Wells Antiques Roadshow


Wells

The team is in Wells, where objects under scrutiny include a bracelet once gifted by Queen Victoria, and there is a revealing moment for the owners of a rare tapestry.


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Transcript


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We know when we're in for a great day because amidst

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the clamour of the crowds there's an inner silence.

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It's our experts, like Alec here, concentrating hard

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before they let loose on some fine object put before them.

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There were lots of those here when our charabanc arrived in Somerset.

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So much so, that we could welcome you to a second helping

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of great finds from Wells.

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The Roadshow is all about discovery, revealing the story of antiquities

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that have survived through the centuries, that have touched

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people's lives, and sometimes

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tell us a little something about how we live today.

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And all of that applies to where we find ourselves now.

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Just look at this.

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CHORAL MUSIC

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People sit and admire the west front of the cathedral,

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rather like our experts scrutinise a painting

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and it's an amazing achievement,

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given that work was begun on it almost 800 years ago.

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Inside is no less impressive.

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Engineers today are awestruck by the brilliance of 14th-century thinking.

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These scissor arches stabilise the whole building and prevent

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the collapse of the central tower, much of it made from local limestone

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quarried from the Mendips.

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This has to be my favourite corner - the tomb of Bishop Bitton reputedly

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the most ancient engraved slab in England and at one time

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thought to be a cure for toothache.

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According to legend, one touch and the agony was gone,

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which is why it's so worn here.

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In the 19th century when they opened up the tomb, they discovered

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the skeleton of the bishop perfectly preserved and every tooth intact.

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There are four ancient gates which shut off the palace from the rest

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of the city, odd you might think, for a bishop's home to be built

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in such a defensive manner,

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with a moat, portcullis, even a chute

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for pouring molten lead or oil on would-be attackers,

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but it was built during a time of real social unrest,

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so they weren't taking any chances.

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Today, the drawbridge is down as we welcome the people of Wells

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to the gardens of the Bishop's Palace.

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Now, I can see you're holding a Bunnykins bowl, that takes me back

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to the 1970s when I worked for Royal Doulton and surprisingly I had a lot

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to do with Bunnykins cos I was involved in their history,

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but tell me, why have you got the bowl?

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I'm here with the bowl because my...

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I'm the niece of the original artist.

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Barbara Vernon Bailey.

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So I've brought along the bowl, but I've also brought along

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the original painting to go with it.

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Which I have here

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and this is a drawing by Barbara Vernon Bailey for that bowl.

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For that bowl.

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She intrigued me because...

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most people I think know she was a nun and suddenly

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one day she invented this, sort of,

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series of rabbits and her family ran the company at that point,

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and they put it into production

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and to everybody's amazement it took off.

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-Yes.

-And has gone on and gone on and gone on. What was she like?

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She taught me, I was at school, in her school and she taught me,

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she was terrifying, one assumes

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because she painted rabbits she was gentle and soft.

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Lovely and Beatrix Potter-y.

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But she was terrifying, very tall with an enormous hooked nose

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and an enormous chin and she would lean over you and sort of...

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Very strict and everyone was terrified of her.

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-So, this is very unlike her, really?

-Completely, completely alien to...

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-We all knew her as Babs.

-Babs.

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Completely alien to the person I know.

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That's what I love because I wanted to know

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what an extraordinary person,

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who is a nun who designs rabbit tableware and you've answered.

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-Not, not who you assume.

-Not what you expect.

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I mean to be fair it was a very, very successful design, early 1930s,

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onward and onward, there are hundreds of designs

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and hundreds of collectors, because there are rare designs

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and early versions and all that sort of collector stuff.

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-Is this the only drawing you've got?

-No, I do have one other drawing.

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-And again related to a piece.

-Yes, I mean I have about 60 pieces.

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So, lovely drawing, there's the bowl, what's the drawing worth?

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-No idea.

-No idea, they're pretty rare.

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I think a Bunnykins collector is going to pay £300, £500

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for one with a provenance like yours.

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-It couldn't be better, straight out of the family.

-Yes.

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Out of the nuns' lair, as you might say, out of the convent.

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I didn't steal it.

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Actually, on the back, it says Christmas present.

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So we've got rather a lot riding on this question,

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and the question is, is this an original drawing by Renoir?

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-It came into the family through an uncle who was a dealer, really.

-Yes.

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With a very, very good eye.

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-A good eye.

-A very good eye.

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-Did he have very good pictures?

-Yes, he did, he...

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He did have good pictures. He also had a lot of glass

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and china, which went to the Ashmolean

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and he had quite a lot that went to Bristol City Museum, so...

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His name was Jimmy Montfort, and...

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A lot of modern things too which was interesting, Bacon, for example.

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-Bacon?

-Mm.

-So he had a roving eye, you might say.

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A very, very roving eye, absolutely.

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-But very, very high quality.

-Very high quality.

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Most of his collection is now in museums.

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Well, then we've got to take this object very seriously indeed.

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The first thing to say about it is...

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with the frame and everything... what a pretty thing it is.

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It is, it's been on our... since Sarah and I can remember,

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-forever, and it...

-You're sisters, are you?

-Yes, we are.

-I see.

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And it's just been part of the fabric of wherever we've lived.

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But you've never asked the question, "Is it a print or a drawing?"

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We've always been led to believe it's a print, we never queried it.

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Right. OK, well we've got to find out, because if it's an original

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it's worth, you know, well into five figures,

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and who knows where you stop after that?

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It's, it's incredibly convincing as a drawing,

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this is the thing, isn't it?

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-Well...

-Mm.

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There are ways of telling, but I'm afraid all of them

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involve taking it out of the frame, so we've got to start with that.

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Er...now...

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Put the frame down here.

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And then, the first thing we can see

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is that it's on quite a thin sheet of paper,

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and, er, if we look there, there's a sort of blind stamp there.

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-Yes.

-Um, now the question is...

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is that a collector's mark or a publisher's mark?

