The team visit the Queen Mother's former residence, and brave the Scottish weather to uncover local treasures and curiosities.
Browse content similar to Castle of Mey. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
Not for the first time in Roadshow history, we've come to a place which
has close links with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.
She wasn't born here, she didn't
spend her childhood here - she owned it.
Let's go through the keyhole.
This blue mac on the back of a chair,
her wellies under the table.
Photos of her favourite corgis and her collection of sea shells.
The Queen Mother's presence is everywhere.
We're at the Castle of Mey
at Caithness, six miles west of John O'Groats.
At the age of 101 the Queen Mother still climbed these stairs unaided,
perhaps pausing to appreciate the overflowing jardiniere of flowers.
The Queen Mother saved the 15th century castle from ruin
soon after her husband, King George VI, died in 1952.
It took three years to repair, and every summer for almost 50 years
she entertained family and friends.
Guests would often pop along to
John O'Groats and the Orkneys and bring back the tackiest souvenir
they could find, which their royal host found very amusing.
It was left to members of staff to find a good home for most of
the items. A few escaped.
Note the late 16th century Flemish
tapestry adorned by a late 20th century Scottish Nessie.
So that's where that got to!
When she was in residence, the Queen Mother's daily ladies
helped look after the castle, and they still come in every day.
Now they're tour guides, recalling life at the castle
and discreetly spilling the beans - plus the occasional lemon.
And here's the proof, a telegram to her daughter
who was on the royal yacht Britannia which was close by.
"There is a grave shortage of lemons.
"Could you possibly bring a couple with you?"
The young queen arrived, vital fruit in hand, and disaster was avoided.
The Queen Mother's passion for animals is evident throughout the
estate, whether rendered in oils or in the flesh.
And there's plenty of that on her prize-winning Aberdeen Angus cattle.
Being so far north, the winds can be severe for animals and plants. Hence
the turreted great wall of Mey, which protects the royal garden.
We checked the charts and discovered
that in the whole of Britain today, there is just one tiny area of rain.
And that, I'm proud to say, is here, just around the Castle of Mey!
So this is our very own weather.
We shall wallow in it and soldier on.
It's what the Queen Mother would have wanted.
I was given them as a wedding present, about
50 years ago, by a lovely old man who lived in a tiny village in Suffolk.
-Thorns Corner, it was called.
And old Mr Wright lived in a wee shed of a house.
And all the way round it, he had junk of every kind.
Even old violins and things, all piled up.
And this was part of his junk?
Well, yes, he gave me these as a wedding present.
-And that's about 1950.
Cos of course, you realise they're shoe buckles?
-Are they shoe buckles?
-Oh, yes, yes.
Silver buckles on your shoe.
-They're fascinating actually, because they
actually copy cut steel.
-No, they're made of silver.
-They're made of silver?
-They're made of silver, they're George III and
they date from about 1780.
What most people don't realise is that cut steel was more expensive
in 1780 than silver.
-And so this was actually a cheaper version.
I can't find a single mark on them.
So they're English?
Oh, I would say they were English, yes.
And I think we're looking at a value of about £400.
Oh, how lovely.
Do you know anybody who'd buy them off me?
-Well, there are some avid buckle collectors.
But what about the spoons, what can you tell me about these?
Well, the spoons are my son's.
given to a great aunt.
We had a Great Aunt Matheson, Auntie Flo Matheson.
-Who lived to 103, I think.
And she gave them to a cousin of my husband's, Brian Kelly.
-And Brian Kelly has given them to my son, Jamie.
Can you tell me, what are they? I mean, they've a funny sort of a mark.
You know, this morning somebody, when we were having breakfast
before the programme, said "What would you most like to see today?"
And I said, "A piece of Wick Silver would be
"very nice, from just down the road.
-"Or I'd be very happy with a piece of Tain Silver."
-And that's exactly what we've got here.
-Look at them.
So what we've got, the maker's mark.
Maker's mark there, HR conjoined. That's Hugh Ross of Tain.
Oh, Hugh Ross of Tain. Yes.
And that funny mark there,
it's actually St Duthac.
St Duthac of course, who's on there, is the patron saint of Tain.
-With SD on either side.
So, how much are they worth?
-I think you're looking at...
-Half a crown each?
I think a little more, a little more.
I think we're looking at at least £500.
For four of them?
I must get round my son to leave them to me in his will!
That's even better!
I'm looking at a photograph of a very upright-looking lady here.
