Celebrities hunt for antiques across the UK. It is a journey into antiquity with historians Suzannah Lipscomb and Kate Williams.
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-The nation's favourite celebrities...
-Oh, I like that.
-..paired up with an expert...
-Oh, we've had some fun, haven't we?
..and a classic car.
It feels as if it could go quite fast.
Their mission, to scour Britain for antiques.
If I do that in slow-mo.
The aim, to make the biggest profit at auction.
-Come on, boys!
-But it's no easy ride.
-Who will find a hidden gem?
-Don't sell me!
-Who will take the biggest risks?
Go away, darling.
Will anybody follow expert advice?
I'm trying to spend money here.
-There will be worthy winners...
..and valiant losers.
Put your pedal to the metal, this is the Celebrity Antiques Road Trip.
On this road trip, the past is really coming alive,
as we journey into antiquity with glamorous TV historians
Suzannah Lipscomb and Kate Williams.
# That it's all just a little bit of history repeating... #
-It does feel Thelma And Louise.
-I do want to pick up a Brad Pitt.
-That would do.
-I don't know whether
he knows much about antiques, though.
-That's what we need.
-That's not what we need him for.
We need an antiques expert.
We need to have a chat later, don't we?
And chat they might. These two have been chums for years.
So when did we first meet?
-I think we first met at that History Today party.
-Oh, yes, that's it.
-They do have the best parties.
-They do have the best parties.
I can imagine.
From, you know, parties in London
to our little trip away to France.
-Our holiday away together last year.
Suzannah and Kate are both learned writers,
august academics, and regular presenters of history documentaries.
They're most at home
pacing the halls of our ancient homes and palaces
and scouring the pages of dusty tomes,
helping to bring the past to life.
Suzannah's specialism is the 16th century Tudor period.
While Kate's is the 19th century reign of Queen Victoria,
from whom she seems to have been taking some tips.
-Gosh, it is a lovely car, though.
-It is an amazing car.
Did you just wave like the Queen...?
No, I'm just waving at these children. I don't think...
The car brings it out in you.
The regal little number they're driving in
is a 1968 Renault Caravelle.
Assisting them on this trip into the past
are two antiques expert of a very fine vintage,
David Harper and Catherine Southon.
-Definitely not crusted.
I'm always happy with you, David.
-Oh, and it's so good to be with you, Anita.
Oh, I'm sorry, sorry, I was living in a dream world.
Today, these two are driving a 1973 Triumph Spitfire.
I used to have one of those.
With £400 to spend, our two teams will begin today
in the town of Bletchley in Buckinghamshire,
and then wend their way slowly south
to do battle at auction in London.
And what a battle that's shaping up to be.
I think you're sweetness and light.
And yet I think that actually, underneath, you're deadly.
It's you who actually are sweetness and light,
but under it is a brutal beating heart of competition.
See, this is what I said, I thought you'd be competitive.
-Let's do a test.
-It's The Hunger Games.
-Let's do a test.
Who's better at spelling? Did you just make an allusion
to a game in which people end up killing each other?
I think you did.
-Just like the film!
And with the game red in tooth and claw already,
it's time for celebrities to meet experts.
-Look at that!
-Look at the amazing car.
-Very nice. Hello. How exciting.
You two look very good against that very posh car.
It's a nice car, isn't it? We've done well.
I don't think he's looking at the car.
They've decided that Kate will pair with Catherine,
and Suzannah with David.
-Would you like to take the driver's seat?
-Oh, my goodness.
-I can have a go.
-And they're off!
I'll open the door for you, at least.
-Oh, look at this.
I've been trained. Enjoy yourself, you two.
And you. Don't spend too much.
Time for these newly minted teams to size up the opposition.
Now, come on, Suzannah, dish a little bit of dirt.
What's Kate going to be like?
So, Kate is one of the loveliest people you'll ever meet.
But she is a prolific author.
-We're friends, and she appears on TV programmes
I haven't even heard that she's making.
She's constantly doing things.
She's so busy. So I think she must be...
-She's got an inner core, you know?
-And she's driving. Ha!
I'm thrilled to be driving this car,
because my mum was completely obsessed with these cars.
So your mum was fascinated by Spitfires?
She dreamt of a Spitfire, it was her dream car.
And so I spent a lot of my childhood looking at them.
They became an object of desire when I was a child.
So that's wonderful that we're living your mum's dream.
I'm so excited.
So, with the tip of a hat to Kate's mum,
they're heading for the town of Bletchley, Buckinghamshire.
They're aiming for their first shop of the trip, Fenny Antique Centre.
Careful how you say it.
Well done, brilliant, we are here.
Oh, my goodness.
-Are you ready?
-Yeah, I'm ready. All set.
We've got shopping to do.
You certainly have. And assisted by dealer Mags.
-You all right?
-Nice to meet you.
-Thanks for having us.
We can make a potion in here.
-Like George's Marvellous Medicine.
-And we could poison the other team.
-We could poison the other team!
Seems a little extreme.
What about silver? A little trinket box.
-Heart-shaped trinket box. That's quite nice.
-Easy to fit in your house.
-That's quite nice, actually.
It's a jewellery box, hallmark silver, dating from 1901,
AND just inside Kate's Victorian era of specialism.
We could get that for cheaper, couldn't we?
-(I like your attitude.)
-I'm developing it.
You are, aren't you?
Time to call in dealer Mags. Mags? Mags?
Got the box, it's from Birmingham,
which adds to it because it's my hometown.
-So it's a Brummie box.
What I like about it is it's really nicely embossed, so you have got
really nice little...
All the flowers and the foliage and the swags.
-But what can Mags do on the price?
-I think we need to go down a bit.
-Go on, then.
-Can you do 20-ish?
I can do 30.
