Fiona Bruce takes the team to the Lancashire coast for a busy day in the magnificent Blackpool Tower Ballroom.
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During the 1930s, when this seaside resort was at its peak,
half the country's population came to sample the air.
That was a whopping 19 million visitors a year.
No prizes for guessing today's destination - Blackpool.
Let's take a bird's-eye view of our venue today. And what a vantage point!
Blackpool has always thought big.
Within 40 years, from 1890 to 1930,
it built this, the country's tallest tower,
the world's biggest Ferris wheel,
three piers, the Winter Gardens,
and the Blackpool illuminations were fired up.
At 518 feet, it's the best place to see everything Blackpool has to offer
and it's an imposing symbol for the home of the British summer holiday.
When it was built in 1894,
Blackpool Tower became the ultimate upmarket Victorian theme park,
with its ballroom, aquarium, circus and museum.
There was a zoo, too.
The Tower Circus is famously entertaining,
and they're just getting ready for the new season here behind me.
But did you know, the show has never closed,
not even for war, and that's because three quarters of a million service personnel
did their basic training close by, during the 1940s.
And this is the jewel in the Tower's crown,
the ballroom, where we're just setting up for today.
And its flamboyance is down to a design dreamed up by top theatre architect Frank Matcham,
who let his imagination run wild.
The ballroom's no stranger to hosting glamorous events.
For years it was home to TV's Come Dancing.
But time now for us to cue the specialists as they take the floor.
Now to quote a very famous poem about Blackpool, it is noted for fresh air and fun, is that right?
-And I have to say that these two ladies are definitely, they're having fun, aren't they?
I would hope so, yes, I would hope so.
But the big question is,
how long have they been having fun in Blackpool,
and where have they been having fun?
Well, for many, many years they were in a basement below this very room.
Below the Tower Ballroom along with a few other bronze trophies.
I think about ten years ago they were rediscovered,
put into a local auction house and,
-because we are interested in all things Blackpool...
..had to have one.
Right, before we get onto that side of life,
-let's have a look at the girls themselves, because this is a dancing trophy.
And it's very appropriate that we're in this amazing temple of Baroque extravagance,
this is Frank Matcham at his best, the great theatre designer, isn't it?
And this is the sort of - if I can use the word out of context -
-the epicentre of ballroom dancing in the North West of England.
They don't look like ballroom dancers, do they?
-No, they don't, no.
-No, I think the inference here is all in the fact that they're...
well, the inferences can be found on the corners,
because you've got bunches of grapes. These are Bacchanalian revellers and,
er, we're going back to Classical Greece, really. So in other words, they're intoxicated.
Um, but the lady responsible for...
-and this is a lady sculptor.
This is a lady called, Claire Jeanne Roberte Colinet
and there is a signature at the back C-O-L-I-N-E-T,
but I've learned enough French to say Colinet and not Colinette.
This is quite typical of Colinet's work,
because there's an exuberance in her work and her girls are...
They're quite... They're not quite as skinny as some Art Deco girls.
-She gives them sort of slightly more ample proportions. But these girls, they don't...
Obviously they're dating from the 1920s, maybe the early '30s, but you know,
you've got the movement there, you've got this fantastic base.
It's so graceful.
Dare I ask, when it came to that auction... Your heart must have been in your mouth.
Auctions are wonderful places to get the adrenaline pumping, aren't they?
-They really are. So the hammer came down...
The hammer came down and...
And my husband and I were thinking about this, and I think it was 2,000.
£2,000, and how long ago was that?
Might have been ten years, or...
-Ten years ago.
-My memory isn't what it was.
All right, well, um, if you were to go out and try and replace...
This is a very rare group.
You're not going to find these girls for less than £6,000.
Wow, well, they won't be going anywhere, they're staying in Blackpool, at home.
Which, let's remind everybody, is noted for fresh air and fun.
Fresh air and fun.
I'm used to Delft vases in the traditional colouring of blue and white,
but this one is extraordinary - yellow on blue. Most unusual colour. Is it a family piece?
No, it isn't, no, I bought it in a charity shop about two years ago.
-A charity shop, this one?
-What did you have to pay?
-Well, what did you think you bought?
I thought it was Chinese at first,
because of the shape, but I'm not sure now, really.
Understandable, because, I mean, the whole design looks Chinese, but that was the intention.
This was made in Holland as a copy of a Chinese vase.
You've got a figure of a boy there, I think he's meant to be a Chinese boy. What is he holding there?
Looks like a guitar, is it? A musical instrument or knapsack?
-I think that's meant to be a fan.
One of those very elaborate, almost butterfly-like fans, um,
and he's standing in a landscape, here we've got...
There's a little pavilion in the background, rocks in front,
there's a pine tree...
here, further rocks, these are very typical Chinese rocks
with the strata divided in a very Chinese manner.
But adapted by someone I don't think had really looked closely
at real Chinese art and was trying to imagine what it would be like,
this strange world at the other side of the world, at the time,
because this was made in Holland at a time
when the Dutch were keenly collecting old Chinese porcelain
and they've made an imitation of a classic Chinese shape,
but done in very strange colours.
They tried out different colours in Holland, and that was in the...
-They were still experimenting because this is the end of the 17th century.
-We're looking at about 1680, 1690.
-So I mean, that really is quite early.
-Not bad condition either, is it?
And rare. So your 50p has become about £2,000.
-That'll do very nicely.
-That'll do me very nicely.
This is such an an intriguing item,
I've just conducted a small crowd survey
because I was interested to see if anyone in the queue behind would have any idea what it is.