-Is she a relative?
-Yes, she's my grandmother's mother.
And she looks as though she's in one of these dresses.
-This particular dress here.
-Yes, this one with the roses.
And so I take it then that it's an inheritance?
-Yes, they were left to my grandmother by her mother, in her will.
Here it says, "My clothing and furs, including two dresses, one with gold
"embroidery, the other with pink roses, formerly
"belonging to my great-grandmother, Elizabeth, Duchess of Rutland."
So they've come all the way from there,
which is quite a long time!
What we have here are some wonderful examples of embroidered dresses.
We have to work out the date.
The one behind you with its lace and little...
They look as if they're made of chiffon, these little flowers at the waist
and down at the bottom there,
wonderful detailing all on this netting.
Here we have one which I think
was the one that your great-grandmother was modelling.
Because they did have this sort of central corsage, didn't it?
And, again, it has this wonderful embroidery on netting.
This is a very high-waisted dress, this is not so high-waisted. This is
much more what I call empire line, coming just under the bust there.
And then this one
is completely spectacular, isn't it?
With its gold embroidery and, again, on netting with
a sort of satin ground underneath.
They have Regency shouting all over them.
But, looking at it closely, I wonder whether these may
have had some work done to them.
And the reason that I'm saying that is, looking
at the underskirts, we can see that, in fact,
-the stitching is done by machine.
To me, what I think has happened is that
these dresses have been so loved,
and because, in a way, dresses like this are always
popular, particularly the gold one, which can be worn in the evening,
that I think that they have been renovated over the years
so that successive generations...
-Could keep them.
-Could use them, exactly.
So, those are the clothes.
But we've got another little treasure here which sort of
links in, doesn't it? Because although these, I don't think, were
pieces of domestic embroidery, this is a little workbox, which is what
the ladies of the time would have used for their domestic embroidery.
I'm not even going to open this box yet
because I want to enjoy the outside of it.
That is wonderful, the handle there with the
clasped hands and then the snake
curling round and into the top.
The case itself is made out of some
burr wood, burr birch perhaps, with these lovely little brass fittings.
Definitely French, dating from about 1810.
But it's this which is, to me, the ooh-ah moment.
It's quite beautiful, isn't it?!
I'm actually getting shivers going up my spine when I open that.
Because you never see these boxes in really beautiful condition.
Isn't that fantastic?
And also complete, it's absolutely glorious.
-Well, let's talk about value, because that's what we do.
I would have thought the group of dresses that we have here, we're
going to be thinking about perhaps
£800 to £1,000 for the three.
Had they been original from the Regency period, you'd certainly
have been talking about £1,000 plus each. But it's this which
I think everybody can appreciate as being something really special.
And I think that at auction we'd be talking about
£1,800, without any question at all.
I think that is just like a little jewel in its own right. Fantastic.
-Thank you very much.
On a very wet day, how nice to see a dirty picture.
No, really, she could do with a little bit of a clean, couldn't she?
-So, who's it by?
As far as we know, it's by William Etty.
-And she's been in the family for several generations.
She was kind of hidden away because she's a bit bare.
She is a bit bare, isn't she?
Fondly known as Bare Bertha.
-Do you like it?
-Yes, I remember it hanging in my granny's hallway.
It originally came from their house, they downsized recently into
a new house. It's much smaller and that's when we got Bare Bertha.
-We inherited her then.
-I remember from being a small child,
seeing her on the wall.
So, Granny didn't mind her at all?
She maybe was embarrassed about her, I don't know!
Well, I wouldn't be embarrassed about her.
I think she's lovely.
Well, the story goes that it was given to my husband's grand-aunt
by the painter Lowry, who was visiting Wick at the time.
But it may just be a story.
No, that would make perfect sense. Lowry loved Victorian pictures.
He owned a very, very grand Rossetti, for example.
-Which he kept in his tiny lodgings for all his life.
-And for him to have owned this makes perfect sense.
And I think they struck up a friendship and that's supposedly how
it came into the family. But, as I say, I'm not 100% sure about that.
No, but it does have the ring of truth. How very interesting.
So this is a William Etty, a painter originally from the city of York.
But did you know that Etty knew
-Constable, the great landscape painter?
And did you know that Constable occasionally painted nudes as well?
-Well, Etty found him the models.
And I saw a transcript of a letter
that Etty wrote to Constable, recommending one particular model.
