Members of the public have their antiques valued by experts. Fiona Bruce and the team are in County Durham for a visit to The Bowes Museum.
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Formidable! We've set off on quite a journey this week
and travelled hundreds of miles to bring you a flavour of France.
So it might surprise you to know we're here in County Durham
at the magnificent Bowes Museum,
this week's home of the Antiques Roadshow.
Bowes is no ordinary museum.
Its most perfectly appointed French windows
overlook the undulating splendour of Cumbria and North Yorkshire.
The man who gave his name to this treasure house was John Bowes,
a wealthy Durham landowner,
a coal magnate and a Francophile.
In 1848, he moved to Paris where he bought a theatre
and met the love of his life, an actress called Josephine Chevalier.
It was she who decided to return to Teesdale
and set about building a museum for their collections.
John and Josephine amassed marvellous objets d'art,
at a rate of 1,000 a year.
They often went on shopping sprees across Europe
and on their most ambitious trip,
they travelled 1,500 miles in ten weeks,
stopping at Cologne, Munich, Vienna and Dresden.
There they spent hundreds of pounds at the Royal Porcelain Factory.
They also ran up a sizeable bill
at the London and Paris exhibitions of the 1860s.
They recreated the artistic salons of France
with their chic supper parties for up to 150 guests,
including Charles Chaplin, no less,
and Pre-Impressionist painters such as Corot and Boudin,
and a name that's cropped up on the Roadshow -
Emile Galle's early work was commissioned by Josephine.
This is his exquisite cabaret set.
Their most expensive and iconic purchase was a musical automaton.
It's a beautifully crafted silver swan,
made in 1773 by John Joseph Merlin,
bought for the Bowes Museum 100 years later for £200.
Tragically, they never got to see the final result of their passion.
Josephine died young, in 1874, and John died just ten years later.
It was a sad end to a magnificent endeavour.
The museum opened to much fanfare and adulation in 1892.
We're lucky enough to see for ourselves
what wonders lie behind those French shutters.
Over now to our specialists, who are poised to appreciate the treasures
brought to them by the people of Teesdale.
I want to know whether this Chinaman's been a resident
in your home for many a generation.
Yes, it was in my grandmother's house for...
as long as I can remember and then passed to my parents,
and suddenly, when they died, I inherited it,
and it's been with me ever since, which is about ten years now,
so, he's been around ever since I was very small.
So, has he developed a Durham accent? That's what I want to know.
-He's from Yorkshire.
-Oh, is he?
-Date wise, he's around about 1875.
Um, the colours give him away immediately for, erm,
-being decorated in majolica glazes.
Nice and bright and vibrant.
The sad thing is, I don't want to disappoint you, but this Chinaman
-has probably never been further east than maybe Whitby.
Because he's made in Stoke-on-Trent.
-And if we turn it upside down very briefly,
I'm not going to linger because you can hardly make it out,
but there's a mark there that says exactly who made him,
-and that's Minton.
Minton, the great, great factory from the 19th century.
And, of course, the Victorians loved anything novelty,
and novelty teapots like this were coming out of Stoke-on-Trent,
-you know, at quite a rapid rate.
So, I'm not suggesting you should use him,
-I don't think... I think he's mainly decorative.
Where do you keep him?
He's just on a dresser with various other sort of ornaments
that I got from my grandmother
which probably all come from the same place,
but I've always thought they came from romantic, far-off places,
so I shall continue to live with that dream.
Well, you should! Well, he's on your sideboard,
but is he on your house contents?
Um, probably not, but...
OK, well he's a relatively expensive Chinaman,
in so far as, if I wanted to find him,
-auction estimates for these usually vary between £600-800.
Now, I don't want to end on a downer, but that's the good news.
The bad news is, if we were having this conversation about ten years ago,
he was worth double that,
-but the American market has slightly evaporated, so...
Bit sad, really, to think you're Chinese and you're up one minute
-and you're down the next, but that's life, isn't it?
-It is, never mind.
I know it is clear what this is,
this wonderful jockey-on-a-horse brooch.
But, as a jeweller looking at it,
it has so much detail packed into it, it is extraordinary.
What's your story behind it?
Well, I was given the lovely brooch by my parents
and my mother and father had been willed it
by an Army friend's widow, so we've had it since the middle '70s.
And you love racing,
-are you steeped in the world of racing?
-Yes, I love racing,
especially up here, Wetherby's probably my favourite.
-You're surrounded by them, aren't you?
-We're very lucky.
So, do you wear it when you go onto the racecourse?
-Does it get admired, do people notice it?
-Mm, I bet they do.
Cos I think these sort of brooches, these sporting brooches,
-were very popular in around about 1910.
-I think it may have been made as far back as then.
Let me tell you about the brooch itself.
First of all, the first point to make is that usually when we see these,
They were used robustly
and the enamel decoration on the jockeys was quite frequently chipped,
so when you come across one where the colour is absolutely perfect,
-as this one is, it's really rather rare.
Let's look at the body of the horse himself.
I mean, look at the gallop, look at the poise there,
the sense of movement that we've got.
The horse itself is set with diamonds,
but it's what we call pave set with diamonds.
Now, when they're pave set, they're set in touching formation
-and, I'm sure you've noticed this...
-There's a tiny sapphire.
Sapphire in the eye, yes.
But it's the movement of the thing
that's really well-modelled.
-And I think it's a very commercial piece of jewellery.
If you were to sell it,
-I think you would get something in the region of £2,000.
Sporting jewellery, we see it, this one is a very potent example.