I think 25 is where it wants to be, if we want to make some money on it.
-"I really want to be £25."
-Who said that?
-OK, then, 25.
Are you happy with that?
They'll take that, and no mistake. Deal done.
Kate's already managed to bag an item dating from her favoured area,
the Victorian period.
But finding something from Suzannah's 16th century Tudor period
may be a bit trickier.
David and Suzannah need to come up with a plan, me thinks. Stand by.
We see a lot of 18th and 19th and early 20th century pieces.
And, really, if you boil it down, that's our periods,
because they're the things we're used to handling.
We don't very often find anything from any earlier periods,
your favourite period.
It would be fantastic to find something from that period.
But I think, with your help, we might get it.
Well, that would be a total thrill. I would be ecstatic.
So, they've set themselves a high bar.
They're driving to the Bedfordshire town of Ampthill,
as they aim into their first shop of the day, Lawson & Lee.
-Well, Suzannah, here we are. Welcome to my world.
So, what are you drawn to naturally?
Well, naturally, I'm drawn to the books.
So, straight to the books they go.
If I were, you know, shopping with my own money,
I'd definitely be getting this one. Look at that.
Yeah, isn't that beautiful?
-So, tell me why you love that so much?
Well, it's a history of the Reformation of the 16th century,
so immediately this is a great source.
It is, isn't it?
With laser-like precision, Suzannah's gone straight for
a book on her own specialism, 16th century history.
The book itself doesn't date from as early as that,
though it was published in 1846, so it does have some age to it.
"What I propose to write
"is the history of one of the greatest revolutions
"that have ever been accomplished amongst men," he says.
-Oh, my gosh.
-Anyway, so I think it looks kind of cool.
-And I would definitely get it.
But I don't know much about the market of these things.
But you do know a man who does, Suzannah.
The condition is good, originality.
I mean, it's well over 100 years old.
The gilded pages are lovely.
It's amazing, seriously, that we walk into a place
and there is a book that so relates to you, it's unbelievable.
This is a sign, it's a sign.
Can we keep it as a possibility and see what else is here?
-Oh, you're not an easy shopper, are you?
When you go shopping,
-do you put things aside and go and think about them a lot?
Oh, dear. OK, all right, now I know what I'm in for.
That's priced at £15.
I like that, I love it for you,
I think it's brilliant.
It sums up you! I'm amazed that you're not desperate to buy that.
Well, I am desperate to buy it,
but I'm not desperate to give it away to anyone else!
So, they'll keep their powder dry on that
until they've searched the rest of the shop.
Now, what's this?
It's just... It's cool and trendy, that's it.
I mean, I guess it's coming back into fashion, but...
Is that a way of you saying that you don't actually like it?
(I don't like it very much.)
It's a piece of retro glassware, probably dating from the 1960s.
Suzannah doesn't seem keen.
I better put it down.
So you wouldn't put that, then, on a 16th century coffer?
-No. You wouldn't do that.
-And that's creating a sort of ripple of horror through my body
when I think about that, actually.
Being a historian, you end up liking the stuff from the distant past.
-Of course you do.
-It's a no-no to retro, then.
And time to wander straight back
and look at that book on the Reformation.
It's our job to help the auctioneer give it a nice description,
and the auctioneer will do a really good job.
But I think if we could just flower it up a little bit
with something from you, a little handwritten note as to what it was,
maybe its historical importance, a bit of context somewhere,
and a little thank you from you for purchasing the book.
-Just slip it inside there, it may help it.
-Can I tempt you to have a go at it?
-Yeah, I think so.
But it's if it's a choice between that and...
-the red and yellow monstrosity.
-Yeah, which one would you go for?
-I think we'll be going with this one.
-Would we really? OK, OK.
But can Suzannah secure a good price with dealer Claire?
I'm going to put you right on the spot.
I'm going to ask Claire to come over,
-and I need you to do a deal.
It was priced at £15.
What might Claire offer?
Erm, could you drop it to ten, please?
For such lovely customers.
Hm, I don't know whether she believes that!
She looked at me and thought, "No, I don't think so.
-Yes, I will.
-Very well done, very well done.
Thank you very much.
Deal done, and their first purchase is in the old bag.
Meanwhile, back in Bletchley,
Kate and Catherine are still scouring their shop
for shiny items of interest.
That's quite interesting.
-I mean, it's only silver plate. But that inkwell there...
Is that an ostrich or an emu?
Er... I think...
It looks a bit like an emu.
It's more of an emu, isn't it?
The inkwell, or desk stand,
definitely harks towards Australia,
mounted as it is with an emu and a kangaroo.
It's a lot of money. £110.
It says 110 or best offer.
Best offer, eh? That sounds hopeful.
The vendor is not in the shop today,
so Catherine will put in a call.
Mr Stewart. Mr Stewart, hello, it's Catherine Southon here. Hello.
Thank you very much for taking our call.
We're just a little intrigued about your...
The desk piece.
What would be your very best offer on it?
OK. All right. OK, I shall have a word with my colleague.
Thank you very much indeed.
-He's had it a while.
He will take 50.
-Which is a bit of a drop.
Hey, a less-than-half-price offer on that
means it's definitely a strong contender.
But Kate, it seems, is part magpie,
because she's spotted yet another shiny piece of silver plate. Oops!
I had a friend at university with a samovar.
She used to give us nonstop bubbling tea.
I would say that's high Victorian,
the way that that's really decorated.
Another Victorian item takes Kate's fancy.
It's a samovar. A vessel for heating water for tea,
traditionally used in Mother Russia.
But the ticket price is a substantial £245,
so they'll need to have a word with dealer Roy.
-Sir? Might you be the owner?
-We've seen something that we quite like.
-Can we look in here, please?
-It's like a trophy.
-It's like a trophy.