And I remember the words very well,
describing her, "All in front, memorably fine."
I think she's all behind!
That was on the other side of the letter!
He was an obsessive nude painter, he really was.
He was might you call a nympholept.
Lovely word, isn't it? Don't you think?
But he couldn't stop painting the nudes. But as a young man he was
supported by his brother and sent to Venice to study the old masters.
And you can see that here, because there are these colours from Venice
really, these reds from Titian and Veronese, that he learnt at.
I personally think that the thigh bone is wrong.
This is really... The waist isn't quite
in the right place and it makes her thigh bone look much too long.
Don't you think?
-When you look and notice it.
-She's quite a hefty girl.
I'll say so!
-Well, it's good for the climate, isn't it, you know?!
It's a shame that we couldn't show you this picture
cleaned, because then you'd see the highlight and sheen on her bottom
and going down the thigh.
And this little pink tinge to the back of the thigh.
And it would be really beautiful.
-Well, it's about 1830.
Victorians were often scandalised by this kind of study.
Whereas his larger set pieces, which were on
classical allusions, really,
that seemed OK to the Victorians.
Because nudity was all right if it was if it was from a classical
-myth or something.
But this kind was a little bit too domestic, a little bit too nude.
But would it surprise you to know that, even in this condition, it's
probably going to be worth about...
Between 3 and £5,000.
-Oh, right. Uh-huh.
And worth every penny, it's an absolute beauty.
Well, this is what life is like on an outside broadcast.
When the weather gets rough, we get going,
finding whatever cover and protection we can for our visitors,
their belongings, anything that we can do to just keep on filming.
Now, rain has driven us into the Castle of Mey.
We all know the late Queen Mother was
fascinated by local history.
But I'm willing to bet we're holding two things here that she never saw.
I have no idea what I'm holding.
-You tell me.
-Well, some people find
it hard to take as an object of beauty.
But that is a very useful item if you were fishing.
And that actually was once a dog and is now a dog-skin buoy.
So this is a dead dog? So what has happened is, it's died, presumably
it's been hollowed out, the legs have been chopped off and sealed,
the apertures - I think that's the anatomical term - have been sealed up.
And how is it made waterproof?
Well, this black or dark brown shiny substance is actually Archangel tar.
And that was used for waterproofing
before rubber, before tarmacadam, and all those kind of things.
Let's imagine this is floating in the water.
So what happens? Here you've got...?
The net would be attached to there,
-there would be some cord, and fish filling up the net gradually.
There would be others of these, let's
say six, seven or a dozen of them, depending on the size of the net.
As the net got heavier, so this would be pulled round.
So you mean this actually goes erect in the water?
Exactly, it's like an indicator.
-So they're all bobbing about on the tide?
There wouldn't have been one, there would have been a whole herd of them?
This was good news. It mean there were good catches there.
-And they would say, "Oh, the dogs are dancing."
-The dancing dogs.
So, "The dogs are dancing" means you're in luck?
You're in luck and they're bobbing up and down, so it's a funny phrase,
but it was also a joyful time for the fishermen.
So, this is a dead dog. Did they use other animals or are dogs waterproof?
They chose dogs because the skin has no pores in it.
And it was easy to polish it and it was easy to make them airtight.
This must be incredibly rare. How many have survived?
Well, I think there's about three that we know of.
Although they were common objects 150 years ago, 200 years ago.
So, this is a remarkable survival.
Let's have a swap. That, at least, I know is a boat.
I think this is a terrific object.
It's so primitive, it's so crude, it has the most wonderful simplicity.
It's almost as though Picasso or someone made it.
This is great, but what is it?
I can read here it says, "St Kilda Mailboat.
"Please open tin." Now, tell me.
Well, originally, the people who lived on St Kilda could not
get off the island for the whole of the winter.
Should we explain? This is the most remote Scottish island.
It's on the edge of the
continental shelf, in actual fact.
So, the only way that they could get a message off the island was to make
a very simple boat like that.
Probably in the early days they would have used a bottle of that kind
and tie it firmly and throw it off the cliff.
-So, this in effect was a cocoa tin or something?
The letters are put in there,
it's sealed up, and into the sea, and sit back and wait.
After that it was chance, which way the wind would take it.
It could have gone to Norway, anywhere.
It could have gone back the other way.
So, how rare are these?
Well, the tradition is that they sent one of those out every year.
-They must be incredibly rare. How many survived?
-Not very many.