-Around here, with all the racecourses,
-what a perfect thing to bring!
-That's great, thank you very much.
Thank you very much.
I've seen many of this class of cabinet in the last 40 years
and they are universally dreadful...
..but this one is the best I've seen!
It's Japanese and it was made about 1920.
How long have you had it?
-We've had it ten years.
-Oh, only ten years?
But it's been in the family since probably 1920.
Right. Do you love it?
-I love it!
-You love it?
-I think it's gorgeous.
Well, what it is, it's basically a wood construction
and the whole of the...superstructure is lacquer.
This would have been made for Western consumption.
In about 1870, in came teachers from art schools...in Europe
and they started to teach the Japanese
how to paint in the Western tradition.
And the Western tradition was quite different.
For a start, it had perspective, which they didn't know about at all.
They painted with a brush which was absolutely flat,
and here, you've got the result
of the Japanese painting in Western tradition.
And it's very naturalistic.
I'd guess they're probably realistic scenes round,
I don't know, Yokohama or somewhere
and if you've got a proper Japanese who could read that sort of script,
-they could probably identify where the places were.
-I see, yeah.
What you've got here is the varnish breaking up over time.
-And they are all very, very yellow.
If you were to take these to a picture restorer
who dealt with oil paintings, this is exactly the same,
he would have no trouble removing that varnish
and then put on a slightly tinted modern varnish
and it would transform it.
As I say, it's the best of its type I've ever seen.
And I think it would probably, at auction,
make somewhere around £700-1,000, which is an awful lot
considering that the next one down is worth 200.
So, well done, enjoy.
-Right, thank you very much.
Delightful little match case there with a very Flemish scene on it,
but what's it all about? Where did you get it?
Well, it was my father's.
-And he was in the 47th Royal Dragoon Guards.
-They went over to France on D-Day, landed on Gold Beach,
-fought their way through France.
And by Christmas time, they were in the region of Arnhem.
-Was this Market Garden?
-Operation Market Garden was to liberate that area.
Anyway, they did manage to liberate some Dutch towns
and whenever they went in with the tanks,
everyone came out from their houses and they were waving and cheering
and one old lady evidently came forward
and pressed this item into my father's hand...
-..and said, "Thank you so much and happy Christmas."
I have to say I'm almost overcome by the fact that...
-I mean, that's wonderful, but what's the picture?
-this is my father in the central square of Lille.
-So, that's actually your father there?
-In this Sherman tank.
-Yeah, that's my father.
He didn't fit the tank very well,
he was 6' 8" tall, took up rather a lot of room.
That's...that's tall for getting into a Sherman!
Very, very tall, very tall,
though he remained very good friends
with the rest of the people from the tank after that.
-Looking at it, very coldly as a matchbox holder...
-..it's worth what, £50 maybe to a collector?
But what you must do is write that history down.
Oh, right, yes. OK, I will, I'll write it down, fold it up,
put it in a matchbox and keep it safe.
So, when you bought these two plaques, did you turn them over?
No. No, I didn't. I only bought them for the decorative purpose.
You bought them because you liked them.
Yes, and I bought them for me brother and his partner
because they have Cavalier and King Charles spaniel dogs
and it made a nice Christmas present.
I am going to insist on your looking at this mark.
What can you tell me from the mark?
Well, I have looked at the mark since,
-and I know they're Royal Worcester.
And I know the dots mean a year, but after that I haven't a clue.
-You're right, this is the classic Royal Worcester mark.
-Here are the dots you're talking about,
one, two, three.
We add three to 1891 and the result is 1894.
Good grief, I didn't think they would have been that old.
-Now, let's have a look at the front, shall we?
Tell me about dogs cos I don't know, this is...
That is the King Charles spaniel.
-That's a King Charles.
-Its nose is rather squashed.
-This is the Cavalier King Charles and it has a more pointed nose.
-So, what we have, what we appear to have is two Worcester plaques.
The marks tell us 1894 and the artist's signature - J Bradley. OK.
How much did you pay?
£25 each in a little antique shop in Wolsingham where I come from,
-which is about half an hour over that way.
These are quite heavy
and if you rub your fingers along the back,
-this porcelain feels very hard.
Royal Worcester didn't make hard-paste porcelain
-until well into the 20th century.
Are they forgeries?
Well, let's take it one step at a time.
Oh, I'm gutted.
-This signature, J Bradley...
-That is not how people signed in the late 1890s.
Even without that, when I saw these coming across the table,
I thought, "That's funny, they look Chinese."
And I think that's what you've got.
This is getting more and more baffling by the minute!
So, they are copies, in a sense?
-Copies would be a nice word.
-But you touched on a nasty word, which is forgeries.
When is something a fake, when is it a forgery?
-Do you know the difference?
A fake is essentially something
-that has been knocked-up from genuine parts.
Genuine old things knocked together to make them look like something old
-and comprising old bits.
When is it a forgery?
A forgery is an object which has a mark put on it deliberately.
-Deliberately to fool.
-To make you think it's something it isn't.
So, the warning sign should have been that they were too cheap.
-That's always a warning sign.
If you see something at the wrong price, then it may...
I thought they were quite expensive about 12, 15 years ago.
It was a lot of money to me then.
-You paid £25 each.
-Yes, they were.
I've been out to China, I've seen these,
and things like this, being made in China.
You beat me to it!
Well, there you go. Oh, dear me, you can have them back, Carol!
Well, thank you very much, it's been very, very interesting.
It's been my pleasure.
Yeah... I bet it has!
