Michael Aspel and the team survey heirlooms at the last working Victorian pottery in England, at Middleport in Staffordshire. A portrait of William Gladstone puts in an appearance.
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Arnold Bennett once wrote that you couldn't drink from a teacup
without the aid of Staffordshire pottery towns.
Well, it's tea time. Today we're in Burslem,
the Mother Town of the six that form the city of Stoke-on-Trent.
Then its proud claim has been put to the test in the years between
with competition flooding in from the other side of the world.
But the flag still flies and with all the imports from the Far East,
it's nice to raise a pinkie at a tea set that's only had to cross a
few metres of water to get here.
By the Trent and Mersey Canal you'll find the Victorian
pottery of Middleport the home of Burleigh ware.
Built in 1888 by William Burgess and his partner Frederick Leigh
it was recognised in its day as the model pottery - efficient, profitable
and good to its workforce.
Generation after generation have
helped produce fine quality earthenware here, and with the
passing of the years very little has changed in the production process.
Pottery from here has been shipped all over the world.
When you walk through the pottery's main gates you half expect to
come across young William and Frederick planning their next line.
An entry in Leigh's day book gives a hint of his philosophy.
"Be frugal, that which will not make a pot will make a pot lid."
There are literally thousands of dusty old moulds here
waiting to be rediscovered.
Some of them were eagerly snapped up by Middleport
after other potteries closed nearby.
Burleigh's speciality is something called underglaze transfer printing.
It's a skill that's been practised for over 200 years.
It was once an everyday technique but Burleigh is the last pottery
in the world still using it.
Sadly after all the years of glory
the company very nearly came to a disastrous end.
Five generations of the Leigh family had run the business but by 1999
they were in financial difficulties and the receivers were called in.
At the eleventh hour a couple from
Hampshire with only £400 in their current
bank account stepped into the breach and mounted an audacious rescue bid.
More of that later.
It would be nice to think that some ancient items of Burleigh ware
will find their way home today.
Our ceramics team are licking their lips, they're also crossing their
fingers, the weather forecast isn't good but when did that ever stop us?
They all originally belonged to my grandfather who worked
at Middleport pottery for over 50 years, so they were all his.
And he left them to me
and they're just a little collection of things.
Was he a potter here, what was his job?
He was a warehouse master. Cross-warehouse.
-And these things I suppose he just acquired while he was working here.
I mean these really in a way show the variety of wares that
were produced here in its greatest period during the 1930s, '40s, when they really understood glazes.
Let's look at the colours here. This jug is a bit of an oddity in a way
because it shouldn't be in these colours.
Here we've got a jug that was modelled in the 1850s, 1860s
in a very tame colour, but here it's been brought up-to-date.
When did he join the factory?
Because here we've got the colours of the early '30s
that's when he was there, but it's actually on the bottom there
there's a little maker's mark,
that's the registration lozenge for the Victorian period,
that mark says it was made in the 1860s, but it wasn't.
The old moulds, they stayed in the factory, that long tradition,
and they reused the old moulds
and here they produced a Victorian jug in the 1930s colours.
I mean, this sense of modelling they produced, did your grandfather
-know the modellers and work with them?
-He knew Earnest Bailey.
Oh, Earnest Bailey of course was perhaps the epitome of the modellers here, just a superb work, isn't he?
This is one of his designs, isn't it?
How much more decoration can you get in one jug?
Just look at it, church interior, there's the - what's it -
bell ringers, Oh, I see. The bells ringers Jack of Lincoln.
And signed on the bottom by...
Bailey sculpt it.
Yes, of course.
He produced the original model from which these were moulded
and cast here, what 1948.
I mean, not an awful lot was being done at that time
and especially locally. These were of course wartime restrictions,
were still export only, they couldn't really be sold locally.
-That's another one of Bailey's work, isn't it?
It's a marvellous idea of a jug, isn't it?
There one sees all around it - that's not just a vessel, it's the
bottle kiln, the big kiln we're sitting underneath the shadow of
and there is Edmund Leigh the first chairman of Burgess and Leigh.