They do just turn up, you know, they're kind of legendary objects.
Right, well, I think this is wonderful, I love it as an object.
History is another matter, but this must be hundreds of pounds.
Find me another one. However,
there is no way on the Roadshow I'm going to value a dead dog.
No, it's just totally unique.
Are you a motoring man?
-I am, yes.
-Do you collect the cars as well as the mascots?
Cars as well as mascots, yes.
And what do you particularly like about the mascots?
I like the way they're sculptured and
the fact that they're all so different.
And very well made.
And we've got ten here, but have you got more at home?
I've got a collection of approximately 100.
They're not so easy to find these days.
No. You can get them on the internet.
I've been collecting over a number of years, so that's how I've managed
-to get so many.
-Some of these are in remarkably fine condition.
One has to assume they came off cars.
I would imagine that they've all been fitted to cars at some time.
They certainly would be when the car was new.
And this one's been on a car for a long time.
It belonged to car that my father had and it was involved in an accident
and that's all that was left of the car!
That's off a Willys-Knight, American car.
Now, some speak for themselves, don't they? There's obviously the Desmo Jaguar.
The original Jaguar, yes.
The original Jaguar mascot and...
Pegasus, what was Pegasus?
Well, that was on a Humber.
It was only made for one year, actually.
It was on the Humber Pullman limousine, made in 1936.
So they are really quite, quite rare.
And obviously the very famous winged wheel.
Winged wheel is the Austin, made by the Austin Motor Company.
-Date, maybe 1920.
My favourite is Icarus.
I love it because it's a piece of sculpture, isn't it?
-And it's signed, and it's nickel silver.
And what car did that come from?
That came off a French Farman.
There was only about 100 Farman cars made,
and they also made aeroplanes.
And that would date from about the late 1920s as well, I would think.
-It's signed by the sculptor, Colin George.
-Colin George, yeah.
-Well, collecting mascots is a truly international field now.
And prices are getting quite strong.
Going through some figures, because obviously we've got to think about value,
and maybe we just look at the Jaguar.
At auction that would be around about 350, £450.
-That's correct, yes.
-And again the winged Austin,
again a favourite piece. Around about the same sort of figure.
But certainly the nicest one is the Icarus, I think. And the rarest.
And probably worth up to £1,000.
Yes, I would think that would be just about right.
-So we agree, but...
-We agree, yes.
You've got 100 of them.
So if you averaged them out at, you know, £200 each, I mean, that's
-a collection worth getting on towards £20,000.
-Suppose it is, yes.
So, not a bad little collecting field. Thank you very much indeed.
It always used to hang off the back of the sofa at my parents' place.
But much other than that, I really don't know!
Hang off the back of a sofa?!
-It was an old sofa.
-Oh, that's all right, then!
What it is is Japanese.
-It's called an inro, and it's a little nest
of boxes which come apart like that.
Now, they started out as utterly practical.
You kept small things like medicine in it, because the Japanese are great ones for taking pills.
And then later on, under European
influence, they became very - one has to say - gaudy, and decorative.
But, unusually, they retained
the quality of craftsmanship, if not improved on it.
Now, this dates from about 1880.
This would be wood under here.
And then you've got lacquer.
In this case, black lacquer with gold on top of it.
Gold lacquer here, and then we've got
inlay in mother of pearl, stained ivory, hard stones, coconut shell.
A variety of things.
And we've got a little bit of damage here, but not much on this side.
Three birds perched in a cherry tree.
We've just got... On this side, we've got simply flowers.
This would never work really as a practical inro.
This is a decorative object for the western market.
Its shape is actually based on a barrel.
And they simply sort of squashed it...
..in effect, and turned it into
A string goes through here to here, and the same the other side.
That should be replaced, because that is not the right thing at all.
-This is a bit of sofa stuff, I suspect.
This thing is called the ojime
and should, strictly speaking,
-tighten up the cord so the whole thing doesn't fall apart.
And then you have a netsuke, which fits under the belt, and that
stops the whole thing falling to the ground when you're wearing it.
-So, it's worn at the belt.
Well, what do we say about price?
First we need to talk about these
-Well, I've got those.
-You have got those?
Yes. I have got them, yeah.
-OK. It could be restored.
-It would cost money.
Maybe 4, £500.
What's it worth?!
Well, that's worth
250 to £350.
That, which is actually jolly nice - it looks boring but it's really a very
nice one - 200 to £300.