-Is it heavy?
-Wouldn't it look nice in a sort of teashop or something?
It would look the business.
I think I like it.
Yeah, but it looks as if an ornate finial
may have been knocked off the top.
Could that be the angle to secure a better discount?
To be honest, I think it's a risk for us, isn't it?
What is your absolute real, real, real best
that this could be?
That's really pushing it.
I don't even know if that's going to be...
-..making anything, do you?
Could you come to 75,
and then we won't ask any more?
Cor, that's tempting.
But they have the inkwell in mind, too.
Those two items are now offered at a total of £125 combined.
-What I'm suggesting is, can we offer you 120?
I'm glad you can add up, Catherine.
That's only £5 off. For the two.
-Are you happy with that?
-Let's do it.
-Are we happy?
-Let's do it.
-Thank you, Mags.
-Thank you, Mags.
-We've bought three items.
Poor old Mags, that team certainly know how to bargain.
That's three items in the old bag already.
Meanwhile, David and Suzannah are waxing lyrical
about their shared love of engaging with history
through handling old objects.
It is a thrill, isn't it,
because you have that real sense of tangibility -
literally, tangibility with the past.
Someone else was touching it,
you know, 500 years ago, 400, whatever.
-I'm with you.
-You would be.
With Suzannah's love of old books already well established,
they're taking a break this afternoon
to learn about one tome that had an enormous impact
on 19th century Britain,
Mrs Beeton's Book Of Household Management. Ha!
They're driving to the Hertfordshire town of Hitchin,
where they're meeting historian and biographer
of Mrs Beeton, Kathryn Hughes.
Do you like our ride?
-What a gorgeous car.
-It's great, isn't it?
Not quite Victorian, but almost there.
He knows his stuff.
Kathryn's going to fill Suzannah and David in
on the very surprising story
of the ultimate Victorian domestic goddess, Isabella Beeton.
Her legendary Book Of Household Management
was the first, and still the best-selling, homespun blockbuster,
a hit on a scale that would put today's lifestyle gurus to shame.
So, what sort of things are in it?
Well, there's 2,000 recipes for a start,
which is absolutely extraordinary.
So everything you might need to know.
But not just that,
also how to run a household,
not just cookery - everything.
How to splint a head.
How to get stones out of horses' hooves.
How to save somebody from something called apparent suffocation.
-Different from actual suffocation.
Anything you could need to know is in there.
I have to put it down because it's actually very heavy.
THEY LAUGH Certainly is.
First published in 1861,
Mrs Beeton's enormous tome contained advice
on everything the up-and-coming Victorian housewife might need.
Taking in social etiquette,
medical matters, and even legal advice,
as well as her famed recipes.
The interesting thing about Mrs Beeton
is that she's writing for people who have exactly this kind of kitchen.
So she's not writing for very grand people with large staffs.
I mean, it's very odd
because we tend to think that she inhabits
a sort of Downton Abbey territory.
Not like that at all.
She herself came from quite a modest family.
And she was writing for people, women in particular,
very like her, who had to run a household,
who didn't have a lot of resources,
certainly didn't have a professional cook.
And they wanted advice.
That information must have been out there in different guises.
Was she the first person to compile it all in one easy-to-use book?
You're absolutely right.
I mean, she's not an originator, what she is is a compiler,
a curator, if you like.
She looks and reads everything,
and then she puts it together in one digestible kind of package.
This easy-to-use formula proved to be a real winner.
How many copies did she sell?
Well, it looks as though in the first year
she might have sold 60,000 copies.
-Which is enormous.
I mean, as for how many copies it sold overall in Britain,
it looks as though it's probably the most successful book bar the Bible.
But despite this extraordinary success,
the real story of Mrs Beeton's life is little known.
So, who was this woman, where did she come from?
Well, it's interesting, isn't it, because we tend to think
she must have been a very substantial matron
of, I don't know, about 55.
-It's definitely the idea of her I have in my head.
-Older, I would say an elderly woman.
Stout, a little bit of a dragon.
Well, if I told you that actually she was 21
-when she started work on it.
She was 25 when it was published.
-And, very sadly, she was 28 when she died.
-I'm absolutely astonished.
In 1856, when she was just 20 years old,
Isabella Mason married a professional publisher,
Samuel Beeton, and together the couple began to release
articles on cookery and domestic matters
that evolved to become the Book Of Household Management.
She was writing just at the moment when the British publishing trade
was undergoing this vast expansion,
paper was much cheaper,
taxes had been lifted on certain kinds of publications.
So suddenly you can put together
these really, really large books quite cheaply.
That, together with an expanding urban middle-class,
meant they found an eager audience of young housewives.
She has a real talent for writing very, very precisely,
very clearly, because that was very, very important with the recipes.
Prior to her, recipes tended to be terribly vague.
Cookery writers would say things like, "Take some flour."
She's one of the first people to put the ingredients
at the beginning of the recipes, so prior to her, believe it or not,
you would read the recipe and then you would suddenly,
three quarters of the way through,
come upon the fact that you needed three lemons,
and sadly you didn't have them.
She's writing for beginners,
she's writing for women who don't instinctively know how to cook.
Although Isabella died tragically young,
following complications in childbirth in 1865,
her book went from strength to strength
over the following century and beyond.
So she only lived for 28 years,
but, strangely, you know, she still lives on because of this book.
Meanwhile, Kate and Catherine are enjoying the Hertfordshire scenery.
Going on this amazing '50s trip through the countryside.
That sounds good to me.
-I feel like Bridget Jones going on a mini break, it's amazing.
Their next destination is the town of Letchworth,
where they're aiming for their next shop, Past And Present.
That looks pretty.
-Go for it!
Kate likes something that tells a story.
Where we can look at it and we can think about its history.