Made as a very proud piece. So these came down to you of course
in the family. What do you think of them?
I'm not particularly keen on these two but I love this one.
I think this is fun and, that's a beautiful piece of pottery and I really enjoy that piece.
This is really a very different design altogether, this is...
it's tube-lining, isn't it, drawing the patterns out in colours.
Very different but equally great workman from the factory here,
or work lady because there we have the mark of Charlotte Rhead.
You don't see much of the Rhead pieces on the Burleigh ware.
It's sort of something which... It's again, is this a
prototype that stayed in, was given in the family, I presume.
It was presented to him when he retired.
What a lovely piece to be given.
One knows that these factory, the Burleigh wares are becoming
more and more appreciated but it's still relatively new to collectors
compared to other factories but it's growing steadily in market.
A simple moulded jug like this, you're looking at what, sort of
£150 for an unusual jug like that.
They are affordable I think.
Even the great eccentric jugs like this,
They're going to be £200, £300.
Lovely bits of pottery for that, aren't they? They're great.
That's a rare prototype jug, not many were made of those pieces,
today what are we gonna be - £400 rising.
But they're going up, they're going up.
These are scarce things. People are looking at them in a new way because they've got the quality.
And here, Charlotte Rhead's work is popular anywhere,
and a rare piece in Burleigh,
so I mean that's going to be again, I suppose £500.
OK, brilliant. Excellent.
I bought it from a church fete in Cheshire last year
and it was among some costume jewellery and it
sort of stuck out and I asked how much it was and it was 25 pence.
-So not an outrageous sum of money.
Let me tell you a little bit about it, it's gold,
and the gold wreath border is set throughout with little pearls,
and there's a little tiny monogram here, a letter, with pearls
and tiny diamond chips in the letter here.
And then you have a blue enamelled
field, it's got a circular gold back, and did you wonder
at what this little mechanism was at the back there?
-You've got two little pin holes and the idea would be that you would
take a screwdriver and you would put this little peg-like screwdriver
into the back and you would twiddle it,
you'd unscrew it, and the front would fall out and you
-could replace that blue plaque with a different colour plaque.
So what this is, is a gold pendant that was probably made in let's say
1900, 1905 - so it's the start of the 20th century.
Gold, pearls, blue enamel and diamonds and you paid 25 pence.
-In a fete for it.
Well, if it happened to be by one of the great craftsmen Faberge,
Cartier, believe me that would be one of the ultimate finds, it's not.
-There are no makers marks on it at all that I can see.
Because of that I think we have
to be a little bit careful not to go too high with it.
But nevertheless I think if someone had that letter if their name began
with that particular A letter, I should think that someone would
-be delighted to pay something in the region of £500 for it.
So your 25 pence was a very good investment.
-Certainly gave me a good profit then.
-Yes, well done you.
Have you noticed how accurate our weather forecasters have been getting,
they've been promising us rain for days and here it is on the dot.
What we do on these occasions is
onwards and inwards, as it happens it is a weekend
and the workers are away from their pottery benches which means that
there is space in there for us to move in, so let's do it.
Isn't that gorgeous? I love that beautiful sweep
round with, with the object but where did you get it from?
Well, it's actually my mother's and I think it came from her mother -
she was very, very keen on, on sort of country house
sales and that sort of thing. Mother says it's something like £12.50.
-Yes, not bad.
It's actually very exciting.
Cos what we've got here is the mark of C R Ashbee.
Now, C R Ashbee was the chap who bought William Morris' idea
of a guild work, the Arts and Crafts movement into effect,
from a point of view of silver.
Look at the handles, the way those - there's actually two wires joined together,
and then, splitting at the top,
and then just that little plate.
And right at the end of the wire, how it just spreads.
Now that actually is quite an early feature,
other thing to particularly notice,
can you see as I turned in the light,
that slightly rippley effect on the surface?
Now that is what's known as the final planishing.
Because in fact, this was really a revolution against industrialisation
so you had a small group of men working together.
Each using their own particular skills to create the object.