Now, I've had a few suggestions.
We've had medieval torture instrument, we've had bent door, Maori shield,
although I think it would be a little bit hefty on that one, and we've had surfboard.
All very interesting suggestions in their own way.
Now, do you have any idea what this is?
-No idea whatsoever.
-So you haven't tried to feed it into the internet?
Oh, yes, yes, but when you don't know what it is, how can you do a search?
Good point. Without that inkling, you've made no progress
and I'm really pleased about that, because for once, I've got a decent job to do.
Now, it's called a tribulum.
Does that get you any closer?
-It's a threshing sledge.
And do you know, this is perhaps one of one of the most archaic
-and historic farm implements that there is.
Because this piece of equipment has its origins in the bronze age.
-And there are still parts of the world, essentially, where things like this are still used.
And in its construction we can see that it has many things in it that are ancient to us.
Flints, knapped flints, and of course these knapped flints are embedded into this sledge.
Here you've got some additional re-utilised saw blades,
-and those point to its age, which I'll come back to in a minute.
Now the fact is, what would happen was that a big surface,
or an area, was prepared for the cut crop to be laid onto.
This was then put down flat on top of the crop.
It could then either be hauled by an animal or by people
and it could be weighted down, perhaps with rocks, even,
or quite often with an animal, it would have someone standing on top of it.
And now that's a pretty skilled thing,
-so the person who said surfboard wasn't a million miles away, in many respects.
And it separates the grain from the ear and then cuts the chaff,
and it does that by, essentially, dragging it across and breaking it down.
-Now, this one is a 19th century example.
-It's a 19th century example.
-What's happened to this is, it's become a decorative item.
You can see all this fabulous wear in the grain,
it's been now cleaned up and I suspect it hangs on your wall, doesn't it?
-Well, in my hallway, yes, yes.
-In your hallway, OK.
-Value as a decorative item it's £200 or £300.
But it embodies so much.
-Yeah, thank you very much.
Well, we know now.
Well, my heart sank when you brought this in to me, I thought, "Oh, my goodness,
"not another Bible in a terrible state," and all that sort of thing.
-This one is.
-But here it is, it's lacking the title page
and quite a few pages, preliminary leaves, but the most exciting thing are these notes all the way through.
And it's a particularly good set of notes here for the New Testament,
which is full of little notes. Tell me about it.
Well, I don't know a great deal. It has been in the family quite a few years, I believe,
50 or 60 years, and it's just been passed down through, through three generations, really.
-So why have they got it?
-I was led to believe, my mother's father, er, bought it.
-So where did your grandfather get it from?
-Well, he got it from a reputable dealer, um,
around about the late '40s, early '50s.
And what did they say about the notes?
That it was Charlotte Bronte's Sunday school Bible.
Those are apparently her notes.
-And they go throughout the book?
-Yes, absolutely, yes, yes.
How much did it cost when it was bought originally?
My goodness, that was an awful lot of money in those days.
-You could have probably bought a house.
-It's quite a bit now.
Well, I think it is Charlotte Bronte, I seem to recognise the handwriting. She is very rare, autographically.
And of course, obviously, with a parson for a father, she was obviously quite devout and religious.
-The date of the Bible about 1835-1840,
it seems absolutely consistent with all of this. So tell me, what do you think it's worth now?
-I've no idea.
-It is a fantastic find for the Roadshow,
-and really, Bronte scholars would very much like to look through this.
I would say we're talking about between £15,000 and £20,000.
I think I'll be sitting down shortly. Good heavens. Really?!
Yes, many Bronte collectors would love to have this
and to see what she was thinking and see what notes she was making.
-And the whole Bible is just absolutely full of notes. It is remarkable.
Now that is quite something, isn't it?
It is beautiful, yes.
-Is this how you have it displayed?
-We usually have it displayed like this.
I think one of the great things about these tilt top tables is their flexibility.
They allow people to have them as a card table, a breakfast table,
but I think this was always intended as a show piece, don't you?
Is this something you've bought, or something that's inherited...?
We've inherited it from an aunt. We think of her when it's on display sometimes.
I mean, it's not something you can get away from very easily, is it?
-How do you use it? I mean, in a big room, small room?
We keep it in a big room, at the side of the room, hopefully safe from heat and light and moisture.
Well, that's very, very evident because it has wonderful colours,
it really clearly has been away from the light,
it has possibly been re-polished at some stage because the colours are so bright.
-And I have a feeling that perhaps once upon a time
there would have been more decoration in the middle there.
Do you ever remember anything?
We hear that there was a plant pot put on there as a centrepiece
in the middle of the table, which caused damage.
-The dreaded plant pot, yes.
-Yes, afraid so, yes.
And the decoration around the edge is such fun, I think, you have a tremendous jolly lion,
you've got garlands with this little fawn-like creature
sort of spitting out a garland which is threaded through.
-And beautifully done, and little tiny pieces of mother of pearl, as well.
-Yes, wonderful, yes.
-It really is spectacular.
Kingwood round the edge, birdseye maple in the middle,
-dating to that very flamboyant period of around 1860, I think, so middle, middle Victorian period.
It's quite interesting because in fact the base is very Rococo in style,
like here, whereas the decorations around the table top is more a Renaissance revival.
-So there's lots of things going on here, it's quite an exciting period for design.
The disappointing thing perhaps is to put a value on it.
In the current market, I would say that £2,000 to £3,000 is about right.
-Five years ago you could have doubled that easily.
So in another five years, you never know what might happen.
Yes, right, thank you. Yes, very nice, thank you.
