Woburn Abbey Antiques Roadshow


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Woburn Abbey

Michael Aspel invites the public to bring along their prized possessions for examination, this time at Woburn Abbey. A valuable portrait of a cat is among the finds.


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A great estate and a magnificent house -

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Woburn Abbey stands in 3,000 acres of Bedfordshire countryside.

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Inside the abbey, the finest French and English porcelain,

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fabulous paintings, and vaults of silver and gold,

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all gathered during a family history which stretches back nearly 600 years.

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We have two shows from Woburn,

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so for openers, allow me to take you on a grand tour of the estate.

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An abbey was established here in 1145, but was later confiscated by Henry VIII,

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who left the building in his will to the first Earl of Bedford, John Russell, in 1547.

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The Russells didn't actually move in until 1619,

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but it's been their postal address ever since then.

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What you see of the abbey today

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is largely due to the efforts of a couple of 18th-century Henrys,

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Messrs Flitcroft and Holland, designers to the nobility.

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The fourth Duke employed Flitcroft to build the grand state rooms,

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and the fifth Duke commissioned Holland to build the south wing,

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the Chinese dairy,

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and the sculpture gallery.

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Since those additions, the house has seen some major subtractions -

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it's now only half its original size.

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The east wing, an indoor riding school and a real tennis court

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succumbed to dry rot and eventually disappeared.

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The grounds are home to nine species of deer,

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including the Pere David, which originally came from the Imperial herd of China.

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The 11th Duke, Herbrand by name, saved the deer from extinction,

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and, in 1985, 22 were donated to the Chinese government.

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Now, there are 400.

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Woburn Abbey, like all grand and glamorous estates, earns its keep.

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In 1955 John, the 13th Duke, opened the estate to the public.

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Feature films were made here - there was even a brief glimpse of a nudist colony -

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and then, in the late 1960s, an antique centre was opened.

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This was soon followed by Woburn Safari Park,

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but for lovers of sport everywhere,

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Woburn means just one thing - the famous golf tournaments.

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For today's Roadshow, we're all off to the sculpture gallery.

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This is a very English setting for a very Japanese doll,

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and here she stands in her kimono looking, I have to say,

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slightly overdressed for today's conditions - this hot sunshine.

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And in my hand I've got a card, a business card,

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which says Mr Takayuki Eguchi

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from Nagoya, Japan - any connection? I'd like to hope there is.

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That was my father.

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He wasn't 17 years old,

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because that was the age when he left Japan,

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to finish his education in Great Britain.

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-Give me a date for that.

-He arrived in 1914, just before the Great War,

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when Japan and Britain were allies.

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And had very close...close ties.

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-So, your father came to England - did he bring the doll with him?

-No.

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-Ah, there's more to this, is there?

-Well, there's my father,

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and he fell in love with this English lady - my mother.

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-Yes.

-And this is my grandfather, Kumaichi,

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who was outraged that his eldest son was going to make a marriage in England.

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So this wasn't the plan. The plan was for him to get his education,

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-go home and marry some...?

-Well, there was a marriage arranged,

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-so grandfather lost face.

-Of course.

-It was an outrage.

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He said, "Come home, or I will cut off your allowance".

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So, my very stubborn father said, "I'll get a job."

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He was very distressed, because he loved his father,

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and his father had always been most loving, and, er...

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They had their first daughter, Alma,

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but she died when she was nine, of meningitis.

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-Tragedy.

-It was a terrible tragedy,

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and Kumaichi was so shocked to lose a child that he relented,

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forgave his son and invited the whole family to Japan.

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So that is what this is about -

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it's about the reconciliation of my father,

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and my mother meeting for the first time the Japanese family.

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Then the doll, you got in Japan?

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Well, grandfather, very generously -

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he loved my mother, he loved his grandchildren -

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and he commissioned this doll to be made by the master doll-maker in Kyoto.

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-How amazing.

-He commissioned the most beautiful doll for my brother, which was a Samurai on a horse,

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which I always preferred to this rather pretty doll.

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-Yes, I would have been in your camp.

-I loved that.

-But she is just gorgeous.

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He also commissioned kimonos for my mother and myself, too,

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so we came back embarrassingly loaded with many, many, many boxes of gifts.

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How wonderful. A kimono like this?

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-Was it similar?

-Oh, yes, it was very similar,

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with the darker colour outside and then this radiant sort of...

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-Oh, yes.

-..colour showing through.

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-My petticoat was the same golden orange colour.

-Fantastic.

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These dolls are actually known as Ichimatsus - play dolls -

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and they were very popular through the whole of the Meiji period,

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which was 1868 through to 1912.

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The head is made out of papier-mache

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which has then been covered with a kind of gesso,

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which has taken an extraordinary sort of...

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It almost has a feel and finish of porcelain.

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It's an incredible finish on the surface of the face, there.

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The hands are also papier-mache and similarly finished,

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and, of course, this glorious costume,

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made as the full-sized costume would have been.

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-She really is the symbol of the family reunited, isn't she?

-Yes, yes, she is.

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Well, she ought to be priceless,

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but everything has a price.

