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We love finding new venues for the Antiques Roadshow
and this location is very rarely open to visitors.
This imposing Victorian exterior hides a bit of a surprise inside.
For today's Antiques Roadshow,
I'm in the newsroom of BBC Monitoring
at Caversham Park near Reading.
And this section of the BBC is not widely known about, but I'm hugely
excited to be here, because it plays a vital role in our news broadcasts.
The people working here feed information in to me
and all of our news teams to tell us what is happening at any one time,
anywhere in the world.
Many different languages are spoken in this newsroom
and these journalists are watching
more than 2,000 individual media sources.
Over the past 70 years,
they've often been the first to break the news
of world changing events.
BBC Monitoring was set up in August 1939
as war threatened the nation and one of its aims
was to listen in to what countries were broadcasting to
their citizens on the radio, translate it, analyse it,
and highlight to the government any propaganda or spin.
Winston Churchill understood the impact of media
and was an avid customer of BBC Monitoring.
He'd phone up in the night for the latest news and ask of Hitler,
"What's that fellow been saying?"
Even after the war, the organisation continued to have a front row seat
at global events.
This included providing the translation of a radio broadcast
by Nikita Khrushchev in 1962,
announcing the withdrawal of Soviet vessels
carrying nuclear missiles to Cuba.
This ended the Cuban Missile Crisis
when it was rushed to the White House and more recently,
BBC Monitoring broke to British audiences the capture
of Saddam Hussein in 2003.
For many local people, this is the first time they've had a chance to
visit the site, so we are delighted to welcome the people of Berkshire
here to meet our experts.
I'm pretty sure they'll have a few revelations of their own to pass on.
As a boy, I was a mad keen model maker
and you've no idea the emotions and memories evoked by looking
at these lovely models that you've brought along,
which date back to about 1800, 1810.
The Napoleonic Wars.
And have you had them in your family since then?
I inherited... Well, Dad inherited them and they've been passed down
through the family.
He is the latest generation to have it.
But my uncles bought them in 1945 in an antiques shop
in Newington Road, Edinburgh. They were not models to play with.
-Oh, no. For sure.
So, I mean, I looked upon these as the prize models,
whereas I had other sort of cardboard ones which I played with.
That's how I would have seen them.
I would have seen this model-making as something to aspire to...
-..when I was 14.
-As you may or may not know, they are made by prisoners of war...
-..from the Napoleonic Wars.
The prisoners were interned in places like Peterborough
and in hulk ships, which dotted the coasts of England
at the time of the Napoleonic Wars.
And do you know what they're made of?
We think they are made of whalebone...
-They're probably made of mutton bone.
-They were scraps that the
prisoners could beg, borrow, steal...
and there was an industry in those prison camps of model-making.
Because I suppose the wardens and the guards
thought that people that were occupied were less trouble.
And as they're ships,
it's probable that the model makers in this case were sailors.
And they were making sort of generic models of ships that they'd been on.
This one, of course, is a lovely ship, but this one is the gem.
I mean, it's fantastic.
The metal for the guns were probably again begged, borrowed, stolen.
You've got wonderful detail here, you've got a beautiful figurehead.
I mean, they are fantastic and they are very collectable.
-The lesser one, that one,
would make £3,000, £4,000, £5,000...
-..in one of those auctions.
And this one...
£7,000, £8,000, £9,000.
With a little restoration maybe even ten.
-They are period, they are Napoleonic,
they are prisoner of war, they are fantastic.
-I'm a dog lover, I have two Jack Russells
and I absolutely adore them, but to call this beautiful-looking
canine creature a dog would be wrong,
in fact, because it's a hound.
But I want you to tell me a little bit
about this great looking sculpture,
obviously, sizeable sculpture as well, which is actually cast-iron.
Where did it come from?
It's been in my husband's family for over 100 years.
They were the inventors and manufacturers of plasticine.
-And William Harbutt, who was the inventor,
used to travel all around the world showing it.
And he got this when he was travelling and he was near Holyrood
and they were doing a house sale.
He was told it was one of a pair,
although he only got the one and that they were a gift from Napoleon.
Oh, really? OK.
So, that sounds really interesting.
Well, an amazing claim to fame, for a start.
Crumbs, I wish I'd been able to tell all my childhood friends
that my family had invented plasticine.
That would be great.
I think you're absolutely right about it being one of a pair.
If we look at it and the way the hound is posed,
then certainly they were made to be opposed.
There would have been another one.
Interestingly enough, the reason I called it a hound is because it's a
And the other thing is that I think this is a French casting,
so it's a French hunting dog.
-A French hound.
What's also interesting about it is that it has a sheath,
a covering of copper.
We can see there are kind of flakes of it peeling off.
I think date wise, 19, late 19th century.
-So I have to be honest with you,
I'm a little bit sceptical about the Napoleon story.
-So the question is, who is it by?
I've looked all over it and I can't see a signature,
I can't see any initials.
But as far as I'm concerned, it follows a pair
of very interesting and well sculpted hounds
by a gentleman called Henri Jacquemart.
And this, actually, is a fairly reasonable copy of one of them.
Obviously, it's not quite of the quality of Jacquemart,
but it's still a very, very good thing.
And I'm sure it looks lovely in your hallway.
-I think if this were to come up for sale at auction,
-it would make £2,000 to £3,000.