The marks are fascinating because what standard London marks there,
with the date for 1900 but that mark is jolly rare,
it's the CRA mark, the C R Ashbee as opposed to G of H limited mark
for the guild of handicraft. Any thoughts on its worth?
Probably a bit more than £12.50, I would think. It's a beautiful piece.
Right, certainly more than £12.50, at least £13.
-No, no seriously.
At auction if it was Guild Handicraft normal mark I would
-be thinking 3,000, 4,000 quite easily.
That mark is going to push it up cos it is so rare.
And I think we're looking more around the 5,000 mark.
Right, OK, that's, that's very, very nice.
-Good old granny.
-Yes, well done.
At the beginning of the show I mentioned the brave act of
a couple from Hampshire who came to the rescue of the company when they got into trouble back in 1999.
And they are Rosemary and Will Dorling.
Now you lived in 200 miles away from here
down in Hampshire, what was your connection with Burgess and Leigh?
We had a china shop in Winchester near the cathedral and we specialised
in Staffordshire ceramics, so we didn't buy anything from Italy or
Portugal or the Far East, we just had a passion for English ceramics.
Hence Burgess and Leigh.
-And is this jug part of the output?
-That's right, this jug was made 100 years ago at this factory,
fired in a bottle oven and given to us as a wedding present
before we even knew about Burgess and Leigh.
So you knew the product, you wanted to help
but how were you able to help?
In 1999 we heard that the pottery had gone into liquidation
and it got to 11 hours before the deadline the receiver wanted
all his offers in, but we decided we'd go and see our bank manager and
put an offer in for the business.
We decided we'd take the business to a modern unit and we would start
again and this poor old factory would be left behind to the developers.
But after we saw our bank manager who said he'd loan us against our house
for the business, we walked out into the street in Winchester
and met our old neighbour who said you've got to keep the two together,
you must keep that fantastic Victorian building and the business together
and I'll arrange a commercial mortgage for you.
Had we not met Peter in the street, we wouldn't today be in this wonderful factory.
we thought this has to be the last tribute to the people of Stoke-on-Trent,
who gave their lives in horrendous conditions to make art.
So, an intriguing box.
And is this something from your family?
Yes, it is. My grandmother's brother -
they're originally from Poland - was caught by the German soldiers
and put in a prisoner of war camp, and what he used to do is,
as you can see he's very artistic, he used to make little figurines of
fairytales for the German soldiers to send back to their family.
And in turn they used to give him a little bit extra food
and he used to keep some of the materials aside and what he did
was he made this little set of a Polish fairytale called Maria the Orphan, for his niece.
To send back to...she was only three at the time, and then the soldiers
sent it back to her after the camp was closed.
That's amazing. I mean, these are so beautiful, I particularly love
this little dog.
-It's just gorgeous.
I remember this is giving a lot away, I remember having a
-set of these little very similar farmyard set in the 1950s.
So they were obviously very popular then.
-They're incredibly well done.
I think my set in the '50s was slightly more rustic than this.
I think it's had a lot, a lot of talent. And it's just
so wonderful having all these, the geese, what was the story?
It was about Maria The Orphan, it's similar to the English fairytale of Red Riding Hood.
-If it was to sell, I could see it going for you know, £150, £200.
But its value is ten times that.
-It's just an amazing story
and amazing set and it's fabulous that it's stayed in the family.
Thank you, thank you.
It's a family picture.
Was in my grandparents' house and certainly I remember -
I've been told - as a small child in my family used to holiday in Iona,
most years with my mum, when my grandfather was growing up.
And this is by Cadell, one of the Glasgow artists
and painted in the 1920s perhaps, when did they have it, do you suppose?
I know that my grandfather was in India, there was three generations of
the family in India and he came back in the early 1930s.
-So that's as clearly as
-I could date it.
-And he'll have bought it new.
-I think he'll have bought it then.
Cadell was apparently a very jolly
man and I think his light-hearted character comes out in the
picture, lovely bright colours, very quick paintwork and so on.
It's a man who's really enjoying life I think, don't you?
-I love the colours.
-Cadell studied in Paris at
the end of the 19th century, 1899 to about 1905, something like that.