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I would say that her value, to a collector, would be something around £1,000.

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Which, in the light of what it represents to your family, seems like a snip.

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The latter part of the 19th century saw revivals

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-of periods and styles that we'd had from the Tudor period onwards.

-Right.

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The greatest of all, I suppose, was the Rococo revival -

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the period of shapes and designs up to 1760.

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Then came the Sheraton revival, so everything kept being repeated,

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but with every revival there was always a difference.

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These enable you to tell, and obviously the value is considerable.

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This is a roll-top desk,

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which was first introduced into high society in London in the 1750s, 1760s,

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and it came from France.

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You then saw it go out of fashion by about 1810, 1820,

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and then revive again at the end of the century, when this was made.

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This is a Sheraton revival piece.

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One of the differences is that, you know, if you see it across the room,

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in the 18th-century version, this side part followed the front contour of the cylinder,

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rather than being set back.

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This version has, I think, a more interesting profile -

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it looks more architectural, with this overhanging cornice.

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Another nice feature of this desk -

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I've lifted this out to see... When it opens,

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then you've got a pair of little inkwells, and the desk comes forward to write on.

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Now, before we go into it any further, tell me the family history.

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My wife's grandfather bought it. He was a nurseryman,

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used to go to London on his horse and cart in the '20s and '30s.

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-Right.

-And he used to buy furniture for his home.

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The earliest that we think that he bought it was probably in the late '30s, early '40s.

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-Right.

-It's been in the family as long as my wife's been part of it.

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That was considered sort of second-hand, then. He probably bought a bargain,

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but it's... Of its type, it's as good as you will find -

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it works, it's smooth, and it's the most beautiful bit of wood.

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The quality of the inlay is another guide to its value

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and its price when new, and this is all highly precision-made, with bright colours.

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When this was new, this would have been a richer, darker colour,

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and this would have been bright yellow, white, green, red.

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You can still see the colours. It must have been quite outstanding.

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Could have been made - I don't think there's a mark,

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-have you ever found a stamp on here anywhere - any of the drawers?

-No.

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-Inside the main drawer, there's...

-Ah, wonderful! Oh, that's great.

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Jewells of Holborn - that's fabulous!

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-We wasn't sure whether it had been repaired, or...

-No, no, no!

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-This is fantastic!

-It has an original plate in.

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Well, well, well.

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Little Queen Street. Oh, this is great!

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Well, just looking at it led me to say that it should bear a maker's mark,

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and this company was working

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in the latter part of the 19th century,

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and they supplied the great stores -

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-Gillows, Maples, Heals all sold Jewells furniture.

-Ah.

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-Wonderful. That adds considerably to its historic value and to its commercial value.

-Really?

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What you should do is to take a photograph of that,

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and send it to the Victoria and Albert Museum.

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-Really?

-Yes, because they like to keep a record of all stamped pieces of furniture.

-Gosh.

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-That's a great find, a great find.

-Excellent.

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Value-wise, for insurance I was going to say

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somewhere in the region of £2,500 to £3,000,

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but I think you should think of more near £4,500 to £5,000,

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as an academic piece and a historical piece of great interest.

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We're appreciating quality rather than just age.

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Every time I come on a programme, there's something new.

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Something we've never seen before, and something that stimulates you.

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This has got at me -

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I think it's a great object.

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-Good.

-Do you know what it is?

-No idea.

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Well, we're kind of assuming it's something like a shaving bowl,

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but that's a complete guess, really.

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So, how do you think it works?

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Um, chin here, I presume,

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-but I'm not sure what the small holes are.

-Small holes.

-Yeah.

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-Chin.

-Mm-hmm.

-Now what do you do?

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Get a bit... Not being a man, it's not for me to guess.

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OK, OK, I hold this up here,

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and I try and get the bubbles under here -

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-is that what I do?

-That's true. That's a good point.

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They're always called shaving bowls,

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but there's another theory which is gaining ground,

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that they're not shaving bowls.

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And when you go back to the 17th and 18th century, men had beards.

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-They didn't shave!

-That's true.

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This is a beard washing bowl.

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-Right? That's what it's for.

-Ah!

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And when you've finished, there's a piece of string here,

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-and you hang it on the wall.

-Hang it up.

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This particular one... I mean, they're well known, they come from China, largely, and Japan,

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and then you get English Delft ones,

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and a few other things as well.

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-This one is Japanese.

-Right.

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It was made at Arita,

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..and it's a very unusual one.

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Normally, they're just Imari patterns - gold, blue and red,

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flowers, baskets, something like that.

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This one has been moulded with these waves.

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We've got carp leaping through it,

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we've got these wonderful shells on here, and coral,

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and it's been decorated with extraordinary colours,

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with this emerald green,

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and then a pink and blue which almost suggest iridescence,

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-which is very, very uncommon.

-Right.

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This is fascinating.

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-See that crack?

-Right.

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That happened in the firing - the first firing -

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and they tried to repair it at the time.

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-It's not worked, because the crack has gone even further across there.

-Yes.

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Now, what date are we talking about?

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Couldn't even guess.

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-It's about 1700.