-I like things that have a story.
-About where it's come from. Yes.
Dealer Michelle "ma belle" may have something
with a bit of a local tale to tell.
Have you seen the basket on the floor there?
I have seen that. I did actually just look at that, actually.
It's from a business in Hitchin that was called Letchworth Hill Laundry.
-And they did laundry for years and years.
-Yeah, ticket price on that is £70.
I think 70 is steep.
I think it's very steep.
-We could maybe do a deal with you?
I think it's steep.
While Michelle looks into that, they'll keep browsing.
In life, you can't afford everything you want, can you?
I wouldn't mind a yacht with a hot tub, but I can't have one.
You're right. Let's carry on.
Tried. Doesn't work.
I quite like this.
This is Royal - Royal Albert.
-So, where's that from?
-There we are.
Royal Albert bone china.
Now, you quite like a bit of royal...
Haven't you done quite a lot of work on the royal family,
-in terms of...?
-You've reported on weddings.
Yes, I've reported on the weddings and the coronations
and every royal event.
I've done that, and written on Victoria and Albert,
and written on the Queen herself.
So I have a lot of royals in my life.
Royal Albert is a British ceramic-maker
granted a royal warrant over a century ago,
and it's still trading today.
This cup and saucer dates from the mid-20th century.
There's no ticket, so Kate will ask Michelle for a price.
How about 15?
We'd have to go much lower than 15.
It's supposed to be for auction,
and so it would have to be £5, wouldn't it?
Oh, you push a hard bargain.
OK. Do you want to do a deal?
OK, they'll put that cup aside at an offered £5,
but will keep looking for more treasures.
-Meaty moneymaking stuff.
-Go for it!
-Go for it, Kate.
-I'm on a mission.
I just thought this was quite a nice set of knives
with these beautiful blue bone handles here.
The vintage knives have £15 on their ticket,
another to add to the list.
But she's still going.
What else has Kate spied?
This is sort of weird.
You know, I'm not...
Come on, Mr Vase.
Careful now! Oh, dear.
Oh, gosh, I could've... I saw that dropping then.
It was close, Catherine.
The unique retro vase probably dates from the '70s or '80s
and is marked up at £20.
You all right, duck?
-Well, it's a bit horrid.
-I would never picture you...
-..next to this vase.
No, no, it's not really my...
But I think it's so horrid it could be good.
Do you know, you're right.
But they do now have a sizeable haul of items set aside -
the linen basket, the cup and saucer,
the knives, and now the vase.
So, make-your-mind-up time, eh?
-But what we could do is put it all together...
..in a crazy lot.
Would that be too weird?
No. All that stuff combined is currently sitting at £115.
Now, Michelle "ma belle" has an answer
to the very, very, very best price for the lot.
What is it?
-I think I've done you a deal.
How about 65?
-Are we happy?
-I think that's got to be the answer.
-Are you happy with that? So we've got...
-It's so crazy.
-It's really crazy.
-It's so wild it might just work.
So that whole bundle of stuff will form one auction lot.
Gosh, let's hope the gamble pays off.
And that buy ends this first
frantic, fun-filled frenzy of buying.
A mere rest can't keep these history-hunters
off the trail for long - oh, no!
The morning sun finds Suzannah and Kate ready to do battle once more.
So, how was your day yesterday, Kate?
It was really fun, we got some things.
Well, I think I learned a lot, actually.
There's quite a lot of pressure on today to get lots of good things.
And we're historians.
I feel the stakes are high.
But what do David and Catherine have to say
about their celebrity charges?
-We had a really good day yesterday.
-Tell me about it.
Well, there's no stopping Kate.
Suzannah was the same.
Her first bit of negotiating was effortless.
She oozes confidence.
So far, Kate and Catherine have four lots -
the Victorian trinket box,
the Australian inkwell,
and the job lot of vintage items, including the linen basket.
They have £190 left to spend today.
While Susannah and David have bought only one lot,
the book about the Reformation,
they have a whopping £390 left to splash.
And on this lovely country morning,
everyone's feeling very chipper.
-Ooh, hello, you two.
-Don't they look fantastic?
-Beauties, I love them in this car.
-You really suit this car.
-I can get used to Suzy driving me.
Are you ready for another day of madness?
Let's get this show on the road, then!
Go on, off you go.
-OK, enjoy your day.
-It's not starting.
-CAR TURNS OVER KATE:
-See you later.
-There's nothing there?
-Hang on a sec.
-What's the matter?
Huh, the car's conked out.
Looks like they'll need a push-start.
You push as hard as you can for about half a mile
-and then we'll bump it.
OK, girls. Rev it.
David's such a gentleman, isn't he?
-Are you doing this as well?
-Yes, I can.
-There we are, that's better.
-That's more like it.
Push it, push it.
Keep going! Oh!
Come on! Oh, lord,
it seems Kate and Catherine have had enough of this lark,
and they're off!
-Oh, very amusing(!)
You haven't got very far, have you?
-Oh, very amusing(!)
-"Oh, dear", you're so sympathetic.
Do you want us to tow you?
-Yeah, that would be great, thanks. Yeah.
-Would you mind?
-Shall I get the rope out?
-Have a nice day.
-They are actually leaving.
I'm sure Suzannah and David will figure that one out.
Having abandoned their opponents,
Kate and Catherine are feeling competitive.
If I was being really hard-headed about money, what should I get?
I think, yesterday, we were buying things that we really loved.
Now we've got to really be a bit strategic
and think about what is really going to make us some money.
-Make us some cash.
Cold, hard cash.
Suzannah and David have finally managed to start their car
and it's game on with them, too.
I feel a particular sense of, erm,
revenge, I think, is the word I'm looking for,
given that they abandoned us in our car.
Crikey! This game's really hotting up
as they drive towards the town of Dunstable.
