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Antiques - what do we really know about them,
apart from being beautiful to look at,
exquisitely made and often hugely valuable?
It looks like a sort of encrustation of brilliance
to wear on your finger.
But why were they made in the first place and who were they made for?
Jet was this mysterious material.
It's actually a form of fossilised wood.
Whether from a mediaeval castle or an auction house...
In the room now at 340...
..antiques unlock a fascinating history
of the way we lived, then and now.
I'm now a liberated, voting, emancipated woman.
I'm historian Dr Lucy Worsley
and I'm going to uncover the stories
behind some of these remarkable objects.
'I'm antiques expert Mark Hill
'and I'll be looking at why some items have become priceless
'while others are the collectibles of tomorrow.
'Along the way we'll meet the people who preserved them.
'The highly-skilled craftspeople who still make them...'
So 34% of your diamond - poof! Gone!
Yes. To get to the finished product.
'..and the passionate people who collect them.'
The artists used to chop up hair and mix it with the paint.
That's quite incredible.
'We're going to put antiques in their historical and social context.
'This time we're looking at objects associated with ceremonies,
'from private ones like weddings and funerals,
'to the public events of royal coronations
'and the Olympic Games.'
We've come to Hever Castle in Kent.
It dates from the 13th century
and was later the childhood home of Anne Boleyn.
Now, castles like this aren't just for defending yourself,
they're also for hosting big ceremonial occasions
like jousting tournaments.
Yes, and we still hold enormous ceremonies
to celebrate public events today.
I'm thinking of coronations or, most notably, the Olympic Games.
I suppose this applies to our private lives too, doesn't it?
We get these rituals of passage at births, deaths and marriages,
and they're all marked by ceremonies.
And the most popular ceremony is still marriage,
although I'm not quite sure poor old Anne Boleyn would agree.
Their marriage may not have ended well,
but when Henry VIII was courting Anne Boleyn,
he made frequent visits to Hever Castle and lavished her
with gifts of jewellery.
And antique jewels, obviously, are now highly sought after.
SJ Phillips is an antique jewellery dealer on Bond Street in London.
Trading since 1869,
it is still run by the original owner's great-grandsons.
Whoa! Jewels, very nice!
The rings they have on sale tell a fascinating story
of how the jewellery associated with love and marriage has changed over time.
In many ways, the circle or the ring, represents love without end.
Obviously there are no ends in a circle and it's portable,
visible and can be personalised,
so it's really not surprising that the ring has been
at the core of marriage for centuries.
This one's brilliant because it has a secret surprise hidden inside.
It's got a little poem. It says,
"Hearts content cannot repent."
It's known as a poesy ring, poesy being a word then for poetry.
So this is a 17th century gold ring
and a gentleman would give this to a lady
as a little token of his affections.
The tradition of wearing a wedding ring on the fourth finger
goes back thousands of years.
There was a Roman medical idea
that there was a vein that ran all the way from that finger
to the heart and I'm brandishing my right hand
because that was more significant.
Then people realised it was impractical to have your ring
on the hand that you're going to use, so you move it to the left.
-Have you seen these before?
-This is a brilliant little thing, isn't it?
-It's a pair of hands
which makes it a fede ring.
-Mani in fede.
Hands in trust.
Hands in trust and the two hands clasp each other
and can be unclasped if you slide the two parts of the ring apart.
Isn't that brilliant?
This is actually an early 19th century one.
It's a long tradition of ring design that the two hands clasped together.
But the modern engagement would seem incomplete to most of us
unless accompanied by a diamond.
This is my favourite so far. I do like this one.
It's from the 17th century, which is my favourite century.
And it's got a sort of...
Oh, it's just so luxurious.
It's like an encrustation of brilliance to wear on your finger, don't you think?
I do rather, and of course
diamonds extend that entire sort of love enduring.
They're a solid, hard, durable rock
and one that's been associated with royalty and nobility for centuries.
Well, the word's adamantine. It means in Latin invincible,
indomitable, goes on forever.
So that's the symbolism of diamonds as a gem, I suppose.
If you like that one, what do you think of this rather brash little number?
I like that one too. Yes, yes, I'll have that.
1920s, 1930s, good Art Deco period piece.
I can imagine wearing that on a liner crossing the Atlantic,
sipping a cocktail in the bar!
So, if you're a nervous young man coming into this shop,
what are the different prices?
Our 17th century poesy ring is worth about £3,000.
Our early 19th century fede ring...
-The secret double ring with the hands.
That's worth between £3,000-£5,000.
We're ramping up the prices
with our beautiful 17th century rose cut diamond ring,
which is worth around £70,000.
But I would have to sell my apartment to buy this.
£180,000. You have good taste.
It is amazing, that one. I love it.
Hatton Garden in London
has been the centre of England's diamond industry since the mediaeval period.
There are still some expert diamond cutters
who use traditional methods that have changed little in hundreds of years.
Come on down. I'll show you where it all takes place.
'Gary's family have been cutting diamonds since 1890.'
This is the centre of operations.
This is our little cubbyhole where we hide out from the world.
And we've just got a stone here which...
A stone? That's enormous!
It's 36 carat. Just bought that in South Africa about three weeks ago.
-That's absolutely huge. It's got a yellow tinge to it.
It's unusually yellow.