Well, it's not going anywhere, it's part of the family.
It's obviously got a great family history with it.
-Plasticine connection is great.
Good job he's not made of plasticine,
because he still wouldn't be here, would he?
-Right, thank you very much.
-Do you know, when I first saw that brooch,
which is fashioned as a bird,
do you know what I first thought it was?
I thought it was a vulture.
-Because the way that the wings are configured
around the pearl in the middle looks a bit vulture-like,
but when I saw it I thought, "This can't be a vulture."
No-one would want to wear a vulture.
-And when you look at it carefully,
you see that it is, of course, a songbird.
What it is, it's a bird catching the worm.
-It's a novelty. Isn't it?
-Do you like it?
-I love it.
-Do you wear it?
Um... I'm not the type to wear brooches,
but if I had a little jacket,
I wouldn't say no to putting it on my lapel.
You touch upon a point at the moment,
brooches are not everyone's cup of tea.
And these sort of pieces, you've got to have the right outfit for it,
the right occasion to wear it, haven't you?
-Did you ever wonder what it was, what it was made of?
It was in my mum's jewellery box and as a kid,
I'd sort of have a rummage.
I've seen it's got a mark on the back.
So I presume it's some sort of gold.
-It is gold.
-I've mentioned to you that it's got a pearl in the middle.
Not a valuable pearl. It's a mother-of-pearl plaque...
-..that's been carved and mounted up in the frame of gold,
with these wings, which I was rather rude about,
-describing it as a vulture's wings. But you know what I mean.
-You can see.
-And the head is textured.
And there's a little eye, set with a ruby.
-And there's a little worm.
In other words, novelty.
-Novelty through and through.
-Now, in the middle part of the 1950s,
novelty brooches were all the rage.
You'd have all sorts of things like comical winking pussycats,
birds, robins with their, you know, nests with pearls forming the eggs.
-You know what I mean?
Jewellery then was made with this novelty factor in mind.
They were very, very popular. And they sold extremely well.
Now, you mentioned that there was a mark on the back, didn't you?
-If I turn it over, we can see there is the hallmark.
-It was hallmarked in London in 1954.
To supplement the ruby and the pearl,
we also have a diamond at the end of the branch.
So, we're not talking about a bit of costume jewellery.
It's gold, it's diamond, it's ruby, and it's pearl.
Now, you've also brought along the box.
-So, if I put it into the box, like that...
..we see that actually it fits perfectly into the box.
-It does, yeah.
-This is a box that was made for the brooch,
by Boucheron, one of the most highly-sought names
of jewellery design,
and these little bird brooches,
-they are red hot.
They're red hot. Would you like me to tell you what I think it's worth?
-£1,500 to £2,000.
Wow! Aw, that's lovely.
-So, you're 17...
-And you've brought me the oldest things I've seen today.
What got your passion?
Well, my dad kind of took me to Silchester
and basically just showed me how to look at the stuff,
identifying the objects,
and so that's really been my passion from there.
Always loved history.
It's just literally finding all the stuff on the surface
in rabbit holes, molehills, anything,
and it's quite fascinating how all this has been
brought up to the surface.
And what we're looking at here is the sophistication of the Romans.
I mean, you've got fabulous things here like...
There's painted plaster.
And what I love about it is just holding it.
You imagine this in a Roman villa.
What's your favourite piece?
Probably this painted piece of pottery.
I really like it because it's hand-painted by someone
and that person is unknown to us,
probably never been documented in history,
but this piece of pottery tells their story.
And I think that's the fascinating thing, it is for me, too,
that when you handle antiques, when you handle antiquities like this,
you're getting closer to these people that made these,
that lived with them,
and you actually feel their lifestyle in this...
In these pieces.
And you've got coins here, you've got brooches, you've got rings.
Whole little glimpses of Roman life.
Exactly. It just tells the story, piece by piece, basically.
Of course, in terms of value, it is a very difficult collection to sell.
You've got some lovely pieces, and I suppose if it came up for sale,
you might find two enthusiasts like yourself who'd go to maybe £100.
But what I think is so fascinating is your love of this,
your passion. Fabulous!
It was actually my grandmother's
and I remember it sitting in the front parlour.
When people had parlours!
It's a type of Chinese ware that was called sort of famille rose.
As a 19th-century one,
I think it is worth today probably about £300 or £400.
-If it were an 18th-century one...
..I think it would be upwards of half a million.
Oh, my goodness me!
-What a shame!
There's one recommendation I would like to make and that is,
have you ever thought of washing it?
-Hold on to this.
-To be honest with you,
I had it wrapped up so much that I didn't want to unwrap it...
-See what that is?
Well, don't... Anybody got any radish seeds?
Because we could actually grow stuff in here.
There's so much filth in here!
Can I ask how much you paid for this at auction?
We paid £40 for it.
So, basically, you are wanting to know whether this is worth £40...
Whether it's a genuine Meissen or whether it's a good copy.
-So is it £40, is it £44,000?
I'm glad you're sitting down.
Because if this spoke, it wouldn't be speaking German,
it would be speaking Chinese.
-It's almost brand-new.
-Made in China.
We all know how popular Tolkien is today,
as a result of his books and particularly the films
that have quite recently come out.
But he was extremely popular in his day as well.
-And is it your father...
-..who wrote to him as a fan?