-Oh, right! Gosh.

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It's 300 years old. It's a really, really nice object. I love it.

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Um... It's very rare, and...

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We have three of them. My parents actually have three of them.

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-They all look very similar, so...

-Never!

-Mm.

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There must have been a barber's shop in the family. How wacky!

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-That's extraordinary!

-They inherited them, so I've no idea how they got hold of them.

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I can't believe it.

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Well, I think, you know, this one, even with its damage,

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-is going to be worth close on £1,000.

-Wow!

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A perfect one I would think would be nearer £1,500 to £2,000.

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-Gosh. We'll check the others over.

-Absolutely.

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-Thank you for coming in with it.

-You're welcome.

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-I have no idea.

-It's to do with farming.

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-It's to do with farming.

-Give you a clue.

-OK.

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Give me a clue.

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-I just did.

-Well... That's the clue?

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Well, I thought it might have a veterinary application,

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-but it looks a bit too gruesome.

-Bit dangerous for that, yes.

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-It's obviously for pulling something.

-You're getting close.

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-Put me out of my misery.

-Hayrick.

-Hayrick.

-You put it in.

-Yeah.

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Extend it into the middle of a hayrick, and you pull a piece out.

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-Right.

-To see if it was damp, and then it would sweat.

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That's when it would catch fire.

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So, it's a tool that's used to gauge whether your hayricks are going to spontaneously combust or not?

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-Basically, yes. What age would it be?

-It's a Victorian one.

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I might not have known what it is, but I can tell by the way it's made.

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The style of the case, and also the script on the sections themselves.

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-Right.

-This is certainly Victorian.

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If I said to you it was 1870, 1890, around that kind of period,

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I'm sure I wouldn't be far wrong.

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-Now, if you were in a darkened room, you would know that was a Ruskin vase.

-Would I?

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You would. You would!

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First, the shape would tell you that this is an incredibly sophisticated potter,

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and the other thing is - go on, close your eyes, and then just feel from the top down. ..Yeah?

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-Mm-hmm.

-It goes from glossy to matte.

-Yes, glossy to...

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-Yes.

-That is a good glaze.

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-I think my mice live in it.

-How much rent do they pay?

-None.

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-So, this cost you nothing?

-No.

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It's probably worth, in the present market, between £300 and £500.

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Really? I shall have to start charging the mice rent, now.

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I bought this in the Caledonian Market, many, many years ago.

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I know nothing about it, but I've always wondered.

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I think it comes from Goa,

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and that's really all I... I've worked out.

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I think, in part, you're right.

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What we have here is a writing slope.

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Something that would have been made for the British taste,

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for the British market, and probably made in India.

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It's a really beautiful visual object.

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The fall opens out, and then inside, here,

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you have this lovely, deep purple velvet slope.

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I think this is quite important, because, actually,

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the colour will tell us the date, because this is a chemical dye.

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Up until the 1850s, you had vegetable dyes,

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and then with the invention of these wonderful new chemical dyes, you get these vibrant colours,

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and the purple appears in about 1850, 1855.

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It is veneered in ivory, this wonderful sort of milkiness

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which, because this part is completely protected,

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it hasn't seen the light of day as much as the top,

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so it's not cracked. It's not damaged in any way.

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All these tiny little pieces of pewter cut like little tiny mosaics,

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and they're set together in the most minutely delicate fashion

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to produce this incredible decoration over the whole box.

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Inevitably over a period of time you do get areas of damage here,

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and it is almost impossible to repair.

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Your buy in the Caledonian Market was extremely, extremely good -

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-can you remember what you paid?

-No, but it wouldn't have been very much.

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Long time ago, but even so,

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I think probably £10, something like that. Not more.

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So your £10, over a period of 40 years,

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has moved up to £1,500.

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That's very satisfactory.

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-The problem with this book is that it's falling to pieces.

-Yes.

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Now, it's got a binding on it known as gutta-percha.

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This was an early form of glue -

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a rubberised glue, but it wasn't vulcanised -

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and of course it ALWAYS falls apart. Every book that had gutta-percha falls apart.

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But fear not - it's not an expensive job to do, and the rest of this book...

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I mean, these lovely plates of ships are all there,

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and all in fairly good condition.

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So the bookbinder would clear out the gutta-percha,

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and use another form of glue and stick it all back together again.

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-Right.

-Super binding.

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Lovely binding. A little bit of rubbing here and there.

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-Lovely copy, worth somewhere in the region of £500.

-Right.

-Very nice.

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-Very, very nice.

-Now, this book here is a superb binding.

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Niger goatskin, red Niger goatskin with the royal coat of arms on it.

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But this binding, with these wonderful gilt dentils,

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this lovely coat of arms, fabulous, fabulous spine...

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I couldn't let it... I would have to mark it £200 at the very least.

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That's very, very nice.

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Finally, last and by no means least,

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a really fine piece of 19th-century binding,

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on an 18th-century book.

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Designs For Household Furniture, by Chippendale.

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Lovely large folio,

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and this is all calf with little gilt fillets round the edge.

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It comes from the library of Archibald Philip, Earl of Rosebery.