I bet it... Here's us thinking we were sitting on a fortune, Joshua,
but thank you very much, thank you.
You might have seen a picture of me a while ago in the Radio Times in vintage clothing,
and I have to say, I've caught the bug.
Look at this, beautiful '50s frock
complete with little petticoat underneath,
lent to me very kindly by Beverley and Zara here.
And you are vintage clothing collectors, aficionados, aren't you?
Look at you both! Talk me through what you're wearing, first of all.
This is gorgeous.
This is a '40s-inspired,
wartime, kind of, just little cute dress.
And you've got the hair and the lipstick going on,
Bev, Mum, look at that.
-The New Look from the 1950s, which is my favourite era.
Fabulous! Now you've got a big collection,
this is some of it here.
What got you into it?
Just the era, everything about it, the music, the dancing,
then the clothes come along with it, don't they?
Fabulous, how much have you got in your collection?
-Quite a lot.
Yeah, two roomfuls.
Is part of the attraction of the clothes...
I suppose they're of a more glamorous past, aren't they?
Oh, definitely, yes, everyone dressed for certain times of the day
-and it's just the whole thing - the gloves, the hats...
-..that we can put on.
-And even the jewellery,
-you're not supposed to wear your pearls before 12 o'clock.
It's little things that you find out
that you wouldn't have done these days.
-No, we're more casual these days, aren't we?
You look fabulous, I feel fabulous in this dress.
-Thank you so much for bringing these gorgeous clothes in.
This is a lovely mahogany sideboard, what can you tell me about it?
As a family, we think it was made for the house
which is very, very old, and it was made for an alcove,
but we would like to know how old you think it is, for starters,
and who you thought made it.
Right, I can answer the question of the date relatively easily,
but nobody could be precise.
It's typical of the Hepplewhite period,
from about the 1770, 1780, 1790 period, so let's say circa 1780.
-Nobody can tell you exactly what year it was made.
But it's typical of the mahogany of the period,
and the shape is typical, but very unusual,
it's got a very north country feel, very deep,
much deeper than it would expect to be
in a smaller London house.
It was made, clearly, for a big house. As far as the maker,
I'm afraid nobody in the world knows who made it.
-It's absolutely impossible.
Probably, by the look of it, a local maker.
We've got all the typical features, we've got the potty cupboard,
-and I think you've got one at your end as well.
And probably as important, the cellaret for the wine bottles here.
-Very important, yes.
-With the divisions, absolutely typical.
I want to really examine these chairs very carefully.
-You've got just two of them?
-We've got 12, all identical, all arms.
-Twelve armchairs, open armchairs.
And they were made for the family.
-Do you know who by?
-No, that's what I want you to tell me,
I want to know who made them and how old do you think they are.
Well, you've set me a real challenge.
I can't tell you who made them and I don't think anyone, again, can.
The problem with furniture, and one of the exciting things,
is that English furniture was rarely signed.
However, the design, this shield-shaped back,
it's typical of George Hepplewhite...the designs.
-The sideboard less so, it's more confused.
-It's not quite as clear-cut,
but the shield back with these lovely acanthus-carved splats here,
and these elegant, open arms is typical of Hepplewhite,
as also the leg here.
I love the wood, it's clearly a very good quality mahogany
and super carving here, mahogany carves so beautifully
and it shows in the back of these chairs.
-I think they're 1790.
-You know they've been in the house.
-Let's check up on them.
-Well, there have been a few repairs there.
-These blocks are new.
-You can see there's no attempt...
Well, "new"... 10-20 years old.
But this is the original way of making a chair of this type,
with this open buttress here, typical.
I think they're north country, locally made chairs,
of real quality and I really can't remember if I've ever seen,
in some 40 years of looking at furniture, a set of 12 chairs.
Very unusual, I think. Are you going to value them for me?
I was going to try and wriggle out of it because it's quite difficult.
Well, let's do the sideboard.
They've been fluctuating recently, but they're coming back.
It's a bit deep, but say an auction price,
to be fair, between about £3,000-5,000 at auction.
-But the chairs... Have you had these valued recently?
A set of 12 open armchairs is incredibly rare.
To add to that, Granny, Great-Granny,
-is reputed to have given two away as a wedding present.
So, there were probably 14 originally.
-We can't vouch for that.
That's fascinating, the normal set would be 14.
Most Georgian sets were 14. Oh, Granny!
Well, I'll have to value them. A pair of these could be worth up to £5,000,
so that's six pairs, some £30,000.
But we obviously have to add more for a set,
so, I'm going to give an auction price
of something like £40,000-60,000.
I'm going to say 70,000, minimum.
Right, thank you very much. We'll put the insurance up, I think.
Now, what's a man of your calibre doing with a gun like this?
Well, it was my grandfather's gun and it came with a hotel
that he bought, so that's how it ended up in the family.
What about the history before that?
The history... We know it was cast in 1865 in Birkenhead
by a company which had strong links with the Confederate Army
in the American Civil War.
How do you know it was 1865?
-Oh, down here.
So, what does that say, here?
Fawcett, Preston and Co.
186... What's that?
-I think it's '65.
Well, Fawcett, Preston and Co made what are called Blakely guns.
Alexander, Captain Alexander Blakely,
designed this gun to take quite high pressures,
and you can see this great lump of steel here, this great lump of metal,
which was going to take a huge pressure
and then the barrel tapers off as the pressure goes.
Now, this gun was not that successful
because it had a tremendous recoil
and so it fell out of favour with the Confederates
and wasn't used very much.
But I wonder how this got into this country, why is it here?