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What do you mean by a blind stamp?

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That is when it's embossed and it's actually pushed

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into the paper rather than a stamp where it's been inked

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-and then stamped onto the paper.

-OK.

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Um, and usually, when they're, when they're blind stamped,

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I have to say, it's usually a publisher's thing,

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when they're pushed through the paper, so that's the first clue.

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You could have told that without taking it out of the frame,

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but, um, the next thing we do, is that we've got to look at it

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in a raking light, at a very, very slanting light.

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Luckily we've got some nice sun which is English September,

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so we'll use that. If you hold it up to a very raking light,

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so you catch the surface texture of the paper and the marks on it,

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what you're looking for is a change in the sheen that you can see.

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There should be a mattness where the crayon is.

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The next thing I'd do is actually hold it up to the light again,

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but this time we're looking through the paper

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rather than on the paper, and if you hold it up,

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you can actually see that it's on laid paper,

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which means that's a wire mesh that they've dropped the wet paper onto

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and lifted it out of the water,

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and it leaves the wire marks as a slightly thinner area in the paper.

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Um, that's actually a good sign, because if it was on a woven paper,

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that's not made that way, it wouldn't have those wire marks,

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and a lot of prints were. However,

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put it flat down again, look at the drawing and you'll see

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that the crayon has picked up

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lines from the laid paper that it was drawn on.

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You can actually see them, very faintly along here

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and if we lift it up to the light again,

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you can see that those lines do not correspond

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with the laid paper lines of this paper.

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-Do you see?

-Yes, very clearly.

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So we need to catch that line there, which is actually

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the line of the drawing, and then compare it to this line here,

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which is the line of the paper,

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and the same here, and the same here.

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I'm afraid it's a clincher, it's a print.

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-Ah.

-There's no way round that.

-Oh.

-I'm really, really sorry.

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It would have been too amazing for it to have been anything else.

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-We never thought that it was anything else.

-No, we didn't.

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But it's great to have asked the question.

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As a decorative object in that frame, it's absolutely lovely.

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-And its provenance is special to us.

-Its provenance is very good, erm...

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A couple of hundred pounds is the most I could really put on it.

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-Thank you so much.

-Thank you.

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"This sword was given to my grandfather, Thomas Atkins,

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"timber merchant of Northampton Wharf, Regents Park, North West,

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"by a manservant of Lord Nelson's, who was friendly with my grandfather

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"and he gave it for some services in connection of wood

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"supplied for the funeral of Lord Nelson,"

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-and it's signed, Rosa J Atkins.

-That's great, isn't it?

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Erm, my grandfather... His mother used to clean for a Miss Atkins

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and she took a liking to him and decided,

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because she had no children, she would pass the sword on

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to my grandfather, so it's been in our family for three generations.

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Right, as it refers to wood in connection with the funeral

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of Lord Nelson, it might be just the coffin that Nelson

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was transferred into at the time, who knows?

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-Yes.

-It's one of those things lost to history.

-Yes, yes.

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And when one takes the sword out of its scabbard, look at that...

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A mercuric gilded blade.

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Now this of course is illegal today, you mustn't do any mercuric gilding,

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so many young apprentices were killed

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through the fumes getting into their lungs when the blades

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were taken out of the vats that they made it illegal.

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There were more fatalities in the cutlery trade than any other trade

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-in London at the time.

-Gosh.

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But to, to see this in this condition,

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it is truly, truly wonderful.

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It's a sword that would be carried by a naval officer, of course,

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and the date of manufacture would be around about 1800.

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A very well-known London maker, and of course the grips are ivory.

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-Right.

-I notice that they've got the Hanoverian coat of arms

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on the blade.

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-Would it have been a dress sword?

-No, no, it's a fighting sword.

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A lot of people think that because the blades are blued and gilt,

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they are purely for show. They're not.

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-Right.

-This is a fighting sword.

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I would value this sword at somewhere between 6 and £8,000.

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Crumbs!

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Well, we're seeing two family miniatures here

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in the lovely autumn sunlight, tell me all about them.

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Well, the first one there that you've got

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is a miniature portrait of Lord Robert Carr,

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who was the second son of the 3rd Marquis,

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and he was killed at the Battle of Culloden,

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so this is a memorial bracelet really, but the Carrs in fact sided

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with the Hanoverians, which was...

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from the Scottish point of view, was rather, not so good, really.

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-No.

-And defeated Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1746.

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Extraordinary, isn't it?

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People remember it as one of the bloodiest confrontations

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in the United Kingdom. It was hideous, wasn't it?

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A horrendous slaughter.

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I mean, he was one of the few Hanoverians who actually

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-was killed by the Highlanders.

-And the Duke of Cumberland

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was Commander in Chief and had the curious accolade

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of Butcher Cumberland due the way he pursued and murdered the Scots.

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He pursued the Scots and this man's brother and father pursued...

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Went with Cumberland and did the dirty work, as it were.

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My goodness. What a terrifying story.

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The funny thing is that it certainly is an 18th-century miniature,

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but the bracelet is 19th century.

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-Oh, is it?

-And what's interesting is that it's been cut down

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to be accommodated into this bracelet,

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his head is too far up in the, sort of, composition.

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This is... I think it was owned by my ancestor, his great-nephew,

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Lord Mark Carr, who was a sailor,

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and he was very strongly establishment.

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Yes, I see, strong establishment.

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And he would... He liked the association

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with the fact that he'd been killed at Culloden

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and he was showing his loyalty to the Crown.

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My goodness! That's certainly evident from that.

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-And that would have been worn by his wife.

-Yes.

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I suppose there was a great antiquarian interest

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in one's ancestors, and that's probably how that happened,

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because the bracelet, in my view, is about 1840

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-and certainly not an 18th-century one.

-Right.

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And it's very interesting, but your family goes on with yet more

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fascinating connections in the form of this one.

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-Tell me, tell me about that.