And at that time there was a great movement for painting
outside and "plein air" painting and the Scots really picked up on this.
And through the 1920s and '30s - he dies I think in 1933 -
he went to Iona every year for his holidays and
so on, do you recognise this particular view?
No I don't, no I suspect my father might have been able,
but he's no longer with us but I don't know that particular one.
I just love this use of this bright splashes of colour which draw your eye into the picture.
It's just absolutely full of life - it sings, doesn't it?
It's a wonderful picture.
Well, I mean he's really one of the most desirable of all the
Scottish colourists really and a picture like this today would make
somewhere between £30,000 and £40,000.
I had no idea!
When we took the show to Toronto in Canada a few years ago
a queue formed separately and quite spontaneously and consisted of
Henry Sandon fans who simply wanted to kiss the great man.
Well, he has been oozing charm and his great knowledge of ceramics for 29 of the show's 30 years.
Henry we're always celebrating big valuations and huge reactions
but some of the things that have
landed on the ceramics table have really changed people's lives.
Yes, the biggest one I suppose came in Northampton.
A lovely lady brought
a slipware model of an owl made in Staffordshire.
It's a remarkable
example of a rare class of things, so rare that I
for many, many years I've never had the privilege of handling one.
So it's a joy to have it.
-I don't know what you or your father think it's worth. Any ideas?
-We don't, no.
-Do you know what I think its value is?
Are you comfortably sitting there?
Yes, I'm OK.
Something between about £20,000 and £30,000.
-Good gracious, never!
-£20,000 and £30,000.
Oh, my word.
She subsequently sold it at auction and the auction house didn't make a
commission charge at all - very kind of them - and she used
a large chunk of the money to help the Salvation Army
use for adopting children in Sao Paulo and the rest of it she used to
bring up her own adopted children - six adopted children, and...
I have Christmas cards from these, they call themselves the Owlets
because it all came from the owl, these are some Christmas cards I've had which says,
"Happy Christmas from the Owlets", which is nice and,
and they even sent me a calendar which I've taken the calendar off
but there's Ozzie the owl and on the back of it said,
"He came out of his nest and is now roosting in Stoke-on-Trent.
"From Mrs Owl and the Owlets", it's lovely.
I can almost cap that but not quite the goods back in 2002
I gave you a slight surprise when I crept up to you one day and said,
Henry Sandon, This Is Your Life, do you remember that by any chance?
It was a dreadful shock I nearly died.
And now I have this wonderful book with them all, my history inside it.
-That was a happy day wasn't it?
-It was a very, very happy day, I've never forgotten it.
Well, one final surprise for you Henry, you first met this person
in 1987, and like you, he's become extremely popular but I know you
have a very special relationship all the way from the Potteries Museum himself. Ozzie the Owl.
Ozzie the Owl, Ozzie the Owl! Oh, bless his little boots,
-thank you, thank you very much.
-Together at last.
"Be all right with the freak and funky Jimi Hendrix", classic.
What a classic line, and what can I say, Jimi Hendrix's autograph
it's fantastic and, it's in an autograph book with bits of Mitch Mitchell's drumsticks as well,
Jimi Hendrix's drummer. How d'you happen to have these?
Well, we just went to see Jimi - it was April 1967 and we were just waiting
-outside on the stage door, me and my friend.
-Where was he playing?
Hanley, the Gaumont.
The Gaumont at Hanley and this was the bill that he was on with the Walker Brothers.
-Cat Stevens, Engelbert Humperdinck.
-Bit of a strange mixture actually but actually I must admit
I like Scott Walker as a musician and this was an interesting tour
because I don't know whether you know, Jimi worked his way up the bill
becoming more infamous at every gig that he played.
So, what was he like then, to watch?
What was he like? Well, we didn't actually see him play.
-We were schoolgirls
we couldn't afford to go in. So we just waited at the stage door.
-Terrible thing to ask a lady, how old were you?
-I was 15. My friend was 14.
-Right, OK. And obviously he came out and you got his...