-It's adding up.
5 to 8,000.
-Now, that is a surprise.
And it does make having it restored worthwhile.
-But no more hanging it on the back of the sofa!
-Thank you very much.
-Thank you very much.
No, they're called Victorian hair sculptures.
Some people told me they're called the tree of life,
and that in some instances different
members of a family would have their hair knotted into the pattern.
Well, this is a complete novelty for me.
I want you to tell me first of all where you found them.
Well, I bought them locally in Orkney, where I stay.
And they were bought separately at auctions.
And in both instances it had been a collector that had owned them.
If you were to show me this and tell me nothing about it,
I would think it was more than one people's hair.
Because if you look carefully, it's got dark and fair.
That's right, yeah. I remember that.
Looking at it through my loupe,
it's not just hair.
So, it's got very, very fine bits of wire which has
-looped through the hair.
And so it's actually easier, because if you think how slippery hair is,
to actually get these flowers is very, very tricky.
I would imagine that, yes.
Probably used a magnifying glass and tweezers.
I mean, absolutely riveting.
Well, actually, an old lady told me once that there used to be
an elderly lady that you used to go to in a certain
district in Orkney, with your hair, when you were very much alive,
and she would actually make the picture for you with your own hair.
And I think that lady maybe died,
-you know, about the 1950s.
But I've never been able to track down any of her pictures.
-But I would love to see them.
-So would I.
I would have thought this was more likely to be late 18th century.
-I would have thought
-that this could have been done for a rich family as a present.
I have to just say that you obviously haven't taken it out of the frame?
No, just as I bought them.
They're really in the condition that they were when I acquired them.
-The occasional cobweb, perhaps!
Quite a handsome one there, though!
Well, it is. It's a great one!
And I think it's so interesting that I would take it out of its frame
and I would seal it against little nasty bugs and things like that.
-And, just out of interest, what did you pay?
This one, I think, was maybe about the teens of pounds.
And this one was about £20.
I never pay too much, I'm a bit mean!
It's difficult, having seen that, because they're so different.
-And I would put possibly not more than 300 on that.
I would honestly think that
in the right place that would be something like a couple of thousand pounds.
-My goodness me.
-It's so unusual.
I would never have thought that.
My goodness. But it's just interesting.
-Thank you very much.
-Well, thank you.
-Keep it dry!
Yes, thank you very much!
My father got it in the antique shop in Thurso.
And I don't know if he got it in part payment for a job he did
or just as a present. It's just lain in a drawer ever since.
It is extraordinary. I mean, I've never seen
-anything quite like it before.
It's a bit of antler that's been cut.
And when I looked at it
and saw that, I thought it's a snuff mull.
-That's what I thought it was, as well.
-Right. But we've got this intriguing
inscription on the top here, which is in Gaelic, to start off with.
Basically a sort of "Deoch slainte", and then various other elements.
And then finishing off in English, and that is Alexander Cormack.
So, quite intriguing.
The beginning of the inscription, basically, is to do with drinking.
And "slainte", of course, that would be well known throughout Scotland.
Having a wee dram. "Slainte" is, I think, a fairly standard toast
when you're doing that.
So, it looks as though it's more actually as a little drinking vessel.
And with the amount of space there is
actually going down there, I suppose one could see that.
If that was full of whisky, I think I'd be quite happy
with the entire contents of that.
I think most people would be. But date-wise, the inscription
looks as though it might be early 18th century.
And here we've actually got an engraving for 1767.
But that's not engraved in the same hand as that.
-So, I'm inclined to go earlier, more towards 1700.
No marks on it whatsoever, and that's not
unusual with early Scottish silver.
But it's the sort of object
I find so intriguing, I love to see something I've never seen before.
So, very much as
a guesstimate I would have thought somewhere between 500 and £1,000.
Very good, excellent.
What is a man in a kilt doing out on a cold and windy day like this?
I actually came here to get the pipes looked at.
There's a bit of history behind the pipes,
so I was hoping one of the experts would give me some information on them.
And are these very pricey pipes you're about to give us a burst of?
-They are. The expert said they're worth around about £5,000.
-And that's not simply for the silver bits, the whole thing?
No, it's part of the history behind them. The maker.
They're over 200 years old and they've supposedly been
played in the Crimean War, as well.
You mean actually went into battle?
What about your magnificent uniform?
This is actually the pipe band outfit I'm wearing.
There's a local pipe band, Thurso Pipe Band.