Why isn't this in America, as most were sent there?
Because it was built, well, cast, in the last year of the war,
so, we don't believe it ever made it across.
-I see, the war ended before it was shipped.
What's the diameter of the...
-I think it's 2.5.
Oh, I think that might have been me as a child.
The whole thing's stuffed with them!
You stuffed a load of pine cones down here?
-How funny, and have you ever fired it?
We tried to, or it was planned, at the Millennium,
but by about four o'clock, everyone was a bit worse for wear
-and it didn't happen, so...
-You were all too drunk!
Oh, that's a brilliant story. It's a great, great gun,
it really is super, and it's actually got an interesting history behind it.
What about value? What do you think?
Well, we have no idea of the value. None at all.
Well, it's a really, really collectible item.
If this was sold in Britain, I think we'd get in the region
of £5,000-6,000 for it.
-I think it could be worth £8,000-10,000.
But think what it would cost to ship this to America.
It would probably cost a few thousand pounds to do that anyway.
So it's a dilemma - do you sell it here or do you sell it in America?
-I guess you'd never sell it.
-No, I think we'll keep hold of it, yeah.
-And do fire it one day, won't you?
-We will, acorns and all.
These two wonderfully vibrant colourful paintings
depict one of my favourite places, Venice,
but they're also by an artist who I met in the 1980s
-and an artist I'm particularly fond of - John Bratby.
-John Bratby, yeah.
Now, tell me, when did you first come across John Bratby's work?
Well, it's going back a lot of years now.
Let's see - 1954,
-that's when he just came out of the Royal College.
He was having his diploma show
-and, erm, that was when he was painting through the tube.
Drawing through, with the paint just from the tube
without any brushes or palette knife, anything.
So, with him being a really excellent draughtsman,
he was able to do that fluently.
Well, these just sing with colour, don't they?
Amazing colour, that's what he was well-known for really,
-I suppose, the '50s and the Kitchen Sink Group.
It was like the Pre-Raphaelites, wasn't it? The Brotherhood,
-and he was the head man.
-Exactly, and he...
they would use domestic utensils in the kitchen and paint them.
Where others might be painting nudes, models or traditional subjects,
-they were painting lavatories and sinks.
-Cornflake packs and beer bottles.
-all sorts of different brands.
I met him when I first started in this business, the art business,
-probably about 1989, so three years before he dies.
-To be fair, he was pretty, pretty depressed.
-Yeah, I think he would be.
-I met him at his house in Hastings with Patti, his second wife.
His whole house was covered with photographs, views of Venice,
views of Patti, all sorts of pictures that he'd taken,
so I imagine your two pictures of Venice,
-may have been painted from photographs.
Probably, the hotel is the Hotel Europa, which is on the Piazzetta.
That's right, yeah.
And I think what's wonderful about his work is,
that as much as he seemed very depressed at the time I met him,
we're standing here looking at two wonderfully vibrant,
colourful paintings which give us all a great deal of joy,
and I think in terms of the way he should feel,
if he were seeing us now,
enjoying these pictures with their wonderful colour.
The energy is still there, as he painted it.
-Absolutely, great blusters of energy, absolutely fabulous.
These are painted in the 1980s,
so you decided you wanted to buy two pictures by Bratby.
-I wanted to buy one, that's all I could afford at the time.
It was just when I retired, '85.
-And I thought, but I like the two
and I made a proposition to the gallery -
if I bought the two, did he think they'd accept £2,000?
So you did a deal.
-I got two for the price of one.
-Fantastic, a good deal.
Just after he died there was a resurgence of interest in his work,
so, you might want to hold onto my hand, I don't know, or my arm,
because these are worth about £8,000-12,000 each in the present market.
Are they? Really?
It's made my day to see them,
they are two very good and enjoyable paintings.
Here we are at Bowes Museum, in the middle of the credit crunch,
when lots of people are losing their jobs,
and this plate is about a kind of credit crunch from almost 200 years ago.
We're looking at a thing that was all about the terrible worries people had about steam power
and steam engines and people losing their jobs,
so here we have two grave diggers
who are idling their time playing cards,
whilst behind them, a steam-powered grave digging machine digs the graves and does their job for them.
And these were real concerns of people of the Regency period,
that these terrible steam engines were coming in and replacing people's jobs,
in the same way as the photocopier got rid of the typing pool, call centres got rid of going to the bank.
So this is a bit of industrial history on a plate.
-How did you come to buy it?
-Well, I was collecting children's plates,
and it seemed to fit vaguely in that area, and then we got it home and looked at it,
and we decided that grave digging was a fairly maudlin subject for a children's nursery,
so it's had a separate place on the cabinet ever since.
-A place apart.
-Kept at a distance from the children.
-The children's plates, yeah.
It IS what you would call a children's plate.
It's a piece of propaganda, really.
People are saying there's a whole different series of these,
all on the symptoms of steam power,
but it is really people's genuine concerns about losing their jobs,
and it's as relevant and it's as real today as it was when this was made,
almost 200 years ago, in about 1800, 1810.
And as a little piece of industrial history,
if it was an ordinary plate it would be worth £20 or £30, but a bit of industrial history like this,
-with this very relevant, rather quirky, as you say, slightly maudlin subject...
-..it's worth about £150.
-Ah! That's good.
-A pleasant surprise?
-Good return on £3.
Maybe put it in with the other ones, it won't do it any harm.
-Thank you very much.
-It's a pleasure, thank you.
I love the pet food aisle in the supermarket
because you never know which way the person's going to go. Are they a cat person or dog person?