So, my father would have been about 24 at the time,
and I know he was a fan of the Hobbit originally.
And he read the books as they came out.
And he wrote some letters to Tolkien in 1956,
after the last book was published,
to really ask some complex and nuanced questions.
But you can see from the responses that Tolkien's really
taken the time to answer and provide some background.
There's two letters. First letter is eight pages long.
And as you say, it goes into incredible detail
about what's behind the language, the history, the sort of wordage,
a lot of detail about the Lord of the Rings,
that I didn't know,
and, obviously, your father was interested in,
and a lot of those questions have been answered.
I mean, if we just go to the first letter.
So, "Dear Mr Britten."
He says, "Thank you very much for your letter, there was no need to apologise for it."
Obviously, some people are rather apologetic in bothering
a sort of famous person and taking up their time.
"It's a very handsome and pleasing compliment."
So he obviously enjoyed the letter.
"I shall have to be brief in reply," he says, rather ironically,
and then goes on to take up eight pages.
"Since I am in fact busy,
"but also because the success of the Lord of the Rings,
"having astonished them,
"my publishers are now anxious for me to put into publishable order
"the Silmarillion and other legends of the First and Second Ages."
So he's talking about the book.
He's an author, he's mentioning his books in the first paragraph.
And then, interestingly,
he goes almost straight into in-depth answers
to some of the questions that your father asked.
He goes on to quote on different pages in the Lord of the Rings,
where he mentions Gimli, he mentions Legolas, and so the letter goes on.
In the second letter,
he's advising about some of the books that your father might then
refer to if he wants to study it in even more depth.
These are really, really important letters.
Really important letters.
Let's go to the smaller one first.
With its original envelope, £3,000-£4,000.
The longer letter, eight pages of it, in huge detail,
I think you could be looking at £10,000.
£8,000-£12,000, let's say.
A little postcard,
you might be looking at somewhere between £500 and £1,000.
So, overall, I can easily see this lot,
if it came up for auction, making £10,000-£15,000.
It's a really, really fascinating and warm...
-..series of letters.
Coffer, blanket box, chest.
-What do you call it?
Because it's always had blankets in it.
As a child, it had blankets in it in our family house.
And then my mother remembers it with blankets in it.
She had to pass by it on the way to her bedroom,
because she had the attic bedroom with her sister.
And although it had blankets in it,
-she always thought it had a body in it.
And she and her sister,
because there was no lighting in the top part of the house,
she and her sister had to go past it in the dark
and they would run past it, singing songs,
frightened that the body might sort of come out of it
-and grab hold of them on their way to bed.
-How utterly terrifying!
Well, I love a piece of furniture with a date on it.
The question is, is it right?
Well, that's what I wanted to ask you,
because we don't know whether it's 1814, the date of the marquetry,
put onto an older box, or whether that's the date of the whole box.
So, I don't know! Perhaps you can tell me?
Well, you've got a very good instinct
because you're absolutely right.
-The coffer itself is of an earlier date.
Almost sort of quite provincially made,
quite sort of humble and, you know, made out of, really, chunks of oak.
And yet, the front of it is so much more refined, isn't it?
-It's quite a sort of juxtaposition.
And yet it hangs together quite well, doesn't it?
Well, we love it.
So, in fact, I think it's really three different dates.
-The coffer could be anything around
Quite difficult to date because it's a very traditional form
-that doesn't change much over the centuries.
I have no reason to feel that this marquetry inscription
and date is incorrect.
But what was it commemorating?
Was it the coming of age of Ellen Eggers?
Is it a marriage chest?
We don't know. So, in 1814, this was a sort of created...
The burning question, then, I suppose, is what's it worth?
Lovely. I mean, not that we are going to sell it, we never would.
It'll be in the family, I should think, for generations to come.
Please tell me you didn't steal this from the Queens Arms in Goring?
We ran the Queens Arms for nine and a half years during the 1990s.
It was one of 12 that were behind the bar
and the previous landlord sold them
when he knew he was going to retire from the business.
Two went to locals, who as far as I know still have them.
And the other ten he sold to a collector.
The collector decided to dispose of his collection
and seeing the Queens Arms and Goring on there,
he decided to offer it to us, being the tenants at the time, first.
I've got a receipt at home for £140.
-For the ten.
-So, £14 each.
-OK. You've obviously noticed this bit...
-It's a pint.
And do you know what this is?
That'll be an assay stamp.
I'm testing your publican's knowledge, you see.
It is. This is the excise office stamp to prove that it was a pint.
-But the ER is for Edward VII.
But any idea what 71 is?
That will be the number of the local office.
You obviously did your publican's exam.
So, the next question is, where is the local office for 71?
Ah, now, I don't know that.
Well, it's not in Goring, it's in Newcastle upon Tyne, where I'm from.
-So, it's the Geordie mug.
This is by CT Merlin & Sons,
who were the biggest pottery in Newcastle,
and one of the biggest potteries in the world.
-Imagine going to the pub now and being given one of these. You just wouldn't!
And I can imagine the 12 behind the bar,
the barman would probably know the names of everybody who drank from each one.
But the American collectors particularly love these,
and I would imagine if this ever came for sale,
-it would end up in an American collection.
You paid £14 apiece.
You've got ten of them.
They are worth, well, you can put a zero on the end of that.
-So they're worth £100 to £150 apiece.