-Yeah, came out
and he was really friendly, he was chatting to us and we had the autographs,
but then, a bit of drama occurred because, someone
actually stole his guitar as it was being loaded onto the bus
for them to go home, this person ran up the street, we ran up
following Jimi and his entourage.
You gave pursuit after Jimi Hendrix's guitar?
Yeah, anyway, he managed to stop the
person and actually got the guitar back.
It's a fascinating tale I have to say, and this,
what's this, this bit of Beano?
He actually got on the bus after this and he was reading it
and then, the engine started and he was going to back
to home or whatever and then he pushed that through the window
as a souvenir and also
the ring, he took the ring off his finger.
-That's Jimi Hendrix's ring?
-So he gave you that?
-Looks like something out of a Christmas cracker.
-Can I have a look at it?
It is something out of a Christmas cracker, isn't it? But I suppose
at the time that was not important. Hold on a sec, I've got to wear it.
It's just like him, he was flamboyant.
Well, I'm quite flamboyant as well. Do you think it suits me?
It's a little bit small for me, it fits on my little finger.
It is a Christmas cracker ring, but at the end of the day,
it's not quality that's important here - that's Hendrix's ring.
Had you ever thought about what a little thing like this is worth?
Given there's a little bit more to it than an average autograph page,
and this particularly, even though in real terms is worth tuppence,
I think the whole lot is going to make £500 to £700 at auction.
So it's a great little thing.
And I have to say, the story makes it. Thank you very much.
OK, thank you.
I went to a market and I saw it on a stall and I liked it.
I thought it had no particular value but it was aesthetically pleasing.
-And you purchased it for how much?
-About £10 I think.
About £10, OK. >
It was the enamel that appealed as well and the signature.
Ah, the signature.
Signature. I thought the signature was slightly familiar to me.
I was going to say, you've obviously noticed the signature
Rhead - it's there, something's in the conscience?
The name Rhead within this region is actually quite an important dynasty,
we have 3 generations of important artists, designers who were working
around this area from George, the, let's call him the grandfather,
who actually established the Fenton School of Art, to Frederick F Rhead
who worked for a number of important pottery manufacturers in this area,
and let's call her the granddaughter, Charlotte Rhead,
who of course is one of those names just synonymous
with the 1920s and '30s and the Art Deco period.
And Charlotte actually spent an important part of her early career
working here at Burgess and Leigh.
Your plaque, though, is clearly signed F Rhead, and I'm happy to say
that we've got a Frederick Rhead, we're middle generation,
and we're on a tile panel and in terms of date,
we're looking at a date fairly specifically between 1908 and 1910.
Now around those years Frederick actually went into business with
a gentleman called F H Barker, and they established a tile company
at the Atlas Tile works.
It was a fairly short-lived exercise, actually,
and the company dissolved after two years, and what we're looking at
here is a piece that is obviously hand-executed by Frederick who was
actually a very accomplished artist who trained under a name
you'll also probably have heard of, Louis Solon, at Minton.
The heritage is there, it's all starting to fall into place,
and I think it's safe to say that your £10 purchase was actually
quite modest and a very good acquisition on the day, because
I feel if this were to come up in a saleroom, I'd be quite confident
in putting a pre-sale estimate of £500 to £800 on it,
it's a wonderful piece,
and I'm so glad you brought it along today.
Someone I didn't expect to see at the Roadshow today is Nick Hancock.
Surely you've got better things to do than come and see us.
-You'd have thought so.
But it is Stoke On Trent on Sunday afternoon, it was either you or the launderette,
-and the laundrette's shut.
-And we won.
Only cos it's shut, yeah.
-So why are you here.
-Well, I was desperate to bring along a few things
that were relevant to the city and relevant to Stoke City Football Club,
the team I support, so I'd be interested to know what you think.
You've been a Stoke City man and boy, all your life, haven't you?
Yes, I have I had no real choice, my grandfather used to take me and,
and my father, so yes.
In Roadshow terms, a very high point in my life
was many years ago, we did a show in Trentham.
And Stanley Matthews came as a guest and I met him,
and it was absolute magic.
