Castle of Mey Antiques Roadshow


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Castle of Mey

The team visit the Queen Mother's former residence, and brave the Scottish weather to uncover local treasures and curiosities.


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Not for the first time in Roadshow history, we've come to a place which

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has close links with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.

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She wasn't born here, she didn't

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spend her childhood here - she owned it.

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Let's go through the keyhole.

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This blue mac on the back of a chair,

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her wellies under the table.

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Photos of her favourite corgis and her collection of sea shells.

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The Queen Mother's presence is everywhere.

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We're at the Castle of Mey

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at Caithness, six miles west of John O'Groats.

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At the age of 101 the Queen Mother still climbed these stairs unaided,

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perhaps pausing to appreciate the overflowing jardiniere of flowers.

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The Queen Mother saved the 15th century castle from ruin

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soon after her husband, King George VI, died in 1952.

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It took three years to repair, and every summer for almost 50 years

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she entertained family and friends.

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Guests would often pop along to

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John O'Groats and the Orkneys and bring back the tackiest souvenir

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they could find, which their royal host found very amusing.

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It was left to members of staff to find a good home for most of

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the items. A few escaped.

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Note the late 16th century Flemish

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tapestry adorned by a late 20th century Scottish Nessie.

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So that's where that got to!

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When she was in residence, the Queen Mother's daily ladies

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helped look after the castle, and they still come in every day.

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Now they're tour guides, recalling life at the castle

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and discreetly spilling the beans - plus the occasional lemon.

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And here's the proof, a telegram to her daughter

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who was on the royal yacht Britannia which was close by.

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"There is a grave shortage of lemons.

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"Could you possibly bring a couple with you?"

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The young queen arrived, vital fruit in hand, and disaster was avoided.

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The Queen Mother's passion for animals is evident throughout the

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estate, whether rendered in oils or in the flesh.

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And there's plenty of that on her prize-winning Aberdeen Angus cattle.

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Being so far north, the winds can be severe for animals and plants. Hence

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the turreted great wall of Mey, which protects the royal garden.

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We checked the charts and discovered

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that in the whole of Britain today, there is just one tiny area of rain.

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And that, I'm proud to say, is here, just around the Castle of Mey!

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So this is our very own weather.

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We shall wallow in it and soldier on.

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It's what the Queen Mother would have wanted.

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I was given them as a wedding present, about

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50 years ago, by a lovely old man who lived in a tiny village in Suffolk.

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-Right.

-Thorns Corner, it was called.

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And old Mr Wright lived in a wee shed of a house.

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And all the way round it, he had junk of every kind.

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Even old violins and things, all piled up.

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And this was part of his junk?

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Well, yes, he gave me these as a wedding present.

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-Wonderful.

-And that's about 1950.

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Cos of course, you realise they're shoe buckles?

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-Are they shoe buckles?

-Oh, yes, yes.

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Silver buckles on your shoe.

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-Oh!

-They're fascinating actually, because they

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actually copy cut steel.

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-Are they?

-No, they're made of silver.

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-They're made of silver?

-They're made of silver, they're George III and

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they date from about 1780.

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What most people don't realise is that cut steel was more expensive

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in 1780 than silver.

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Was it?

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-And so this was actually a cheaper version.

-No!

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I can't find a single mark on them.

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So they're English?

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Oh, I would say they were English, yes.

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And I think we're looking at a value of about £400.

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Oh, how lovely.

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Do you know anybody who'd buy them off me?

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-Well, there are some avid buckle collectors.

-Oh, wonderful.

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But what about the spoons, what can you tell me about these?

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Well, the spoons are my son's.

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They were

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given to a great aunt.

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We had a Great Aunt Matheson, Auntie Flo Matheson.

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-Right.

-Who lived to 103, I think.

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And she gave them to a cousin of my husband's, Brian Kelly.

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-Right.

-And Brian Kelly has given them to my son, Jamie.

-Wonderful.

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Can you tell me, what are they? I mean, they've a funny sort of a mark.

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You know, this morning somebody, when we were having breakfast

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before the programme, said "What would you most like to see today?"

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And I said, "A piece of Wick Silver would be

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"very nice, from just down the road.

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-"Or I'd be very happy with a piece of Tain Silver."

-Tain.

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-And that's exactly what we've got here.

-Look at them.

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So what we've got, the maker's mark.

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Maker's mark there, HR conjoined. That's Hugh Ross of Tain.

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Oh, Hugh Ross of Tain. Yes.

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-Mid-18th century.

-Really?

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And that funny mark there,

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it's actually St Duthac.

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St Duthac of course, who's on there, is the patron saint of Tain.

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-Is it?

-With SD on either side.

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So, how much are they worth?

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-I think you're looking at...

-Half a crown each?

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I think a little more, a little more.

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I think we're looking at at least £500.

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For four of them?

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-Each.

-Each?

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Each.

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I must get round my son to leave them to me in his will!

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LAUGHTER

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What wonderful...!

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That's even better!

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I'm looking at a photograph of a very upright-looking lady here.

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-Is she a relative?

-Yes, she's my grandmother's mother.

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And she looks as though she's in one of these dresses.

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-This particular dress here.

-Yes, this one with the roses.

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And so I take it then that it's an inheritance?

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-Yes, they were left to my grandmother by her mother, in her will.

-Yes.

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Here it says, "My clothing and furs, including two dresses, one with gold

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"embroidery, the other with pink roses, formerly

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"belonging to my great-grandmother, Elizabeth, Duchess of Rutland."

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So they've come all the way from there,

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which is quite a long time!

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Fantastic!

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What we have here are some wonderful examples of embroidered dresses.