And it's always fun trying to decide which way they're going to go.
-Are you a cat person or a dog person?
-I'm probably neither.
I'm not a cat person, but my grandmother was, and this is where I got this from.
-Did she have a lot of cats?
Well, it's a rather intriguing little bronze, it's very stylish.
I really like it, I was taken with it immediately
and it is, in fact, a bronze I have seen before, so I immediately knew who it was by.
But we can get the answer to that quite simply by looking at the signature.
We can see this name here, Hamo Thorneycroft. It's dated 1884.
Do you know anything about Thorneycroft at all?
-Well, what you've got, in fact, is a little gem,
because William Thorneycroft, I think, was one of the most eminent sculptors of the 19th century.
He was born in 1850 and he's famous for some fabulous work.
-Do you know the statue of Oliver Cromwell outside the Houses of Parliament?
-That's one of his.
So you can see the stature of the man. He was a very, very skilled sculptor.
What intrigues me about this little bronze is that there's also an inscription on the bottom.
-Have you ever noticed this?
-No, I haven't.
Can you see? In pen, there is written "Hamo Thorneycroft 1909".
-Now that's a date obviously different to the date on the base. What intrigues me about that is,
-is that perhaps a personal inscription? Did your - sorry, grandmother?
-My grandmother, yes.
-It is possible.
I never knew my grandmother. She died before I was born, but that would tie in with the dates, yes.
Right, OK. I mean, did she move in artistic circles?
-Yes, she was a concert pianist...
..and she had a lot of friends who were artists and things, so it is possible that...
and also she loved cats. There is a connection, yes.
Right, OK, so there is a... there is a slight possibility that that may have been inscribed.
-You're not a cat person, but you like it as an object?
-Oh, yes, absolutely.
The market has been up and down, I have to say.
Some of his figurative works can make tens of thousands,
but I'm going to plump for £1,800-2,200 at auction.
-Oh, right! Well, that's a lot more than... Well, that's lovely.
-It's a good little thing.
-It is, but it's part of the family, so it's...it sits on my mantelpiece.
-I'll stroke it.
-As we do.
-Thank you very much, thank you.
How do you come to know such a young beauty as this?
Um, visiting an old friend,
sitting down talking and looked across the room
-and there was piles of boxes and things, after a good clear out of the house.
And I just saw half of this face looking out at me and...
-Beautiful face at that.
-Oh, yes, I know, yeah.
-And something just fluttered.
-That was it.
-And I commented, this person said,
"It's going out of the house, going to be deposited in the tip."
Yes, it had a funny sort of reputation with it and I think it was just a case of liking it or...
-Some people don't like heads in their houses.
-I know. What sort of funny reputation?
Um, well, this one, apparently from a great-great-grandmother, the head was cursed, it was a death mask.
-Cursed? Have you any...
-Absolutely. Have you had any problems since you came to own it?
No, no, this is from a long time ago, nothing happened up to now.
-So I keep my fingers crossed.
-So it's all poppycock, then.
-It's made of terracotta. You can see, because some of the paint, which is cold applied, is flaking off.
It's partly painted, partly gilded, of course.
We don't know who she is, but I do know that this is based on
a Renaissance original which would have been done in marble.
-I think there's several copies known around the world and they're all in top museums,
-I believe the Frick Collection in New York have a copy.
-That's a big one, yes.
-But they're in marble and, of course, marble used to be painted.
-Oh, yes, in those days.
So, what happens in the 19th century when there's a lot of wealthy people
who want to own a Renaissance work of art but haven't quite got the money,
-the Italians responded and made lovely terracotta busts in the Renaissance taste.
-And I believe this is exactly what this is.
I think she does just need a little bit of work, but the sensitivity of the painting is exquisite, isn't it?
It's totally beautiful.
Yeah, very lifelike and the wonderful hairpiece, she has this netted effect.
Oh, yes, with the coil of hair on the back.
Yeah. Have you ever been offered anything for it?
-Do you know what it's worth?
-I will show you. I took it... I didn't know at first
and I took it to see a chap who was dealing in antiques in Richmond,
and I just said I thought it would have been worth about £280 or something,
somewhere around there and he said,
"I'll give you £2.80."
-Good Lord. Well...
-And he laughed, he said, "It's only a mannequin for a shop window, about 1914."
-No, it was made in the 1890s, it's much earlier. It's not a hat stand.
-No, no, no.
This is really a proper work of art.
It wouldn't have a hat on, you know...yeah.
Well, you can't sell it, because it's cursed.
Something might happen if you sell it. But I think insure it for about £400.
-So, considering it was going to go on the skip and going to be smashed up...
-I think you've acquired a real beauty.
-Yes, she's gorgeous.
She is gorgeous.
Now, there are two types of coins.
There are collectors' coins - your Roman coins, your groats, your early English and the rest of it -
and then there are bullion coins, and bullion coins, basically,
are purely for the value of the pure gold they have in them.
Sovereigns, half sovereigns, Krugerrands and, notably,
the American 20 piece,
of which you have a particularly fine example.
It's in stunning condition.
BUT...if I just palm it,
say the magic word,
I reckon I can turn it into a serious collectors' coin from a bullion coin.
Here we go.
It's a coin watch you've got here. Have you tried that party trick?
Yes, I have, yes, on a number of occasions, yes.
I've been waiting to do it.
I don't have a coin watch, so I've not been able to do it, but I couldn't resist.
It's actually made out of two coins, of course.
-Well, when you think about it, you've got an original 1904 American 20 front...