Suzannah's a seasoned traveller,
and there's one country she loves to visit above all.
How much time did you spend in India?
-I spent... Oh, I've been there seven times.
-I love it so much.
-Such beautiful countryside.
-Colours, amazing food.
-And, I mean, glorious things, the artwork.
It'd be amazing if we could find something Indian today.
Well, that's something that we'll look out for.
With that thought in mind, they're motoring to today's first shop.
Look at this! I mean, stuff pouring outside. Oh, you're straight in.
-Look at this!
-Oh, I say! What are we looking at there?
Isn't this a beauty?
Hey, like a vintage-seeking missile,
Suzannah's straight to an object once again.
If I have children, I think I'll get one of these,
rather than the modern things. Doesn't it look amazing?
It is absolutely amazing. Is it Silver Cross?
-Is it actually THE brand?
-Is it, really?
-Is that a special brand for prams?
The British company Silver Cross was founded in 1877
and lays claim to inventing the world's very first baby carriage.
This is probably a mid to late 20th century example.
-It's in really good condition. Is there a kind of retro interest?
-Yes, there is.
They're taking note of that quality perambulator
and strolling inside to meet the dealer, Richard.
-Hello, how are you doing?
-Pleased to meet you.
-How do you do?
Pleased to meet you, Suzannah.
I'm Tim. This place is absolutely stuffed.
-Does it make you feel daunted by seeing so much stuff?
-I want to get going.
-Good, that's great.
-Nothing scares you, actually, does it, really?
-But hopefully that's not...
-There are no heights involved.
No heights involved, OK, only lows.
Well, no, we're going to have some highs as well.
We're going to find some good stuff.
High quality, low ticket is the name of this game.
-Well, another nice-looking thing is this brass tray here.
Definitely Indian. Now, that's got age, I feel.
-Do you want to have a look at it?
I think this is a thing of beauty.
Inspired by Suzannah's love of all things Indian,
they've alighted on a brass tray from that very subcontinent.
OK, tell me about this. Why do you love it?
Just the delicacy of the carving.
I mean, yeah, it looks just like a fine thing.
-I mean, it's a beautiful thing.
-Date-wise, what's your instinct?
-Early 20th century.
-I think this is the period of the Raj, isn't it?
Much as they love it,
David's not sure it will stand as a lot on its own,
so they're looking for something to go with it -
another Indian piece, perhaps.
-We could make a tray of delights.
Something else, though, has caught their attention.
OK, that is seriously for nothing. I mean, it's an incense burner.
It's not fabulously old, but it wasn't made last week.
It's a censer for burning incense,
ticketed at only £12 and probably hailing from east Asia.
-It could be... It may be Buddhist, then.
-It's probably Buddhist.
I think you would probably say it was early 20th century,
mid-20th century, in a much earlier style,
but it's got the look.
And I tell you what, it's got the price -
12 quid, we should be running out with that.
-That might be quite nice with our brass tray.
-Do you fancy that tray?
-I really like the tray.
-And I really like that.
So, with tray and censer, off to Richard they trot.
Ticket price on the two combined is £30, so watch out.
-How much are we going to pay you for them?
-Er, £30 would be good.
But if we weren't to pay you £30, what would you accept for them?
-Ha, very good.
I think 25 is where I'm at.
But will he go any lower?
I'll knock another pound off if it makes the difference,
-there we go. 24.
-You didn't even have to speak.
I just had to stand here and exude this sense of reprimand.
-Have we done it?
-Let's go for 24.
Deal done there, then, but David's still on the hunt.
All right, I can't keep my hands off proper period furniture.
This thing screams, you wouldn't believe it,
early 19th century, c18th century, the Regency period. It screams it.
These shelves are priced at £18.
I promised to show Suzannah something real and antique,
and I think this is the first real antique I'm going to show her.
And so he'll corral Suzannah and Rob, the dealer who owns them.
I've got to tell you,
-I think they're ridiculously cheap - and I shouldn't be saying that.
I know I shouldn't be saying that,
but I can't help it. I'm out of control.
Pull yourself together, boy.
-It's a very good price.
-Tell him it should be more.
You're really bad at this negotiating lark.
I know, I don't know what's happened to me, yeah.
-What do you think, Suzie?
-I think we take them for £15!
Shall we have them? Shake his hand, we'll have them at £15.
Yet another buy in the bag,
but they've still got an eye on that classy vintage pram outside.
It's marked up at a substantial £180 - nothing babyish about that.
In auction, it needs to be well sub-100. It really does.
Are we going to get well sub-100, Rob?
The best I can do is 95.
I think that's a good buy.
-There's a twinkle in his eye, though.
I think there's a bit of flexibility there.
-I'll shave another fiver off.
-You're being very fair.
-I think you'll do well on it.
-That's very generous.
That's a very productive shopping excursion.
Can I get my shelf unit in there?
Hang on, if you're going to be doing all the pushing,
I might as well let you do that as well. How's that?
-OK, you hold it steady.
-And I'll guide you through. That's it, to me.
Always the way, isn't it? Always the women's work. Always the way!
There you go.
-I like you very much, but...
I'll follow you.
At a distance, I'm quite embarrassed at this point.
Like a rag-and-bone man.
Now, Kate and Catherine already have four items,
so they're taking a break from buying.
What does it feel like, driving this amazing car?
-Isn't it incredible?
-But it's also quite sporty. I feel quite sporty.
I feel completely Girl Power. I feel like we could be in LA,
going along together with the palm trees and the top down.
Well, they're not in LA!
But they are aiming for sunny Luton.
As well as a history buff,
Kate's also a dedicated follower of fashion,
so this morning, they're going to learn about the enormous role
that the Luton area played in the world's fashion scene
in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
They're heading for the Hat Factory,
where they're meeting Luton cultural head of collections Elise Naish.