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We have to work out the date.

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The one behind you with its lace and little...

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They look as if they're made of chiffon, these little flowers at the waist

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and down at the bottom there,

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wonderful detailing all on this netting.

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Here we have one which I think

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was the one that your great-grandmother was modelling.

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Because they did have this sort of central corsage, didn't it?

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And, again, it has this wonderful embroidery on netting.

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This is a very high-waisted dress, this is not so high-waisted. This is

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much more what I call empire line, coming just under the bust there.

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And then this one

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is completely spectacular, isn't it?

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With its gold embroidery and, again, on netting with

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a sort of satin ground underneath.

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They have Regency shouting all over them.

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But, looking at it closely, I wonder whether these may

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have had some work done to them.

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And the reason that I'm saying that is, looking

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at the underskirts, we can see that, in fact,

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-the stitching is done by machine.

-Right.

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To me, what I think has happened is that

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these dresses have been so loved,

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and because, in a way, dresses like this are always

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popular, particularly the gold one, which can be worn in the evening,

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that I think that they have been renovated over the years

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so that successive generations...

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-Could keep them.

-Could use them, exactly.

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So, those are the clothes.

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But we've got another little treasure here which sort of

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links in, doesn't it? Because although these, I don't think, were

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pieces of domestic embroidery, this is a little workbox, which is what

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the ladies of the time would have used for their domestic embroidery.

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I'm not even going to open this box yet

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because I want to enjoy the outside of it.

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That is wonderful, the handle there with the

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clasped hands and then the snake

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curling round and into the top.

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The case itself is made out of some

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burr wood, burr birch perhaps, with these lovely little brass fittings.

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Definitely French, dating from about 1810.

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But it's this which is, to me, the ooh-ah moment.

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It's quite beautiful, isn't it?!

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I'm actually getting shivers going up my spine when I open that.

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Because you never see these boxes in really beautiful condition.

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Isn't that fantastic?

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And also complete, it's absolutely glorious.

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Wonderful.

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-Well, let's talk about value, because that's what we do.

-Yes.

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I would have thought the group of dresses that we have here, we're

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going to be thinking about perhaps

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£800 to £1,000 for the three.

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Had they been original from the Regency period, you'd certainly

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have been talking about £1,000 plus each. But it's this which

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I think everybody can appreciate as being something really special.

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And I think that at auction we'd be talking about

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£1,500,

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£1,800, without any question at all.

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I think that is just like a little jewel in its own right. Fantastic.

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-Thank you very much.

-Pleasure.

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On a very wet day, how nice to see a dirty picture.

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No, really, she could do with a little bit of a clean, couldn't she?

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-Yes.

-So, who's it by?

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As far as we know, it's by William Etty.

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-Yes.

-And she's been in the family for several generations.

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She was kind of hidden away because she's a bit bare.

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She is a bit bare, isn't she?

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Fondly known as Bare Bertha.

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-Bare Bertha?

-Yes.

-Great name.

-Yes.

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-Do you like it?

-Yes, I remember it hanging in my granny's hallway.

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It originally came from their house, they downsized recently into

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a new house. It's much smaller and that's when we got Bare Bertha.

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-We inherited her then.

-I remember from being a small child,

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seeing her on the wall.

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So, Granny didn't mind her at all?

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She maybe was embarrassed about her, I don't know!

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Well, I wouldn't be embarrassed about her.

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I think she's lovely.

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Well, the story goes that it was given to my husband's grand-aunt

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by the painter Lowry, who was visiting Wick at the time.

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But it may just be a story.

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No, that would make perfect sense. Lowry loved Victorian pictures.

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He owned a very, very grand Rossetti, for example.

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-Right.

-Which he kept in his tiny lodgings for all his life.

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-And for him to have owned this makes perfect sense.

-Oh, right.

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And I think they struck up a friendship and that's supposedly how

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it came into the family. But, as I say, I'm not 100% sure about that.

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No, but it does have the ring of truth. How very interesting.

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So this is a William Etty, a painter originally from the city of York.

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But did you know that Etty knew

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-Constable, the great landscape painter?

-Uh-huh.

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And did you know that Constable occasionally painted nudes as well?

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-Did he?

-Well, Etty found him the models.

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And I saw a transcript of a letter

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that Etty wrote to Constable, recommending one particular model.

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And I remember the words very well,

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describing her, "All in front, memorably fine."

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I think she's all behind!

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Exactly!

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That was on the other side of the letter!

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He was an obsessive nude painter, he really was.

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He was might you call a nympholept.

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Lovely word, isn't it? Don't you think?

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But he couldn't stop painting the nudes. But as a young man he was

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supported by his brother and sent to Venice to study the old masters.

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And you can see that here, because there are these colours from Venice

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really, these reds from Titian and Veronese, that he learnt at.

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I personally think that the thigh bone is wrong.

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This is really... The waist isn't quite

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in the right place and it makes her thigh bone look much too long.

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Don't you think?

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-When you look and notice it.

-She's quite a hefty girl.

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I'll say so!

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-Well, it's good for the climate, isn't it, you know?!

-Yes!

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It's a shame that we couldn't show you this picture

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cleaned, because then you'd see the highlight and sheen on her bottom

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and going down the thigh.

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And this little pink tinge to the back of the thigh.

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And it would be really beautiful.

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-Right, uh-huh.

-Well, it's about 1830.

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Victorians were often scandalised by this kind of study.

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Whereas his larger set pieces, which were on

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classical allusions, really,

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that seemed OK to the Victorians.

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Because nudity was all right if it was if it was from a classical

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-myth or something.

-Yes.