-That's £1,500, isn't it?
-So we should be celebrating with a beer, shouldn't we?
-We should indeed!
Well, when you unpacked this today, I have to say,
my eyes just about popped out of my head when I saw it.
Much like the bulging eyes of this fish.
Tell me what you know about it before I go into a bit more detail.
We don't really know a lot of history about it,
other than originally it belonged to my grandparents.
My grandfather bought it, I'm not sure where, then he...
-When he died, it passed onto my father.
And now my sister and I have got it.
-We know it's got hallmarks on it and it's 19th century.
But we are interested to know what it was used for,
a vessel for what?
-Good point. It is a drinking vessel.
-But it's for serving drink.
-So it's actually a claret jug.
-Oh, really? OK.
So, you would fill it with red wine,
and you can imagine red wine inside that glass body
looking very, very good indeed.
-But you mentioned it's got marks on it.
-We'll have a look at these right now. They are on the front.
When I saw it, I was hoping these were the marks I was going to see.
-It's by a very important silversmith.
-He's called Alexander Crichton.
-And he specialised in exotic claret jugs like this.
And he did parakeets, we've seen, all sorts of strange animals.
This is a carp, as you probably know.
The eyes are made with glass.
The hallmarks, we'll just have a quick look at here, there it is,
Alexander Crichton, London hallmarked, 1882.
-So, again, that's bang on what we would expect.
He started in about the 1870s.
So it ties in just nicely.
The body is made of glass.
Probably by Thomas Webb,
who made glass scent bottles and other things.
-But it's just such an exotic-looking thing, isn't it?
What do you do with it, if you didn't know it's a drinking thing?
-Just an ornament?
-Well, my parents just had it sort of on a shelf,
a display cabinet.
And, you know, they used to have loads of parties
and we've got loads of photographs and in the background is this fish.
I would recommend that you try filling it with some claret
when you get home, see what it looks like.
I'm sure it'll look very good.
-My husband loves a drop of red wine.
-Well, there we go.
What could be better?
We've got to come to pricing it.
-They only appear very rarely on the market.
So we're talking a substantial amount of money.
What did you think, yourself?
We haven't really got any idea, have we?
Well, I can tell you that a parakeet example sold for about £8,000...
-This is slightly better.
So we're looking at a value of around about £10,000-£15,000.
It's got everything that you could possibly want.
It's time to present you with our enigma, an item selected from a
local museum, this time by our specialist, Adam Schoon.
And you're going to, as ever,
give this three versions of what it could be,
only one of which is correct.
It's certainly not obvious-looking at it, Adam.
-So give us your first definition, then.
Well, look, I'd better tell you, it's made of chrome coated brass.
It's very sleek, futuristic item.
And the first item it could be is a 1920s pilot's chamberpot.
Now, I know you're taken aback by that.
Well, I'm slightly disgusted!
Well, wash your hands afterwards!
But if we just flick the lid...
..if you were obviously on a long flight, and you needed to...
There's nothing in there, I can tell you now.
You did your stuff and of course, a good, tight finish.
And someone thought, I know, I'll have my chamberpot mounted?
Yeah, I know, it appears trophy-like.
-So now that's got you slightly baffled, I can tell.
-I'm wondering if it's actually watertight.
Anyway, the mind boggles.
-OK. So, a pilot's chamberpot.
The second potential is as a 1920s prototype Bentley ashtray.
If for example, Fiona, you were going on a lovely tour to Monaco,
-in your convertible Bentley...
-I love the sound of that already!
You didn't want all the as obviously blowing in your face
in your fabulous convertible, this is just what you needed.
Clipped to the dashboard, easily emptied.
But obviously, an anti-wind device.
OK, let's have the last suggestion, then.
Well, the last is very much relevant to where we are today.
This is one of the first BBC sports championship trophies.
Awarded, believe it or not, here at Reading Golf Club in 1919.
To the first winner, whose name actually used to appear on a plaque
on the back of the pedestal base.
Right, what do we think, folks?
-So, pilot's... AUDIENCE:
Not big enough for a wee?
I'm so taken with that, I've forgotten... What was the second one?
-The second one...
-Oh, the Bentley.
-The Bentley prototype ashtray...
-..to stop the wind.
-Yeah, I'm going with that.
The only thing I wonder,
it doesn't show any sign of where it was attached.
-And if it was attached, surely there'd be...
You can see there's some denting and plenty of wear and tear.
-It's a piece that seems...
-Well, only there.
OK. Or a golf trophy.
-Folks? Golf trophy?
-Why would it have a lid?
Why would it have a lid? It's not containing the ashes, after all.
The golf trophy? We don't care about the golf trophy.
We're not buying that, Adam.
So we are down to the pilot's caught short
contraption, or a Bentley ashtray.
-The choice is yours.
The pilot's contraption?
-The Bentley? AUDIENCE MORE LOUDLY:
More are people going for the Bentley. OK.
That's what the majority are going with.
I'm listening to the voice of the people.
The Bentley ashtray.
Well, it is actually...
The pilot's chamberpot!
GROANING AND CHEERING
And there was a whisper by someone in the crowd of a tube
that would have gone to the external part of the aircraft.
And so, yeah, you just did your stuff, you know, needs must,
and we were lent this very kindly by the Museum of Berkshire Aviation.