It is a very strange fact that these birds are built on a pile of Pyrex.
Now, you've got no idea what I'm talking about, have you?
-In 1907, Corning, American glassworks,
came over to Britain trying to sell the UK and Empire patents for a brand new type of glass,
and they went round all the glassworks in Britain saying, "Do you want to take these rights?"
"Do you want to take these rights?" "No, no, no."
Nobody wanted it. Till they went up to Sunderland
and they ran into a funny little rinkydink glassworks up in Sunderland called Jobling's
and said, "Do you want to take this patent?"
and they said, "We'll give it a go - what is it?"
And they said, "It's called Pyrex."
And within 20 years they had three-and-a-half thousand people producing Pyrex in Sunderland.
It was the most democratic glass there has ever been.
Every home from Buckingham Palace to 23 Railway Cuttings owned Pyrex.
And they were making so much money that the governor, Ernest Proctor, began to get delusions of grandeur.
As well as pots and pans, he wanted to make art glass.
Lalique told him to go away.
Sabino, a Laliquesque glass maker, told him to go away,
so he decided to make it himself. And this is precisely what they made, Opalique made by Jobling.
And it's quite collected, it's got the patent number, the design patent number there.
So do you like it? I mean, is it a thing you like?
Yes, I do quite like it, yes.
And you came across it, how?
It was my mother-in-law's, and when she died my husband inherited it.
It's obviously not in the same realms as Sabino or Lalique,
but it has a certain home-spun charm, which puts its price at about £150 to £200.
-Not bad for a pair of old birds, is it?
-It's not, no.
Now, even as a Southerner, which I'm afraid I am, I have seen the Blackpool illuminations.
You know there can be very few people in Britain
who haven't at some point, been taken to see this great spectacle.
-And of course, even on my one or two visits,
I was very much aware, as you go through that great procession of lights and ornamentation,
it's all going to go.
You know, it's a one-time exercise.
And it seems an awful lot of effort just to make that spectacle.
Why did it all come about?
It originated as a way of extending the season.
-Blackpool wanted to do something different.
It's always been an innovative town.
The illuminations started with eight arc lamps
and at the time that was seen as unbelievable new science, and it's grown from there. Now...
And today we run a season when other resorts are closed for the winter, so that's what it's for.
Right. So hang on a minute, "We". Who are you?
I'm Richard Ryan, I'm Illuminations Manager, and part of a team that creates this spectacle every year.
So you have this dream job of actually inventing all this.
It's absolutely brilliant.
-We create this every year, and yes, it's brilliant.
-Year after year after year.
So you come up with an idea, build around it, and then it's all gone.
Every year it's re-invented, but we do save everything and that's what the archive is about.
How did you get a job like that? Is it something you've always wanted to do?
I started off making illuminations when I was seven.
I was born and bred in Sheffield, where they used to have fantastic Christmas lights back then,
-and I applied to Blackpool for a job, was turned down.
-What, aged seven?
-No, no, no, fourteen.
What do I need to do? What qualifications, and all of that.
I applied to the Council and they said, "Go and get an engineering degree, electrical engineering."
I did that, I applied again and I got in. So persistence pays off, I suppose.
But it's also a fulfilment of a dream.
How many people know what they want to do at seven, and do it?
-I'm very lucky.
-You're so lucky.
-I'm lucky and obsessed.
When did it first begin?
Oh, 1879 was the initial time.
-And then it goes on.
And of course, obviously, what these reflect are cultural change, they're events of that moment.
I mean, this is a great early drawing about the Imperial Power and its links to trade.
-On the other hand, here we have something which is a wonderful 1930s period piece.
-Beautiful, aren't they?
Just fantastic, the people, the dress, the cars...
It's of its time. And I just love the way that things we've got here pick up those themes,
those moments in history. You know, things like that, to me, have a wonderful period charm now,
as indeed does the sort of Beatles association.
-It's brilliant, yes.
-But there is that great moment of the switch-on, isn't there?
-Now, here is Jayne Mansfield about to do it.
-That's right, 1959.
Now, what is she actually doing?
Does she actually switch them on?
Yes, and no.
She throws a switch, which switches some of them on.
-And from that moment it's switched on in sections.
Back in the day, there was a telephony system, and in the later '70s there was a radio system.
-Is that what those are?
-That's what those are.
So somebody... she pulls a lever and somebody dials a number and says, "Turn it on Fred."
"Turn it on," absolutely.
All the secrets given away.
So we've got Jayne Mansfield, we've got Ken Dodd,
Gordon Banks, 1973, redoing his save.
-You know, it's a great history.
Collectively this is an immensely valuable archive. It is the history of Blackpool.
So, individually they're worth £100, couple hundred, as wonderful decorative things.
There are 26,000 pieces in the archive.
We're talking of tens of thousands of pounds for the collection as a whole
and, of course, the value to the town is greater than that in both financial terms and cultural terms.
I'm so glad we kept it, and we'll develop it in future.
-You must. It must always be there for us, for us all, thank you.
Looking at this, I would guess that this is some kind of Chinese dresser, is it?
Well, it's got a Chinese finish to it, hasn't it?
But it's actually a wind-up gramophone or record player.
When I was a young boy away at school,
my father send me a portable gramophone.
And I used to play it every day and had a great collection of rock 'n' roll records,
and then I lost interest.
But about 20 years ago I was given a stack of 78s,
-you know, the speed at which...
-Yeah, I remember 78s.
And I was given a great stack of these, many by local artists, George Formby, Josef Locke,
Gracie Fields used to play here, Lonnie Donegan even played here.