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But this kind was a little bit too domestic, a little bit too nude.

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But would it surprise you to know that, even in this condition, it's

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probably going to be worth about...

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Between 3 and £5,000.

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-Oh, right. Uh-huh.

-Definitely.

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And worth every penny, it's an absolute beauty.

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Well, this is what life is like on an outside broadcast.

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When the weather gets rough, we get going,

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finding whatever cover and protection we can for our visitors,

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their belongings, anything that we can do to just keep on filming.

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Now, rain has driven us into the Castle of Mey.

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We all know the late Queen Mother was

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fascinated by local history.

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But I'm willing to bet we're holding two things here that she never saw.

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I have no idea what I'm holding.

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-You tell me.

-Well, some people find

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it hard to take as an object of beauty.

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But that is a very useful item if you were fishing.

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And that actually was once a dog and is now a dog-skin buoy.

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So this is a dead dog? So what has happened is, it's died, presumably

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it's been hollowed out, the legs have been chopped off and sealed,

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the apertures - I think that's the anatomical term - have been sealed up.

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And how is it made waterproof?

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Well, this black or dark brown shiny substance is actually Archangel tar.

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And that was used for waterproofing

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before rubber, before tarmacadam, and all those kind of things.

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Let's imagine this is floating in the water.

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So what happens? Here you've got...?

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The net would be attached to there,

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-there would be some cord, and fish filling up the net gradually.

-Yes.

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There would be others of these, let's

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say six, seven or a dozen of them, depending on the size of the net.

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As the net got heavier, so this would be pulled round.

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So you mean this actually goes erect in the water?

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Exactly, it's like an indicator.

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-So they're all bobbing about on the tide?

-Absolutely.

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There wouldn't have been one, there would have been a whole herd of them?

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This was good news. It mean there were good catches there.

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-And they would say, "Oh, the dogs are dancing."

-The dancing dogs.

-Yes.

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So, "The dogs are dancing" means you're in luck?

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You're in luck and they're bobbing up and down, so it's a funny phrase,

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but it was also a joyful time for the fishermen.

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So, this is a dead dog. Did they use other animals or are dogs waterproof?

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They chose dogs because the skin has no pores in it.

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And it was easy to polish it and it was easy to make them airtight.

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This must be incredibly rare. How many have survived?

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Well, I think there's about three that we know of.

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Although they were common objects 150 years ago, 200 years ago.

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So, this is a remarkable survival.

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Let's have a swap. That, at least, I know is a boat.

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I think this is a terrific object.

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It's so primitive, it's so crude, it has the most wonderful simplicity.

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It's almost as though Picasso or someone made it.

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This is great, but what is it?

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I can read here it says, "St Kilda Mailboat.

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"Please open tin." Now, tell me.

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Well, originally, the people who lived on St Kilda could not

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get off the island for the whole of the winter.

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Should we explain? This is the most remote Scottish island.

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It's on the edge of the

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continental shelf, in actual fact.

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So, the only way that they could get a message off the island was to make

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a very simple boat like that.

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Probably in the early days they would have used a bottle of that kind

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and tie it firmly and throw it off the cliff.

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-So, this in effect was a cocoa tin or something?

-Exactly.

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The letters are put in there,

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it's sealed up, and into the sea, and sit back and wait.

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After that it was chance, which way the wind would take it.

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It could have gone to Norway, anywhere.

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It could have gone back the other way.

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So, how rare are these?

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Well, the tradition is that they sent one of those out every year.

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-They must be incredibly rare. How many survived?

-Not very many.

0:18:280:18:32

They do just turn up, you know, they're kind of legendary objects.

0:18:320:18:35

Right, well, I think this is wonderful, I love it as an object.

0:18:350:18:38

History is another matter, but this must be hundreds of pounds.

0:18:380:18:42

Find me another one. However,

0:18:420:18:44

there is no way on the Roadshow I'm going to value a dead dog.

0:18:440:18:47

No, it's just totally unique.

0:18:470:18:50

Are you a motoring man?

0:18:520:18:54

-I am, yes.

-Do you collect the cars as well as the mascots?

0:18:540:18:57

Cars as well as mascots, yes.

0:18:570:19:00

And what do you particularly like about the mascots?

0:19:000:19:02

I like the way they're sculptured and

0:19:020:19:04

the fact that they're all so different.

0:19:040:19:06

And very well made.

0:19:060:19:08

And we've got ten here, but have you got more at home?

0:19:080:19:10

I've got a collection of approximately 100.

0:19:100:19:13

They're not so easy to find these days.

0:19:130:19:16

No. You can get them on the internet.

0:19:160:19:19

I've been collecting over a number of years, so that's how I've managed

0:19:190:19:23

-to get so many.

-Some of these are in remarkably fine condition.

0:19:230:19:26

One has to assume they came off cars.

0:19:260:19:28

I would imagine that they've all been fitted to cars at some time.

0:19:280:19:32

They certainly would be when the car was new.

0:19:320:19:34

And this one's been on a car for a long time.

0:19:340:19:37

It belonged to car that my father had and it was involved in an accident

0:19:370:19:41

and that's all that was left of the car!

0:19:410:19:44

That's off a Willys-Knight, American car.

0:19:440:19:47

Now, some speak for themselves, don't they? There's obviously the Desmo Jaguar.

0:19:470:19:51

The original Jaguar, yes.

0:19:510:19:52

The original Jaguar mascot and...

0:19:520:19:56

Pegasus, what was Pegasus?

0:19:560:19:58

Well, that was on a Humber.

0:19:580:20:01

It was only made for one year, actually.

0:20:010:20:03

It was on the Humber Pullman limousine, made in 1936.