So, you can go there
and actually behold this rare object for yourself.
But 1920s, it is.
I'm told it comes from a pioneer aircraft,
so we know where it's come from and obviously the job it did.
So, yeah, caught you out.
Sometimes, the best things come in small packages.
My goodness, is this a good thing!
You showed this to me.
I opened it up and I saw Shakespeare, comedies and tragedies,
in what is almost certainly a 17th-century hand.
What can you tell me about this?
My five times great-grandfather was John Loveday of Caversham,
and lived at Caversham Court.
And he was an antiquarian and traveller
and he amassed a library of 2,500 volumes.
And I suspect that this probably came down through the family from him.
But I don't know.
It just appeared with my mother's belongings.
And she had a lot of books, and there it was.
And I'd never seen it before.
Flicking through this, this is a 17th-century hand,
this is somebody making notes in the same century as Shakespeare.
Anything really from the same century as him
about him, is of huge interest.
And he's copying out quotes from various Shakespeare plays.
This is... This is incredible.
I mean, there is so much scholarship going on at the moment
about how early readers of Shakespeare were receiving his works
and what their reactions were, what they were focusing on.
And here we have somebody
who was reading Shakespeare and making notes.
-In this incredibly tiny hand.
-I can't read it.
You can't read it?
-I wish I could!
It's almost completely illegible, but you can pick out the odd word.
And you can pick out phrases that appear in Shakespeare.
There's a little quote here from Twelfth Night.
Where he says, where is it?
"The melancholy god protects thee,
"and make thy doublet of changeable taffeta.
And this is a quote from Twelfth Night.
It's an extraordinary little object.
The binding is amazing.
It's made of an old piece of music.
There's this curious seal. I mean, what do you make of this?
Well, it's got Waterhouse,
but I don't know anything about Waterhouse,
or where he comes in, or why it should have been sealed anyway?
At the end of the volume, there are these notes in Latin,
sort of scientific scholarly notes, maybe they were lecture notes,
maybe this person was a student.
There is so much research that can be done on this item.
It is absolutely extraordinary.
My hands are trembling now.
Just looking at it!
Now, the size is marvellous as well.
It's such a perfect little jewel.
-And I think it was probably carried around in a pocket.
I think that this was his notebook...
It would have been his bedtime reading.
It could indeed. By candlelight.
Although he probably went blind, I think!
The value to scholarship is enormous.
When the value to scholarship is this great,
the commercial value also has to be great.
Interest has never been greater.
I think at auction you can see this making easily upwards of £30,000.
Really? For such a small item.
The best things come in small packages.
A pair of miniature boots, very similar, although much smaller,
to a pair that I used to have way back in the 1950s.
And I remember having to nail in the studs myself when they got worn out.
But also, interesting enough, they are actually signed, M Busby.
Matt Busby gave them to me in May of 1958.
He was a great friend of my grandfather's.
And he told me that these came after the 1958 plane
that crashed at Munich.
And they were in his personal luggage.
And that's how I came to get them.
So, a tragic accident for Manchester United,
they were coming back from European engagement in Belgrade...
-That's right. Yes.
-And at Munich Airport, it was snowing,
-they tried to take off twice and couldn't.
Third time, they just never actually took off.
-And I think up to 22, 23 people...
-23 people died.
-Including eight members of the first team.
-That's right, yes.
My grandfather was invited to go on that trip
but because of his age he was scared of flying,
so he decided not to go.
And he was absolutely devastated afterwards.
Because Matt Busby had been a friend of his since 1928.
He had a business in Manchester with contacts all over,
and he had a phone call one day from a Doctor Anderson in Scotland,
who said, "I have a fine young footballer,
"you are something to do with one of the Manchester clubs,
"I'm going to put him on a train,
"can you find him digs and take him to the club,"
and he met an 18-year-old Matt Busby off the train at Manchester.
And that's how the friendship developed.
And that's how history started,
because he ended up by making Manchester United
arguably the most well-known and richest
and probably the best team in the world.
And as a family, we got to know them very well.
On this occasion, when he gave me those, we went to see him,
he was still on crutches.
He was still injured a few months after Munich.
I used to write to him and he'd sent me things like players' autographs,
which was very good of him.
So, this one is a letter to you.
"Dear Mark, from Uncle Matt," he wasn't your uncle, but obviously...
How old were you then in '62?
And he'd got all the first team to sign.
-That's pretty incredible.
-He found the great George Best.
-Bobby Charlton played there. I mean, what a fantastic team.
First of all, thank you so much for bringing them along
because it's great to see things you've never seen before.
It's a wonderful story.
And then we have to think about value.
Well, I think if we look at it all together, the signatures,
the photograph, and the boots together,
you've got to be talking about between £5,000 and £8,000,
without a doubt.
They aren't going anywhere.
I'm a United fan. They'll stay with me.
Do you know what these are?
-Well, I know they're cloisonne.
And I know that they're quite old but I don't know how old,
and I think it's Chinese cloisonne,
-not Japanese cloisonne.
What do you think you mean by the word cloisonne?
Well, I do know what it is.
It's a brass core on which little brass wires are soldered on,
-very intricate work, and they're called cloisons.
And they fill them up, I think, with groundglass and then fire it...
-..and then it's all rubbed down very smooth
to make this beautiful, beautiful finish.
You've been listening to me on the Roadshow!