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-Yes, at Mentmore.

-At Mentmore.

-Yes.

-You went to the sale?

0:20:110:20:14

Yes. I used to work there, and I was there for about 20 years,

0:20:140:20:19

and I used to do all the carpet work and upholstery work there.

0:20:190:20:22

I've been in the furnishing trade all my life.

0:20:220:20:27

-And after the contents...

-You thought you'd like a pocket book.

0:20:270:20:32

Lady Rosebery said I could pick something from the library.

0:20:320:20:35

-She actually gave it to you?

-Yes.

0:20:350:20:38

Because I helped them, getting the sale together, and she said I could have that.

0:20:380:20:44

This is a first edition of the "Gentlemen and Cabinet-Makers Director".

0:20:440:20:48

It is the most - one of the most famous books on furniture.

0:20:480:20:52

In fact, I'm sure John Bly would be tickled pink to have a look at this.

0:20:520:20:56

-We might show it to him later.

-Yes.

0:20:560:20:58

It's full of delightful illustrations for making beds -

0:20:580:21:05

canopy bed there.

0:21:060:21:09

1753, the date.

0:21:090:21:11

It's all absolutely perfect and in absolutely superb condition.

0:21:110:21:15

Normally, this book - because it is so large - is in appalling condition.

0:21:150:21:19

But this is absolutely perfect, and in superb condition.

0:21:190:21:24

What about value?

0:21:240:21:27

That, I don't know. It's, er...

0:21:270:21:29

-Well, I think it's the finest copy. I think £6,000.

-Ooh!

0:21:290:21:35

She gave you that and was very kind. She probably knew all about that.

0:21:360:21:41

I could have had the Hepplewhite and Sheraton books as well, but I thought that would be greedy.

0:21:410:21:47

You should have had them. Yes, absolutely.

0:21:470:21:51

So, two scientific instruments, both apparently genuine.

0:21:510:21:54

If I had to guess one was a fake, I would say that one.

0:21:540:21:58

Yes, I mean this is the obvious sort of bright, shiny,

0:21:580:22:02

-new-looking scientific instrument. In fact, they're both fakes.

-Ah.

0:22:020:22:07

But different sorts of fakes. This I would say, if I was pushed,

0:22:070:22:12

was a sort of honest reproduction, really.

0:22:120:22:15

It's a boxed sextant, made pretty well -

0:22:150:22:18

it's got all the components on it that you'd expect.

0:22:180:22:22

A little telescope, and things.

0:22:220:22:25

One of the giveaways is when you try and put it together,

0:22:250:22:28

you find that the threads cross very easily, so, you know, the actual...

0:22:280:22:32

-It's missing something in the quality.

-It doesn't actually work?

0:22:320:22:36

Exactly. It doesn't actually work.

0:22:360:22:39

But it looks the part, and it comes in a nice little box.

0:22:390:22:43

How much would you pay for that, if you were in the collecting mood?

0:22:430:22:47

-I should think about £75 to £100.

-Well, exactly, and these are being sold at £25.

0:22:470:22:54

And they're being sold at a profit,

0:22:540:22:56

so what they're costing to make is a tiny proportion of that...

0:22:560:22:59

-So it's sort of above board, but...

-Exactly. SORT of above board -

0:22:590:23:03

they're not stamped "reproduction", but they're bright and shiny, and they're being sold cheaply.

0:23:030:23:09

This is, if you like, the dishonest reproduction.

0:23:090:23:12

This is really a fake.

0:23:120:23:15

It's been made to deceive, because the whole thing is a total fabrication.

0:23:150:23:21

It's been put in this box that makes it look very old.

0:23:210:23:25

It's got a name here, Tobias Volchmer,

0:23:250:23:28

who is a known scientific instrument maker from this date, 1581,

0:23:280:23:33

and it's really pretending to be something old and wonderful.

0:23:330:23:37

I have to say the guy who actually made this

0:23:370:23:41

spent a little bit of time at Her Majesty's Pleasure.

0:23:410:23:44

-So this is a criminal act?

-Yeah, absolutely.

0:23:440:23:48

This is something that was designed to deceive,

0:23:480:23:51

and was sold for a lot of money because the person who bought it

0:23:510:23:56

thought that they were buying the original 1581 object.

0:23:560:24:00

And there's a market for these, otherwise they wouldn't bother to do this.

0:24:000:24:05

Yes, I mean the market for something as old and potentially as valuable as this,

0:24:050:24:10

if it was right, is tiny. It's the top of the pyramid of collecting,

0:24:100:24:14

there are perhaps half a dozen people at the top interested there,

0:24:140:24:17

but loads of people are interested in these scientific instruments.

0:24:170:24:21

The craftsmanship is good quality,

0:24:210:24:24

and so what they're producing is an honest reproduction, which is fine.

0:24:240:24:27

I'm very happy with that today.

0:24:270:24:29

What's to be done with the other nasty piece of work, as it were?

0:24:290:24:33

I borrowed it from a private collection.

0:24:330:24:35

It is in very safe hands. It will never escape again.

0:24:350:24:39

-The one thing that appeals to me is this.