0:20:030:20:09

So they are really quite, quite rare.

0:20:090:20:13

And obviously the very famous winged wheel.

0:20:130:20:16

Winged wheel is the Austin, made by the Austin Motor Company.

0:20:160:20:20

-Date, maybe 1920.

-Right, right.

0:20:200:20:23

My favourite is Icarus.

0:20:230:20:24

I love it because it's a piece of sculpture, isn't it?

0:20:240:20:27

-It is.

-And it's signed, and it's nickel silver.

0:20:270:20:31

And what car did that come from?

0:20:310:20:33

That came off a French Farman.

0:20:330:20:34

There was only about 100 Farman cars made,

0:20:340:20:38

and they also made aeroplanes.

0:20:380:20:42

And that would date from about the late 1920s as well, I would think.

0:20:420:20:47

-It's signed by the sculptor, Colin George.

-Colin George, yeah.

0:20:470:20:51

-Well, collecting mascots is a truly international field now.

-Oh, yes.

0:20:510:20:55

And prices are getting quite strong.

0:20:550:20:58

Going through some figures, because obviously we've got to think about value,

0:20:580:21:02

and maybe we just look at the Jaguar.

0:21:020:21:05

At auction that would be around about 350, £450.

0:21:050:21:09

-That's correct, yes.

-And again the winged Austin,

0:21:090:21:11

again a favourite piece. Around about the same sort of figure.

0:21:110:21:16

But certainly the nicest one is the Icarus, I think. And the rarest.

0:21:160:21:20

And probably worth up to £1,000.

0:21:200:21:23

Yes, I would think that would be just about right.

0:21:230:21:26

-So we agree, but...

-We agree, yes.

0:21:260:21:28

You've got 100 of them.

0:21:280:21:30

So if you averaged them out at, you know, £200 each, I mean, that's

0:21:300:21:34

-a collection worth getting on towards £20,000.

-Suppose it is, yes.

0:21:340:21:38

So, not a bad little collecting field. Thank you very much indeed.

0:21:380:21:42

Thank you.

0:21:420:21:44

It always used to hang off the back of the sofa at my parents' place.

0:21:440:21:48

But much other than that, I really don't know!

0:21:480:21:51

Hang off the back of a sofa?!

0:21:510:21:53

-It was an old sofa.

-Oh, that's all right, then!

0:21:530:21:56

What it is is Japanese.

0:21:580:22:00

-Yes.

-It's called an inro, and it's a little nest

0:22:000:22:06

of boxes which come apart like that.

0:22:060:22:09

Now, they started out as utterly practical.

0:22:090:22:11

You kept small things like medicine in it, because the Japanese are great ones for taking pills.

0:22:110:22:16

And then later on, under European

0:22:160:22:20

influence, they became very - one has to say - gaudy, and decorative.

0:22:200:22:24

But, unusually, they retained

0:22:240:22:30

the quality of craftsmanship, if not improved on it.

0:22:300:22:34

Now, this dates from about 1880.

0:22:340:22:39

This would be wood under here.

0:22:390:22:41

And then you've got lacquer.

0:22:410:22:43

In this case, black lacquer with gold on top of it.

0:22:430:22:47

Gold lacquer here, and then we've got

0:22:470:22:50

inlay in mother of pearl, stained ivory, hard stones, coconut shell.

0:22:500:22:58

A variety of things.

0:22:580:23:00

And we've got a little bit of damage here, but not much on this side.

0:23:000:23:05

Three birds perched in a cherry tree.

0:23:050:23:08

We've just got... On this side, we've got simply flowers.

0:23:080:23:14

This would never work really as a practical inro.

0:23:140:23:18

This is a decorative object for the western market.

0:23:180:23:21

Its shape is actually based on a barrel.

0:23:210:23:26

And they simply sort of squashed it...

0:23:260:23:28

..in effect, and turned it into

0:23:300:23:33

this inro.

0:23:330:23:35

A string goes through here to here, and the same the other side.

0:23:350:23:40

That should be replaced, because that is not the right thing at all.

0:23:400:23:45

-This is a bit of sofa stuff, I suspect.

-Right!

0:23:450:23:49

This thing is called the ojime

0:23:490:23:51

and should, strictly speaking,

0:23:510:23:53

-tighten up the cord so the whole thing doesn't fall apart.

-Right.

0:23:530:23:58

And then you have a netsuke, which fits under the belt, and that

0:23:580:24:02

stops the whole thing falling to the ground when you're wearing it.

0:24:020:24:07

-So, it's worn at the belt.

-Right.

0:24:070:24:08

Well, what do we say about price?

0:24:100:24:13

First we need to talk about these

0:24:130:24:16

-bits missing.

-Well, I've got those.

-You have got those?

0:24:160:24:19

Yes. I have got them, yeah.

0:24:190:24:21

-OK. It could be restored.

-Right.

0:24:210:24:23

-It would cost money.

-Yes.

0:24:230:24:25

Maybe 4, £500.

0:24:250:24:28

What's it worth?!

0:24:290:24:31

Well, that's worth

0:24:330:24:36

250 to £350.

0:24:360:24:38

Great.

0:24:380:24:40

That, which is actually jolly nice - it looks boring but it's really a very

0:24:400:24:45

nice one - 200 to £300.

0:24:450:24:48

-Good heavens.

-It's adding up.

-Yes!

0:24:480:24:51

That...

0:24:510:24:52

5 to 8,000.

0:24:530:24:56

Good lord!

0:24:560:24:58

-Now, that is a surprise.

-Yeah.

0:24:580:25:00

And it does make having it restored worthwhile.