It's what they call a fancy yellow or a fancy intense yellow diamond.
'The job of the diamond cutter,
'is to get the highest yield from the rough rock.
'To help him do this, he uses a 3D scanner to build a digital model.'
And there it is.
'Most rocks are cut in half to make two diamonds,
'and the vital decision of where to place this cut
'is still down to human expertise.'
See, what I can do here now,
is I can actually place a line on the stone
where we think we're going to saw the stone into two.
'Once the design of the two diamonds has been chosen,
'the computer then fits both parts inside the rock.'
Oh, my goodness! I see.
-But they're so small.
-It's not small.
But there's so much... Perhaps I should rephrase that.
There's so much wastage on the outside, by the looks of it,
because they're hiding right inside it.
-I've got to tell you, that, actually, is a phenomenal yield by our standards.
Normally we get wastage of over 50%.
-But this stone is going to give us a yield of...
66%, which is exceptionally high.
So what happens to all this excess material?
Is that just cut away and used for smaller, tiny diamonds?
No, no, that is just ground away. That goes into the air.
-So 34% of your diamond - poof! Gone!
-Yes. To get to the finished product.
'The rough diamond is clasped inside the cutting machine,
'which uses a paper-thin metal disc to slice through the rock.
'It can take days or even weeks, to cut through a diamond,
'as too much pressure could cause it to shatter.'
What do you use to cut it? It looks like it's a sort of steel or iron.
-That's a very, very thin phosphor bronze disc.
Why phosphor bronze? Because it's absorbent on the end.
-And what do you need to absorb into it?
-Diamonds. Diamond powder.
-The only thing that can cut a diamond is a diamond.
-The hardest material known to us.
A small amount of diamond paste mixed with a little oil,
that's placed on this little bit of leather
and we just place it on the roller.
And then we just put this onto the tip of the phosphor bronze disc.
And you see it just spinning round.
It's just taking the diamond powder off there.
And that will carry on slicing through the stone.
The most skilled part of diamond cutting is known as polishing,
and uses a machine that was first invented in Germany during the 15th century.
This scaife has a spinning abrasive turntable
which gives the diamond its final sparkle.
And, again, we put diamond powder inside this plate.
So basically you have a plate of diamond,
with the diamond which we're polishing being lowered onto it.
So this is where the diamond becomes a diamond that we would recognise,
-bought from a jewellers, or set into a ring.
This is the final process where we break the facets down.
So the facet is the flat plane that's cut at an angle
all the way round the diamond?
Yes, to get the full refraction on the diamond.
The majority are cut into a design known as brilliant diamonds,
which have 58 facets.
The skill of polishing is to get the angles of the different facets perfectly aligned.
-There's still an enormous amount of experience.
We've been doing it for over 40 years each,
so you get to see and know an awful lot by your own...
Even just by looking, you can tell things are wrong or right.
-Yeah, over 40 years. Gary and I started this together.
But I'm still down the bottom and he's still at the top.
-We'll meet in the middle one of these days.
-Oh, I don't think so.
So you can see, this has got all the full 58 facets on it.
It really is stunning, isn't it?
What factors do you use to appraise a diamond?
We use the four C's - colour, cut, clarity and carat weight,
which determine the value of the stone.
So the carat term, which you see in jewellers across the land, that's actually the weight.
That's the weight, yes.
A carat was actually taken from a carob bean.
They're fairly uniform weight, so in the bush in Africa
when they were valuing diamonds in the old days,
they'd be weighed against one of those.
-That's how the word carat came about.
-From carob beans?
-From carob beans.
70% of engagement rings sold today now contain a diamond,
thanks partly to a highly successful diamond marketing campaign
in the 1930s.
But the ring isn't the only part of the marriage ceremony that's changed over time.
The custom of having a special dress just for your wedding
is also relatively new.
It wasn't until the 19th century
that wealthy brides started to choose light-coloured dresses to be worn only once, on the wedding day.
It was when Queen Victoria wore white
for her marriage to Prince Albert that it really took off.
Antique and vintage clothes have become increasingly popular in recent years,
and I've come to Dalston in east London to meet Meg Andrews.
She's been selling antique dresses for 25 years.
Lucy, this is my studio.
Ooh! It's Aladdin's cave!
Who are your clients, Meg?
What kind of people are buying your dresses?
I'm selling to museums and I sell to collectors, here and abroad.
And people who would just like an item of Victorian or 18th century,
just to perhaps frame or put in a case in their rooms.
Beautiful wedding dress.
1840s, similar to Queen Victoria's,
worth around £500.
Queen Victoria really set the trend, didn't she,
for the very simple, white wedding dress that survives till today?
Yes. Sometimes people wore white dresses before that,
but yes, she set the fashion.
-How would she have accessorised it?
-This is a Honiton lace wedding veil.
Oh, look at this.
She would have worn all Honiton lace. She was trying to encourage...
Do you know an extraordinary thing about the lace on Victoria's dress?
She actually commissioned it before proposing to Albert.
-Oh, did she?
Of course it's her prerogative to propose because she's going to be the Queen.
I guess she didn't have it in mind, necessarily, as a wedding dress
and that indicates to me that people
weren't so hung up about wedding dresses as a special thing at that time
-because before that they would've just worn their very best dress.