But I had this great pile of records and I needed something to play them on.
So I asked a friend of mine to find me a gramophone
that was a nice piece of furniture
and something that my wife would accept in the house, so we found this.
-So where is the gramophone player in here then?
-It all starts when you open the lid.
-Made by Edison-Bell.
Has a nice gold finish to the fittings.
The important part, of course, is the starting handle, or the winding handle on the right here.
And the volume control are these doors as you open the door.
One of the most famous people in Blackpool, and our hero,
was Reginald Dixon who played the Wurlitzer organ here in Blackpool Tower, and that was of course...
-He used to play here in the ballroom?
-In this very ballroom.
And that used to be broadcast on Radio 2, didn't it?
Yeah, all over the world, and I have here, unusually,
a three-and-a-half inch diameter 78 of Reginald Dixon playing his theme tune,
I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside.
-Well, how appropriate, and can we hear it?
-You can, indeed.
Normally, when we look at Armada chests on the Roadshow,
we're not standing holding it with one hand.
And it's not because I am so strong, it is clearly a very tiny one, so tell me about it.
I think it's probably late 17th, early 18th century,
it's been in my family since then.
My family is basically Norwegian.
-It would have belonged to my great-great-grandfather, maybe even earlier.
I think a few more greats than that, because I think your dating is actually fairly correct,
it is going to be late 17th century.
Whether it comes from Norway or not, I don't know.
-I would have said Northern European, possibly German, but you know we're in the right territory.
But it is the most charming example of an object we see on a large scale,
not frequently, but on occasion on the Roadshow.
-With these wonderful wrought-iron locks, blacksmith-made.
They look enormously complicated, in this instance, and also when you see the real thing,
but actually they're much more simple than one thinks.
Um, there are one or two condition issues - it's the wrong key,
and obviously it's missing that handle, it should have that,
-which is delightful, original wrought-iron handles.
-Curiously enough, not that relevant to its value.
What do you think its value is?
I thought it would be no more than about £50.
Miniature versions and small versions of big things always have a premium.
-And in this instance, it is so charming and in such wonderful condition,
with all its original painting and decorating, that this is probably worth as much as the real thing.
And those things, in slightly poor condition,
tend to be somewhere around about £1,000 to £1,200, and this is very close approaching it.
Well, I think that's...
that's incredible, absolutely incredible.
So how did you end up with these compelling pieces of paper?
They were amongst items left by my husband when he passed away.
I understand they were from my father-in-law, who was in special forces during the Second World War.
Special forces, what did they get up to?
As I understand it, he went behind enemy lines in Albania,
but other than that, I don't know anything about it.
So he was a mystery man in your life.
Yes, yes, he is. And these are mystery objects.
-They are, yes.
-But I have to say I think they're utterly compelling.
And so here you have in this picture, the quality,
the hideousness, of the real-life battle experience.
You've got, throughout, water, smoke, flame.
You can almost hear the battle, you can smell it.
In my view, there are occasions when art can do it better than film or photography.
Remember, an artist is there to record, not just the moment
at times like this, but also feelings, feelings in a way that celluloid can never impart.
This top image here of two firemen,
in what looks like the Blitz, has all the drama of film
and yet it has a sort of, clarity and an energy which moves it on.
-And do you know anything about this one?
-Not at all.
-Nothing at all?
So all these things are all just totally unknown to you.
Yes, I found them three weeks ago.
Well, let's go, let's go below.
There you have a German plane crashed...
and I have to say it takes me a moment or two to realise what's going on,
but in the middle ground is a corpse.
Do you see it?
So this, particularly the way the raggedy clouds or done,
or rather the raggedy smoke and fire, the jagged edge feel of this watercolour
imparts to me one thing.
Whoever painted it was there and he's hurrying to get it down.
You can feel the energy, the smoke, the fire, the threat of where he is.
And the one at the bottom there,
of a battleship in the sea,
I've seen the sea painted thousands of times,
and yet somehow this sea does it for me.
I feel its choppiness, you can feel the metal of the ship from,
from which he must have been looking.
I mean, these really are portals into the Second World War.
Now the question is, who painted them?
Who did them? Have you any idea?
Not at all. I couldn't read the signature.
Well, I can see a signature here in the bottom right,
and to me this is immensely frustrating.
Why? Because I can't quite read what it says, and after the name
are the initials RA - Royal Academy.
So here is someone who has got real form, as we say in the art world,
and yet I can't tell you who it's by.
You see, I think these are by an artist
who's intending to impart information.
I suspect they may well be designs for posters or for illustrations,
but what's so different from the posters and illustrations that I know
is that there is this feeling of actuality.
You can smell the war in these things.
As to their value, well, we need to get an artist in order to be able to establish a proper value,
but I'm delighted to say they're worth at least £500 each,
and if we can get an artist, possibly considerably more.
-So, with five or six you're talking about £3,000, perhaps a little bit more.
A lot of people who know me, know that I'm a dog lover, in fact
my dog used to come to Roadshows, and here is a really fantastic hound. Do you have a dog yourself?
-Are you a dog...
-We do actually, we have a Border Lakeland cross...
..terrier, which is quite a character.
And a hunting dog, like this? Or...
Well, he is a hunting dog, he was bred as a hunting dog, but never has.
Right, this is very much a hunting dog.
-It is, yes.
-And, um you can see that it's on a chase.
Those eyes have something about the Gothic horror movie about them, it's certainly after something.
-It used to keep us away from the fireplace.