The great thing about Sir Stan was that he was a hero,
a local hero, but he was probably the first global sporting superstar,
as big as Beckham in a time when there wasn't the television about,
there wasn't the satellite channels and that sort of thing,
but he was a massive name, and he was from Stoke on Trent.
OK, so, are these to do with him?
Some of them are, yes.
I mean, I think probably the most important piece is this medal here,
which is the FA Cup winners medal which Stanley won in 1953,
because the whole of the nation had been willing Stanley to win.
He had to do it. He'd never done it.
He'd never won anything up till then.
It's, it's fantastic history.
I probably cherish this one more,
-because this is a medal he won when he was at Stoke City.
When they got promotion in 1963.
Stanley'd come back, Stan must have been 48 years of age,
the crowds came back with him and we finally won promotion,
then he scored the winning goal against Luton Town, and so that
is probably slightly more important to me because that as a Stoke fan.
-And that's real Roy of the Rovers stuff.
Scoring a winning goal.
Oh yes, the old chap comes back,
and the younger players'd give him the ball cos he could hold onto it
while they had a breather, it was a fantastic story.
So you collect memorabilia football stuff?
I do and if you're gonna ask me why, I'm not really sure,
and I suppose in some ways, it's just you have a connection with a team,
and you have a feeling for a player,
but it just makes it slightly more tangible to have something there.
I think things that have been part of someone famous are just magic.
What about the cap?
The cap, it has a sort of a link with Stanley Matthews,
it's a Gordon Banks cap.
when Stoke finally parted company with Sir Stanley and Sir Stanley
had been fantastic for them bringing money into the club,
we used to go on tours round the world, because Stanley was playing.
The first thing they did immediately was that they bought
Gordon Banks, another iconic player.
This cap is for the 1970 World Cup,
and I suppose, apart from winning the World Cup in 1966...
Yes, it wasn't a great World Cup.
It wasn't great for us and if, but, but of course Gordon was ill,
for the game we lost.
But he did make what was commonly considered...
-The greatest save.
-The greatest save of all time.
-OK, so you collect these things, you buy them.
And they're expensive, aren't they?
They can be very expensive, I tend to...
Like a lot of Stoke on Trent people I'm quite nosey, I'll go to the sale with no intention at all of bidding.
As we all do, but suddenly your hand creeps up.
"That should be staying in the city."
Yeah, OK. Can we ask?
The cap is in the thousands rather than the hundreds.
Now, just below 10,000 I would have said.
This medal much, much more reasonable
-and yet strangely, the thing I cherish most.
-That's an expensive medal.
Yes, that's a very expensive medal that, tens of thousands probably.
-Let's be precise.
I think these are good investments, whatever you pay doesn't matter,
they're important things, they're important to you.
I think iconic things like that will hold their price.
Now I'm gonna say to you, you thought it was all over, but, stop.
-Hang on a minute. I've got a present for you.
Stoke City, I think it's 1961, versus Liverpool.
How fantastic, thank you very much, that's wonderful.
-Well, it's better in your collection than in mine.
-Thank you very much.
I suppose it's not a huge coincidence
that we've got a portrait of William Gladstone, cos he didn't live that far from here.
About 30-ish miles, I think.
-Just inside the Welsh border.
And, and where did you find him?
Antiques fair in Chester, Chester racecourse.
-Oh, really and you just came across this.
-Yeah, just lying on the floor.
What did it look like when you first encountered the man.
He looked a mess really, there was a big hole and we had it restored
and we're just delighted with it.
So have you attempted to find anything out about it?
-Yes. Obviously, that's fairly prominent.
-Which looks like a cipher.
Yes, and we have no idea, we looked on the internet, couldn't find it.
So we wrote to the National Portrait Gallery, just in case
they had a reference and they wrote back and said they
thought it was Henry Weigall,
and that they knew of the existence of a similar painting,
but that was it, we drew a blank.
Perhaps I can put you out of your misery and tell you
a little bit more about it. OK.
Well, the W at the bottom, the H W is indeed Henry Weigall,
who is an extremely interesting artist.