Oh, my goodness! Oh, I love it. These are incredible!
Right up until the 1990s,
this building was a busy, working hat factory,
and it was the millinery industry that transformed this town.
Luton's association with the hat industry goes back to the 1700s,
but it wasn't till later that it really took off, you know,
sort of the 1800s.
So, Luton was hat-central.
It was one of the key industries here.
In the heyday, we had thousands of companies
working around in the town.
It's very well placed here, isn't it, cos you've got London,
-it's quite easy to get to London for the shops.
And quite good for the south coast, for export as well,
-for sending London hats to Paris.
Throughout the 1800s,
Luton's hatmaking trade expanded and industrialised,
employing more and more people,
and this had a terrific impact on the local area.
-I'm guessing the population grew.
I mean, between the late 1800s and the 1900s,
I think the population sort of quadrupled in size,
and some of the companies, like Connors here in the 1930s,
were employing over 1,000 staff.
So it was absolutely huge economic infrastructure
and employment in the town.
So, Luton was hat-central.
Were other countries competing, or was it all about the British hat?
No, there were other countries competing.
Italy and Switzerland were two of the major centres
where hat production was coming out of, so Luton really had to compete
with the quality that was coming out of...
-It was cut-throat.
People used to go and sneak to other factories
-and see what they were producing.
-No! Industrial hat spies?
-Industrial hat spies, absolutely.
-That's my job.
-I'm going to be a hat spy.
-They would come back,
they would work out what was fashionable, what the colours were.
You wouldn't believe the sneaking that went around.
So, some of the work ladies could have been hat spies
sent in to get ideas and nick the patterns.
It's like Willy Wonka.
Absolutely, yes. They could have well been hat spies
-in terms of that sort of thing.
And whether engaging in hat-based espionage or not,
the industry kept one particular part of Luton's population in work.
It must have created this incredibly skilled workforce,
because just look at the workmanship on there.
Amazing. And a lot of it would have been a lot of women, I presume.
It also gave women the power and money in terms of occupations
and, in fact, a lot of the hat companies
-were actually run by women.
-So the women were the breadwinners.
-I really think they were.
Luton was said to be a town where, if you wanted to come
and find a wife, you were more than likely to...
Oh, cos of all the hatmakers?
Because there were so many women involved in the industry...
This is the place to look for a girl.
This competitive industry fed an appetite for fashionable chapeaux
at a time when hats were de rigueur daily wear
for everyone in the country,
a trend that continued right up until the post-war period.
-But in the 1930s, Luton was producing 70 million hats.
-70 million hats a year.
-70 million hats.
When you think of everybody wearing a hat every day...
There's not that many people in the United Kingdom at that point.
Well, you had your work hat, you had your Sunday-best hat,
you had your special-occasion hat.
-It wasn't just one.
-No, it wasn't just one.
Fashions change, so you had to keep up with the Joneses
and have the latest model as well, too.
And Luton's milliners are still at the fashion vanguard today.
There are still around ten hatmakers in the town
and Kate and Catherine are visiting one of its most venerable.
Philip Wright runs his family hatmaking business,
which was first established in Luton in 1889,
so he's the ideal person to show Kate and Catherine
how a felt hat is made.
First, Philip takes a sheet of suitable felt
which has been soaked in water
and shapes it over a heated aluminium block.
So, we pop the felt up
and, over a period of ten minutes,
the felt will gently dry.
This gentle drying process gives the hat its shape.
Now is the time to take it down.
It's all about precision, isn't it, here? You've got to be very careful.
-Can I touch it?
-Yeah. So, now it's a lot firmer.
Oh, it feels... Lovely, and nice and warm. A nice and warm hat.
-It's like freshly baked bread.
-Freshly baked hat!
That is lovely, isn't it?
-And this process has not changed in centuries.
-This is how we've always made them.
-Always made them.
And, of course, these two stylish girls
can't leave without trying on a hat or two themselves.
Oh, I quite like that one.
There you go. Now, there is a mirror just over there.
Oh, I love that.
Suits you, Kate!
Meanwhile, David and Suzannah are still on the lookout
for another item, and they're heading to their next shop.
It's all in the hunt.
What we are today, Suzie, we're treasure hunters, yes.
We are pirates - pirates of the antique shops.
I've been called worse.
Arrr, Jim lad!
They're aiming for the Hertfordshire town of St Albans,
where, arriving at Ballito's Vintage Marketplace,
which today has quite a crowd.
Oh, you're all out enjoying the weather. Very nice!
-Good to meet you all.
-Which direction are we going?
They'd better get searching. Oh, goodie, more hats(!)
Don't worry, it is vintage and very dusty.
Hello! Look at you!
I'm sure that should be worn at an angle, shouldn't it?
-There's one behind for you.
-Oh, right, OK. Oh, yes!
You're so right there.
-Angled or not angled?
-No, not angled.
But they'd better look sharp,
as Kate and Catherine have now caught up.
-This is war!
-This is war.
Can you hear them? Let's move, move, move, move, move.
-What are we going to do...
-I'm in here.
You can come in if you want to, but it might be a bit scary.
-What are you doing amongst those clothes? What are you doing?
-David, where are you?
-Oh, hello! Oh, hello!
What are you doing down there?
-I gave the game away, I didn't hide very well.
-That was such bad hiding.
-Anyway, lovely to see you.
-Oh, yeah, great to see you.
-I'm not trying to avoid you in any way.
-What have you bought?
-We're not hiding or anything.
-I think you should go over that side.
That side looks like it's got so many things.
-I think you should go there.
-In other words...
Thank you for that helpful advice, Suzie(!)
-..they don't want us around.
-They don't want us here?