-I've had it a long time.

0:24:390:24:44

-You've had it a long time?

-A very long time.

-Do you know what it is?

0:24:440:24:48

-Some lady singing in church.

-Yeah, but what do you do with it?

0:24:480:24:52

-I just put it in the cupboard.

-But what's it FOR?

-I don't know.

0:24:520:24:57

-It's an ashtray.

-Oh, it's not!

-It's an ashtray.

-Really?

0:24:570:25:01

These were made in Germany, in the 1930s,

0:25:010:25:05

when you get a whole lot of strange figures with wide open mouths.

0:25:050:25:09

-Ugly.

-I think they're great fun.

-Yes.

-Somebody would like that.

0:25:090:25:14

-That would fetch in the region of £30 to £40.

-Oh.

0:25:140:25:17

-But it is the most expensive thing on the table, I'm afraid.

-Oh, right.

0:25:170:25:21

My maternal grandmother,

0:25:210:25:24

in her late teens, was a nurse

0:25:240:25:28

around about the Boer War time.

0:25:280:25:32

The story goes that she saved the life of a lord and he was so grateful when he recovered,

0:25:320:25:39

he went to London, he had this bracelet made and gave it to her as a thank-you gift.

0:25:390:25:45

-Do we know who this lord was?

-No, I'm afraid I don't.

0:25:450:25:49

I just know that when I was young, I used to sit with my grandmother

0:25:490:25:54

and because it's got a peculiarity in how you wear it,

0:25:540:25:58

she said, "When you can put it on your wrist, you can have it."

0:25:580:26:02

It took me about six months to work it out.

0:26:020:26:05

Well, let's see if we can just - what you might use the word of -

0:26:050:26:10

dismantling it, because, as snakes go,

0:26:100:26:14

that is the most sinuous coil - articulated tube -

0:26:140:26:21

that you would ever see. It is a complete one-off, isn't it?

0:26:210:26:25

-Yes.

-Can I ask you, as it took you so long to learn how to put it on, can I ask you to put it on?

0:26:250:26:31

Certainly. You start with the head, hopefully, and you hold that there.

0:26:310:26:36

-I'll put that in place there.

-Then you wind it on.

0:26:360:26:40

My goodness me! It's so articulated, it's not really like metal, is it?

0:26:400:26:45

-It's like a ribbon going...

-I'm afraid my wrist

0:26:450:26:48

has got fatter and I can't fasten it now, but that's how it goes.

0:26:480:26:53

But what we're looking at here

0:26:530:26:55

is that the tail crosses over

0:26:550:26:58

and fits snugly into that hole in the body of the snake itself.

0:26:580:27:03

Extraordinary. It really is a piece of Victorian practicality in a piece of jewellery.

0:27:030:27:08

Tremendous. If it were to come up for auction,

0:27:080:27:11

it's going to make in the region of about £800.

0:27:110:27:16

I'm happy to see a fan any day, particularly a warm day like this.

0:27:160:27:20

These are very interesting and those are stunning.

0:27:200:27:23

-What colour would you call that?

-Turquoise.

0:27:230:27:27

-Going from the pale down to the dark.

-Ostrich, of course.

-Yes.

0:27:270:27:32

-They look as if they've been taken from the Folies Bergeres.

-Mm.

0:27:320:27:35

-What do you know about them?

-Well, they came from my husband's side of the family, but that's all.

0:27:350:27:42

And do you bring them out for special occasions? You waft around the garden on summer evenings?

0:27:420:27:47

Not very much, no.

0:27:470:27:49

No, they live in the box, which is rather sad.

0:27:490:27:51

I have to say I don't know much about cats, but I do know something about this artist, Henriette Ronner.

0:27:530:28:00

She was the queen of the cat painters and I just love her work.

0:28:000:28:05

What she does so well is capture

0:28:050:28:09

the whole character of a cat

0:28:090:28:11

and I think this is a superb portrait of, dare I say it, a bit of a moggy.

0:28:110:28:17

But perhaps not - I don't want to offend every cat-lover in the land.

0:28:170:28:21

-How did you come by this?

-Well, it belonged to my grandparents.

0:28:210:28:25

Originally, it belonged to Mary, Duchess of Bedford, the flying duchess.

0:28:250:28:29

She was the lady that disappeared?

0:28:290:28:31

-That's right.

-Didn't she, in her 70s, she took off in a Tiger Moth from here and was never seen again?

0:28:310:28:38

-That's right.

-Oh!

-And my grandfather actually waited for her that evening

0:28:380:28:42

and she of course never came back.

0:28:420:28:45

But she was very fond of my grandfather and after she died

0:28:450:28:49

it was apparently wished that three members of the staff

0:28:490:28:54

should have a memento of their choice.

0:28:540:28:57

My grandfather said he was taken to, I think, her room, allowed to pick something and he chose this.

0:28:570:29:04

What a wonderful story!

0:29:040:29:07

Her work has been in huge demand.

0:29:070:29:09

In fact, when she was painting these pictures in the late 19th century,

0:29:090:29:15

-a lot of her clientele came from the aristocratic families of Great Britain.