-Yes, they would.
And not necessarily white, just a really smart dress
-that you could go on wearing and using afterwards.
And also, not with Victoria, but people who were less well-off,
they would've worn the dress as an evening dress
and accessorised it slightly differently.
Do you think that it's sort of the modern wedding industry
that's encouraged the idea that you wear it JUST for one day?
-It's quite a disposable fashion thing to do in a sense.
What a waste when you've spent thousands on the dress
and thought and thought about it and looked and looked.
Victorian brides would have to go to painful lengths to acquire
the fashionable figure of the period.
What I find quite interesting about the dress
is that it was VERY restrictive. For instance,
this has whale bone or baleen
which was from the roof of the mouth of the whale.
Whale bone's a remarkable material, isn't it?
-It can twist and bend.
-It's very pliable, sort of elastic.
-Sucking you in.
And so not only did she have the whale bones here,
the shoulders were quite low
and the sleeves were very tight,
so you had very little movement.
When we talk about women's liberation,
we often mean politically, economically,
but actually physically as well! Clothes like this restrict.
-They keep you in your place, don't they?
-Very much so.
Collectors aren't just interested in Victorian dresses.
Vintage clothes from the 1920s are incredibly popular,
especially cos you can still wear them.
I am wearing my dream dress.
It looks really good.
-So it's 1925 this, is it?
Now, this truly was somebody's wedding dress!
Yes, then she would have worn it for evenings.
She'd have got a lot of wear out of that.
There's a real change in style here in so many ways,
not least in ease of movement.
I'm now a liberated, voting, emancipated woman.
But also, at THIS period, weddings had to take place in the morning,
that was the rule, and that's why we still call it the wedding breakfast
because it took place in the morning.
By the 20th century they could take place in the afternoon,
shading on into the evening,
so the style of dresses reflects later times of day as well.
-This is definitely an evening dress.
-For dancing, yes.
You can do the Charleston in this dress.
You can have a wild old time!
This wedding dress also reflects one of the most dynamic styles of the time -
Symmetrical lines and geometric patterns are classic features
of a style that emerged from the age of jazz.
This modern look originated at
the Paris International Exhibition Of Decorative Arts in 1925
and used bright colours contrasting with chrome and silver.
This 1920s wedding ring also demonstrates
the angular style of Art Deco.
After a wedding, the next major ceremonial event
is traditionally the welcome given to a newborn child.
Gifts to celebrate a birth date back millennia...
..but the traditional silver cup has its origins in the 1600s.
This looks nice. Have you had this before?
It looks a little like porridge
but I don't feel that I'd be the sort of person who'd be having this.
No, this is a special alcoholic sort of porridge.
It's got beer, it's got grain, it's got spices and sugar in it.
-And do you know when you eat/drink it?
Just after you've given birth!
Yes, this would bring you back to life, I'm quite sure,
but that was its point, wasn't it?
It's a way of reviving a half-dead mother after she's just had
an arduous Tudor labour without any painkillers, basically.
Traditionally caudle was served in one of these little caudle cups.
Later they become known as porringers for slurping your porridge out of.
And this is a very cute little 17th century one, isn't it?
It is and this one, very small, dating from 1640, is a functional one
and would've been used by a mother to perhaps even feed her child.
It's made out of pewter which is a metal alloy
made up primarily of tin.
This one is 60 years later, also pewter.
It's much bigger and grander and fancier
and it is still possible that somebody would
slurp their porridge out of it but it also has
more of the qualities of a decorative, commemorative piece.
As they're associated with the birth of a child and christenings,
they become the gift that godparents often give to their godchildren
to mark the occasion of the birth.
Early pieces like this, particularly connected to a very popular subject
like childbirth will naturally be of great interest.
Something like this is worth £450, thereabout.
And a piece like that would fetch somewhere around £1,000-£1,200.
Pewter has been made in Britain since the Middle Ages.
Compared to silver, pewter was relatively cheap and was very popular
until mass-produced glassware became available in the 19th century.
I've come to A E Williams, a family-run pewter factory
in Birmingham which has been handcrafting pewter since 1779.
Steve Johnson is the great-great-great-great-grandson
of the original owner.
What you're looking at here is the largest collection
of antique moulds in the world today.
As you can see we've got everything from candlestick moulds
to goblet moulds to tankard moulds.
It's amazing. When you say antique, do you mean really antique?
Are they old moulds or new?
Well, if you have a look at antique pewter,
these are the moulds that actually made the pewter
so these are older than the antiques.
So you've got 18th century, 19th century...?
Just behind you there are some large plate moulds,
-one dated 1729, the other dated 1762.
So these have been in continuous use for hundreds of years?
-So you still use those today?
-Do you have any porringers?
-Yes, we do.
Here's an old mould here.
-It's probably a couple of hundred years old.
-What's it made of?
That's cast iron.
So this would've been used to make porringers in the 18th, 19th century?
Pewter is made from 90% tin
while small amounts of copper and antimony help it to harden.
It melts at 240 degrees, which is low for metal,
meaning it hardens very quickly.
-Do you want to have a go?
-I would LOVE to have a go.
-I'll get a ladle of metal for you.
-Thank you. Oh, it's heavy, actually!
You forget. You sort of imagine it to be like water.
-Do I just go for it?