No, my father told me what they were.
Absolutely brilliant. Yeah.
I mean, you couldn't... You got it perfectly.
We've got here a bun-form box and cover
and a cylindrical box and cover.
Similar in style, similar in palate, colouring,
-but not meant to go together.
Where did you get them from?
Well, my father was in the Royal Flying Corps
and was a bit shot about because of the aeroplanes
dropping out of the sky and was told by the
doctors to go somewhere very quiet, so he went to Cornwall.
And eventually he built a house, before he was married,
and he must have furnished it, I think,
from country house sales and I think that's maybe where it came from.
-When was this, year wise?
-Mid-20s, I would have thought.
Interesting. What's going on here?
What is the decorative motif that we've got on this particular object?
Well, I would say that these are bees...
-Bees. Are they bees?
OK, bees. Yeah, go on.
And there's... There's a Chinese insignia in the middle.
-The rest is a floral motif on the blue ground...
..bordered pattern and blue inside.
And we have these, what we call, false gadroons on the edge.
I have to do is pick you up on your entomology, I'm afraid.
-They're not bees.
They're very badly designed lotuses.
-I mean, you couldn't be further apart...
-That is what they are.
And your symbol is a very stylised seal form
of the word shu, which means happiness.
The Chinese have a saying, there are a thousand ways
of writing shu.
I think we're looking at something around the 1920s, 1930s.
Possibly a bit earlier, turn-of-the-century,
-1895, 1900, somewhere around there.
So, where are we in price?
Difficult, but the Chinese are now buying very strongly good-quality
objects, even if they're not terribly old.
-Both singles or pairs, we have?
-This one is one of a pair.
-That's one of a pair.
Right, OK. And that's a single.
-And that's a single.
A pair of those would make £2,000-3,000.
And that one would probably make 1,500 to 2,500 on its own.
-I think they're a great...
-I think they're great.
Well, you've got something here that a lot of teenage girls in the 1970s
would have given their eye teeth for.
-But a letter from David Bowie.
But I understand you didn't really appreciate it at the time.
No, I was a huge fan of David Cassidy
and was quite surprised when this arrived through the post for me.
So, I'll just read a little bit out of it here.
It says, "Hi, Ruth..." which is you, obviously.
"I've been told ya really dig the pop scene by
"a great friend of mine.
"He also told me your mum's in hospital
"and might want a little bit of cheering up."
Who is this person that got David Bowie
to write the letter to you?
It mentions John in there and John was actually my neighbour,
he lived next door but one to where my parents lived,
and this letter just appeared in the post one day
and when I saw his name mentioned,
I just thought, "I'll go and see if he's there,"
which it does say he was at his parents' house the time,
and I took it round to the house and John answered the door and I said,
"I've got this through the post, is it really off him?"
And John said, "Yeah, I've been working with him in London."
So he, sort of, verified it for me that it was.
Well, I think it kind of really shows the generosity of David...
The spirit that David Bowie had and the affection
that he had for his fans,
-and I think that's something he was very well known for.
And this is a very personal letter.
You know, it goes on to say that, you know,
his new album, Pin Ups, is coming out,
so that would have been sort of 1974.
And, you know, if you'd like one, he'll send you one.
And then he, sort of, signs off, "Lots o' luck, love-on ya!"
I love the way he uses, kind of,
all those, sort of, 1970s references.
You know, he was at the absolute height of his fame then.
So, you know, it was really something for him
to have taken the time to actually have written
this personal letter to you.
Obviously, there are a lot of fanclub letters and things
from David Bowie and they are typed and perhaps signed by him.
But this, because it's so personal, it's in his own hand,
which as we see, he had terrible writing...
Well, I think this is a fantastic, very personal letter and obviously
there's a great deal of interest in any Bowie memorabilia,
particularly since his death, and I would...
My personal feeling is that if it were to come up for sale
you're probably looking in the region of £800-1,200 on it.
Have you got a story about your brush with celebrity?
Previously on the Antiques Roadshow
we've featured memorable tales like The Day I Met The Beatles.
And here we've got photographs of Paul McCartney
in your family house and what was he playing?
Well, amongst other things, Hey Jude.
We've seen lavish gifts given by stars of the silver screen.
Well, my father was in the film business.
He was a director of photography.
And this is a watch that was given to him by Sophia Loren.
'And we're on the lookout for stories
'about television programmes, too.'
My mother was a puppeteer, who worked for the BBC in the 1950s.
She did Andy Pandy, she did Bill and Ben, the Flowerpot Men,
Woodentops. That was her life.
'We're planning a special edition, showcasing stories from stage,'
screen and the music world.
'If you've got an object that tells of your moment of fame,'
we'd love to hear from you.
E-mail us at...
In the rapidly changing world that we live in,
I think it's really important that we don't forget our history and
this ring really does evoke a part of history that is just incredible.
When I picked this up, this ring,
you can feel the weight of it and it's pure gold.
The reason why it's pure gold is because
it is from the Californian Gold Rush of 1848,
when there were about 100,000 miners in there.
It was a real rush.
And we've got here this wonderful picture
which was sent with this ring to your...
My grandmother's family.
It arrived in a little silk purse.
-In this pouch, it arrived?
-In the pouch, yes.
Through the post - the ring and the letter.
And that's all we really know about it.
So, he went to find his riches, did he?