And we play in the street every Saturday night during the summer.
This is their outfit.
How long have you played?
I've been playing the pipes for 20 years.
-Most of your life.
-Pretty much. Two thirds of it, yeah.
What will you play for us?
Play a couple of jigs. Rocking The Baby.
Right, over to you.
HE PLAYS "ROCKING THE BABY"
Well, I've decided to
come into the castle because I'm very keen on old labels
and I didn't want the rain to get at this one. This is particularly
interesting. It says, "One of the oldest wooden cups in existence.
"Its date is unknown."
And it says, "It's a copy of an ancient Viking's helmet.
"It is known as the Luck of Forse.
"A Viking cup found at the beginning of the century, a relic of
"the Viking occupation in the north
"and proof of the Vikings having been at Forse."
Well, what a fantastic label.
And what an amazing bowl.
-Tell me about it.
-It was found in the beginning of the last century
in the attic at Forse House.
Aha. And in the attic?
Now, is Forse House a Viking house?
-No, it was built in 1810.
This was just found in the attic by Major Radcliffe, who owned the hotel.
-So, we know for sure that it goes back to the 19th century.
OK. Well, of course, we are in good old Viking territory.
Just down the road there is a town
called Thurso, which of course is the old Danish for Thor's Island.
But I have to disappoint you.
-Because Vikings did not wear helmets with horns.
Everybody thinks they did, but they didn't.
Maybe two little bumps, but not horns.
-Now, it does look Nordic.
I will grant it that. Because it's
-a North European pine, very light pine.
-It is a pine?
-And this sort of ornament, with washes of
red pigment, very, very typical
of things you find in Norway and in Sweden and even in Denmark.
The decoration, and some of it's lost here, is actually pierced work.
It's just straightforward pierced work, it's nothing like any Viking ornament that I know of.
So, it has a Nordic connotation.
But, of course, the inscription is in English.
And if we look at that typeface, or the font
of that face, it would take us probably to the late 18th century.
So, that's what I think it is. It's a late 18th-century Romantic
idea of maybe Viking drinking.
And it's a challenge.
You would present a cup like this with that challenge,
"Att evrey bout, drink it out." I mean, it's a challenge, isn't it?
It's almost like a puzzle cup.
And I suppose you grab it by the handles like this, by the horns.
And whilst there's a strumming and
a yodelling from the tables and the thumping of beakers, you go...
Have you tried this, then? Have you done it yourself?
Well, I mean, it is an amazing object, isn't it?
If it were really Viking, this ought to be in the British Museum.
I don't think you need worry too much about that, really.
But to a collector of treen, in spite of all that damage, it's still
probably a lucky 500 to £1,000.
Is that lucky enough for you?
It's the cup that's lucky, not the value of it! OK.
We've got two personal horoscopes here.
This is Kate Buchanan, that's you?
-That's right, yes.
-And this is Jack?
That's my son here.
-And that's you, with crayoned covers and typed insides.
And then you've got this little picture here of this funny little
gremlin of a boy, almost. So, who is it?
It's you again!
Right! Well, it doesn't look a bit like you now, does it?
It's signed, I can't quite see who it is.
It says... Well, it's signed "J Rowling",
and it's JK Rowling, who wrote the Harry Potter books.
-The Harry Potter star?
Good heavens, amazing.
She gave that to my dad for his 60th birthday present because she couldn't
afford to do anything. Well, I think it's a lovely present anyway.
I think it is a lovely present. So, she did all this?
-So how did you know her? Tell me.
We went to the same baby clinic in Edinburgh
and I bumped into her a few times in bookshops and realised that she lived opposite me,
so we just were two mums at home with babies and got friendly and
had coffees and did what you usually do when you're at home.
Did you discuss a lot about Harry Potter and that sort of thing?
No, not initially. She, you know... We just
talked about babies mostly!
But one day she said to me "Oh, I've written a children's book,"
and I said I'd love to read it, because I trained as an English
teacher, so I'd read a lot of children's fiction.
Well, surely she gave you a copy of the first edition.
This is The Philosopher's Stone.
Yes, yes. And in the first
edition it says, "For Kate and Roger, lots of love, Jo, aka JK Rowling."
Wonderful! Why haven't we got it here today?
Well, I'm afraid we sold it!
Mmm. So, how much did you get for it? Let me ask.
We were really lucky, we got £10,000.