-Really?

0:29:150:29:21

So that's a lovely tie-up with the Bedfords.

0:29:210:29:24

And what is interesting about the whole phenomenon of 19th-century... You would NEVER find

0:29:240:29:28

-a cat portrait from the 18C or the 17C. They were just part of an incident, you know...

-Yes.

0:29:280:29:34

..in a tavern scene or something, they'd be seen skulking along.

0:29:340:29:38

But to have a portrait of one was interesting and it was to do perhaps more with the fact

0:29:380:29:43

-that in the 19th century people had more leisure and more time on their hands.

-Yes.

0:29:430:29:47

And therefore they would actually have pets,

0:29:470:29:50

and therefore there were artists

0:29:500:29:52

who catered for their rich patrons who wanted their cat or dog painted.

0:29:520:29:57

And so it's very interesting to see Henriette Ronner painting really...

0:29:570:30:02

She's really one of the only painters of cats - or certainly the best - that I know of

0:30:020:30:08

and I just think it's wonderful to see her work.

0:30:080:30:12

-I think if it was to be really, really valuable, it would have more detail in the background.

-Yes.

0:30:120:30:18

-This cat would be on a sofa.

-Yes.

-Or sometimes playing around a harp

0:30:180:30:22

or something like that - quite an interesting sort of idea.

0:30:220:30:26

Now, what's it worth, that's the interesting question.

0:30:260:30:31

-You've never had it insured or valued?

-No, no.

0:30:310:30:34

Well, I think it's wonderful and her work is certainly collected.

0:30:340:30:37

-I would say that if it came up for auction, it could make between £12,000 and £18,000.

-Really?

0:30:370:30:44

And I would insure it for perhaps £20,000.

0:30:440:30:47

-So I hope that's a surprise, and what a wonderful, generous present from the Duchess.

-Indeed.

0:30:470:30:53

I've seen lots of punch bowls, but never with such decoration.

0:30:540:31:00

It really is remarkable.

0:31:000:31:02

What do you know about it?

0:31:020:31:04

It's been in my parents' household since the '40s.

0:31:040:31:08

But they lived in a little village

0:31:080:31:11

and the original owner of the house had been related to the Thynnes

0:31:110:31:15

-and um, way back...

-Like Longleat.

-Yes, Longleat and the Marquis of Bath's younger son,

0:31:150:31:22

so whether it came from there originally, we're not sure.

0:31:220:31:24

But where did it come from before it was in Longleat?

0:31:240:31:28

I would think it's Chinese.

0:31:280:31:30

Yes, it is Chinese

0:31:300:31:33

but it was made in China in about 1750, very close to 1750,

0:31:330:31:38

for the European market.

0:31:380:31:41

The decoration on it is really remarkable.

0:31:410:31:46

Just the whole thing is extremely inventive,

0:31:460:31:49

and then these scenes - the level of the enamelling in these landscapes is as good as you'll ever see.

0:31:490:31:56

-Technically, it's marvellous.

-Is it gilding?

0:31:560:31:59

That's all gilding. The gilding is very, very good.

0:31:590:32:03

It's Rococo gilding, exactly what you get in Europe at the time.

0:32:030:32:07

-There is a problem - somebody bust it.

-A picture dropped on it.

0:32:070:32:12

I can't believe it! Anyway, it's been very well put together.

0:32:120:32:17

Obviously, value has been grossly diminished, greatly diminished.

0:32:170:32:22

But still, because it is so good - I mean, this is lovely -

0:32:220:32:27

so although it's had an almighty crash and been duffed up and restored, I mean it's still worth...

0:32:270:32:34

-..£500 or £600.

-Lovely!

0:32:360:32:39

It's a cracking good table and the exceptional thing is that the frieze

0:32:410:32:45

and here along the front edge, you've got this sort of trellis

0:32:450:32:48

pattern which is ebony, but it's the leg - now the top part of that leg would expect to continue with

0:32:480:32:54

this fluting right to the bottom, that would be the normal model,

0:32:540:33:00

1800-1810, 1815 at the very latest.

0:33:000:33:03

But this one stops - then a little bit of ring turning, continuing down to the base and then these amazing -

0:33:030:33:10

and I'm just going to tip it back slightly - just look at those feet.

0:33:100:33:15

It's not a castor, it's a ball foot and that type of cast foot

0:33:150:33:20

is typical of a maker called John Linnell.

0:33:200:33:24

Now, I'm not saying it's by him or from his workshops,

0:33:240:33:26

but it's by somebody who copied or admired his work and they've put this type of foot on.

0:33:260:33:33

Very rare. I have not seen a better D-shaped card table than that,

0:33:330:33:37

because of that feature here

0:33:370:33:41

and then that particular brass foot, which is all original.

0:33:410:33:44

And the value today, for insurance?

0:33:440:33:47

-£3,500 to £4,000.

-Lovely. I didn't think it was anything like that.

0:33:470:33:51

Now here we have a Distinguished Service Medal to Frederick Burges - now, who was he?

0:33:510:33:58

-He was the father of my son-in-law.

-Oh, right.