-Was it conveyed subtly enough?
I think they got the message.
It is a jamboree, jamboree emporium. Look at him!
Look at that!
It is an ant menu-holder.
It is indeed.
This large metal fellow is ticketed at £150. Gosh!
Don't you think he's kind of cute?
Little friendly person who'll offer you a menu?
No, "cute" doesn't come to mind when I look at that. Nasty!
So, Catherine's well and truly put the kibosh on that.
They'd better keep looking.
-Oh, Catherine, what do you think about that?
-I think that's lovely.
-No! Oh, my God...
Catherine, have you just approved of something I've come up with? '50s.
-I mean, I wouldn't use it, but I think it's lovely.
Cranberry and gold water set. I like that.
I could use that, I think it's really pretty.
This set of vintage jug and glasses
was ticketed at £48,
but, since then, one of the original five glasses
has been lost from the set.
They might be able to negotiate a knock-down price from dealer Eric.
It does say on the ticket five, and there's only four.
-There are only four there, yes.
-So, could that be, what, ten?
Can it be ten?
I think that's... Yeah?
-Thank you, Eric. Great doing business with you.
Thank you, Eric!
-Thank you very much, bye-bye!
-Thank you, goodbye.
Thank you, ladies, bye-bye.
Nearby, the other team are still looking for another item,
or are they just messing about?
Puts you in the shade, doesn't it?
We want something that nobody can truly value,
that no-one's ever seen before.
Like a laundry box?
-What is this?
-It's an ant!
It's an ant.
It's an ant.
-Now, that is outrageous on so many levels.
-You're right about the ant.
-It's a menu-holder.
Oh, I see, that makes sense.
It's a menu-holder. That's very cool.
In what world does that make sense?
They, too, have discovered our metal friend,
but this time it's our celebrity who's unconvinced.
This is the ANT-iques Road Trip.
-It doesn't want to be. It really doesn't want to be.
I need to speak to them and say,
"Look, how long have you had the ant menu-holder?"
"I don't know, as long as the antiques centre's been here?"
Exactly. Nobody wants him.
Can we buy him for 30 quid? He's not exciting you, I can sense that,
even though he is a genuine ant.
I'm trying really hard, but, erm...
-I mean, it's different.
Mark my words, everybody that walks into that auction will go home
and remember that they saw a metal ant menu-holder.
Now, I've come to trust you in the last couple of days.
Do you genuinely think we could sell this?
He does. So David will go and speak to the dealer.
You get to know and get to love the ant, whilst I find a human.
That's a really alarming thing to say.
It certainly is.
While Suzannah contemplates this turn of events...
It's kind of growing on me.
It's a weird creature, but increasingly endearing.
Are you talking about me or the ant?
Right, I've spoken to a human.
He's called the fellow that owns the ant
and, not surprisingly, the ant has been here for a very long time.
I think we can see that, yeah.
-OK. Now, we can buy the ant, 50 quid. That's it.
I want that ant. Do you want the ant?
-OK. Let's get the ant.
-Shall we have the ant? We've bought an ant.
You've bought an ant on the Antiques Road Trip.
Yeah. I'm quite anti, myself.
Now, both teams have all their items for auction.
It's time to unveil their purchases.
Shall we call our collection eclectic?
Eclectic is certainly one thing it is.
-Yes. Ant-ique is another thing.
-Do I spy an ant?
-Is that the ant?
Did you buy the David ant?
-Come on, come on.
-Are you ready? There is the ant.
It's the ant menu-holder.
-And then we are going to go like this.
-I adore that.
-Is that Silver Cross?
-That's so beautiful.
-When does that date from?
-I think that's probably 1970s.
-Has it ever had a baby in it? It's pristine.
-No, it has been used. It's got patination.
-Don't forget our other beautiful things here.
You've got lovely things.
-How much did you pay for the pram?
-How much did you get the pram for?
-I really like the pram.
-What did we pay for the pram? 90.
-90 for the pram.
I really, really rate that.
The pram is very popular.
But what of their other items?
This was our first purchase.
You couldn't have chosen a more apt item.
-Look how beautiful it is.
So it's 1846. And it's a history of the Reformation.
-So it's all about Luther. So it's about the 16th century.
It's a beautiful book. It has a lovely inscription,
which is, "Thomas Rogers, the gift of a young lady."
That's mysterious in itself.
I think that's very well-suited.
-It really is. You couldn't get better, could you?
No. All very positive.
But what will Suzannah and David make of their opponents' haul?
I have exactly that teacup at home!
-You do not.
That's quite a coincidence, isn't it? But what about the rest of it?
-And there's more.
-What is that?
-What have you bought?
-Which one's disgusting?
-It's her. She doesn't stop.
-The vase, it seems, is not a hit.
-It competes with the ant for weirdest thing ever on the Road Trip.
-I love it.
-You love it?
-There's a charm in ugliness.
-Yes, but you say you love it.
-I do love it. It's wild and wacky.
Says the man in the peppermint-green trousers.
Are you selling one, two, three, four objects as one lot?
-That's really good for us, by the way, just so you know.
What do they make of the massive samovar?
That would have been rather good, wouldn't it?
Missing a finial, I see.
-I really like that.
We are miles apart, and we wish you the very best of luck at auction.
I'm sure you do. I'm sure you do. We'll see you at the auction.
See you there.
But what do they have to say when their opponents' backs are turned?
What do we think?
Well, I love the pram. I think that could go for a lot of money.
-OK, their stuff - what's your favourite of theirs?
The little trinket thing is quite nice as well,
but I think they've paid for it what it's worth.
I think I was with you, and you're the best -
so we have to win because you're a genius.
I like our stuff.
-Maybe I'm just getting attached to it now.
-Even the ant?
-Even the ant.