-That was given to my great-grandmother,

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and she had been Queen Victoria's

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lady of the bedchamber and lady-in-waiting.

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And, and clearly it is a memento of great affection, isn't it?

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And it says just that, it says, "For Countess Antrim,

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"from her affectionate Victoria RI..." -

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Queen and Empress it means -

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"..1891," and it's 30 years after Albert's death,

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she was 30 years a widow, wasn't she?

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-Yes.

-Well, 40 years a widow, but this was her 30th year,

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and it's interesting that she chooses opals

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as Prince Albert's favourite stone was the opal,

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he was fascinated in the refracted light that it makes, and, um,

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by this time she was Empress of India

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and presided over two thirds of the world's surface

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and three quarters of its population,

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so if you had a bracelet from her, it was rather a good thing to have.

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-Yes.

-I bet there was a very deep curtsey

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-when she received that, don't you think?

-I should think so, yes!

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-Marvellous.

-One of the things that she did was -

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my great-grandmother - she used to...

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She was quite a tall woman, and she used...

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when Queen Victoria went into Hyde Park,

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-she used to run alongside the carriage.

-My goodness...

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A sort of marathon lady-in-waiting!

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Sort of, jogging!

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That's how she stayed thin, there's evidence she was thin

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-because she's got a tiny wrist.

-Yes, yes.

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Aren't they marvellous? That's what jewellery is all about really,

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and family connections.

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This one here is of great historical interest, maybe 6, £700 for that.

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I think something quite different for this, this has enormous appeal,

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it has to be 4, £5,000,

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and in a way that's only a fraction of what it means to you and I, so...

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-Absolutely, yes, one doesn't think of value in...

-No, not at all.

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-..these sort of objects.

-No, one doesn't,

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and I'm thrilled with them, thanks so much, brilliant. Wonderful.

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Lady Bowman, you've a fascinating story to tell about your time

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in the run-up to the Second World War and during the war.

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You started off as a debutante in the run-up to the war, didn't you?

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In fact, we've got a picture of you here. Tell me about this.

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Well, yes, well, I had...

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-By the way, do call me Christian.

-Christian, I will, thank you.

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We had a lovely time, we had a wonderful summer,

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which was nothing but, sort of, dances and champagne and music,

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and, oh, it was gorgeous,

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and just like that, down came the war, and literally, within...

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oh, just over weeks, I was in an absolutely horrible factory.

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How did that come about? Because you decided

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that the life of a debutante was not for you,

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and you wanted to go to work in a factory

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making rivets for Halifax bombers. Why did you decide to do that?

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All the chaps in my family were in the Army,

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and one of my brothers was at home on leave and I said,

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"What shall I do?" And he said, with a certain wisdom

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beyond his years, he said, "This war is going to need aeroplanes,

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"why don't you see if you can get a job in an aeroplane factory?"

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And then we both looked at each other.

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I didn't know how to do it, so he looked

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in the London telephone directory,

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and the first entry he came to which he knew the name of,

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was the name of the... Handley Page, they were called,

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who made these bombers. And so I rang up

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and asked to speak to the staff manager,

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who was a bit surprised, but anyway, within a week I had a job there.

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And your job was doing what?

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Well, this is three little bits of metal,

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and they came to me in little, sort of, jagged shapes,

0:18:020:18:05

just stamped out, and I had to bend them

0:18:050:18:10

into the right shape and drill them with these little holes, the reason

0:18:100:18:14

I have this one is that I made that hole crooked, so it wasn't any good.

0:18:140:18:18

Of course, because it would have to be absolutely precise.

0:18:180:18:21

-They did.

-I can see, it's gone in at an angle there.

0:18:210:18:24

I don't know what you call them, but they went into

0:18:240:18:26

the leading edge of Halifax bombers all along there.

0:18:260:18:30

Have you met any of the people

0:18:300:18:32

who flew the planes for which you made these?

0:18:320:18:35

-Oh, yes.

-These key, small-but-essential bits of metal.

0:18:350:18:39

After the Times published my letter saying,

0:18:390:18:42

"Please, I want to meet somebody who flew Halifaxes,"

0:18:420:18:45

one came through the letterbox eventually

0:18:450:18:48

from a squadron leader saying would I go and join them

0:18:480:18:51

at their reunion, and I was absolutely thrilled,

0:18:510:18:55

and so I went and they were absolutely so nice to me,

0:18:550:19:01

and every single one of these people are heroes,

0:19:010:19:03

they are all brave, brave men who flew these planes

0:19:030:19:07

night after night after night. Some of them had done over 50 sorties,

0:19:070:19:12

being shot at and, you know...

0:19:120:19:15

I'm looking, this is someone from the Royal Canadian Air Force there.

0:19:150:19:18

Yes, there were all sorts of nationalities,

0:19:180:19:21

including Swedish, rather strangely.

0:19:210:19:23

DFC here, so recognised, yes, with a medal.

0:19:230:19:27

And I'm just so glad that there's still this...

0:19:270:19:31

Some, sadly, are not, of course...

0:19:310:19:35

But they're here and they're having a good time,

0:19:350:19:37

-I hope. We certainly did.

-We certainly had a good time

0:19:370:19:40

hearing your story, thank you so much.

0:19:400:19:42

It's a tiny cupboard, look, I can put my hand on it like that,

0:19:490:19:52

as you can, but small though it is,

0:19:520:19:55

it is absolutely stuffed full of something

0:19:550:19:57

that, in a way, we'll never see, it won't fall out -

0:19:570:20:01

it's social history.

0:20:010:20:03

So let's show there...

0:20:030:20:05

-and it's clearly a 20th-century key cupboard.

-Yes.

0:20:050:20:08

And you fell in love with it. Why? What was the thing?

0:20:080:20:11

Nothing to do with keys. I found this in a antique shop in West London.

0:20:110:20:15

I walked into the shop, it was on the wall, the door was closed,

0:20:150:20:18

-I opened the door and realised what it was.