He married into aristocracy, and I suspect a little bit of wealth
as well, he married the daughter of the Earl of Westmoreland,
and through that I suspect he got a whole raft of great commissions,
got to the Royal Family, got to people like William Gladstone.
He painted predominantly for clubs and for regiments,
very Victorian style institutions, but he had a particular way about
him, he had a good solidity,
he in a sense epitomises the grand Victorian face.
The subject, William Gladstone, of course, is a subject
that many people will instantly recognise
but that's not surprising because he was really into his face.
In fact, at this time in politics people like Gladstone, people like
Disraeli understood the power of personality, the personality cult.
And through carte de visites and
portraits like this, they managed to get their image around.
Now Gladstone was a difficult man to paint, he's one of these people who
loved adversity, he loved to confront.
Queen Victoria loathed him, I gather, and said something like,
being addressed by him was as if being addressed to the public rally,
you know, he didn't talk gently, he just sort of lectured you.
Now, what we're dealing with here is something where we can
tick a few boxes.
It represents one of the most significant figures
in Victorian England, together with Disraeli.
Politically, they reigned supreme for a bit, one way and another.
It's painted at a time when he is prime minister,
it's an emotive period in his life.
Political portraiture, particularly for the collectors out there who want these things,
they like the idea of them being painted when the career is peaking,
when something exciting is happening.
Weigall is an artist who is rated.
I've actually had works by him, not of Gladstone but of Disraeli,
so I'm reasonably familiar with the artist.
Can I ask you what you paid for it?
And then we had it restored and reframed,
so we spent a total of about £700 altogether.
Well, I think you, you paid a rather good price,
because I would comfortably value this picture
at anywhere up to £20,000.
Glad I'm sitting down.
Can't believe that.
What we have here is quite a spectacular looking thing, obviously
and it's quite strange, and in fact when we look at it,
we don't really know what it is, but it's what we call a street piano.
Now, this is the kind of thing that was originally made for a parlour,
it's really a piece for entertainment,
and you can imagine people in a parlour circa 1900, sitting there with this piece playing.
What's the story behind it, where did you acquire it?
It was acquired from my grandmother and it was left to me son.
And it won't fit in my house so it's stored in the workshop.
-It's the first time it's been out in 3 years.
So it's your responsibility, but it belongs to you.
It belongs to him.
Right, OK. And what do you think of this, do you like it?
I love it, it's really... I like the panels.
The panels are spectacular, aren't they?
And we've got back engraved mirrors here,
we've got coloured glasses, very much in the style of Tiffany,
some of these pieces, but all of those things are put together
to give the impression it's spectacular,
when in fact, actually, it was a fairly cheaply made thing.
Look at the quality of the case, I mean, most of this is oak,
in fact, there's an inscription across the top there which says,
"Jules Moisse Rue Jerusalem Vingt Cinq Schaerblek",
I can only just make that out.
What's interesting about that is it suggests to me that that might be
the maker, but what I've noticed here is that you've got a coin slot
up the top. That is not original to this piece of furniture.
That has been added afterwards, and that suggests to me that it
was then obviously later put perhaps into a cafe or something like that.
And now's the point at which we should open it because we can look at those sort of things.
What I'm going to do is have a look at this very carefully.
Let's lift out this central panel
and put it to one side.
And that reveals the mechanism to us and of course we have this barrel
here with the pins which as it spins are powered by a big clockwork
motor in the back, obviously operate the hammers as the pins pass.
Obviously on here on the frame we can see the name
well actually it says Brussels, so we know that it's Belgian,
Place de la Reine trois which
obviously is the place of which the frame was made, essentially.
I have to say I don't know how many tunes...
-Do you know how many tunes it plays?
Think it's eight, but I can't be sure on that.
Often these machines do have what we call eight airs or eight tunes.
Because obviously these rows of pins are in fact different tunes.
I mean you've been given a very interesting thing, that's one thing,
but in of course it does have value, and to someone who collects
these kind of pieces, who's interested in mechanical music,
I think if it had a little bit more work, a little bit more restoration done on it to bring it up to speed,
I think 2,000 to 3,000 at auction would be a nice estimate for it.