-On the back of this, we have the letter,
half the letter unfortunately, the other half was lost,
-but the letter of what he wrote...
-..and you have transcribed it...
..and I would love you to read it.
I'm going to turn it around so we can see it
but you're going to read to us what it says.
"My dear mother, when you write, tell me if Mathers Rothschild
"has a bank or agent in Coventry,
"for I want to remit you some money
"and I would like to allow you ten shillings a week for your life.
"We have some idea of returning to Coventry.
"We intend leaving California next April.
"Tell me all about my sisters and brothers.
"My daughters are very handsome.
"They are invited to the first balls and parties.
"The view above is where they first found gold.
"This is a wonderful country.
"Some men make great fortunes and some can barely live.
"Some rich today and beggars tomorrow."
Gosh! I mean, that just gives me goose bumps.
You know, to think that...
I mean, how I imagine it is...
Actually, one of my favourite all-time films is Paint Your Wagon
with Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood -
singing, you know, I Was Born Under a Wand'rin' Star.
And you can just imagine that your ancestors...
-It was very similar...
-..how it was.
They'd have gone on some sort of a wagon train to get there and...
Incredibly intrepid and they came from Coventry originally?
And the fact that he mentions that he wants to pay his mother
ten shillings a week for the rest of her life, I mean,
what does that equate to?
It must be... Well, a maid earnt about £7 a year.
-Gosh. And this equated to £25 a year.
So, that must have been an incredible, incredible gift...
-..to their mother.
I've never seen something like this before on the Antiques Roadshow
or anywhere else.
And for me to feel that this came from the goldfields
of California in 1848 is just incredible!
I mean, of course, the value...
It isn't about the value,
it's about the social history that it represents.
But in auction, it would be in around about £400.
But it might be more to, you know, someone who really
wants to collect this part of history.
It's a very important part of our history.
-So, thank you very much.
A beautiful Simon and Halbig doll of around 1880.
-But she swims, doesn't she?
-She does. Yes.
She was my mother's.
-My mother was born in 1903.
-So she must have had it a few years after that.
But she's made of cork, which is obviously why she floats.
We were allowed to have her in the bath occasionally but not freely
because she is rather special.
So even though, obviously as young children,
she was still relatively old in many respects
and quite precious to your mother,
she did allow you to use her at bath time occasionally.
-Isn't that incredible.
-Does she have a name?
-Belinda. What a lovely name!
-I don't know why.
But, anyway, she is Belinda.
-Shall we wind her up and see what happens?
-She has the most amazing swimming action, doesn't she?
-Yes, she does.
-And it really does work.
She's actually quite a collectable thing.
And I think that if you put her into auction,
there's every chance you would make around about £400-£600.
-You're not going to sell her, are you?
-She's going to my granddaughter.
But I suspect you're not going to let your granddaughter
-put her in the bath.
-Certainly not, no!
So, this is quite an understated piece
you've brought us in to look at today.
How did you come by it?
It's been in my family for over 100 years.
So, my great-great-uncle was in the navy
and he was sent to China in 1899
to help the British forces when the Boxer Revolution
was started in China.
So, he was there through the Boxer Uprising...
-He was, yeah.
-..in 1899 to 1901.
Which was a, sort of, quite a violent anti-foreign uprising...
-..which happened in China.
So he would have been part of the British, the coalition troops...
The coalition troops that were sent there. That's right.
..that were sent there. What do you know about it?
Not very much. I know it's a Dragon robe.
-I believe that that's what it's called.
-That's all you know.
-It's a five-clawed dragon.
Well, let's open this up so we can get the full splendour
of this wonderful thing. If we open up these arms here...
And the first thing that, you know, you're struck by
is just that the colours and the quality of the embroidery
that's gone into this and indeed the work that's gone into it.
This took somebody a great deal of time, care and passion
to produce this.
And you are absolutely right it is a dragon robe.
It would have been made in the late Qing Dynasty,
so towards the end of the 19th century.
In fact, when your great-great-uncle was there in 1899,
and it's fairly obvious that's when he picked it up.
The thing that strikes you straightaway
is this wonderful dragon in the centre here,
this ferocious dragon and he's got, as you say, these five claws.
And then you've got other wonderful things,
like you've got the, you know, the storks there,
and you've got these lovely flaming pearls.
-You've got bats...
-..you've got the clouds.
And then you come down to the base here
and you've got this wonderful, what they call, sort of,
lishu apron there, just, sort of, tipped with these wonderful,
sort of, crashing waves
around the top and these happiness symbols there also.
I'll be honest, when you first took it out at the table,
I thought it was going to be one that was made a little bit later
than the date would suggest.
But actually the more time I've spent with this,
the more confidence that it's given me.
Where's it stored?
It's stored in a suitcase in my dad's loft.
-That might suggest...
-In the dark!
That might suggest why it survived in such great condition.
Look, it's a wonderful piece. It probably deserves to be out.
Maybe you could start wearing it out -
a dressing gown or something like that.
But as I said earlier, it might be too understated for you.
It's a lovely thing.
If it came up for auction, I think it probably would bring
somewhere around £1,000-1,500.
Lovely. Yeah, that's really nice. Really good.
When I come to the Antiques Roadshow,
you see all manner of things from period and antique and exquisite.
But then you look at things that are just
so beautifully elegant and perfect.