-Yeah.

0:20:180:20:23

And one of the first key fobs I read

0:20:230:20:26

is down here which is, "Miss Naomi McGore's jewel case,"

0:20:260:20:30

and I just was enchanted.

0:20:300:20:32

Did you know of the family when you bought it?

0:20:320:20:35

Not at all.

0:20:350:20:36

-Right, and how did you track it down?

-Um, well some of the keys

0:20:360:20:41

-had the name McGore on them.

-Right.

0:20:410:20:43

-And really I wanted to find where the key case came from.

-Yes.

0:20:430:20:46

-Because obviously it belongs to a house.

-Sure.

0:20:460:20:49

And I went on the internet and I did some research

0:20:490:20:52

and I actually found out that the McGores

0:20:520:20:55

-lived in Horsham in West Sussex.

-And the house?

0:20:550:20:58

-It is called Forest Grange.

-And does it still exist?

0:20:580:21:01

-It does.

-That's remarkable, isn't it? Let's look at the object itself.

0:21:010:21:05

Here we have the wireless cabinet, two wireless cabinets,

0:21:050:21:08

so they were obviously very advanced, technically.

0:21:080:21:11

They had Daimlers, they even mention the make of car, erm,

0:21:110:21:15

and so on, then they had a cricket pitch as well, didn't they?

0:21:150:21:18

-Where did I see the cricket pitch?

-Up there.

0:21:180:21:21

There it is, and in the pavilion they had a dining room

0:21:210:21:24

with its own lock, so they were obviously very wealthy.

0:21:240:21:27

If we look here, we see this colour-coded chart.

0:21:270:21:31

-Now Bramah keys were actually very advanced in their time.

-Right.

0:21:310:21:35

They were invented in the late-18th century,

0:21:350:21:37

-although this is obviously much later.

-Right.

-And so you could...

0:21:370:21:41

With one key, you could open every single lock in the house.

0:21:410:21:45

-Here's the master key.

-Oh, right.

0:21:450:21:46

And so other persons, their key would only open certain locks

0:21:460:21:51

relevant to their job in the house.

0:21:510:21:53

-Oh, right, right.

-And so we can look down here,

0:21:530:21:55

and here we have Mr McGore, the owner of the house,

0:21:550:21:58

and his key, number one...

0:21:580:22:01

It fits everything all the way down.

0:22:010:22:03

Should he want to, he could go into everything,

0:22:030:22:06

and the gardener here, with key number three,

0:22:060:22:10

and he can open far fewer locks, look, absolutely blank,

0:22:100:22:14

and I suspect we won't get any colour

0:22:140:22:16

-until we get to outside things.

-Yes.

0:22:160:22:19

And here we have it, all laid out in front of us,

0:22:190:22:22

there's the occupations, there's the keys that they had access,

0:22:220:22:26

there's the cupboards, the rooms, the stores that they had access to,

0:22:260:22:30

and the tragedy is, of course,

0:22:300:22:31

the tragedy is that, you know, not long after this was made,

0:22:310:22:36

so many of the male staff of this house were killed.

0:22:360:22:40

They would have joined up, and they would have

0:22:400:22:42

gone to the trenches, and how many of them came back?

0:22:420:22:46

In a way this is, this is sort of evocative

0:22:460:22:49

of the last throes of the Edwardian, grand country house...

0:22:490:22:54

-Absolutely.

-..that simply wasn't going to reappear after the war.

0:22:540:22:58

-You loved it.

-Absolutely, yes.

0:22:580:23:01

-And you paid...?

-£300.

0:23:010:23:03

-How long ago?

-Ten years ago.

0:23:030:23:06

That, to me, is an indication of how much you loved it.

0:23:060:23:11

-I did, I fell in love with it.

-But I think it's...

0:23:110:23:13

It's gone up a little bit, but in real terms, not a great deal.

0:23:130:23:16

-Let's say £500 in round figures.

-Oh, right, that surprises me.

0:23:160:23:20

I wouldn't matter if it hadn't increased a penny,

0:23:200:23:22

-cos...

-Well, I think it slightly has.

-It's not the money, like you say.

0:23:220:23:26

Now, it's the era before the movies, it's before the television,

0:23:260:23:31

it's before everything that we take as entertainment today,

0:23:310:23:35

and yet there were interesting moving images around,

0:23:350:23:38

-this being one of them.

-Right, yes.

0:23:380:23:41

-And it was down to a device called a magic lantern.

-That's right.

0:23:410:23:46

And these are some of the slides that went with the magic lantern.

0:23:460:23:50

Now, tell me a little bit about what we have here.

0:23:500:23:53

I noticed on this particular slide,

0:23:530:23:56

there were some initials, here we go, WMS.

0:23:560:24:00

That's my grandfather's name, William Martin Smith.

0:24:000:24:04

And what was his profession?

0:24:040:24:06

He was a public wharfinger.

0:24:060:24:08

Nobody knows what a public wharfinger is.

0:24:080:24:11

Is it something that you get locked up for, or...(?)

0:24:110:24:13

THEY LAUGH

0:24:130:24:15

It's public warehouse keeping, but on the banks of the River Thames,

0:24:150:24:19

he had one of those big warehouses the barges came up to.

0:24:190:24:22

So that was his day job, but in the evening he was...

0:24:220:24:26

-Was he something else?

-Yes, he was closely involved with the church,

0:24:260:24:30

so this was part of the entertainment and education of the children.

0:24:300:24:33

There were dozens of companies producing magic lanterns,

0:24:330:24:37

the devices themselves.

0:24:370:24:38

-Yes.

-And, of course, then the slides to go with them.

-Yes.

0:24:380:24:42

Now the slides came in various types, didn't they?

0:24:420:24:45

I mean, I've perhaps picked one of the more interesting ones,

0:24:450:24:48

but some of the, the less exciting perhaps, more prosaic,

0:24:480:24:53

are ones that don't move.