0:25:000:25:03

-Right, OK.

-But no more hanging it on the back of the sofa!

0:25:030:25:07

-Thank you very much.

-Thank you very much.

0:25:090:25:11

No, they're called Victorian hair sculptures.

0:25:120:25:17

Some people told me they're called the tree of life,

0:25:170:25:21

and that in some instances different

0:25:210:25:23

members of a family would have their hair knotted into the pattern.

0:25:230:25:29

Well, this is a complete novelty for me.

0:25:290:25:31

I want you to tell me first of all where you found them.

0:25:310:25:35

Well, I bought them locally in Orkney, where I stay.

0:25:350:25:39

And they were bought separately at auctions.

0:25:390:25:43

And in both instances it had been a collector that had owned them.

0:25:430:25:47

If you were to show me this and tell me nothing about it,

0:25:470:25:50

I would think it was more than one people's hair.

0:25:500:25:53

Because if you look carefully, it's got dark and fair.

0:25:530:25:57

That's right, yeah. I remember that.

0:25:570:25:59

Looking at it through my loupe,

0:25:590:26:03

it's not just hair.

0:26:030:26:05

So, it's got very, very fine bits of wire which has

0:26:050:26:09

-looped through the hair.

-Yes.

0:26:090:26:11

And so it's actually easier, because if you think how slippery hair is,

0:26:110:26:15

to actually get these flowers is very, very tricky.

0:26:150:26:19

I would imagine that, yes.

0:26:190:26:21

Probably used a magnifying glass and tweezers.

0:26:210:26:25

I mean, absolutely riveting.

0:26:250:26:27

Well, actually, an old lady told me once that there used to be

0:26:270:26:31

an elderly lady that you used to go to in a certain

0:26:310:26:35

district in Orkney, with your hair, when you were very much alive,

0:26:350:26:40

and she would actually make the picture for you with your own hair.

0:26:400:26:44

And I think that lady maybe died,

0:26:440:26:46

-you know, about the 1950s.

-How fascinating.

0:26:460:26:50

But I've never been able to track down any of her pictures.

0:26:500:26:53

-But I would love to see them.

-So would I.

-Yes.

0:26:530:26:55

I would have thought this was more likely to be late 18th century.

0:26:550:27:00

-Yes, yes.

-I would have thought

0:27:000:27:03

-that this could have been done for a rich family as a present.

-Yes.

0:27:030:27:07

I have to just say that you obviously haven't taken it out of the frame?

0:27:070:27:11

No, just as I bought them.

0:27:110:27:13

They're really in the condition that they were when I acquired them.

0:27:130:27:16

-Including the...?

-The occasional cobweb, perhaps!

0:27:160:27:20

Quite a handsome one there, though!

0:27:200:27:22

Well, it is. It's a great one!

0:27:220:27:26

And I think it's so interesting that I would take it out of its frame

0:27:260:27:30

and I would seal it against little nasty bugs and things like that.

0:27:300:27:34

-Yes, yes.

-And, just out of interest, what did you pay?

0:27:340:27:39

This one, I think, was maybe about the teens of pounds.

0:27:390:27:42

And this one was about £20.

0:27:420:27:44

I never pay too much, I'm a bit mean!

0:27:440:27:48

That's lovely.

0:27:510:27:53

It's difficult, having seen that, because they're so different.

0:27:530:27:57

-Yes.

-And I would put possibly not more than 300 on that.

-Yes, yes.

0:27:570:28:03

I would honestly think that

0:28:030:28:05

in the right place that would be something like a couple of thousand pounds.

0:28:050:28:09

Really?

0:28:090:28:10

-My goodness me.

-It's so unusual.

0:28:100:28:12

I would never have thought that.

0:28:120:28:14

My goodness. But it's just interesting.

0:28:140:28:16

-Thank you very much.

-Well, thank you.

-Keep it dry!

0:28:160:28:19

Yes, thank you very much!

0:28:190:28:21

My father got it in the antique shop in Thurso.

0:28:220:28:26

And I don't know if he got it in part payment for a job he did

0:28:260:28:29

or just as a present. It's just lain in a drawer ever since.

0:28:290:28:32

It is extraordinary. I mean, I've never seen

0:28:320:28:34

-anything quite like it before.

-Yes.

0:28:340:28:36

It's a bit of antler that's been cut.

0:28:360:28:40

And when I looked at it

0:28:400:28:43

and saw that, I thought it's a snuff mull.

0:28:430:28:45

-That's what I thought it was, as well.

-Right. But we've got this intriguing

0:28:450:28:50

inscription on the top here, which is in Gaelic, to start off with.

0:28:500:28:55

Basically a sort of "Deoch slainte", and then various other elements.

0:28:550:29:01

And then finishing off in English, and that is Alexander Cormack.

0:29:010:29:06

So, quite intriguing.

0:29:070:29:09

The beginning of the inscription, basically, is to do with drinking.

0:29:090:29:13

And "slainte", of course, that would be well known throughout Scotland.

0:29:150:29:20

Having a wee dram. "Slainte" is, I think, a fairly standard toast

0:29:200:29:27

when you're doing that.

0:29:270:29:28

So, it looks as though it's more actually as a little drinking vessel.

0:29:280:29:32

And with the amount of space there is

0:29:320:29:35

actually going down there, I suppose one could see that.

0:29:350:29:38

If that was full of whisky, I think I'd be quite happy

0:29:380:29:41

with the entire contents of that.

0:29:410:29:43

I think most people would be. But date-wise, the inscription

0:29:430:29:48

looks as though it might be early 18th century.

0:29:480:29:52

And here we've actually got an engraving for 1767.