So perfect that they look as if they could have been made yesterday.
-But, tell me, how do you come to be the owner
of these two beautiful silver flower baskets?
Well, there was a lady living opposite us in Barnet
in Hertfordshire and she became a great friend,
became part of our family.
And when she died, bless her heart, she left them to me and Bob
and several other bits and pieces.
Do you know who they're by?
I can't remember the name,
but I know that her father...
I mean, she was 93 when she died.
When her father came back from the war,
he brought these back for his wife, her mother.
What you are looking at, for me, is a real heart-stop moment.
-They are by, for me, one of the greatest designers
of the 20th century, a gentleman called Joseph Hoffmann.
Joseph Hoffmann was predominantly an architect but actually,
-beyond that, he was all-encompassing as a designer.
He had a vision that the home he would build,
the building he would create,
would also be populated by the objects he designed -
-whether it was a chair, a door handle...
..a flower basket, whatever.
And it's that refinement, that exquisiteness of design...
-He was part of the Vienna Secessionist movement.
-And in 1903, he established the Wiener Werkstaette
which was an organisation to work between artist, designer,
truth to materials.
But also a key date just before that was in 1900 -
he met the great Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
And many people have the debate of who influenced whom.
This specific design, a beautiful little flower basket,
was created in painted metal, silver plate,
-And yours are solid silver.
And if we just look underneath to the base,
we have a lovely series of marks here,
which is the Wiener Werkstaette mark.
-We also have Joseph Hoffmann's marks
and we also have a little marking the centre,
-which is the Wiener Werkstaette rose.
We've got to talk price.
Go on, then.
You're not serious?
-No, I'm not, because it's £8,000 each.
Are you serious?
I don't joke about things like this, you know.
They are spectacular.
Well, my eyes were out on stalks and indeed my heart
had palpitations when I saw the visual feast
within these amazing volumes of Indian watercolours.
Where did you get these from?
Well, they were in the collection of my great-grandfather,
Major-General Henry George White.
After he was commissioned into the Royal Scots in 1854,
he went to the Crimean War first of all.
After that, he was involved in the Indian Mutiny,
just for a couple of months,
so I don't think he acquired the books then.
But after that, in 1866 to 1870, he was stationed in the north-west
part of India and that's where I think
he acquired these books.
And what an illustrious career.
Now, just to go to the front of this volume,
we have the book plate of the very gentleman, your great-grandfather,
Henry George White, Major-General. There's his armorial.
He may have acquired them in the north of India but I think
these were done in the south of India.
-..in Tanjore and that really is almost
on the southern tip of India itself and there was schools of painters
who following a certain western style of art,
started to do these figurative studies.
The pictures themselves,
which are done in gouache on fairly thick card,
were done in around 1810.
But as I, sort of, flick the pages,
and I have selected a few rather special ones,
you get an ascetic couple with some sort of cat skin
over his shoulders, and they're smoking a very unusual form of pipe.
So there's great detail in the sky.
There's the wonderful perspective.
There's just so many. I mean, there's all sorts of trades.
Like, there's some of goldsmiths operating some sort of trade.
But I mean, there's two volumes and I think there's 49 altogether.
-Is that right?
-That's what we counted, yes.
Again, with the book plate.
Some of them are just awash with gold leaf.
I mean, this is one of my favourite images of this absolutely beautiful
Indian dancer with two musicians.
And even the drum that this particular musician holds
is covered in gold leaf and little flower heads.
But they're an amazing condition. I mean, where have they been?
Well, they were certainly packed away for a long time
and I think they remained in packing cases right the way through
my grandfather's, and in fact my father's, lifetime,
because my father spent almost his entire life abroad.
So I think... I deduce from that that they spent 74 years in packing
cases and it was only in 1988 that we pulled them out of the case...
Well, my wife pulled them out, and said, "Wow!"
And what about valuation?
I mean, that's what you brought them here for.
Have you ever, sort of, thought it through
or done any sort of research?
I'm afraid I have absolutely no idea at all.
Well, I think if I was to put these in auction and, let's face it,
the condition's good, they're quite large plates,
so my auction estimate would be between £50-80,000.
Oh, good Lord!
Well, I said I'd buy the grandchildren an ice cream
if they were more than £100!
More than £100?!
I think they had a dead cert there.
Well, that's quite amazing.
Well, thank you very much for all your expertise.
And as we prepare to pack up from our busy day,
our visit here has also proved our chance to say farewell to
BBC Caversham, as since this programme was recorded,
it's been announced that the monitoring service here
will be relocated to London.
Our day here at Caversham is drawing to a close but before we go,
I want to share something with you that I've learnt today.
BBC Caversham stores all BBC artist contracts
from about the 1920s until about 2006.
So some of mine will be in there, which is a bit of a shock to me.
But also, I found this one in the archive,
which I thought you'd like to see.
It is all the contracts for Julie Andrews
when she was employed by the BBC
and the first item in her file is when she was nine and a half.
She came along to the BBC and two producers wrote to each other
about her and this letter says,
"She is very charming and well-behaved
"and has no idea, fortunately, how good she is.
"Her breath control, diction and range is quite extraordinary
"for so young a child.
"And I imagine in the States she would be a top-liner."
And of such thing, legends are made. Julie Andrews. What about that?
From here at Caversham and the whole Roadshow team, bye-bye.