With both teams set on victory,
it's almost time to put the first hammer down.
On this road trip we began in Bletchley, Buckinghamshire,
and find ourselves now aiming for auction
in the north London area at Southgate.
Suzannah and Kate have commandeered the Triumph and are on their way.
-Always fun to give this one a go.
-I know, it's an amazing car, isn't it?
Bless them for letting us try it out.
See these houses here, I think they could be enhanced by an ant.
Possibly. Or a vase.
Hopefully they're lived in by lots of yummy mummies who want that pram.
Of course they'll want that pram.
Today our battleground will be Southgate Auction Rooms,
where David and Catherine await.
Look at these two gorgeous creatures.
-Aren't they wonderful?
-You don't disappoint with the trousers, David.
He never does!
-So lovely to see you.
Hello. Lovely to see you.
-Are you ready to go?
Let's remind ourselves of who bought what.
Both teams started with £400.
Suzannah and David spent £189 on five lots,
while Kate and Catherine splashed out £222.50
and also have five lots in today's sale.
Our auctioneer is Bill Carrol.
Before the off, what does he make of our teams' buys?
The samovar. No, I like this.
We sell samovars here quite a lot.
But it's quite an unusual one. Silver-plated.
And what of the ant menu-holder?
It's unusual, I suppose.
Would you want it outside your restaurant? I think not.
But it's an unusual item,
so it's hard to say, really.
Oh, yeah! Thanks, Bill. Great moustache.
First up is Suzannah and David's book
on the 16th century Reformation,
accompanied by a dedication from Suzannah.
All done at £20.
-25. 30. 35.
-You're performing well.
-45, with you, sir.
All done at £45?
Hey, that turns a nice little profit for them.
A very positive start.
-Thank you, thank you.
Now it's Kate and Catherine's eclectic lot of vintage items,
including that linen basket.
10. Are we all done then at £10?
It was a bit of a mixture.
For the very last time.
HAMMER THUDS That lot's hung out to dry.
But there's still everything to play for.
-I think £10 was fair for this.
It's Suzannah and David's brass tray now,
inspired by Suzannah's Indian travels along with the Asian censer.
£20. 20. 25. 30?
-25, with you, sir.
-You're riding high.
Are we all done at £25 now?
Are we all done at £25?
It's £1. Ouch!
Not the flyer they were hoping for, but it's just about in the black.
Kate and Catherine's set of 1950s jug and glasses meets the room now.
Start me £20.
20 on the net. 25, then?
Are we all done at £20?
That's it. 25.
30, 30 on the net? No?
-Yes, 30 on the net.
35. 40. 45.
-Kate, you've got a new career ahead of you.
Are we all done at £50?
A crystal-clear winner there then. Well done, Kate.
That's very good.
The 19th century hanging wall shelves for Suzannah and David
now take their bow.
-Are we all done at £20?
-For the very last time...
..are we all done at £20?
A modest profit means they're hanging on in there.
-No. This is a disaster.
-That's still something.
It's a fiver.
Now it's Kate and Catherine's antipodean inkwell.
55 on the net? Are we all done?
55, a new bidder.
-60. 65. 70.
-They're on fire, these two.
75. 80. 85...
-..90. 95. 100.
-This is very bad.
-It's very good.
Is it? It's good.
Are we all done, for the last time, at £110?
HAMMER THUDS Excellent work.
Fantastic result. Well done.
Well done, you two, well done.
Another for Kate and Catherine now -
the heart-shaped trinket box.
All done at £50 now? Are we all done at £50?
And that sells smartly to make a nice little profit.
And now it's Suzannah and David's
most controversial lot.
We have bids on it already,
much to my surprise.
Don't say that!
Of course, it's our old friend the ant menu-holder.
75. 80 anywhere?
-Come on, Anty.
-Are we all done at £85?
No! One more.
All done at £85?
Ooh! He's certainly proved himself. The ant I mean.
-He didn't do too badly, did he?
-I think that's pretty good.
-You love it now.
-I have to hand it to you. That was you.
Suzannah and David's pram now, by Silver Cross.
£10 anywhere for the pram?
-It's a Silver Cross.
-Come on, come on. £10.
10! Yes. We've got to beat 10.
Are we all done for the very, very last time, £10?
That baby really went out with the bathwater. That's an unlucky loss.
David, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry.
-I can't believe it.
-Help me, help me. Please help me.
After that big loss, it's the last chance for a Kate and Catherine
as their sizeable samovar is up next.
70, I have.
170 with you, sir.
Are we all done at £170?
And that brewed up a very tasty profit for them.
You were fab. Can you come with me on all of these Road Trips?
Cos you were brilliant.
Yeah, she is, isn't she?
That was amazing.
Let's do the maths.
Suzannah and David began this trip with £400.
After paying auction costs, they made an unfortunate loss of £37.30,
leaving them with £362.70.
They make a lovely couple, though, don't they?
While Kate and Catherine also began with £400,
but they made a smashing profit of £97.30,
giving them a bumper total of £497.30.
So, Kate and Catherine are victorious.
You've done very well, you two. I can't believe it.
And it's time for our esteemed historians
to hit the road.
-That was fun, wasn't it?
-It's been so much fun.
I just wish we could do it every six months.
-It's been amazing, and you've been fantastic.
-You did very well.
It was great fun.
Cheerio, girls. You've been swell!
It is a journey into antiquity with historians Suzannah Lipscomb and Kate Williams. Paired with experts David Harper and Catherine Southon, they road trip from Bletchley in Buckinghamshire to an auction in London.
There is also opportunity to hear how Mrs Beeton became the first 'domestic goddess' and why Luton played a critical role in the fashion world when hats were de rigueur daily wear.
David and Suzannah gamble on a giant ant, while Catherine and Kate plump for a very large tea urn.