Well, I can imagine that, it's so lifelike, it really is fantastic.
-And if you wanted confirmation of hunting, there is the hunting crop in bronze to back it.
And if you look at the back, first of all there's an inscription,
which I must ask you about, but it was clearly fitted to slot onto a wall.
-And it's got a date which I would have thought is 1964,
rather than 1864 when it would have been made in the Black Forest,
it probably is pine and stained to look like walnut or a more precious wood,
but what about this date?
Well, the date on the back came from my father who wrote it on the back of it in order to...
in case it was stolen because it was up on the wall of a pub,
-and actually it was stolen.
A rugby team, who was trophy hunting,
took it away and because of the address on the back, it actually came back.
-This is really quite a valuable item.
I think it fits a lot of factors which people are looking for in the market today.
If you're an interior decorator, what a piece of interior decoration.
A dog lover, you don't need to be just a dog lover to want something like this.
-Because of all those factors I think it would make between £1,500 and £2,000 at auction.
-Phew. Very good..
-A very much sought-after piece and very lovely piece to have.
-Thank you very much for bringing it.
Well, they do say that you can find a better dressed type of woman in Blackpool, would you agree with that?
-OK, so you're obviously from Blackpool.
But I have to tell you that I describe myself
as a potaholic, that's...
I think it applies to both male and female, but the owner of this pair of shoes
and this handbag, I think was a kindred spirit. I think she could only have been a potaholic.
Now, just tell me a little bit about the lady owner.
Um, she was my aunt and she was wonderful, she treasured these,
and she gave them to me and I've cherished them ever since, really.
So did she wear these on a regular basis?
Er, no, I think only once and that was for, she'd been invited in the '60s,
early '60s, I think it was, to the Queen's garden party.
-At Buckingham Palace.
-Yes, yes, absolutely.
Fantastic. Well, let, let's have a look in detail at a pair of shoes
that say more about you than money ever can,
-although I think it's fair to say, these would have been expensive.
-Oh, yes, I would think so.
I have never met a woman yet wearing Wedgewood shoes,
but I think these are absolutely wonderful.
Let's just turn around, because it's not just these buckles is it?
-It's the heels themselves, these are just breathtaking, absolutely breathtaking.
She's actually got a matching bag as well.
And, er, dare I ask, have you ever worn these?
-Yes, I have once.
-And they are your size, are they?
Yeah... Don't, please. I thought you were going to ask me try them on.
No, no, no, all I'm interested in knowing
is whether or not it's the sort of thing that are being used today, I...
You see, for me, it's like having a car in the garage and not taking it out for a spin.
-I've worn them once, but I thought that was quite cavalier, really.
-I think it probably was, wasn't it?
-Yeah, yeah. But it was good.
-It was good?
-It was good, yeah.
-Obviously you've got no idea what she had to pay for these way back when,
-and to be honest with you, I haven't got much of a precedent because this is a first for me.
-Right, oh, good.
-A first for... I've come across a Wedgewood pram before today.
But Wedgewood shoes and matching bag, it's all new.
-No ideas, it wouldn't matter, I just think they're precious.
No, so if I offered you £500 would that be...?
-If I offered you £800?
-I'm sure they're not worth that,
-but to me they're worth everything.
Ignore the man behind you who said, "Take the money", ignore him, OK?
Well, I mean I think the proof of the pudding would always be in the selling.
But if I had to go out and... Let's put an insurance valuation on, um,
I wouldn't hesitate on this little group, to put the best part of £800.
-No! Oh, right.
-Well, hey, listen, find me another pair.
I mean, they would have been worth more
if I could get my feet into them, but I just...
they're just not my size.
This is certainly the lightest piece of jewellery I've ever seen on the Antiques Roadshow,
but it also happens to be possibly one of the rarest pieces of jewellery
-I've ever seen on the Antiques Roadshow.
-Is that what you thought when you brought it?
-It's like a whisper, you can hardly feel it on your hand. What did you think it was made of?
I think my mother said it might have been bone.
I thought it was old, that's the only thing I knew about it.
Well, it is seriously old
and it's not made of bone, it's made of horse hair.
-And I think that it might well be 17th century,
that it could be 400 years old.
-And I think it's part of the kit and caboodle
of somebody who's been widowed,
and she's sort of shunned her real jewellery
and traded it in for black and white jewellery, which is highly appropriate for a widow.
I've talked to our picture people here who recognise it as a type from the 17th century.
You see it in portraits, and that's desperately important for us in dating these things.
It's black and white, which is the colours of Jacobean England,
it's the colours of Jacobean mourning,
the colour of Jacobean death, it has to be said,
but I'm completely besotted with it.
I don't know how it's survived and how it's not been torn to shreds.
It's very fragile, very light, very papery,
it's just like a spider's web, or a whisper in your hand.
And, and is that all startling to you?
Yes, it's just been kept in a jewellery box
with a load of other silver jewellery,
so I'm surprised it's that fragile.
Well, it's probably been in a jewellery box for 400 years.
-And, and quite why it's survived, I'll never know.
And, and, and, and I'm very, very excited by it.
And I don't know how to transfer that excitement to everybody.
I'm hoping to do it, and it's certainly not about money.
Money's a completely false barometer.
If I tell you that it was very valuable, I'd be wrong, I think it isn't.
I think it's really worth only low hundreds of pounds,
-maybe no more than £200 or £300.
But as a survival I think it's an astonishingly valuable object
and I've loved every minute of it, and what will you do now?
I don't know, go and put it somewhere safe, I think.
Very good, it's been safe for four centuries,
and it's your job to keep it safe as long as you can.