0:33:580:34:01

Well, now, the interesting thing about it is that it's HMS Belfast, he served in the gun turrets.

0:34:010:34:08

-That's correct.

-And it was destroying the Scharnhorst - on the 26th December 1943.

-Yes.

0:34:080:34:15

-This is real history, isn't it?

-Yes.

0:34:150:34:18

-Because the Belfast - we still have one.

-And that we can relate to.

-She's still in the Thames.

-Yes.

0:34:180:34:23

Something that you ought to take to the Belfast at some time and show the existing captain.

0:34:230:34:27

Oh, right, I'll pass that message on.

0:34:270:34:29

Well, normally, Distinguished Service Medals to the Navy

0:34:290:34:33

-are valued around about £500 to £800.

-Very good.

0:34:330:34:38

But this one, because it's the Scharnhorst and the Belfast,

0:34:380:34:42

I would go for the top figure, £800.

0:34:420:34:46

-Thank you for bringing it in, it's great just to handle it.

-Thank you.

0:34:460:34:50

-Well, the word is majolica...

-Yes.

0:34:500:34:53

..a very colourful, decorative Victorian pottery developed in the 1850s by many manufacturers,

0:34:530:34:58

-and this is an oyster dish.

-Oh!

0:34:580:35:00

So you could have your six oysters and your sauce, and this is a very standard majolica form.

0:35:000:35:06

If we flip it, this is the magic

0:35:060:35:09

because here are all the glaze numbers and names identified

0:35:090:35:14

and so what this is, is a factory test piece where they've tried out and recorded various glazes.

0:35:140:35:22

This is the biscuit, the single-fired, unglazed pottery.

0:35:220:35:26

They've then put on the glazes. And this was regular factory practice.

0:35:260:35:29

-But what is fascinating is that they rarely come out.

-They're thrown away.

-Exactly!

0:35:290:35:35

But it is a rarity on two counts - one that it's majolica,

0:35:350:35:38

and two, I've never seen a majolica test piece.

0:35:380:35:41

I've seen hundreds of test pieces, but never a majolica piece.

0:35:410:35:44

-How does £800 sound?

-Oh, my goodness! Yes.

0:35:440:35:48

-Wow!

-And that's very much an American-driven market.

0:35:480:35:52

-Yes.

-They are wild about oyster plates and a lot of majolica

0:35:520:35:56

and, to an American oyster-plate collector, this would be heaven.

0:35:560:36:00

-FRENCH ACCENT:

-They are family heirlooms and they were bought pre-war -

0:36:030:36:08

1920, I think.

0:36:080:36:10

From your accent, you are French?

0:36:100:36:14

-Yes, I am.

-So, are you telling me they were bought in France?

0:36:140:36:18

Yes.

0:36:180:36:20

That doesn't surprise me because the French together with the rest of Europe and Britain and America

0:36:200:36:26

were very keen to import Chinese porcelain.

0:36:260:36:29

There was a great Chinese porcelain craze

0:36:290:36:32

throughout the 18th and especially the late 19th century.

0:36:320:36:37

Now, looking at your pair of vases,

0:36:370:36:40

from a distance anybody would be forgiven for thinking they were 18th-century,

0:36:400:36:46

because they're in that style.

0:36:460:36:49

They're in the famille rose style, to take a French phrase.

0:36:490:36:54

The composition is basically flowering peonies.

0:36:540:36:58

You have branches which incorporate twin birds -

0:36:580:37:02

there's a symbolism here, which is marital bliss.

0:37:020:37:06

And if you notice the blue enamel...

0:37:060:37:09

If this was an 18th-century example, if you turn it into the light,

0:37:090:37:14

you would probably see a slight iridescence around the blue enamel,

0:37:140:37:18

but because we're looking at something from around about 1870, you'll find it is iridescent-free.

0:37:180:37:25

A nice composition - the only thing that lets it down is the material on which they're painted,

0:37:250:37:33

because it's far from perfect porcelain.

0:37:330:37:36

-So, I suppose it's a case of combien?

-Combien? How much?

-Mm.

0:37:360:37:41

I would say you're looking at the best part of £800, should you wish to replace them.

0:37:410:37:47

Gosh! That's lovely. Thank you.

0:37:470:37:49

-You can translate that into euros later.

-Oh, yes, definitely!

0:37:490:37:53

-That's very nice. Thank you.

-Merci bien.

-Merci beaucoup, monsieur.

0:37:530:37:57

One of the most popular exports from Japan in the 19th century was bronze elephants.

0:37:570:38:05

They really appealed to the Victorian mind.

0:38:050:38:09

I think there's the sort of link with Africa and India and the Raj and all that -

0:38:090:38:16

the Empire - and the elephant really epitomised that perfectly well.

0:38:160:38:21

In India, the East India Company nabobs

0:38:210:38:25

were shooting tigers from the top of elephants,

0:38:250:38:28

so this is the kind of scene they would have seen out there.

0:38:280:38:32

-Where did yours come from?

-This came from my father.

0:38:320:38:35

-I don't know any more of its history than that.

-And you've now got it?

-Yes.

-Do you like it?