-..and an original 1924, probably, 20 back.
But, of course, there's no way you can get a coin apart...
-..and get the middle out, without destroying one side or the other.
The coin itself, I think, is about £500-600, these days.
That's the... because of the high value of gold.
Do you have any knowledge of its history?
Not really. It was my father's, and I remember him bringing it home late '60s, maybe 1970,
certainly wasn't new at that point, I don't think.
They have been making these, basically, since the war.
There are one or two that are earlier,
but curiously enough, it's signed Cartier on the dial,
and on the back of the movement, which is probably almost impossible to see,
-it's actually signed Piaget.
Now, Cartier now owns...
Part of the Cartier group owns the Piaget name.
They're all one group, but in the '70s they weren't. They were associated.
So what has happened is that Piaget, who made a very flat movement,
and it is extraordinarily flat when you think about this is a solid gold frame, hollowed out inside.
-In there is an actual watch movement.
They made a very flat movement which enabled them to, basically, to produce coin watches.
Anyway, that just perfectly fits.
Retailed by Cartier,
movement by Piaget and a brilliant thing.
And this one is in mint condition, and condition is everything.
If the cover's been bent...
-..or the edge has been damaged
-or in this case, if you look, you just can't see where the opening is.
-No, you have to look carefully.
Really carefully. And if any of that's damaged, it cuts the value quite a bit.
Do you have a clue on the value?
I suppose it might depend a bit on gold price, as you were saying.
-Yes. Well, I told you I'd turn it from a bullion coin into a...
-..um, a couple of thousand pounds, I think.
-Better get it insured, then.
-Just don't get it mixed up with the others.
Good. Thank you very much. Very interesting.
Ah, it's not often I get the chance to put my feet up on this programme,
but here I am, sitting in this rather splendid chair.
But it's not an antique.
All will be revealed by our very own Christopher Payne.
Christopher, we're asking our experts in this series
about the best and the worst bits of their own personal collections.
This, I'm assuming, is the best bit.
-Or the worst.
-Well, I don't know, you tell me.
Well, I'm very proud of it, but I made it.
-You made it?
This year in fact, so it's a new, new antique, for the future.
And what made you decide to embark upon making it?
I've been a critic and valuer of furniture for almost 40 years now.
I thought, I've got to put my money where my mouth is.
I must actually do something and see if I'm even capable of doing it,
and I love Windsor chairs, and this opportunity came along to make one with a tutor in an old workshop,
and there we go, I made it. I can't believe it myself, I can tell you.
Well, I think it's beautiful. How long did it take you?
Well, we went to the pub quite a few times, but the actual...
about three o'clock, you get a bit bored
-and, um, so it took about four days actual work to do it.
And these bits here,
for example, and here,
do they come already bent? Do you have to bend them?
-You have to bend them yourself.
-What, like this?
Well, they go in a steamer. It's ash, the light wood is called ash, and it goes in a steamer,
and you say, "OK, boys," and you pull it out, and with somebody else, you pull it like that,
-or you can just about do it on your own.
-Just with brute strength?
Brute strength. You have to do it quickly.
And then somebody else puts a clamp along and you've got it set, hopefully.
There's quite a lot of work. I was surprised how physical it was,
and it'll make a huge difference to my admiration of Windsor chairs on the Antiques Roadshow.
Did you choose it because that's a type of chair you particularly admire?
-I hoped it was going to be easy to make.
They're so comfortable. It fits everybody, the form, it's a natural wood, it cocoons the body.
A wonderful piece of vernacular furniture. Hopefully this will last a few hundred years.
-Have you put your maker's mark on it?
-I did, can I show you?
So, we've got ash here and this is a bit of bog oak,
2,000-year-old oak, just to make it a bit decorative and there's, proudly, my name, initials and date,
so nobody in the future, on an Antiques Roadshow in 1,000 years' time, can be wrong about who made it.
How wonderful! So, have you got it pride of place in your home, then?
-I didn't have anywhere to put it.
-After all that!
Eventually it went in the kitchen, and I sit there reading the newspaper. I love it.
I think it's lovely. So I am going to assume this has pride of place,
-so what about the worst or the most disappointing part of your collection?
-It's over here.
-Do we have to do this?
-Yes, we do.
-I always enjoy this bit particularly.
-Thank you very much. Well, here it is.
-OK, looks all right.
-An Adam fruit bowl. The Georgian period, in best quality mahogany.
-Or so I thought.
-What went wrong?
I bought it when I started as a porter in the London salerooms in 1970
-and I was going down the New Kings Road...
-Hang on a minute, is this you in the picture here?
Er, yes, not the auctioneer, the porter.
-What do we think? Very handsome, I'd say.
-Yes, they've got a thumbs up there.
-So how old were you here?
-21! Gosh, right, OK.
anyway, after a few weeks I thought I knew everything about antiques,
went down the New Kings Road in London and saw this in the window, walked in and said,
"How much is this?" and they said £12, so I bought it immediately.
-And was that a lot of money to you, at the time?
-It was a net week's salary.
So it really hurt to buy it.
But I knew, I absolutely knew that I'd got a bargain, sale of the century, bargain of the century.
Well, I got it home and my father just fell out of his chair laughing.
He was a retired antique dealer and he said, "It's about 1950, I think."
-So here it is, and I really should have known by the weight of this.
It's just simply not heavy enough to be old mahogany.
-No, it's very light, isn't it?
-So that alone should have told you it was a fake.
-Over-confidence of youth.
And guess what it's worth today.
-Christopher, thanks very much.