Put your hand out and have a whisper in your hand, a tiny,
-tiny butterfly on your hand that's four hundred years old.
-Thank you very much.
What more magic could you ask?
Well, I think every cricketing enthusiast recognises that
-Don Bradman was the greatest batsman in the history of the game.
And on the Roadshow we see quite a lot of autographs and occasionally his signature comes along.
But I've never seen 92 Bradman signatures before.
-They're all there.
-How did it all start?
It started many years ago, 1948, which was Bradman's last tour,
and a gentleman, who was an old gentleman - I was only five then -
said he had a Don Bradman autograph and I really wanted to see it
because I was interested in cricket from a very early age.
He showed it me and then I always wanted one. And then in the 1970s I wrote a letter to Don Bradman,
they printed his actual address in the Radio Times, believe it or not,
and I got a reply and he signed it, Don Bradman, and I thought I must get some more.
And then he became an obsession, really,
and I found cuttings and old things to send to him, and photographs,
the only colour photograph from his last tour, 1948, and he signed every one,
and always a reply within a week. Wonderful!
-What a gentleman!
-What a gentleman, a true gent!
Well, if we look here we can see some of the signatures
on Christmas cards and cigarette cards and indeed that's a match...
-That's the last match he ever played.
-Oh, is it?
-Is that when he was out for four?
-He was out...
If he'd have got four he'd have had a hundred average.
I think it was 99.99 his test average, wasn't it?
-But he did in, what? 35 year career,
scored a century every three innings he came to the wicket.
-So how many years have we... Lots of photographs here.
We're talking 25 years to get all these,
and he even sent me an actual birthday card on me 40th birthday,
which was magic, I didn't expect it.
And I think I can guess, but why 92 Bradman signatures?
92, well, when I got to about 70, I thought, "This is round about the same age as Don,"
and I thought "I'll try and get one for every year of his age."
And when he'd reached 92 I'd only 91, and I sent one last one off and he just signed it,
-just before he died, sadly died.
-Oh, how very poignant.
So I just, just managed it.
And his signature's never changed over the years. Wonderful!
Fantastic! Well, let's talk about values.
The Bradman album, very difficult to value but I think if that came up at auction,
a cricket enthusiast would pay maybe £2,000 or £3,000 for it, possibly more, yes.
Thank you, Paul, thank you.
Now, our experts know a thing or two about collecting and they have some wonderful collections,
but even they have been known to pick a dud.
Now, Bill Harriman, you know everything there is to know about arms and militaria.
You've been an expert in criminal cases, but I was astonished to learn that you even bought a fake.
Well, I'm afraid that I did, even us who are learned in such matters,
we still very occasionally get stitched up.
So this, this is the fake, is it?
-This is a fake, yes.
-So tell me the story behind it.
I, for many years, always wanted one of these, it's an 1862 Colt revolver.
-I wanted one from the era of the American Civil War.
-Can I hold it?
-I've never actually held a gun, or anything like it, so...
I was desperate to get one from the period of the American Civil War,
and you can tell their date from the serial numbers, and I saw that.
It was for sale with a dealer, and I bought it and I was very pleased with it and I got it home,
had a look at it, I was still very pleased with it.
I showed it to various other people and, er,
there was that horrid little seed of doubt planted by a friend of mine who said,
"Oh, I'm not sure about that", so we took it to bits and did a full forensic examination
and my heart started to sink through the bottom of my boots,
as it was very clear that it's a modern-made Italian replica
-that somebody has aged to make it look like it was from about 1864.
-So it could take in even you?
It did take me in. I paid good money for it.
So what did you do then?
Well, I went back to the dealer who'd sold it to me
and I'd taken the precaution of obtaining an expert report
and I showed him this and eventually, with bad grace, I have to say, he gave me my money back.
He said "I'll have the pistol back". I said, "Well, have you got authority to possess it?"
He said, "No," and I've had it ever since.
-I suppose it's a salutary lesson.
-It is a salutary lesson.
I pick that up occasionally and it tells me that I'm as fallible as the next man,
and it tells me to use your eyes and use your brains and connect the two, and don't take anything for granted.
And what about your best, your best buy, or the thing you love best in your collection?
It's this. It's that...piece of...
shattered bone and metal. Do you know what it is?
-Can you guess what it is?
-This was a penknife was it?
Yes, yeah, cheap old penknife, sort of clasped knife that was carried by all kinds of people,
farmers, workers, you name it. And it's very special to me because...
-Why is this so special to you?
-It's my grandfather's.
My maternal grandfather who was Corporal Samuel Robinson
of the 7th Battalion of the Royal West Kent Regiment,
and that was about Sam Robinson's person
when it was hit by either a machine gun bullet,
or a piece of shell fragment,
and it clearly took most of the force of the impact and he survived the First World War.
Oh, so if this had been a little bit to the left, a little bit to the right.
You and I would not be speaking today.
-Gosh, that's a slightly sobering thought, isn't it?
-It is a very sobering thought.
-And this is him, is it?
-Yes, there he is in his uniform taken in about...
I'm guessing about 1916.
That to me, I think, is one of the dearest things that I own.
I get very emotional about it, as you probably see.
-It's wonderful to see it Bill, thanks very much.
This is obviously only the tip of the iceberg. You've got press cuttings, letters from the Prime Minister,
Lloyd George, and pictures of the great man himself,
the counsellor, "To Mr H Veno".
Now tell me, what's it all about?
I'm related, I'm the great grandson of Sir William Henry Veno.
