, it's always been in the cupboard at home.

0:39:130:39:17

It's never been allowed out for fear of it being broken,

0:39:170:39:22

but yes, I do, yeah.

0:39:220:39:24

OK, the fear of it being broken

0:39:240:39:26

suggests that you thought it might be of some merit.

0:39:260:39:31

Not me personally, but I think my parents...

0:39:310:39:35

It was handed down from Great Aunt Lucy in Nottingham to my mother.

0:39:350:39:39

And she always valued it, I think, because of Great Aunt Lucy.

0:39:390:39:44

I think that me, as a small child,

0:39:440:39:47

because it was colourful and pretty and little girls with tea sets...

0:39:470:39:51

-Absolutely, but you weren't allowed to play with it?

-No, I wasn't, no.

0:39:510:39:55

And Nottingham's interesting.

0:39:550:39:57

-D'you know where it comes from?

-No.

0:39:570:40:00

-This is Derby porcelain.

-Right.

0:40:000:40:03

And we've got on here a typical Derby puce mark.

0:40:030:40:09

Puce is this particular pinky colour.

0:40:090:40:12

And it's all...I've had a look - I say all, most of it...

0:40:120:40:17

and it appears to be puce marked except one piece which is...

0:40:170:40:22

-red mark.

-Right, yes.

0:40:220:40:25

Now the puce mark ran up till 1800 and then it changed to a red mark.

0:40:250:40:30

This suggests to me

0:40:300:40:33

we're exactly on the cusp of 1800, unless that's a replacement,

0:40:330:40:38

which it doesn't look to me as if it is -

0:40:380:40:41

that's where we're at, we're on the year 1800.

0:40:410:40:46

Now you were quite right to be kept from playing with it as a child,

0:40:460:40:54

although I will give you permission when you get home to play with it for 5 minutes, very carefully!

0:40:540:41:01

Dare I now? I just don't know.

0:41:010:41:04

Well, it's a rather wonderful survival. There seem to be...

0:41:040:41:09

I haven't counted, but, I mean, a dozen each of the coffee can...

0:41:090:41:13

..tea cup...

0:41:140:41:17

and saucer.

0:41:170:41:19

Now, how are we going to value this? It is without a teapot.

0:41:190:41:23

-No teapot?

-I do... I'm sure I have a teapot.

0:41:230:41:28

OK, let's price it individually.

0:41:280:41:30

You would get £150 to £200 for the slop bowl.

0:41:300:41:36

The plates are a bit worn, or this one's a bit worn,

0:41:360:41:40

so we're looking at perhaps £250, £300, £400 for the plates.

0:41:400:41:45

The jug, we've got a bit of misfiring on... No, it's dirt.

0:41:450:41:49

-Don't draw attention to it!

-It could all do with a slight clean.

0:41:500:41:56

That's worth...

0:41:560:41:58

£250 to £350.

0:41:580:42:00

The sucrier...

0:42:010:42:03

is such a wonderful neoclassical shape,

0:42:030:42:07

it's so clean and bright,

0:42:070:42:10

I think we're looking at about...

0:42:100:42:14

-pushing £1,000 for that.

-You're joking!

0:42:140:42:17

And a saucer,

0:42:170:42:20

a coffee can and a teacup,

0:42:200:42:23

which is what we call a trio,

0:42:230:42:26

we're looking about £400 to £600.

0:42:260:42:28

-Incredible.

-If you tot that up overall, without the teapot,

0:42:300:42:35

-which we may or may not have got...

-I think we have.

-We're looking at somewhere around £4,000 to £6,000.

0:42:350:42:41

I just can't believe it, I really can't.

0:42:410:42:44

It's a good job I wasn't allowed to play with it. It's terrible.

0:42:440:42:48

See if you can find the pot.

0:42:480:42:51

-If you can find the pot, another £3,000.

-Really?!

0:42:510:42:55

I'll find the pot. I'll find the pot!

0:42:570:43:00

-Thank you very much.

-Thank you.

0:43:000:43:03

Standing next to a massive piece of furniture seems the perfect place to say goodbye from Boston,

0:43:030:43:09

home to the tallest working windmill and the largest parish church in the land.

0:43:090:43:15

And now I'm going to look for the deepest cup of tea!

0:43:150:43:19

Thanks to all the Bostonians for bringing us a wide range of items.

0:43:190:43:23

You can find out more about silver from our website, but now from Lincolnshire, goodbye.

0:43:230:43:29

Subtitles by Suzanne Macdonald and Dorothy Moore

0:43:390:43:42

Michael Aspel presents an edition from Boston, Lincolnshire, where the founders of the Massachussetts city originated. Interesting finds include a dining table valued at £25,000 formerly used for table tennis, a Chinese fertility figure rescued from a shipwreck and a baseball from the 1936 Olympics.