-Here we go.
-Straight in, Mark.
OK. There we go.
-And even when it's filling up and it comes out, keep it running in.
That gets rid of all the impurities out of it.
-And that's great.
If you keep your eye down there,
you can see that that's set now.
We want to keep it moving, so if you grab the pillar there,
and get this mallet. When you pull that back, if you hit...
That bit? I'm notoriously bad at sport. Stand well back!
-You have to be relatively tough with it.
-Just a bit.
-If you tilt that back towards you.
-There it is!
-There you go!
-Nothing happens... Oh!
-There you go.
I've made part of a porringer.
And that looks pretty good to me.
-Excellent. Thank you very much!
-There you go.
Once the porringer has cooled down, it needs to be turned
which involves shaving the rough edges
to create a smooth, shiny surface.
This is the most skilled part of creating pewter
and John Morris has been turning pewter for over 30 years.
Want to try?
I'll give it a go. Bye-bye, bowl!
Oh, there it is!
-Go further down the bowl.
It's not the beautiful sort of flow that you had.
-You're getting there. What you need is confidence.
-That's quite good, that is.
-Is that all right?
This is much, much harder than it looks.
The handle is then soldered onto the porringer before the maker's mark
is hand-stamped onto the finished item.
Hey-hey! And there we go,
-my finished porringer!
-Very good, that.
In the same way that gifts are often given to welcome a new life into the world,
the passing of a life is marked by its own rituals.
The average life expectancy in Victorian Britain was the late 30s.
With death so present, mourning was a normal part of life.
For married women, Victorian society's expectations
were especially strict if your husband died.
Widows were required to withdraw from public life, wear black,
veil their heads and cover mirrors with black drapes.
There was even special jewellery made to suit the occasion.
I've been one year and 11 months in black now
and I'm desperate to wear coloured clothes again!
Only one month to go. Two years and you'll be able to free yourself.
Then two years are up. Actually, I won't.
Then I'll be in half-mourning for my Victorian late husband
and that means grey or lavender or mauve for another six months.
And thank goodness I don't work for Queen Victoria because if I was in her household
I would've been in half-mourning for the rest of her life.
How many years was it? After Albert died in 1861
she spent pretty much most of her life in mourning.
She went into black for the rest of her life.
This wasn't uncommon for Victorian mothers who, if you think about it,
probably experienced quite a lot of infant mortality.
Probably they'd lost a lot of their children along the way.
It's almost a cliche to say it
but the Victorians had this CULT of mourning.
They were very comfortable talking about death and mourning
which we're not at all today. We're uncomfortable with it.
The Victorians had a hang-up about talking about sex.
They were very reticent about that and the opposite today.
I sort of feel rather sorry for you. You have to amass this enormous, complex clothing
whereas I just don this simple band.
Well, there also seems to be a bit of an imbalance between male mourning and female mourning.
I'm supposed to mourn my husband for two-and-a-half years,
but if you had a wife, you could get away with only mourning her for three months!
Well, I've got to go out and do some work to earn money
to buy all of this garb and this fantastic necklace that you have,
which is made out of perhaps the most popular material
of the Victorian period for mourning, which is jet.
Jet was this mysterious material,
only washed up on a particular part of the coastline
where you find the town of Whitby.
It's actually a form of fossilised wood,
so I suppose in a way very similar to coal.
Very popular from the 1860s to the 1880s.
The industry in Whitby became so thriving and popular
that 1,000 people were employed there.
It was said that in Whitby even the dogs are black.
Absolutely, it was worn slightly earlier than the 1860s.
In fact, when George IV died in 1830
there was a decree that jet will be the ornament.
Certainly Victoria took this up with a great passion,
as did ladies who could afford it.
It was a very expensive material and widely imitated.
The values then and now really depend on how well-worked they are.
The more skill that went into it from the craftsman side of it,
that raised the value.
A piece like this today would fetch around £600,
if you had to buy it from a dealer.
Now, there's one problem with jet.
Some people said that it was a bit too shiny
to wear in the first year of mourning,
but as I've now officially reached the second year,
I think I can put this on.
I think I can help you with that, if you will allow me.
Just plunge me a little bit further into gloom.
Black jet was not the only jewellery worn in mourning.
In a time before photography, people still wanted
a tangible reminder of their lost loved ones.
'I've come to North London to meet Anne Louise Luthi.
'Over the past 20 years, she has become a major collector
'of hair jewellery,
'and now owns over 250 items.'
This is probably the earliest piece and that has platted hair.
On the back, turn it over, and you will see that it says
"my father and my husband".
So this is the hair of two people?
That's the hair of two people,
probably at the end of the 17th century.
The idea was to commemorate people,
and the only part of the body you can use after death is hair.
What else could you do, in a way?
-You could have a portrait or miniature.
-That was more expensive.
-There was no photography, either.
-No, not until the middle of the 19th century.
So this was the way that people commemorated the loved ones.
By keeping them literally close,
-by taking a part of their body to wear close to them.
This one looks much more decorative.
What we have here is a lady cradling her child,
near an urn on a pedestal,
and it says "JC OBT", so died "July 21st 1785,
"aged two years and seven months.
"Not lost, but gone before." There it is.
And the idea that she would be reunited with her child...
-..when she herself died.
It's terribly touching, isn't it?