Who was born William Reynard Varney.
-Moved to America and acquired the formula for Veno's Cough Cure.
-And this is the patent here?
-This is the thing.
He decided to patent the company in 1894, and he patented it Veno's Drugs Company.
He moved back to Manchester, and started a company in Chester Road, Manchester.
-And here are all the products here.
-They are the products, yes, yes.
-But tell me about his life.
When he moved back to Manchester,
he carried on with the company, he built the company up, he became Mayor of Altrincham, um...
And knighted, there's a letter from the Prime Minister.
There's two letters there, one from Lloyd George, one from Percy Shaw,
inviting him to Buckingham Palace to be knighted,
and from thereon the war broke out, the First World War, which is the letter there.
Yes, let me just read this letter because it's rather sad.
"My dearest Mary, I arrived here last night and am returning to Manchester
"tomorrow night and will be with you Friday evening, usual train.
"Things are looking very black. England has declared war against Germany,"
-that must be the First World War, "and everybody is upset and business is at a standstill".
And I believe after that he did have problems with a bottle making company
-which made bottles too brittle and he had to pull them all back because of fear of people getting hurt.
So that was another thing that... Probably the demise of the company.
And in 1925 he then sold the company to Beechams.
But I mean surely, I mean he would have sold it for an awful lot of money?
He would have been, he would have been a millionaire.
-He was, he was.
-He was a millionaire.
-He was a millionaire.
-And does any of these riches descend to you?
Unfortunately not. Only the collection from the family.
Well, individually these items don't add up to much but when you actually have a whole archive like this,
and this is only the tip of the archive,
I would say that it's going to be in excess of £1,000 and you're still collecting.
I am, I am, yes, it's growing.
That's tremendous, thanks.
Thank you very much.
Now this is what I call a dead swanky cocktail set.
Wow this is really nice.
It says 1938 all over it, and that's what it says
on the silver cocktail shaker
that forms the centre of this really nice thing.
The glass is by Walsh, they're cut and engraved.
The silver is by Boynton who is an extremely nobby silver maker,
one of the best English silver makers of the period.
The cocktail sticks are in solid mother of pearl, capped with solid silver cocks,
and I love it, I think it's a hot thing. Where did you find it?
Well, basically my dad was doing some work in the loft and he found this...
Apparently the story goes that my great uncle Billy was an accountant
and he was doing some accountancy work for somebody.
Literally rather than getting paid in money, he was paid in lieu.
Well, I mean, because it's such good quality and it's in very good condition,
-there are people who would love to have this, cocktails are fashionable again.
So I think for something that stands you in at nothing,
the four hundred quid at auction that it's worth is quite nice,
and if you wanted to buy it again then you're in to £500, £600.
Once an antique becomes valuable,
it becomes copyable.
And Toby jugs became very, very collectable in the late 19th century.
How old is this one, do you think?
Well, I'm not sure. I was hoping it was very old, but...
What's "very old"?
-That's a very specific date.
So have you done any research on it?
I've done a little bit,
I've tried the internet and I've seen pictures of very similar ones,
-the Wood family.
-The Wood family of Staffordshire?
-Of Staffordshire, yeah.
-Ralph Wood, Enoch Wood, a famous family of potters.
-Well, those are just the sort of Toby jugs
-that people were very keen to get their hands on in the late 19th century.
When there was this great wave of china-mania and for that reason,
the Staffordshire factories at that time started producing
very good copies of things that then were 100 years old or so.
The earliest one I saw that looked like this one was 1785.
Right, but in view of what I've said about these being essentially copied in the late 19th century...
-..are you sure?
Not now, no.
Now, I'm going to look at it in detail.
Let's look at this fellow, he's beautifully modelled face,
he's got a wart on the cheek, he's got a gap in his teeth,
he's holding a foaming jug and then he's sitting on this barrel.
Let's just actually look at the shirt with those buttons and the creases,
the creases in his britches, and then at his feet, a dog, a spaniel, I think.
The colours are what we call onglaze colours,
-these are metallic oxides that are put onto the piece and actually are sealed into the glaze.
And you get this incredibly lustrous glaze.
Very, very bright green with this lovely bunch of reeds forming the handle.
And it's only when we actually look underneath,
we can see the colour of the clay,
it's a very white clay, the clay has come from materials quarried down in,
in Cornwall and shipped all the way up to Staffordshire,
and then it's covered in this glaze which has a bluey tinge to it, which we therefore call pearlware.
In other words, there's a lot of work has gone into this,
and that's the clue as to whether it's right or wrong.
Which way are you inclining yourself?
Er, I think he's right.
You're right, he is right.
He is known as the Lord Howe Sailor.
Many of these Toby jugs take names from famous Admirals...
there's a Rodney Sailor as well, but this is known as the Howe Sailor.
And it does date exactly to the 1780s
and it is almost certainly from the stable of Ralph Wood.
Well, a 19th century copy would probably be worth
somewhere in the region of £50.
A 1785-1790 piece like this
is worth £5,000.
Very good, must get him insured.
I owe you a very big thank you.
The Beatles played eight times here in Blackpool
so I was expecting to see programmes, tickets, signatures all day.
It's nearly the end of the day
and you're my first person to come in with some Beatles memorabilia.
Did you get these yourself?
I did. I was a very young girl, I lived in Middlesex,
my Dad was the PRO at Heathrow Airport and it was my hobby,
I was mad on collecting autographs of famous people.
-How old were you then?
-About 12, it was early '60s,
so that's given me age away but, er, yeah,
I actually got these myself.