-Yes.

0:38:350:38:40

-Did you know it was Japanese?

-Oriental.

-Oriental was as far as you'd got.

0:38:400:38:46

It would have to be Japanese -

0:38:460:38:49

nobody else was capable of casting as well as this, at that time.

0:38:490:38:55

They were absolute masters of it.

0:38:550:38:58

The way they've textured the skin on here

0:38:580:39:02

and contrasted it with the tiger with his stripes here,

0:39:020:39:07

slightly in relief and burnished against a slightly matt ground,

0:39:070:39:15

it's a virtuoso bit of metalwork, really.

0:39:150:39:17

But this is big, of its kind, and this is by a good maker.

0:39:170:39:23

-And if we turn it up... Are these loose?

-Yes, they are.

0:39:230:39:27

-Do they come out?

-Yep.

0:39:270:39:28

I don't want them to drop off.

0:39:280:39:31

Oh, it's incredibly heavy!

0:39:330:39:35

We've got here a mark which says...

0:39:380:39:43

..Dai Nippon - which is Great Japan.

0:39:440:39:48

Genryusai Seiya.

0:39:480:39:51

Now, Seiya was the major, or one of the major,

0:39:510:39:55

casters of animal groups in the 19th century, and here we're looking at about 1880, something like that.

0:39:550:40:02

Now, if we put him back again...

0:40:040:40:06

He's a terrific group.

0:40:070:40:09

I think this would easily make £3,000.

0:40:090:40:13

-Happy with that?

-Very.

0:40:130:40:15

It's probably been in our family for about 80-90 years.

0:40:150:40:18

-It came from my great-grandmother to my grandmother.

-Yes.

0:40:180:40:22

It bypassed my mother and came straight to me.

0:40:220:40:25

It will become evident when you open the box why I inherited it.

0:40:250:40:29

Well, I can't wait to open up.

0:40:290:40:31

-Oh, isn't that absolutely beautiful?

-Yeah.

0:40:310:40:35

The first impression is a lot of attention to detail.

0:40:350:40:40

-Look at this lovely scrollwork on the hatpin box here.

-Yeah, it's...

0:40:400:40:44

Again, lovely condition, beautifully done.

0:40:440:40:47

-Now, is their relevance...?

-CA is my initials.

-Oh, that's wonderful.

0:40:470:40:52

-And that's just pure chance?

-Well, I don't know if you manufactured...

0:40:520:40:56

Absolute chance...

0:40:560:40:58

Well, cases like this were essential kit of ladies travelling in the 19th century.

0:40:580:41:05

They had to have protective boxes

0:41:050:41:08

to keep all the perfume and the paste and powders and what have you, and they're nearly always silver.

0:41:080:41:15

So we'll just see if this is marked, yeah...

0:41:150:41:19

-It's got a series of marks here. TW for Thomas Weller.

-Right.

0:41:210:41:25

He was a specialist case maker and has a date letter "l" there for 1866.

0:41:250:41:32

So pretty much mid-Victorian,

0:41:320:41:36

and this sort of engraving is just what you would expect from a piece of that date.

0:41:360:41:42

Very high quality, lovely condition.

0:41:420:41:46

So here we've got a mixture of scent bottles and paste pots

0:41:460:41:51

and one here, I see, has a push button.

0:41:510:41:54

I've always wondered why that one's different.

0:41:540:41:58

Well, that was to hold something of liquid and so it has a seal there.

0:41:580:42:03

I see.

0:42:030:42:04

-The main thing is about these dressing sets is that the glass is not damaged.

-Yes.

0:42:040:42:10

The more complete, the better.

0:42:100:42:13

And I see we've got a couple of pieces of the manicure set missing,

0:42:130:42:17

but basically, most of it is all here.

0:42:170:42:21

It's actually quite rare to get one in a mother-of-pearl box like this.

0:42:210:42:26

Normally they're made of coromandel wood with brass corners.

0:42:260:42:30

I have to ask whether it's on your insurance valuation.

0:42:300:42:34

-No.

-It's on the house insurance.

-On the house insurance?

-Yes.

0:42:340:42:38

I think you need to speak to your insurers.

0:42:380:42:42

-Right.

-Because I think you ought to have that insured for £8,000 or £9,000.

-Oh, gosh.

0:42:420:42:49

Oh, my goodness!

0:42:490:42:52

Well, it is such a rare box, to have one so beautifully done like this.

0:42:520:42:58

-Thank you so much for bringing it along.

-Thank you, great.

0:42:580:43:03

I was talking to a man here earlier at Woburn who is head verderer - he looks after all the deer.

0:43:030:43:08

And he said that he likes it to rain every other day to keep the grass nice and sweet.

0:43:080:43:14

I think it'll have to be tomorrow. It's been a scorcher here.

0:43:140:43:19

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:43:390:43:42

Michael Aspel and a team of experts invite members of the public to bring along their antiques for examination and information. The team visit one of the finest historic houses in England, Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire. Treasured items brought to light include a rare washing bowl for beards, a portrait of a handsome cat valued at £18,000 and a Victorian bracelet that imitates a snake.