We bought a very old house that had no heating, so we had to
sell it to pay for that and we called it our Harry Potter heating!
I think that's lovely, a great story.
But you've got these two
lovely horoscope things. How do you know she actually wrote these?
Well, she didn't sign them because they were birthday presents
and she wasn't famous then, so I didn't make her sign them, but...
This is number three.
Yes, and they're typed on the same typewriter
that the manuscript was typed on.
-So, you're a Harry Potter fan, are you?
-Yes, I am.
-Have you read them all?
-Yeah, I've read them all.
And your sister and brother,
-read them all?
-I think so.
-The whole family.
-And you really enjoy them, do you?
-Yes, they're very good.
They're a terribly good whopping yarn.
-Now look, this is going to be impossible to value accurately but,
I mean, that obviously, the picture is completely priceless for you.
Yes. For my dad especially, yes.
But for Harry Potter addicts, and heaven knows there are enough of them around,
these horoscopes, these actual drawings done by JK Rowling,
-would be very interesting.
I don't think it would be anything like as much
as the first edition signed
of The Philosopher's Stone, but I should think we're
probably doing quite a few thousand pounds here, something like
-2 or £3,000.
-I'm quite surprised by that.
-Well, at least you know you've got it if the boiler goes wrong.
-Yes! We can get a repair!
-Thanks, that's lovely.
-Thank you, thank you very much.
It's a wind-up toy.
Great. And it's yours?
Yeah, I inherited it from my great-granny.
-Right. And you don't know anything about it?
That's very exciting. Shall I have a try?
Now, Mr Whoever You Are, or Miss or Mrs...
Hello! How are you?
That is absolutely wonderful. So, what it's meant to be doing is...
And it does, it tries to poke its tongue out,
and what it's saying is, "I want... I'm licking the milk in the churn."
And it's lovely that you've got a stop-starter, because that means
it's a better automaton than one that just goes on and on
-and on and you can't stop it.
You know, it's really worth, if you can, having a little go at
oiling it, because I think it's slightly sticking.
And there's the little tongue coming out. Oh!
It's made of papier-mache,
The cat inside, the kitten, is made of real rabbit fur, and probably
the actual mechanism was made in Switzerland for a Parisian maker
called Roullet et Decamps. They started in the late 19th century
and they went right on to the 1930s.
He or she is about 1910.
Now, they're still there in Paris, making all sorts of things,
from creeping crawling animals
to pouncing lions, jumping tigers, all sorts of things.
Do you want to know what its value is?
I think if you get it going better, it could be worth as much as 1,000.
-It's pretty, but we've considered it a piece of junk, really.
-Where did you keep it?
-Well, it's sat on a shelf
and no-one really saw it.
No, they didn't? OK. I think you have this on your desk,
-and it's a paperweight, and you can also put your pens and pencils in here.
Where do you think it might have been made?
I'd say Italy, but I've no idea generally.
-You would be right.
-Oh, thank you!
When would it have been made?
Well, I've known it for about 70 years, so it would have been made before that!
It's actually about 1800 in date,
-so it's a couple of hundred years old.
And this bit is slate,
What they've done
is carve out the outline.
They would then inset,
carefully choosing the right colours, which were kept in glass bottles
so they could see what each colour was, and build up,
as if it were a painting,
the figures. And if you look at it, you can just see
the tiny little bits.
And, of course, once they'd done that - it was all kind of
on the surface a bit wobbly -
they filled it and then polished it, and that's why it's all now smooth.
It was called a micromosaic.
They must have had wonderful eyesight.
They did. It was a whole industry
in Italy from the 18th century through to the 19th century,
and they made brooches, they made desk ornaments,
they made plaques out of it.
Now, the interesting thing about it is the way the prices have been
moving in recent years.
How much do you think your piece of junk might be worth?
Well, I thought about £20, if I was very lucky!
Listen, I'll give you a profit on that, no problem at all!
I think if this came up at auction in London,
you would have to pay 3 to £4,000 for it.
Scottish junk is very desirable!
It's Irish junk, let me tell you!
It came from Ireland traditionally!
Thank you very much.
-Just considered pure junk.
The beautiful Castle of Mey, intended as a background for today's
event, has been battered all the time by fierce winds and horizontal
rain, and of course when we've all gone home, it'll still be here and
the sun will come out again. That is show business!
So, many thanks to the staff here, to the brave people of Caithness for
sharing the experience, and for now, from the north of Scotland, goodbye.
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.