So he worked in Heathrow and obviously had access to all the VIPs going backwards and forwards.
He did, yeah, yes, yes.
And he would go along and just ask for their autographs and say, "It's for my daughter"?
-Well, for the Beatles he actually took me with him, he said, "Come on, you can..."
-You met them?
Yes, I sat on Paul McCartney's knee.
-I was very embarrassed. I had very sensible sandals on
and I was trying to hide my feet, but it was, it was wonderful, it was wonderful.
And apart from the Beatles, who else did he meet, or did you meet?
The Rolling Stones, I got their autographs as well.
-You said that they terrified you.
-They did terrify me, yeah. They were very...
heavy-looking, even then. Although when you look back on photographs they look quite sweet now,
but at the time they looked quite heavy to me.
And you kept these and then you stopped collecting...
Well, there's loads in there, loads and loads and loads, Margot Fonteyn
and Muhammad Ali and absolutely loads. But, yeah, for the last few years they've been in a drawer,
won't tell you what drawer,
-been in a drawer.
-I can guess, I can guess.
And as far as value's concerned, the Beatles,
the Rolling Stones with Brian Jones, Muhammad Ali, they go on and on and I start adding it all up.
Barbara Streisand, Lisa Minnelli.
There's about 80 in total in the books.
-So, exceptional books. Have you thought about value?
-No, no, we've never...
Because today this represents,
you know, an important autograph collection.
They are worth in the region of £3,000 to £4,000 each album.
-So we're talking about £6,000 to £8,000 for the collection.
-How many children are they going to be shared between?
-Well, maybe I won't now!
So a ballroom jewel in a ballroom,
tell me about it, come on, where did you find it?
At a car boot sale.
-And, with some other bits and bobs,
so I gave about £5 for that with a few other little trinket things.
Obviously I didn't know until a later time it was diamonds,
but it's different, unusual, and things like that, I thought, you know...
Why not? And so you were attracted to the way it returned the light,
it sort of scintillated away there. Goodness me.
It is the most remarkable thing and it's one of the most glamorous pieces of jewellery
-I've seen for a long time, actually.
Yeah, definitely. Because it's not a brooch at all.
-I thought it was a brooch.
-I thought it was a brooch for a while.
-But actually it's half a tiara.
-Yes, and it would have sat opposite another wing
of exactly the same form on the forehead of a girl, who would have come to a ballroom like this,
dressed to the nines, dressed to the highest possible level that she could afford, wearing her diamonds
and wearing that on the front of her forehead that turned her into a Greek goddess, frankly.
Really? I'm amazed.
Yeah, and, and I'm amazed too, because I love it and I think it's highly figurative.
And I think the anatomy of the bird's wing is beautifully suggested by the undulation of the metalwork
and it's set in silver and gold, which is perfect for the period.
Every setting has been pierced out by hand from the gold sheet and you can see the engraver's mark.
-And, and then he pierces it with a file
and then builds up the settings beyond that
to make what is one of the most poetic forms of jewellery I've ever seen.
In a way we're slightly out of tune with it,
because we do see it as a bird's wing,
but it's not a bird's wing, it's the wings of a God.
I mean, it's a sort of Hermes wing,
it's an Amorini's wing and it stands for eternal love.
And it does evoke a period long gone.
It evokes a time when entertainments were hard to find,
there was no television, no radio, no cinema, no telephone, no computer and what do you do?
You go out to what was called an entertainment.
You'd have an invitation, a very smart invitation
lined with gold, and it would say somebody would receive you for a dance, even a small dance, sometimes,
which would be a clue to you as to how to dress, but whatever happened,
you were dressed to the highest possible pitch that you could afford,
and the highest that this woman could afford was quite high indeed,
because as you now know, they are diamonds, and they're not marcasites, are they?
And we have to understand what the other parts of her arrangements would have been,
if she was wearing diamond feathers in her hair,
what her dress would have been like, what her carriage would have been like.
It could have been in this ballroom, it is of the same period as this ballroom.
-It dates from about 1900 and she's dressing as a Greek goddess.
Heaven only knows, I don't think one could find a more exciting thing.
What do you feel about all of that?
Marvellous, I almost am. I've sort of run out now, I've hit home.
I think it's fantastic...
I'm like, "How does he do this?"
Well, I've seen them before and they were made by the greatest jewellers, by Boucheron and Cartier, Guiliano...
superb names involved themselves in this style and it's not a unique thing.
What we do slightly ache to see is the other brooch,
maybe it will come forward somehow or another.
But they do exist in pairs, they were mounted on a tiara frame
and they could be taken on and off and worn as brooches
and they're very desirable and they're still very poetic.
And with, with all of that comes some high value, so £5 investment from you...
If it were a tiara with both wings it would return £12,000 to £15,000.
Oh, my God. Are you serious?
Oh, my God, oh, I nearly screamed then, I'm not going to scream.
Why wouldn't you scream?
Oh, my God! Really?
And half of it is worth less than half,
but it's still worth £5,000 or £6,000 of anybody's money.
Oh, my God,
I can't... I'm so giddy!
-Oh, that is amazing.
No, I'm thrilled, I love it.
In this splendid ballroom it's easy to imagine the dances that have taken place here,
the bands that have played on this stage and of course the organists,
I mentioned Reginald Dixon earlier on and this organ, he designed it himself and played on it.
And Phil, our organist for the day, is going to play us out
with a little number you might just recognise. But first,
thank you to the people of Blackpool for bringing along such a wonderful array and variety of objects.
And Phil, now, over to you, would you kindly take it away.
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