0:24:530:24:55

Things like this which are panoramas of different things going on,

0:24:550:25:01

it looks like all sorts of high jinks.

0:25:010:25:04

Sort of Guy Fawkes night.

0:25:040:25:06

It certainly looks as if there's some sort of party going on there.

0:25:060:25:10

Yes, there's another one that shows Queen Victoria's

0:25:100:25:13

procession to the House Of Lords.

0:25:130:25:15

Ah, and there she is,

0:25:150:25:17

The Queen Going To The House Of Lords, fabulous.

0:25:170:25:21

Yes, all hand-painted.

0:25:210:25:23

Have you ever seen a magic lantern show itself?

0:25:230:25:27

Well, yes, we've got a magic lantern at home

0:25:270:25:29

-and my father used to show these slides.

-Oh, fantastic.

0:25:290:25:32

Well, now, this one, I rather like.

0:25:320:25:35

Showing the curvature of the Earth.

0:25:350:25:37

Showing the curvature of the Earth,

0:25:370:25:40

this is a lever-operated slide

0:25:400:25:42

where there's a man standing on the top of the world there,

0:25:420:25:47

just as we feel today, on top of the world, don't we?

0:25:470:25:50

So there they are on top of the world, and you can see the ship

0:25:500:25:54

disappearing over the horizon line

0:25:540:25:56

and then if I switch the lever

0:25:560:25:59

back the other way, up it comes,

0:25:590:26:01

first of all you see the masts,

0:26:010:26:03

a bit more of the masts, the sails,

0:26:030:26:05

and then you see the whole ship

0:26:050:26:07

as it comes up over the surface of the Earth.

0:26:070:26:11

Fabulous object.

0:26:110:26:13

The most valuable individual slide...

0:26:130:26:17

-Yes.

-..is going to be the chromatrope slide,

0:26:170:26:21

and this particular one is going to be worth

0:26:210:26:25

-about £150, which is good news.

-Ooh! Yes...

0:26:250:26:29

So, if we're adding it all together, I would have thought

0:26:290:26:34

we're getting on for perhaps between 800 and £1,000 on a good day.

0:26:340:26:40

-I'm very pleased I came!

-I'm delighted, and let's just finish,

0:26:400:26:44

we'll send everybody into psychedelia land

0:26:440:26:47

by finishing on this one, off you go.

0:26:470:26:51

# Oh, it's such a perfect day

0:26:510:26:56

# I'm glad I spent it with you

0:26:560:27:02

# Oh, such a perfect day

0:27:020:27:05

# You just keep me hangin' on

0:27:050:27:10

# You just keep me hangin' on... #

0:27:100:27:14

I use it to keep all my bills and my envelopes and my writing stuff

0:27:170:27:23

down here, and actually I've just found something at the back

0:27:230:27:26

that I didn't know was there,

0:27:260:27:29

and above I use it as a china display cabinet.

0:27:290:27:33

It seems to me that that's what it was made for,

0:27:330:27:36

-a display cabinet. It's a very feminine piece of furniture.

-It is.

0:27:360:27:39

It's absolutely tremendous, it's got slightly odd proportions.

0:27:390:27:43

It's a very tall piece of furniture, the cornice in particular

0:27:430:27:47

is a bit on the narrow side,

0:27:470:27:49

but the eye is taken by the painting across the frieze which is lovely.

0:27:490:27:53

Then you've got these Corinthian capitals which stick out

0:27:530:27:57

very prominently on top of the reeded columns

0:27:570:28:00

which come down the side in a very architectural way,

0:28:000:28:03

which lead the eye down past all the wonderful ceramics,

0:28:030:28:07

or whatever one's got in there, to this extraordinary...

0:28:070:28:10

it should be a cylinder top,

0:28:100:28:13

but it's kind of flattened cylinder top, it's kind of a mixture

0:28:130:28:17

between a cylinder and a secretaire, a flat-fronted secretaire,

0:28:170:28:20

or a fall-front secretaire. And then on down

0:28:200:28:22

into what becomes a pedestal desk,

0:28:220:28:25

so you've got storage, the sort of business end and the display end,

0:28:250:28:30

but this must have been made for a woman, do you think?

0:28:300:28:33

Yes, I was thinking maybe Lady Hamilton or something like that.

0:28:330:28:37

Well, absolutely, and original to the early-19th century,

0:28:370:28:40

-I think exactly the period you were saying, of Lady Hamilton.

-Yes.

0:28:400:28:43

And so let's have a quick look inside, and I think

0:28:430:28:46

you might need to help me. Oh, it goes back very easily.

0:28:460:28:50

So there we've got drawers,

0:28:500:28:53

pigeon holes, as you'd expect and it might look a little bit low,

0:28:530:28:56

but in fact this slides out so you can get your knees underneath it.

0:28:560:29:00

Here, a little reading slide,

0:29:000:29:03

so everything for the, the blue stocking, in a way.

0:29:030:29:07

SHE LAUGHS

0:29:070:29:09

So I think it's...

0:29:090:29:11

an absolutely splendid piece, so where could it have been made?

0:29:110:29:16

Ireland perhaps,

0:29:160:29:17

erm... Or one of the centres out of London.

0:29:170:29:20

York was a great centre,

0:29:200:29:23

Bristol even was a great centre of furniture making,

0:29:230:29:26

-but I don't think you're ever going to know for sure.

-Really?

0:29:260:29:30

Now, is this a family piece, or how did you come to get...?

0:29:300:29:33

Well, my grandmother acquired it during the Second World War

0:29:330:29:37

from an antique dealer in Andover, and she got a lot of stuff from him,

0:29:370:29:42

and I think she got it at very reasonable prices.

0:29:420:29:44

I think now you'd be looking at

0:29:440:29:47

about £5,000 if you were to try and sell it.

0:29:470:29:50

Yes.

0:29:500:29:53

So, it's such a decorative piece.

0:29:530:29:55

Well, I...I really love it.