If you look closely here at the bottom, that's where the hair is.
And also, the artists who did these miniatures
used to chop up hair and mix it with the paint.
That's quite incredible.
It's also interesting that this is a pin,
so it would have been pinned close, physically, to her heart.
'In the 19th century,
'hair jewellery stopped being worn only for mourning,
'and became fashionable in its own right.'
The most valuable of all was white hair.
And then, you can see...
-Why was that?
-I suppose because it was beautiful.
You can see the butterfly there.
There you get a beautiful hair bouquet.
Didn't people find it rather squeamish and strange
to wear hair that wasn't connected to you or your family?
Not really, no, because it was a material.
It wasn't necessarily thought of as being associated with a particular person.
Wearing hair jewellery may seem slightly macabre to us now,
but in the past, the ceremonial marking of death
was much more part of everyday life.
Even executions were once ceremonial events,
carried out in public until the mid-19th century.
One of history's most shocking executions
was the beheading of Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII,
on the 19th May, 1536.
It was the first execution of a Queen of England.
This is what you might call a ceremonial sword.
Certainly not for use on the battlefield.
It's a German beheading sword of about 1750.
And it's got a picture on it
that shows exactly how you use it.
He's lifting it up right over the head,
and he comes down with a great big swoosh,
and takes the head off.
This was the privilege given to Anne Boleyn, in 1536.
Because she was the queen,
she wasn't going to be beheaded with the axe, like everybody else.
A special French swordsman was brought over,
to give her a nice, clean ending.
Actually, your sword is better than mine,
because yours has a point on the end of it.
Tell me a bit more about your rapier.
Nice and light. Very nimble. Long.
As you say, with this very sharp point.
This was all about the art of swordsmanship.
With this rather fine hand guard, here.
It was made in Britain in the early 17th century
and is a rather fine example.
I think it would be creepy to collect a beheading sword like this.
I think it would show that you're slightly disturbed.
There's a certain... Not romance, I suppose,
but there's a certain gory interest in it, isn't there?
These are quite collectible today.
Something like this could fetch a couple of thousand.
Similarly, my rather fine rapier.
Anything from £2,000 to £10,000 or so,
depending on the date, the quality of it, and who made it.
Though there is considerably less demand for swords these days,
there are still a few people making them, using traditional methods
that have been practised by blacksmiths for centuries.
Simon Fearnhamm specialises in making historical swords,
as well as repairing antiques, at his factory
in the Essex countryside.
Simon, tell us what you are doing.
At the moment, I'm drawing the metal down,
thinning it off, tapering it, shaping it.
So you're making the sword longer and thinner?
Longer and thinner, and giving it the right shape.
What metal are you using there?
This is a carbon spring steel.
What kind of sword are you making?
This is based on an original tomb effigy carving in Westminster Abbey.
The sword of Sir Giles Daubeney.
Nice medieval sword.
Do you know how to use a sword yourself
so that you can tell if you've made a good one?
-I've played with swords.
-You've played with swords?!
I've been making swords for 30-odd years, so yes.
I've handled a lot of original medieval swords,
so you get a good feel for the heft of the sword,
-and how it should feel.
-What does "the heft" mean?
It's the balance in the hand.
If you use it for hours on end, you want something
that doesn't put too much strain on your arms.
Ooh, look at that!
'Forging is the first stage of making a sword
'and it requires considerable skill.'
-Strike while the iron's hot. Come on.
-Oh, yeah, yeah.
Am I making any difference there?
Ooh, look. You can see it.
-You're putting a bend on it.
-You don't want that, do you?
-I'll straighten it out in a minute.
So it's curved up at the end now? That's not right, is it?
-I'll put it into the forge...
-Did I do that? Oops.
-Just a little bit.
Once Simon has forged the sword,
the next stage is to grind it down to a sharp edge,
something that was historically done by hand,
but is now helped by modern technology.
Eventually this piece of metal will become a sword,
So that is ground?
-The very, very beginnings, yeah.
The very beginnings of a rough grind.
What's the next stage to get it looking like that?
Hours more of the rough grinding,
and getting all the lines and everything all true.
-And then days on the sanding and finishing...
So this is your nearly complete, double-handed broadsword.
-A replica of Sir Giles Daubeney's, from the 15th century?
Can I ask how much it would cost?
With scabbard, the sword itself is around £6,000.
£6,000 is a lot of money,
but if you were looking for a scarce, historical sword,
from centuries ago,
-it's a fraction of the cost.
A sword with provenance, that sort of style,
tens, even hundreds of thousands of pounds, depending on who owned it.
These days, swords are mainly used for ceremonial purposes,
notably when the Queen bestows knighthoods.
And when a new monarch is crowned,
a number of swords are carried in the coronation procession.
So Westminster Abbey's been used for coronations
since William the Conqueror, in 1066,
right up to 1953, last time round with the current Queen.
You think it's all about the moment when the King or Queen is anointed,
becomes crowned, starts their official job.
But really, the whole point of it is the spectacle.
Traditionally, the coronation was preceded by a procession from the Tower of London,
all through the city, lined with cheering crowds.
For over 300 years,
people have been buying mementos of these royal events.
By the time Edward VII was crowned in 1902,
after the death of Queen Victoria,
royal memorabilia had become incredibly popular,
and remains an inexpensive way to own a piece of history.