0:29:520:29:58

But that's not engraved in the same hand as that.

0:29:580:30:04

-I see.

-So, I'm inclined to go earlier, more towards 1700.

0:30:040:30:07

Right.

0:30:070:30:09

No marks on it whatsoever, and that's not

0:30:100:30:12

unusual with early Scottish silver.

0:30:120:30:15

But it's the sort of object

0:30:150:30:16

I find so intriguing, I love to see something I've never seen before.

0:30:160:30:20

So, very much as

0:30:200:30:22

a guesstimate I would have thought somewhere between 500 and £1,000.

0:30:220:30:25

Very good, excellent.

0:30:250:30:28

What is a man in a kilt doing out on a cold and windy day like this?

0:30:280:30:31

I actually came here to get the pipes looked at.

0:30:310:30:35

There's a bit of history behind the pipes,

0:30:350:30:38

so I was hoping one of the experts would give me some information on them.

0:30:380:30:42

And are these very pricey pipes you're about to give us a burst of?

0:30:420:30:45

-They are. The expert said they're worth around about £5,000.

-5,000?

0:30:450:30:50

-5,000.

-And that's not simply for the silver bits, the whole thing?

0:30:500:30:53

No, it's part of the history behind them. The maker.

0:30:530:30:56

They're over 200 years old and they've supposedly been

0:30:560:31:00

played in the Crimean War, as well.

0:31:000:31:02

You mean actually went into battle?

0:31:020:31:04

-Yes.

-Wow.

0:31:040:31:06

What about your magnificent uniform?

0:31:060:31:08

This is actually the pipe band outfit I'm wearing.

0:31:080:31:11

There's a local pipe band, Thurso Pipe Band.

0:31:110:31:14

And we play in the street every Saturday night during the summer.

0:31:140:31:18

This is their outfit.

0:31:180:31:20

How long have you played?

0:31:200:31:21

I've been playing the pipes for 20 years.

0:31:210:31:24

-Most of your life.

-Pretty much. Two thirds of it, yeah.

0:31:240:31:27

What will you play for us?

0:31:270:31:29

Play a couple of jigs. Rocking The Baby.

0:31:290:31:32

Right, over to you.

0:31:320:31:34

Thank you.

0:31:340:31:36

HE PLAYS "ROCKING THE BABY"

0:31:450:31:46

Well, I've decided to

0:32:130:32:15

come into the castle because I'm very keen on old labels

0:32:150:32:19

and I didn't want the rain to get at this one. This is particularly

0:32:190:32:23

interesting. It says, "One of the oldest wooden cups in existence.

0:32:230:32:27

"Its date is unknown."

0:32:270:32:29

And it says, "It's a copy of an ancient Viking's helmet.

0:32:300:32:34

"It is known as the Luck of Forse.

0:32:340:32:36

"A Viking cup found at the beginning of the century, a relic of

0:32:360:32:40

"the Viking occupation in the north

0:32:400:32:43

"and proof of the Vikings having been at Forse."

0:32:430:32:45

Well, what a fantastic label.

0:32:450:32:50

And what an amazing bowl.

0:32:500:32:51

-Tell me about it.

-It was found in the beginning of the last century

0:32:510:32:56

in the attic at Forse House.

0:32:560:32:58

Aha. And in the attic?

0:32:580:33:00

Now, is Forse House a Viking house?

0:33:000:33:02

-No, it was built in 1810.

-Ah.

0:33:020:33:05

This was just found in the attic by Major Radcliffe, who owned the hotel.

0:33:050:33:10

-So, we know for sure that it goes back to the 19th century.

-Yes.

0:33:100:33:13

OK. Well, of course, we are in good old Viking territory.

0:33:130:33:17

Just down the road there is a town

0:33:170:33:19

called Thurso, which of course is the old Danish for Thor's Island.

0:33:190:33:24

But I have to disappoint you.

0:33:240:33:26

-OK.

-Because Vikings did not wear helmets with horns.

0:33:260:33:30

Everybody thinks they did, but they didn't.

0:33:300:33:32

Maybe two little bumps, but not horns.

0:33:320:33:35

-Right.

-Now, it does look Nordic.

0:33:350:33:38

I will grant it that. Because it's

0:33:380:33:40

-a North European pine, very light pine.

-Pine?

-Pine, yeah.

0:33:400:33:44

-It is a pine?

-And this sort of ornament, with washes of

0:33:440:33:47

red pigment, very, very typical

0:33:470:33:51

of things you find in Norway and in Sweden and even in Denmark.

0:33:510:33:54

The decoration, and some of it's lost here, is actually pierced work.

0:33:540:33:58

It's just straightforward pierced work, it's nothing like any Viking ornament that I know of.

0:33:580:34:03

So, it has a Nordic connotation.

0:34:030:34:05

But, of course, the inscription is in English.

0:34:050:34:08

And if we look at that typeface, or the font

0:34:080:34:12

of that face, it would take us probably to the late 18th century.

0:34:120:34:16

So, that's what I think it is. It's a late 18th-century Romantic

0:34:160:34:19

idea of maybe Viking drinking.

0:34:190:34:22

And it's a challenge.

0:34:220:34:25

You would present a cup like this with that challenge,

0:34:250:34:28

"Att evrey bout, drink it out." I mean, it's a challenge, isn't it?

0:34:280:34:32

It's almost like a puzzle cup.

0:34:320:34:34

And I suppose you grab it by the handles like this, by the horns.

0:34:340:34:37

And whilst there's a strumming and

0:34:370:34:40

a yodelling from the tables and the thumping of beakers, you go...