Having said that, I think we should run it.
I have no idea how to get it going.
Do you know how to get it going?
-Right, OK, you're gonna have to show me, where do we start?
I think you have to turn the handle down here.
Right, OK, do you want to wind up the handle for me.
That's the clockwork handle, is it?
METALLIC PIANO TUNE PLAYS
Try it again. Bit more.
CACOPHONIC PIANO SOUND
PIANO TUNE EMERGES
These are a curious pair of bowls, were did they come from?
I don't really know,
my father bought them in '47 in London,
I think he just saw them in the shop,
and thought they were nice, he liked them.
-The shop being...
-Moss, Sydney Moss.
-Moss. Is that the receipt?
-It is the original receipt.
Well, we love bits of paper because they're always wrong!
But sometimes they're right.
Sydney Moss, well respected dealer, and here we've got a pair of
Chinese black glazed Famille Noire rice bowls and covers,
K'ang Hsi Period 1662 to 1722.
Well, that's what they said.
We don't know whether that's right yet.
And he paid in 1947, £105.
-Quite a bit then.
-He could buy a house in London for that.
You could, you could.
What do you like about them?
I like the red lining contrasting with the black.
OK, you say red lining, let's have a look.
Well, we would call that coral.
-Yes, it is a coral colour.
And the Chinese developed it in the 17th century,
so that's quite feasible.
The combination of black and coral is actually quite rare.
-You see this on porcelain extremely rarely. Extremely rarely.
They are made of porcelain, hard paste porcelain.
Fired at about 1,250 degrees centigrade and the colour,
the coral and the black are in fact enamels,
put on top and then fired again at a slight lower temperature.
I think probably, the reference in the colour scheme is to blacker,
which is often in red and black, I think it's probably that.
And they sit
on these lotus carved ivory stands.
I've never seen stands like that.
-Never, they are absolutely fantastic.
Bit fallen off the bottom there,
engraved with four Chinese characters.
And they read Woo Xian Cong Zeng,
which, excusing my appalling Chinese, means
"precious pavilion of the calm studies".
It's obviously a reference to your house.
That honestly should be stuck back and I'd be quite happy for
you to stick it back with anything,
rather than it getting lost, that would be a great tragedy.
And that's ones lost it. I mean, that's what happens.
-Lost when we had it.
-I'm quite happy with the dating of K'ang Hsi.
-I would think they dated,
very late 17th, early 18th century, right on the cusp of that period.
I think these are spectacular,
they are exactly the sort of thing which the Chinese,
now centre of the ceramics industry in the world...
whereas if you go back to the 19th century,
here was the centre of the ceramic world,
and where is all the stuff gone,
all the work that's gone from here, where's it gone, it's gone to China.
It's quite extraordinary, they seem to go round and round in circles,
cos we knocked the Chinese out of it in the 19th century,
they were the leaders in the 18th.
So, it all goes round in circles. This is exactly what they'd like.
Do you have them insured?
Only on household.
Only on the household. They're such unusual things that it is,
quite honestly, difficult coming up with a justifiable estimate.
But I think I would be justified
in coming up with an estimate of £10,000 to £15,000.
-If I had the money, I'd buy them, I think they're...
I would, I think they're wonderful.
You'll never see another pair.
Today's weather makes you appreciate strength of character
and the Potteries have always produced plenty of that.
Apart from the great Stanley Matthews,
Reginald Mitchell, the man who designed the Spitfire was born here,
Oliver Lodge, who invented the spark plug, he was a local man.
So is Robbie Williams, and so, this weather reminds us,
was E J Smith who went down in history as the captain of the Titanic.
Well, thanks to today's heroes who've been with us,
and from Middleport pottery, goodbye.
Michael Aspel and the team survey antiques and heirlooms at the last working Victorian pottery in England, at Middleport in Staffordshire. A lost portrait of William Gladstone puts in a surprise appearance, and a pendant purchased for 50p at a boot sale turns out to be worth quite a bit more. Also, a pair of rice bowls turn out to be worth thousands of pounds.