This is from the coronation of Edward VII,
but, ha-ha-ha, it's got the wrong date on it, hasn't it?
June 26th, 1902.
When it was supposed to be but then the poor guy got appendicitis
-and he couldn't show up, so they had to put the whole thing back.
-It went back to August 9th.
What a lot of people don't realise,
ceramics like these were produced many months - if not a year - in advance.
As soon as the date was announced, the ceramics industry swung into gear,
and started producing vast quantities of these things.
When it was announced that he had appendicitis,
and the coronation would be postponed to August 9th,
quite a lot of these were already in existence,
which means they only had a little bit of time to catch up with the correct date.
Consequently, the ones with the wrong date are very common,
the ones with the correct date are much rarer.
That's worth probably around £30.
And what about my mug here?
Probably about the same as the tea you're going to put in it.
Aw, but it has sentimental value.
When Charles II was restored to the throne,
after the Commonwealth in 1660,
he rode a wave of affection for the monarchy.
The occasion saw the first pieces of mass market royal memorabilia
Pretty much every royal event since has been marked with souvenirs.
I'm meeting Steven Jackson,
who's collected so many royally-related items
that he's built a mini museum in his back garden.
Oh, my goodness!
-You like royal memorabilia, don't you?!
How did you get started on this subject matter, then?
I was left by my grandfather quite a little collection.
I've always been fascinated by history
and the two go together.
How many pieces have you got now?
Oh, well. Ceramics, around about 8,000.
8,000 ceramics. And then you've also got textile items.
Oh, yes, there's textiles...
-Biscuit tins, box of matches.
The Royal Family usually stand for stability and continuity,
but sometimes royal memorabilia can reflect times of rapid change
So this is your Edward VIII cabinet.
All the people making commemorative goods must have been pretty pleased,
in 1936 and 1937, because we've got two kings coming along very quickly, haven't we?
They started to sell commemoratives for Edward in the September.
Harrods and Selfridges were full of them.
So this is a little plate that was planned to be
for the coronation of Edward VIII,
which was planned to be in May, 1937.
But, in the event, he abdicated to get married to Mrs Simpson.
He abdicated on December 11th and then, of course,
the manufacturers with things left over...
"What are we going to do with all of our unsold stock?"
They added very quickly,
"acceded the throne and abdicated," with the date on.
I like that. That's quick thinking. That's waste not, want not.
I think that, as a collector, you're quite unusual.
You're not really looking for quality, high-end, beautiful stuff,
You're interested in things that are quite cheap and mass-produced.
Well, if it isn't mass-produced,
invariably, it's not a commemorative.
-That's the definition?
-That's the secret to the whole subject.
It had to be mass-produced, for people at large.
I guess items like this, although cheap and cheerful,
represented a significant investment for normal people.
-They were engaged in the life of the nation.
-Yes, they were.
Why do you think people have the urge
to get these tangible memory items?
I think it's a point of reference in their own lives.
There's a great expression from Macaulay, the great Victorian historian,
who, when he was examining a mug at the factory,
described them as,
"Reflections of men's souls. A window into men's minds."
-That is so poetic and lovely.
-It was a lovely expression.
You may think it's a little piece of junk but, actually, no.
This will mean a lot to a lot of people who were alive in 1936.
King George VI, who succeeded Edward after the abdication,
saw Britain through the Second World War.
On 29th July, 1948, he attended the opening ceremony
of the 14th Olympic Games at Wembley Stadium.
It was only the second time
the modern Games had been held in Britain,
and it would be the last until 2012.
The differences between then and now are startling.
The 2012 Games is estimated to be costing at least £12 billion,
while in 1948, they cost a modest £750,000.
There were great hopes for Britain in the first post-war Games.
But in the end, we only achieved gold medals in one event.
-There we go.
-One, two, three. Slow down.
One, two, three, four.
Why have you got your legs crossed?
-Why have you got your legs crossed?
-I always cross my legs.
All the time.
-What, when you're rowing?
We're recreating the 1948 coxless pairs at the Olympic Games.
Gold for Britain.
One of three medals that the rowing team won in what they called the make-do-and-mend Games.
Because it was after the war, they were a bit short of money
and everybody had to bodge things together.
-They had the rowing events down at Henley.
The winners of the coxless pairs were called John Wilson and William Laurie.
You've heard of Mr Laurie because he was the dad of Hugh Laurie, the actor.
What I can't believe is that the athletes
had to get through their training on 2,600 calories a day. That's what you got in your ration.
I think the ration itself was one piece of bacon, an egg, and a small bit of cheese.
But once they had been selected for the team that went up,
they got 3,400 calories a day,
which is the same as a docker got. That was the ration for dockers, people doing heavy work.
But today the athletes eat 8,000 calories a day.
'Sports-related antiques are extremely popular.
'And we have a rare 1948 Olympic medal.'
This is a bronze medal, is it?
Yes, bronze, silver and gold - the medals that we know today -
were first awarded in that combination in 1904.
Were they true gold, true silver?
Well, the last time true gold medals were awarded was in 1912.
What? Since then it's been a bit of a swizz and they haven't been gold?!
I don't necessarily think so! It's still the event, the taking part,
that's the important part, not the medal itself.