0:34:400:34:44

Have you tried this, then? Have you done it yourself?

0:34:470:34:50

Not really!

0:34:500:34:52

Well, I mean, it is an amazing object, isn't it?

0:34:520:34:55

If it were really Viking, this ought to be in the British Museum.

0:34:550:35:00

I don't think you need worry too much about that, really.

0:35:000:35:03

That's good.

0:35:030:35:04

But to a collector of treen, in spite of all that damage, it's still

0:35:040:35:08

probably a lucky 500 to £1,000.

0:35:080:35:12

Is that lucky enough for you?

0:35:120:35:13

It's the cup that's lucky, not the value of it! OK.

0:35:130:35:18

We've got two personal horoscopes here.

0:35:240:35:26

This is Kate Buchanan, that's you?

0:35:260:35:28

-That's right, yes.

-And this is Jack?

0:35:280:35:31

That's my son here.

0:35:310:35:33

-And that's you, with crayoned covers and typed insides.

-Yes.

0:35:330:35:40

And then you've got this little picture here of this funny little

0:35:400:35:44

gremlin of a boy, almost. So, who is it?

0:35:440:35:47

Me again.

0:35:470:35:48

It's you again!

0:35:480:35:51

Right! Well, it doesn't look a bit like you now, does it?

0:35:510:35:54

It's signed, I can't quite see who it is.

0:35:540:35:56

It says... Well, it's signed "J Rowling",

0:35:560:35:58

and it's JK Rowling, who wrote the Harry Potter books.

0:35:580:36:01

-The Harry Potter star?

-Yes.

0:36:010:36:03

Good heavens, amazing.

0:36:030:36:05

She gave that to my dad for his 60th birthday present because she couldn't

0:36:050:36:09

afford to do anything. Well, I think it's a lovely present anyway.

0:36:090:36:13

I think it is a lovely present. So, she did all this?

0:36:130:36:16

-Yes, yes.

-So how did you know her? Tell me.

0:36:160:36:18

We went to the same baby clinic in Edinburgh

0:36:180:36:21

and I bumped into her a few times in bookshops and realised that she lived opposite me,

0:36:210:36:25

so we just were two mums at home with babies and got friendly and

0:36:250:36:28

had coffees and did what you usually do when you're at home.

0:36:280:36:31

Did you discuss a lot about Harry Potter and that sort of thing?

0:36:310:36:35

No, not initially. She, you know... We just

0:36:350:36:38

talked about babies mostly!

0:36:380:36:40

But one day she said to me "Oh, I've written a children's book,"

0:36:400:36:43

and I said I'd love to read it, because I trained as an English

0:36:430:36:46

teacher, so I'd read a lot of children's fiction.

0:36:460:36:49

Well, surely she gave you a copy of the first edition.

0:36:490:36:52

This is The Philosopher's Stone.

0:36:520:36:54

Yes, yes. And in the first

0:36:540:36:56

edition it says, "For Kate and Roger, lots of love, Jo, aka JK Rowling."

0:36:560:37:02

Wonderful! Why haven't we got it here today?

0:37:020:37:05

Well, I'm afraid we sold it!

0:37:050:37:06

Mmm. So, how much did you get for it? Let me ask.

0:37:060:37:10

We were really lucky, we got £10,000.

0:37:100:37:12

We bought a very old house that had no heating, so we had to

0:37:120:37:16

sell it to pay for that and we called it our Harry Potter heating!

0:37:160:37:20

I think that's lovely, a great story.

0:37:200:37:22

But you've got these two

0:37:220:37:24

lovely horoscope things. How do you know she actually wrote these?

0:37:240:37:28

Well, she didn't sign them because they were birthday presents

0:37:280:37:31

and she wasn't famous then, so I didn't make her sign them, but...

0:37:310:37:35

This is number three.

0:37:350:37:37

Yes, and they're typed on the same typewriter

0:37:370:37:39

that the manuscript was typed on.

0:37:390:37:41

-So, you're a Harry Potter fan, are you?

-Yes, I am.

0:37:410:37:44

-Have you read them all?

-Yeah, I've read them all.

0:37:440:37:47

And your sister and brother,

0:37:470:37:48

-read them all?

-I think so.

-The whole family.

0:37:480:37:51

-And you really enjoy them, do you?

-Yes, they're very good.

0:37:510:37:55

They're a terribly good whopping yarn.

0:37:550:37:57

-Yes.

-Now look, this is going to be impossible to value accurately but,

0:37:570:38:01

I mean, that obviously, the picture is completely priceless for you.

0:38:010:38:06

Yes. For my dad especially, yes.

0:38:060:38:09

But for Harry Potter addicts, and heaven knows there are enough of them around,

0:38:090:38:13

these horoscopes, these actual drawings done by JK Rowling,

0:38:130:38:18

-would be very interesting.

-Oh, right.

0:38:180:38:21

I don't think it would be anything like as much

0:38:210:38:24

as the first edition signed

0:38:240:38:26

of The Philosopher's Stone, but I should think we're

0:38:260:38:30

probably doing quite a few thousand pounds here, something like

0:38:300:38:33

-2 or £3,000.

-Really?

0:38:330:38:35

-Yes.

-I'm quite surprised by that.

0:38:350:38:37

-Well, at least you know you've got it if the boiler goes wrong.

-Yes! We can get a repair!

0:38:370:38:42

-Thanks, that's lovely.

-Thank you, thank you very much.

0:38:420:38:46

It's a wind-up toy.

0:38:480:38:50

Great. And it's yours?

0:38:500:38:52

Yeah, I inherited it from my great-granny.

0:38:520:38:56

-Right. And you don't know anything about it?