0:29:550:29:57

-So useful.

-And Lady Hamilton stays in the mind!

0:29:570:30:00

-Why did you bring me a toast rack?

-I don't know.

0:30:020:30:04

I was thinking, "What'll I take?" And it was there and I thought,

0:30:040:30:08

"I'll take it," never dreaming that you'd think enough of it to show it.

0:30:080:30:11

I think it's wonderful, what do you think it is?

0:30:110:30:14

Well, at first, when I first saw it in a charity shop on a shelf,

0:30:140:30:17

I thought it was 1970s, because in the '70s or '80s,

0:30:170:30:21

-we had a sort of revival of this brown, didn't we?

-Yeah, we did.

0:30:210:30:25

Then when I reached and put it down,

0:30:250:30:27

I thought, no, it is different,

0:30:270:30:29

it reminded me of like the Doulton Harvest jugs.

0:30:290:30:33

So I looked for a Doulton mark, but there isn't one,

0:30:330:30:35

so I was disappointed, but it was £6.

0:30:350:30:39

You're halfway there, you said Doulton, it's not Doulton,

0:30:390:30:42

but it is salt-glazed stoneware.

0:30:420:30:44

-Ah, so... Ahh...!

-So, where else was salt-glazed stoneware made?

0:30:440:30:47

It was made in Derby, it was made in Bristol, it was made in Nottingham.

0:30:470:30:52

I'm going to go for Nottingham.

0:30:520:30:54

-Mm.

-That sort of soft colour that you get in the Nottingham ones.

0:30:540:30:58

Doulton is often much darker, but it's the same material.

0:30:580:31:01

I think this is about 1840s, 1850s.

0:31:010:31:05

-Wow.

-And it's so rare, because I've discussed it

0:31:050:31:09

with one or two of my colleagues, none of us have ever seen

0:31:090:31:12

a salt-glazed stoneware toast rack.

0:31:120:31:14

The decoration is Rococo Revival, which was at that period,

0:31:140:31:18

but all these things are wonky. You know, and I can see them

0:31:180:31:21

thinking, "Let's make toast racks." They had a go and they thought,

0:31:210:31:24

"Oh, not very good, it doesn't work very well,

0:31:240:31:27

"Give up, don't bother with toast racks." Go on making the jars

0:31:270:31:30

and the pots they're good at, so I think there were very few

0:31:300:31:33

salt-glazed stoneware toast racks. And it is immaculate.

0:31:330:31:36

-Untouched.

-I know, I couldn't believe it myself.

0:31:360:31:39

So, £6 in a charity shop.

0:31:390:31:41

Hmm...

0:31:410:31:43

Well, I think this is a...

0:31:430:31:45

a very expensive toast rack, I think we're going to say...

0:31:450:31:48

£250.

0:31:480:31:50

Wow! SHE LAUGHS

0:31:500:31:53

-Yes, a lot of money.

-It is, for a toast rack,

0:31:530:31:55

but it's not a lot for a very, very rare salt-glazed stoneware one.

0:31:550:31:59

-Fantastic.

-Great object.

0:31:590:32:01

This is a spectacular group

0:32:020:32:04

of late-18th, early-19th century miniatures,

0:32:040:32:08

all pastels, and they're absolutely wonderful,

0:32:080:32:11

especially with these frames and these lovely swags here.

0:32:110:32:15

Now, are they your family?

0:32:150:32:16

They're my mother's family, who lived at the Manor House in Frenchay,

0:32:160:32:21

-the Tanner family.

-Yes.

0:32:210:32:23

And they've just always been passed down to my mother,

0:32:230:32:28

her mother and down the family.

0:32:280:32:30

-And do you know all the names of the sitters on here?

-No.

0:32:300:32:35

This one on the right, here, the elder lady,

0:32:350:32:38

I think I'd be rather worried if she was my mother-in-law,

0:32:380:32:41

-she's terrifying!

-I quite agree, yes.

0:32:410:32:44

The ones down here which are absolutely charming,

0:32:440:32:47

beautifully observed pastels, look at that.

0:32:470:32:51

Um, we come to the name of the artist

0:32:510:32:54

-and I see, on the back of one, it's got James Sharples.

-Yes.

0:32:540:32:59

Which is very interesting, because in the late-18th century

0:32:590:33:02

and early-19th century, if you wanted to be painted,

0:33:020:33:05

you'd go, you know, to a really good portrait painter,

0:33:050:33:08

and, of course, portrait painters went where the money was.

0:33:080:33:11

-Right.

-Now he was an interesting man, born in Lancashire,

0:33:110:33:14

and was supposed to be a pupil of Romney's,

0:33:140:33:17

but came down to work in Bath, and he also

0:33:170:33:20

worked in New York and Philadelphia, which is really interesting

0:33:200:33:23

-for a pastel portrait painter.

-Yes, at that time, yeah.

0:33:230:33:26

Yeah, and I would think, you know, these would have been...

0:33:260:33:30

I'd have thought that these would have been painted

0:33:300:33:32

in the Bath area. He came down to Bath in the early 1800s,

0:33:320:33:36

and these look to have been painted sort of 1800-1805,

0:33:360:33:39

-that sort of date. Would that tie in with what you know?

-Yes.

0:33:390:33:43

And on the back of one of them, from...

0:33:430:33:45

My grandfather wrote notes on the back, and he's around, circa 1800.

0:33:450:33:51

So is this how you hang them at home?

0:33:510:33:53

Um, no, there are some swags that join them all together,

0:33:530:33:57

I've got a picture here.

0:33:570:34:01

God, they're wonderful!

0:34:010:34:02

It's like something off a Wedgwood pattern,

0:34:020:34:05

-all those swags there?

-Definitely, yes.

0:34:050:34:07

And what adds value to these, which I think is so interesting,

0:34:070:34:11

is that James Staples worked in America and in England.

0:34:110:34:19

-Yes, yes.

-And because he worked in America and England,

0:34:190:34:21

er, it would add value because of the American connection.

0:34:210:34:25

-Yes. Oh, right, yes.

-So we then come to putting a value on them,

0:34:250:34:30

and I think, as I said, if he'd been a normal English artist,

0:34:300:34:34

I would have said 4 to 6, 5 to £700.

0:34:340:34:36

-I think this is worth certainly £1,000 to £1,500...

-Right.

0:34:360:34:39

I think this one's worth 1,000 to 1,500,

0:34:390:34:41

-even though she's quite fearsome, it's beautifully done.

-Right, yeah.

0:34:410:34:45

-These are worth 1,000. I think some of the lesser ones like this...

-Yes.

0:34:450:34:50

..which are slightly rubbed, because pastel can be rubbed quite easily...

0:34:500:34:54

-Yeah.

-..are worth, probably, sort of

0:34:540:34:57

6 to £800, so it mounts up, you know, you've got one,

0:34:570:35:00

-two, three, four, you've got about £6,000-worth there.

-Well, thank you.

0:35:000:35:04

-OK.

-Thank you very much.

0:35:040:35:06

"Am I not a man...

0:35:080:35:12

"and a brother?"

0:35:120:35:14

And there's the figure of a kneeling slave...

0:35:140:35:18

"British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society."

0:35:180:35:23

-What an interesting object.

-Very interesting?

0:35:230:35:26

-How did it come to you?

-Erm,

0:35:260:35:27

in 1960 my mother bought a table from a friend of a friend

0:35:270:35:33

who was moving into an old people's home,

0:35:330:35:35

and she paid £5 for the table, which was a Victorian card table,

0:35:350:35:39

beautiful table, she's still got it. That was in the drawer.

0:35:390:35:42

-So it was...

-A complete surprise that it was there.

0:35:430:35:47

-Yeah.

-And it's basically been in a drawer

0:35:470:35:51

for the last 50 years. That's carnelian I believe.

0:35:510:35:54

Yeah, carnelian just like my ring, which is also a cameo.

0:35:540:35:57

Hm, and I presume that's silver.

0:35:570:36:01

-I think that is.

-Or maybe pewter.

-I think it's steel.

-Steel, right.

0:36:010:36:05

This is a seal, and you would need something

0:36:050:36:07

really, really strong, so lignum vitae

0:36:070:36:09

or maybe rosewood with a steel cuff and then this lovely carnelian...

0:36:090:36:14

It's a beautiful thing, and let's see whether it works.

0:36:140:36:20

Now, I'm going to push really hard,

0:36:200:36:24

and let's keep our fingers crossed

0:36:240:36:28

that it doesn't hang on.

0:36:280:36:30

Well, it's better than nothing, isn't it?

0:36:320:36:35

Actually, it shows you just how finely carved that is.

0:36:350:36:40

Imagine carving...

0:36:400:36:41

Thinking backwards to carve that relief and getting all the muscles

0:36:410:36:45

and the detail, the perspective of the figure is some tribute.

0:36:450:36:49

Now, this is an image I recognise from my ceramics background.

0:36:490:36:54

In 1787, Josiah Wedgwood, who was a prominent member

0:36:540:36:58

-of the Anti-Slavery Society...

-Right.

0:36:580:37:01

..commissioned one of his artists,

0:37:010:37:03

we think it was William Hackwood, a very talented carver of cameos,

0:37:030:37:09

to create a special medallion which shows a kneeling slave...

0:37:090:37:14

-And that's the same?

-..with...

0:37:140:37:15

More or less in this position, he's actually shown in profile...

0:37:150:37:19

-Right.

-..in the original cameo.

0:37:190:37:21

A year later, we know that Josiah Wedgwood

0:37:210:37:24

sent over to Benjamin Franklin a whole consignment

0:37:240:37:27

of these anti-slavery medallions.

0:37:270:37:30

-Ah.

-And because it was such a popular cause

0:37:300:37:33

amongst many people in the States,

0:37:330:37:35

these medallions were worn as badges...

0:37:350:37:38

-Well, rather like, you know, modern political badge.

-Yes.

0:37:380:37:41

But as we know,

0:37:410:37:43

they didn't succeed in getting slavery abolished until, what, 1833?

0:37:430:37:48

-Yes.

-Which is a whole 50-something years later.

0:37:480:37:51

Yes, I sort of guessed it was prior to 1830.

0:37:510:37:56

Now, this would have belonged...

0:37:560:37:59

It would be nice to know who owned that piece of furniture...

0:37:590:38:02

This would have been a very, very prominent member I think,

0:38:020:38:06

of the Anti-Slavery Society.

0:38:060:38:08

This is an incredibly poignant piece of social history,

0:38:080:38:11

and for that reason it's going to be worth

0:38:110:38:14

a lot more than your average cameo.

0:38:140:38:16

I'm going to say it's worth somewhere in the region of...

0:38:160:38:19

Well, let's say, £1,500 to £2,000.

0:38:190:38:23

Really?

0:38:230:38:25

Better than a wad of notes, though, isn't it?

0:38:250:38:27

Certainly is, and...

0:38:270:38:29

Well, the value is meaningless really because it'll go back in the drawer.

0:38:290:38:34

What we've got here...

0:38:350:38:38

unusually, is face-down,

0:38:380:38:41

and it's a mirror...

0:38:410:38:43

and what I want to know is...

0:38:430:38:46

weren't you dying to get it out of its box

0:38:460:38:49

and see what was going on at the back?

0:38:490:38:51

-I mean, how long had you had it in the family for?

-All my life.

0:38:510:38:54

-You've known it all your life.

-And my father's as well.

0:38:540:38:58

So it's been in the family for a long time.

0:38:580:39:00

-A long time, and it's been in this case.

-So, very carefully,

0:39:000:39:03

with my colleagues, we've taken off the wooden back

0:39:030:39:07

and first of all, we've come across some brown paper

0:39:070:39:10

with the name "Roberts". Does that mean anything to you?

0:39:100:39:13

-Yes.

-Roberts of Rotherham.

-That's right.

0:39:130:39:15

-That's it, and that, that's your maiden name.

-My maiden name.

0:39:150:39:19

-Mother's name.

-So that shows it.

0:39:190:39:21

-Never seen that before.

-OK, Mr Roberts of Warren House, Rotherham

0:39:210:39:24

-was your father?

-That's right.

-So let's just take this away.

0:39:240:39:27

Yes.

0:39:270:39:29

I'll put the paper over here.

0:39:290:39:32

Oh, my goodness me.

0:39:320:39:34

Look at that! Is that green baize? Gosh.

0:39:340:39:39

-How fabulous is that?

-Wow!

0:39:390:39:41

-Look at this original colour to this lovely, lovely...

-That's amazing.

0:39:410:39:45

That's absolutely astonishing.

0:39:450:39:48

-Italian best-quality velvet.

-Is it?

0:39:480:39:51

So this is the back of the mirror,

0:39:510:39:53

but what's really interesting is...

0:39:530:39:56

-Do you see how you've got this line where the colour is different?

-Yes.

0:39:560:40:00

-Yes, oh, I know what... Yes.

-And so this was the support

0:40:000:40:03

-for the mirror. And it was...

-It's a stand, isn't it?

0:40:030:40:06

-Must have been free-standing.

-It's been on a wall for so many years.

0:40:060:40:10

It was never meant to be hung,

0:40:100:40:12

it was for... It's a lady's toilet mirror.

0:40:120:40:15

-Is it?

-Yes.

-Oh, my goodness me!

0:40:150:40:17

-Well, let's look at the front and see what we can see there.

-Right.

0:40:170:40:21

-I need your help.

-Righto.

-So if we just lift...

0:40:210:40:24

Incredibly heavy! Oh, the dust of ages in here!

0:40:240:40:27

Now if we just tip the frame back,

0:40:270:40:30

look, out it comes... Wow, what a moment...

0:40:300:40:34

-Now, if I support it, perhaps you could just...

-Yeah, OK.

0:40:340:40:37

That's great, thank you, marvellous.

0:40:370:40:40

-That's lovely.

-And we'll just put it on the easel.

-Righto.

0:40:420:40:45

So, here's your mirror.

0:40:520:40:54

-Wow!

-What a magnificent thing.

0:40:540:40:58

-Yes.

-What we have here is a toilet mirror,

0:40:580:41:03

dating from about...1660.

0:41:030:41:07

-Oh, it's earlier?

-Yes, yes.

-Sewn...

0:41:070:41:11

by...let us imagine a young lady of noble birth...

0:41:110:41:16

This is a grand piece.

0:41:160:41:20

A supporter...

0:41:200:41:22

of the crown...the monarch, because we have the King and the Queen...

0:41:220:41:27

This is what we call stump work.

0:41:270:41:30

-Yes.

-And the stump work are the parts where the embroidery is raised up,

0:41:300:41:36

and it is done by stuffing sheep's wool

0:41:360:41:41

underneath the embroidery to raise it up off its background.

0:41:410:41:45

So if we start down here, what you have is a silk ground

0:41:450:41:51

with the outlines drawn out, and then the embroiderer

0:41:510:41:55

would have just started with the background, rather as you do

0:41:550:41:58

when you're painting a picture, and then...

0:41:580:42:01

you do the more complicated bits,

0:42:010:42:04

the stump work face here, the stitching forms a little pocket,

0:42:040:42:09

you pull the tiny stitches in, it makes it a pouch,

0:42:090:42:13

you stuff the face, and then she has the three-dimensional effect.

0:42:130:42:17

Now, what do you think these leaves are?

0:42:170:42:21

-We guessed at silver or gold?

-Gold leaf that's gone black, is it?

0:42:210:42:24

Absolutely right, it's silver thread which has tarnished to the black.

0:42:240:42:30

-Yes.

-So can you imagine...

0:42:300:42:33

when this was freshly sewn, the vibrancy?

0:42:330:42:36

-Must have been absolutely terrific.

-Yes.

-The silver,

0:42:360:42:39

the lovely silk at the back, here's more of the velvet along the front,

0:42:390:42:44

and what about the tortoise-shell frame?

0:42:440:42:46

-It's magnificent, isn't it?

-It is.

0:42:480:42:50

Tortoise-shell was introduced into England in the mid-17th century

0:42:500:42:55

through Holland, from the Dutch colonies.

0:42:550:42:57

Tortoise-shell was a very rare and very expensive item,

0:42:570:43:03

and what they've done here, which you can see

0:43:030:43:06

through the tortoise-shell here is, the ground of the frame is covered

0:43:060:43:10

in foil, silver foil, and then the tortoise-shell is set over the foil,

0:43:100:43:15

so in the candlelight, this would have all scintillated and sparkled.

0:43:150:43:20

It's a sign of immensely expensive, good-quality piece of workmanship.

0:43:200:43:26

Well, where on earth does one start to put a price on it?

0:43:260:43:30

And I think that...

0:43:300:43:33

collectors - in spite of its condition -

0:43:330:43:37

would be prepared to pay somewhere between £5,000 and £7,000 for it.

0:43:370:43:41

That's absolutely stunning.

0:43:410:43:43

It was worth coming back to Wells for a second helping.

0:43:470:43:50

Glorious objects, and the weather wasn't bad either.

0:43:500:43:53

Thanks to the Bishop for letting us camp out in his wonderful gardens.

0:43:530:43:56

From the Roadshow, bye-bye.

0:43:560:43:59

Fiona Bruce and the team of experts return to Wells in Somerset, where they welcome visitors with their valuables.

Objects under scrutiny include a valuable bracelet once gifted by Queen Victoria and a small seal used by campaigners for the abolition of slavery, and there is a revealing moment for the owners of a rare tapestry.