It has a rather lovely design of athletes lifting each other up.
Have you noticed they're all naked?
To take part in the original Olympic Games, you had to be naked.
The ancient Greek word for that is "gymnos",
and that leads us to have our term today, "gymnasium".
-Stretch your arms out, put your back into it.
-I'm still no good at this.
It's just as well I wasn't in that Olympics team.
The Austerity Games was the second time
Britain had hosted the Olympics.
The first time, in 1908, we came top of the medal table,
winning 56 golds.
But female athletes didn't get much of a look-in.
At the 1908 Olympic Games,
there were 2,000 competitors. Only 37 of them were women.
But one won gold for Britain, in the archery.
And, quite amazingly, she was 53 years old.
'Her name was Queenie Newall.
'In an attempt to step into her shoes,
'I'm having a longbow lesson with the archer Maggie Woolf.'
Aim towards the top of the target, and away. Go!
Not bad. Good for a first shot.
'We're using traditional longbows,
'but Maggie's brought along an antique
'to point out one noticeable difference from those used today.'
The bow that they would have used in 1908 is pure yew.
This one is pre-First World War.
This is the outer wood of the yew,
and the soft belly wood of the yew,
so it's got a nice flex and spring.
The yew contains all the elements one needs in a good shooting bow.
But it's a bit dangerous. Isn't it poisonous, yew wood?
Yes. All parts of the yew are poisonous.
A lot of bowyers went slightly crazy.
It caused some problem in the brain.
So I don't think they had a very long life, making these bows.
'Joining our archery lesson is the Olympic historian Rebecca Jenkins,
'author of the book on the 1908 Games.'
-Let it go.
What did the main organiser of the Games think about the female athletes?
Baron Pierre de Coubertin, whose idea it was to revive the Games,
was a Parisian aristocrat.
He thought that ladies performing in public before strangers was really...
He said something along the lines of,
"Impractical, uninteresting, anaesthetic, and incorrect."
Therefore, he really didn't want women to be involved.
Drawing back to the eye. Keep drawing. More, more, more.
-Yeah, you got it.
-You're getting good, you know.
The thing I really like about Queenie is she was 53 years old.
And she was a gold medal winner at that age.
The point about archery is you can look like a lady and still excel at your sport.
You don't have to be 24 and be able to jump very high.
And they all had to be wearing proper clothes, long skirts.
ladies are supposed to be private creatures,
so you appear properly dressed.
So there's no way they could take part in the swimming,
because the rules said you must wear a skirt.
Exactly. They wouldn't even dream of having women swimmers by 1908.
They did come in in 1912, but you're in Sweden by that point.
-I think it was the Scandinavian influence.
-They're more liberated in Scandinavia!
They seemed much more egalitarian about the idea of the healthy body.
Long reach forward. Back to your cheek.
-Look at that.
-In the red! In the red!
-That is absolutely fantastic.
Just outside the gold.
I can see you taking this sport up seriously.
Antique bows and medals are just some of the collectible items
associated with popular sports memorabilia.
'In the Cotswolds, Manfred Schotten sells antique golf clubs,
'cricket bats, and other highly sought-after sports items.
'Even this Victorian golf ball is worth around £5,000.
'But there are cheaper ways to own a piece of sporting history.'
If you haven't got thousands of pounds
to splash out on an Olympic medal,
why not consider some of the paperwork,
known as ephemera, that was produced around the Games?
Something like this, the London Olympic Games programme,
is a brilliant place to start.
This can fetch up to around £70 or so,
and it's crammed with information.
Everything from events, to athletes, to photographs.
There's really everything you need to know about the Games,
including some rather interesting information about restaurants.
These were known as the Austerity Games in 1948.
I find this particularly fascinating.
We're told that, "Eating in the West End at present
"is not a matter about which Londoners feel particularly happy.
"Visitors from abroad are likely to be even less content.
"But the food situation is one that must be accepted
"as an inevitable result of the nation's economic position."
The contents are fascinating,
but what really does it for me is this fantastic cover.
If you can look for colourful artwork
that really sums up the design ethics of the day,
that really adds to the appeal and, in many cases, the value as well.
Three years after the 1948 Olympics,
Britain was ready to put austerity and the war behind it.
A ceremonial event for the nation
would focus people's attention on a brighter future.
The Festival Of Britain of 1951 was intended to celebrate British design,
and to cheer everybody up after the war and the recovery.
The director of the festival described it as a tonic for the nation.
It was based here on the South Bank,
and its centrepiece was the Royal Festival Hall.
8.5 million people attended the exhibition on the South Bank.
Many of the designs on display were ultra-modern in style,
including the chairs for the terrace.
You're sitting on one of the chairs that they actually used
on the terrace at the festival, aren't you?
That's it. This is a reproduction of the antelope chair,
which was designed for this very purpose.
It was placed outside the Royal Festival Hall,
so you could sit and enjoy the festival and the river.
It's such a 1950s-looking thing, isn't it?
It is, and it sums up so much of what the festival was about.
After the disasters and privations of World War Two,
this was all about our positive future,
which was meant to be delivered with technology.
If you look at the form and structure of it,
with these ball feet,
and these cylindrical steel rods,
it's almost like a molecular model that you might find in a school or a scientific laboratory.