Well, it looks almost good enough to eat, doesn't it?
But tell me a bit more. How did you come to own this lovely glass pear?
Well, I was given it when I was...
about 1959, when I was very young.
-And I didn't consider it very lovely then, at that age.
I was very disparaging about it and called it "the bomb".
It sat in my mum's china cabinet for years. It was a friend of hers who was very artistic,
she lectured in fine art at Newcastle University and she gave me that, and...
very far-seeing, I think. It was when I was in my 20s,
I sort of gradually came to appreciate it.
So this was a gift in '59
from a very stylish lady to you as a little girl.
-I mean, what a gift,
because, what a gift, I mean, this is a woman who had foresight
because, if we turn this very unassuming little pear over,
we have a fantastic name on the bottom, which is Venini.
Now, Venini are one of the absolute greats of the Italian glass circuit,
and at this time, we're looking, more than likely, at the work of one of their leading designers,
Fulvio Bianconi, and of course,
we've got this lovely cased green body here,
and then just applied on is this lovely little stem and little leaf,
that's just been kicked on, in a second. Absolutely superb.
It just shows the quality and the speed of the Venetian glass-makers on the island of Murano.
Now, I notice on the label that there is a price there of 32/6.
32 shillings and sixpence!
I mean, that was a lot of money for a little gift.
Well, do you love it?
I do, I do love it now.
-But it was "the bomb".
-It was "the bomb", yes.
Well, all I'll say to you is, thank goodness you never threw it around
because your little Venini bomb, which is now a beautiful pear,
is worth the best part of £200-250.
Gosh, I am rather stunned.
-I thought about 30 to 40.
I think, er, you know, fruit from Italy's quite valuable.
We're talking about a British institution -
the wonderfully revered Queen Mother
and you've brought a collection along here that is apt because she was a patron of the Bowes Museum,
and obviously her name, Bowes-Lyon. She was very much connected with both the museum
and I understand your father met her.
Yes, it was after the war.
He joined BOAC and was flying on the Britannia Fleet as a radio operator,
and he was the radio operator for the royal flight to South Africa
that took the Queen Mother on a royal visit to South Africa in 1957
and he kept these various mementos of that trip.
So, the first item is this BOAC corporation...
it's what it says on the tin - Royal Flight, London to Salisbury, July '57. And...
..at the back here, we have a complete map of where they went,
all the way from London to Salisbury and back.
Yeah. And it was I think on the flight on the way back, they were flying at night,
and she got a bit sort of bored sitting there, I guess,
so she sat down with him
and chatted to him as they were flying back over Africa.
And I think on the previous page
-there's actually a layout of the interior of the Britannia.
-Or the "VIP interior", as it says here.
-Looks nice, doesn't it?
Very luxurious. I mean, they've got a dining table,
dining suite, and I think it says here "HM Queen Mother".
-A bed at one side and a settee at the other.
And she would have had a long walk, going all the way down here,
to presumably where your dad was,
which is the radio officer's cabin, which looks tiny.
Yes, he described it as like a little cupboard there
and she came up and said,
"Do you mind if I sit and have a chat with you?"
She asked him what he was doing
and he showed her the Morse code he was sending out and she said,
"Well, can you send messages to the people we're flying over?"
And as they were flying up, back over Africa,
he said, "Yes, sure. What would you like me to say?"
And she said, "I'll write it down". And the nearest thing to hand was the menu.
I can just imagine, if you were Governor of Northern Nigeria,
suddenly the Morse code started beeping,
"My goodness, we're getting a message from up above!" THEY LAUGH
-Oh, there it is.
-So she would have said,
"Send a signal to the Governor of Malta, my good man, my good chap."
THEY LAUGH "I send you very many sincere thanks
"for excellent arrangements which were made for my short visit to Malta,
-"which I enjoyed so greatly, Elizabeth R."
-That's extraordinary, isn't it?
-Yes, it's really...
-I'm so glad he kept it.
-But the final thing is also rather extraordinary as well.
Here we have a gold propelling pencil.
At the end of the flight, she said she'd enjoyed chatting to him so much,
she gave him the little pencil as a memory, and I remember him coming home,
I was about four or five at the time, and he gave it to me to play with,
and it was my pencil and I used to play with it
and then it disappeared and turned up later on when we were looking through things in the house
and I found the little pencil again. Extraordinary.
Because again, it's got, er,
"ER" on it and the royal crest and is in absolutely pristine, unused condition.
-Straight from the hand, via you, at age four.
-At least you didn't break it or lose it.
No, it's still got the original lead in it.
And it must have been an important part of his life as well.
-Oh, yes, yes. He..
-Yeah, he used to talk about how he spent the night with the Queen Mother
and it was a big thing. It was a big joke.
-So, a big family joke - the man who spent the night with the Queen Mother.
-Yes, that's right.
Well, it's a joyous collection
and obviously it's something that will be handed down
to you and your family for many, many generations, but, um,
I think something like that is so rare, I mean, personal notes,
-even though of unofficial basis, in the Queen's hand.
-You never find them.
So they are very, very collectible, but not worth a huge amount of money. I mean, you're not going to sell it.
-But an archive like this, with the pencil and the other messages,
we're probably talking about a figure of up to £1,000.
Oh, right. Lovely.
But joyous to see and so apt that we're here at the Bowes Museum.
Do you have a family memento or treasured souvenir from a meeting with royalty?
My great-great grandmother decided that she was going to crochet
a huge shawl to present to the Queen and she spent 11 months doing that.
-She sent it to her in 1903.
-That would be Queen Alexandra.
So this box is from Queen Alexandra. Exciting moment.
Perhaps your great-great grandmother
was lady-in-waiting to Queen Victoria.
Well, unless I'm very much mistaken we have a piece of royal gold
in front of us. Tell me about it.
Maybe your links with royalty stretch further back in time.
-So this album is completely full of Russian royalty.
If so, then we'd love to hear from you
because we're recording a special edition of the Antiques Roadshow
for this summer's Diamond Jubilee.
If you have a story and an object that helps retell
that moment in your family history, contact us -
Isn't he wonderful?
Well, I've loved him since I was a kid.
Now, I've got to ask you the all important question.
Not my age?
No, not your age.
Have you tried kissing him?
No, in fact, no, I haven't. You never know your luck, do you?
Oh, well, it may turn into a prince.
You're telling me to do it now?
-You could try!
-Well, I'm a bit ancient for a prince now.
Oh, my word. So, where did he come from?
He was my granny and granddad's.
Um, my granny had him for a long time, she died when she was 84, and I inherited him.
-Always wanted him.
-Do you know any more about him?
-Well, I've always been very puzzled,
-because I've never been able to find whether or not it's silver.
He certainly never seemed to have a wife,
because he's obviously a pepper pot,
-and I've never found a salt pot that matched and we never had it.
So I've always been very puzzled about him.
-No, you're absolutely right. There's the piercing for the pepper.
there, hidden in the base, are the actual hallmarks.
I've never seen those before.
-There they are, very cunningly disguised.
-You wouldn't believe I've cleaned it.
-No, and if you look,
what we've actually got are a set of marks for London in 1881.
-And the maker's mark is that of James Barclay Hennell.
Yes, and he made some of the most,
or his firm made some of the most superb models of animals
and, I have to say, I've fallen in love with him as well.
-He's beautiful, isn't he?
What is this wonderful frog worth?
I haven't got an earthly, I genuinely haven't.
I think if he came up in auction,
you'd be hard pushed to buy him for under £2,000.
Crikey! You shouldn't have said that, I've got all the rest of my family to come.
-"Mum, we'll just take it over".
-He is wonderful.
-Oh, thank you.
When I'm not filming the Roadshow, I do lots of different things. I spend a lot of my time giving talks.
I go around the country giving talks to different groups,
and inevitably, what happens is that someone will come up and say,
"What would be your ultimate piece that would be brought in?"
What I really would like to see is an absolutely super diamond ring,
made in around about, I don't know, 1905-1910,
maybe studded with little stones around the mount,
and a pretty stone which might be a slightly unusual shape,
and you've brought along a marquise diamond ring,
made in around about the year 1905-1910,
mounted up in platinum,
where the entire setting is studded
with little diamonds going all the way round.
Tell me a little bit about it.
Um, well, my parents got married in the Congo,
and my grandparents were living in Canada,
and my father brought his young bride home to meet his parents,
and my grandmother gave that to my mother,
who was at that time a young bride.
-She wore it?
-Do you wear it?
In this natural light, do you see the extraordinary lack of colour
-that the diamond has?
Now, most of the diamonds that people bring in, and we see and we value,
have got a little bit of colour.
They grade diamonds on a letter grading where D is colourless.
By the time you get to colour K, L, M, it's tinted yellow.
Now, next feature. We look at it with our lens...
and I can't see very many marks in it either.
It's got a little tiny black dot, but very, very small,
but apart from that, it seems to be pure.
Now, the marquise shape is this fancy boat shape.
The next question is, what does it weigh?
Now, the trouble with marquise diamonds
is that they're very difficult to weigh exactly.
The only thing you can do is,
ultimately, to remove the stone from the mount and weigh it.
I think it weighs three carats.
Now, the difference in price between a diamond that weighs two carat 90
and three carat ten is dramatic.
On the basis it weighs LESS than three carats
and the colour is not D, but E to F,
the worst scenario, your diamond ring in that diamond setting
is worth £15,000-20,000.
Haven't finished yet.
On the basis that the diamond is removed, it's weighed,
it's more than three carats,
the colour is up to D,
and it may be, it...
And the clarity is up there,
VVS or VS, your diamond ring is worth more in the region of...
-That's not bad.
So when I make comments such as, "What is it you most want to see brought in on the Antiques Roadshow?"
it will be a marquise diamond of pure colour and clarity,
weighing about three carats, in a diamond studded mount.
In other words, I have died and gone to heaven.
-Thank you very much. Thank you.
-I do hope that that price hasn't left your too dry-mouthed.
Take it right back and put it straight in the bank, where it belongs.
I will. Thank you very much.
-Thank you very much. You've made my day.
We've had a lovely day here at the Bowes Museum in Teesdale,
and I've found the perfect spot at the end of the day,
this lovely Windsor chair that we saw earlier on,
made by our very own Christopher Payne.
Christopher, do you fancy making another one? Can I give you a commission?
Um, let me get rid of the blisters first, OK? Then I'll think about it.
I'll have to work on him, because I'd like one,
and then maybe one each for my children and then I'm sure my mum and dad would like one.
Then there's my in-laws so that's another two.
I've got some friends who are looking for some new chairs, so, let's say, another six...
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Long-running series in which members of the public bring along their antiques for examination and valuation by experts.
Fiona Bruce and the team are in County Durham for a visit to The Bowes Museum. Objects under scrutiny include a silver box given in thanks when troops liberated the Netherlands in World War Two, some of the most valuable chairs seen on the show, and a bust reputed to be cursed.