-No.

0:38:560:38:59

That's very exciting. Shall I have a try?

0:38:590:39:02

Yeah.

0:39:020:39:04

Now, Mr Whoever You Are, or Miss or Mrs...

0:39:100:39:14

Woo!

0:39:140:39:16

Hello! How are you?

0:39:170:39:19

Oh!

0:39:230:39:24

Absolutely enchanting.

0:39:280:39:30

Oh!

0:39:330:39:34

That is absolutely wonderful. So, what it's meant to be doing is...

0:39:390:39:43

And it does, it tries to poke its tongue out,

0:39:450:39:47

and what it's saying is, "I want... I'm licking the milk in the churn."

0:39:470:39:52

And it's lovely that you've got a stop-starter, because that means

0:39:520:39:56

it's a better automaton than one that just goes on and on

0:39:560:39:59

-and on and you can't stop it.

-Yes.

0:39:590:40:01

You know, it's really worth, if you can, having a little go at

0:40:010:40:05

oiling it, because I think it's slightly sticking.

0:40:050:40:07

And there's the little tongue coming out. Oh!

0:40:070:40:10

It's made of papier-mache,

0:40:130:40:15

painted papier-mache.

0:40:160:40:18

The cat inside, the kitten, is made of real rabbit fur, and probably

0:40:180:40:26

the actual mechanism was made in Switzerland for a Parisian maker

0:40:260:40:31

called Roullet et Decamps. They started in the late 19th century

0:40:310:40:36

and they went right on to the 1930s.

0:40:360:40:38

He or she is about 1910.

0:40:380:40:43

Now, they're still there in Paris, making all sorts of things,

0:40:430:40:47

from creeping crawling animals

0:40:470:40:49

to pouncing lions, jumping tigers, all sorts of things.

0:40:490:40:54

Do you want to know what its value is?

0:40:540:40:56

-Yeah!

-Yes!

0:40:560:40:58

I think if you get it going better, it could be worth as much as 1,000.

0:41:000:41:07

Gee whizz!

0:41:070:41:08

-It's pretty, but we've considered it a piece of junk, really.

-Did you?

0:41:160:41:20

-Yes.

-Where did you keep it?

-Well, it's sat on a shelf

0:41:200:41:23

and no-one really saw it.

0:41:230:41:25

No, they didn't? OK. I think you have this on your desk,

0:41:250:41:29

-and it's a paperweight, and you can also put your pens and pencils in here.

-Yes.

0:41:290:41:34

Where do you think it might have been made?

0:41:340:41:37

I'd say Italy, but I've no idea generally.

0:41:370:41:40

-You would be right.

-Oh, thank you!

0:41:400:41:43

When would it have been made?

0:41:430:41:44

Well, I've known it for about 70 years, so it would have been made before that!

0:41:450:41:51

It's actually about 1800 in date,

0:41:510:41:54

-so it's a couple of hundred years old.

-Uh-huh.

0:41:540:41:56

And this bit is slate,

0:41:580:42:00

polished slate.

0:42:000:42:02

What they've done

0:42:020:42:04

is carve out the outline.

0:42:040:42:10

They would then inset,

0:42:100:42:12

carefully choosing the right colours, which were kept in glass bottles

0:42:120:42:16

so they could see what each colour was, and build up,

0:42:160:42:20

as if it were a painting,

0:42:200:42:23

the figures. And if you look at it, you can just see

0:42:230:42:28

the tiny little bits.

0:42:280:42:31

And, of course, once they'd done that - it was all kind of

0:42:310:42:33

on the surface a bit wobbly -

0:42:330:42:35

they filled it and then polished it, and that's why it's all now smooth.

0:42:350:42:41

It was called a micromosaic.

0:42:420:42:44

They must have had wonderful eyesight.

0:42:440:42:47

They did. It was a whole industry

0:42:470:42:50

in Italy from the 18th century through to the 19th century,

0:42:500:42:56

and they made brooches, they made desk ornaments,

0:42:560:43:00

they made plaques out of it.

0:43:000:43:02

Now, the interesting thing about it is the way the prices have been

0:43:020:43:06

moving in recent years.

0:43:060:43:09

-Oh, yes?

-Yeah.

0:43:090:43:11

How much do you think your piece of junk might be worth?

0:43:110:43:15

Well, I thought about £20, if I was very lucky!

0:43:150:43:18

Listen, I'll give you a profit on that, no problem at all!

0:43:180:43:22

I think if this came up at auction in London,

0:43:230:43:28

you would have to pay 3 to £4,000 for it.

0:43:280:43:33

Good God!

0:43:330:43:35

Scottish junk is very desirable!

0:43:350:43:38

It's Irish junk, let me tell you!

0:43:380:43:40

It came from Ireland traditionally!

0:43:430:43:45

Thank you very much.

0:43:460:43:48

-That's incredible.

-Yeah.

0:43:480:43:51

-Just considered pure junk.

-Yes.

0:43:510:43:55

The beautiful Castle of Mey, intended as a background for today's

0:43:550:43:59

event, has been battered all the time by fierce winds and horizontal

0:43:590:44:04

rain, and of course when we've all gone home, it'll still be here and

0:44:040:44:08

the sun will come out again. That is show business!

0:44:080:44:10

So, many thanks to the staff here, to the brave people of Caithness for

0:44:100:44:14

sharing the experience, and for now, from the north of Scotland, goodbye.

0:44:140:44:19

The team visit the Queen Mother's former residence, and brave the Scottish weather to uncover local treasures and curiosities. They find a dog skin buoy from the Orkney islands and a collection of regency clothing fit for a Jane Austen period drama.