At this time, of course, you had interest in microscopes,
cells, molecules, and that's all reflected in this chair.
It also launched a new colour palette, as well,
which was so much more vibrant and positive
than the austerity of utility furniture.
It's a beautiful chair that speaks so much for the period.
Do you think it's called the antelope because it looks like
it could go boing on its springy little legs?
It does have a certain lightness of form, I suppose.
This whole look launched a new look on the high street.
It really was, in its own way, a trendsetter.
This one's a reproduction, so it's brand new,
but vintage examples depending on condition and date
can cost you anything from £80 to £500.
The Festival of Britain had been staged
exactly 100 years after another ceremonial event.
To many, it represented the pinnacle of Britain's power and influence
across the world.
On 1st May, 1851,
Queen Victoria attended the opening ceremony
at the Great Exhibition of the Industrial Nations in Hyde Park.
The brainchild of Prince Albert,
the exhibition was housed in a massive iron glasshouse
designed by Joseph Paxton.
Amazingly, it was a temporary structure,
and was pulled down after only six months.
'But to this day, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London
'remains as a permanent memorial to the exhibition.'
So up there is a picture of the Great Exhibition of 1851,
and there's Queen Victoria,
giving out the prizes for best exhibit.
They had 13,000 exhibits,
the fruits of industry from all over the world,
-brought to this massive greenhouse up there.
This building was built after the exhibition closed,
to house many of the objects.
It was known then as the South Kensington Museum,
but it's much more familiar to us today as the Victoria & Albert Museum.
Fair enough as it was Prince Albert who was really behind this.
The Great Exhibition was hugely successful.
It made over £16 million, in today's money.
And they used it to buy land
all up and down Exhibition Road, here in South Kensington.
So the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Science Museum and Imperial College
were all built on the profits of the Great Exhibition.
This part of town became known, in homage to Prince Albert, as Albertopolis.
This is the book of the show, is it?
Effectively, yes. It's a special edition of The Art Journal.
The Art Journal Illustrated Catalogue.
This showed many of the best things exhibited in the exhibition itself.
It's all very much in the sort of latest tastes.
It's all very Victorian, very ornate. Look at something like this.
Statues, other fountains...
-And some shoes.
-These are funny. Look.
"Mr J Sparkes Hall of London exhibits many improvements
"in modern boots and shoes, together with a curious series
"of well-executed facsimiles of ancient ones."
Here we've got a display of shoes.
Look, it's a shoe of vulcanised India rubber.
Rubber had only just appeared.
Also in the exhibition, it was used to make
a more comfortable pair of false teeth, in which you could yawn.
They had a new spring mechanism
that made them a lot more comfortable.
This book is actually quite a collectible piece,
as well as a fascinating guide to the exhibition
and Victorian tastes of the time.
It's worth between £200 and £400, in really nice condition.
The original catalogues can fetch an awful lot more,
up to around £12,000 or so.
But it's the objects that commemorated the exhibition,
the souvenirs, if you like,
that really form the backbone of the market.
Ceramics, glass. All manner of different pieces were produced
to satisfy the desires of those six million people who visited
to remember and to commemorate their visit.
Although the exhibition was temporary,
the glasshouse was rebuilt in an area of London
now known as Crystal Palace,
where it remained until it was destroyed by a fire in 1936.
But it is antiques from the original 1851 exhibition
that are some of the most sought-after items at this auction in Macclesfield.
even pot lids, that commemorate the exhibition,
are all going under the hammer.
£65, gentlemen, again.
This ornate silver fish knife and fork set
is one of the more unusual items.
551. Fabulous pair of cased fish servers, there.
£280. Here with me at £280.
£300. £320. £340, I'm out.
At £340 stands at the back now.
At £340. With us in the room now at 340.
But there's one particular piece
that has really grabbed my attention.
For me, this has enormous appeal
as a souvenir of the Great Exhibition.
For a start, it has this fantastic painting on glass,
of the Crystal Palace itself.
Open it up, and you discover it's a tea caddy.
So it's functional as well as decorative.
It's also made from papier-mache,
which was a very popular material for making all manner of items,
from small pieces of furniture, such as tables,
to tea caddies and even perhaps pen boxes and trays.
This would have been an ideal souvenir for the middle class visitor
to the Great Exhibition.
A rather exceptional Victorian papier-mache tea caddy.
Great Exhibition, 1851. Interest, as you'd imagine.
The tea caddy is estimated to go for £150.
£320, I'm bid. 340. 360. 380.
But there are several interested bidders both in the room and online.
Still on the internet.
Are you sure, online?
We give you it at 540. The best is online now.
£540 was a fantastic price for that.
And the reason? It was in fantastic condition.
Papier-mache can be very easily damaged.
If it's dropped, the glass would break.
Even the insides of the tea caddy compartments
were still lined with their tinfoil.
An absolutely fantastic buy for whoever was lucky enough to get it.
Many of these items on sale are not of great intrinsic value.
Like inexpensively-produced royal ceramics, they prove
you don't need deep pockets to own a piece of ceremonial history.
Antiques associated with weddings and funerals
give us a fascinating insight
into how we've changed the way we mark personal milestones.
Today, many of these objects look like they no longer have a function,
but actually they do.
Their purpose is to commemorate an event,
and to give us something to remember it by.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd.