Tips on antiques and collectibles. This episode is a feast for the senses as epicurean curiosities come under the spotlight.
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For 11 years, you have brought us thousands of items to value
and often they're only worth a few pounds, but every now and then,
we hit the big time with items worth tens of thousands of pounds.
You might have something at home worth a great deal of money, but how do you know it if you see it?
Well, that's where we come in.
Welcome to Flog It Trade Secrets.
Today, we're in for a tasty treat
as we revel in the decadence of the luxuries from the past.
And we'll be getting a flavour of what's out there
to whet our appetites for stylish food-and-drink-related items.
But which of these collectibles has held their value today?
It's a show jam-packed with surprises,
and we'll be lifting the lid
on which of life's little luxuries
sell like hot cakes.
-Wow, this is amazing.
And which leave the crowd cold.
No, I'm sorry, ladies and gentlemen. That lot is unsold.
For the rich, dining was a great opportunity to display their wealth and the luxuries of life -
fine crystal glass, beautiful porcelain and silverware.
The simple act of eating was anything but.
Until recently, most families used their best china and silver for special occasions,
but nowadays, most of it is stashed away in cupboards, gathering dust,
and it turns up frequently at our valuation days.
And today, there is a very healthy collectors' market for anything related to food and drink.
So here are some of our best Flog It finds from over the years and what we've learned from them,
starting with a man who knows a thing or two about wining and dining.
Champagne has always been the luxury drink.
It has a certain mystique to it.
If you have a party and you can afford it, what do you go for?
You go for champagne.
You can make red wine anywhere in the world.
Champagne has to come from Champagne.
# Champagne Charlie is my name
# Champagne drinking is my aim... #
'I love champagne.'
Champagne is my wife's favourite tipple as well.
-Alex and Terry, you've brought a bottle of champagne along.
-In the hope that it might be worth something?
-You haven't thought of drinking it?
-No, it's too old.
Collectors of wine invariably don't buy the wine to drink it.
They buy it because it's rare and it's interesting.
And I was fascinated by it.
And the reason I'm interested in it is the year - 1943.
-So how did you get it?
-It was found in the bottom of my mum's larder.
-It had been there for donkey's years.
Pol Roger, one of the great, great champagne houses in Epernay,
which is east of Paris, which is where all the champagne comes from.
I do like a little tipple now and again. Not to excess, you understand.
So seeing a bottle with age is unusual.
This is 1943.
What was going on in 1943?
-Not much champagne-making.
There was very, very little produced during the war.
What was produced, the Germans drank a lot of and ransacked.
It's rare in its year.
A lot of the French makers, when the Germans were occupying,
steamed labels off, great labels and great clarets, and stuck other ones on,
so when the Germans pilfered these things, they thought they were getting a really nice 1930s Margaux
and they were getting something that had been made five minutes before.
They probably didn't notice when they got home. They just liked drinking.
It's worth, I would think, certainly £40 to £60.
-And somebody will buy it
because of the interest of the war,
coupled with the lack of production and the name.
-So can we put it in the sale?
-It's not doing any good where it was.
-No, it isn't.
-It's going under the hammer. Good luck.
-Roger & Co, 1943.
A bottle of French champagne. There it is.
Where will I start for this one? £40?
£10? 10, thank you.
£12. 15. 17. 17.
25. 27. 30 with me. 32.
5. 7. 37.
40? At £40, standing at the back.
-42 I see, thank you. 45.
-This is good.
-This is interesting.
In the doorway, it's yours at 70. At £70, I'm going to sell it. At £70...
-Thank you very much.
As it turned out,
that bottle of wine was a little more than a wartime curio.
Pol Roger 1943 is a classic vintage
worth between £150 and £200,
so at £70, someone got a real bargain.
So if you think you've got some bottles worth selling
or you want to start an indulgent collection,
Charlie has some tips for you.
Collectors of wine really want full cases,
rather than the odd individual bottle.
The great clarets need to have a history behind them.
They need to have been in a cellar at the right temperature, unopened.
Provenance is all-important with good wine,
So, as is always the case, look for history, story and condition
when investing in wine or champagne.
Without provenance, it won't be as appealing to the collectors,
as we discovered in Colchester
with this bottle, with a label from the 1920s, which didn't sell.
No, I'm sorry, ladies and gentlemen. That lot is unsold.
That bottle was in fact a rare white wine from the late 1800s,
worth at least £2,000 today.
It may have done better in a specialist auction
and that is where you should take wine which you think may be valuable.
But more importantly, stay away from the corkscrew.
Talking of corkscrews...
-Grace, Sophia, both friends, aren't you?
You've come along to Flog It today. You've brought this rusty old thing.
I remember a fascinating corkscrew.
It's unusual when a young girl brings something in.
What can you tell me about it?
It was my grandad's.
My dad said he remembers using it as a child, but other than that...
it's been in a box for 20 or 30 years.
If we open this up,
we've got everything we need to know, actually.
We've got Wier's Patent, which is 1884,
and we've got JHS and a B.
That's J Heeley and Sons.
I think they were working in Birmingham,
which is why you've got the B.
'It was made in Birmingham and I'm a Birmingham lad,'
but the fact that it enabled me to talk about corkscrew collecting
Now, it's what we call a lever action,
but what's very nice about this is it's a double lever.
Now, this basically means it's more complicated to make,
it's more expensive to make,
but it is not more effective as a corkscrew.
And they are rarer. What that translates to today is money.
What would you think something like that was worth?
I'd have probably said about 50 quid.
Most of them are worth about £50,
but there are those few, and this was one example,
that are worth so much more because of the rarity value.
Let's put £800 to £1,200 on it.
So that was a fantastic gift from your grandad.
Yeah. We only found it last week.
-We didn't know what it was or where it came from.
So, really whose is it in the family then?
It was my grandad's. I've been helping my grandma clear out
-Having a clear-out?
This is pretty special, isn't it?
It's helping to put Grace through university.
There we are. Where do you start me on the corkscrew?
I'll have to open the bids at 750.
I'm looking for 760 in the room. 750, 760, 770, 780.
780, I'm out of the mix. It's in the room at £780.
Do I see 790 anywhere else?
At £780. I will sell it at £780.
-He's going to sell it.
-Are you sure and done at £780?
Just shy of estimate at £780 and selling... Are you sure?
It's gone at £780. He's used his discretion and got that away.
-That pays for a lot more things at university.
-The money will come in handy.
-I'm a student, so every penny counts.
If you've got something like that
and you don't value it particularly,
it's not special to you and it's worth a lot of money,
and you've got a charge on your purse that you need to pay
like university fees,
why not sell it and make life easier for yourself?
Like so many of our old wining and dining accoutrements,
the corkscrew hadn't been used in over 20 years
and was found lying redundant in a box.
Now it's helping a relative through education and probably making a collector very happy,
so why not search through your cupboards under the stairs?
Maybe you've got a rusty old corkscrew that's worth three figures.
Next, Adam found another item that embodies the luxury of a bygone era.
These oyster plates may not have a place on today's table,
but they have a value, as Adam well remembers.
The majolica oyster plates, I knew you'd bring those ones up.
They're one of my biggest mis-estimates of my Flog It career.
Where are the oysters?
-I forgot to bring them.
-I'm getting hungry.
-I've ruined your day. Sorry.
So, clearly, these are majolica oyster plates.
Can you tell me how long you've had them and where you got them from?
They're my grandma's. She left them to my mum
-and they're still my mum's.
What attracted me to the plates, firstly, majolica is very popular,
oysters, well, what a luxury item...
They're made by the well-known firm George Jones,
one of the most famous majolica makers around the 1870s, 1880s.
They are the sort of thing that you could easily walk past
and disregard, especially because they were damaged.
-This one, as you can see...
-Has been eaten.
..has some old damage on the bottom.
It's got a few little chips and nicks here and there.
Majolica is very prone to damage.
In terms of majolica, there were only a handful of prominent makers.
There was Minton's and Holdcroft
and George Jones was one of the big names of majolica manufacture.
And there's the G and a J there, you see,
which is the George Jones mark.
This is a registration lozenge and we could look in a book
and it'll tell you exactly when this was produced - the day,
the month, the year and everything.
The fact that they were associated with the George Jones factory...
there was books on George Jones majolica...
They made other things. They made lots of ordinary ceramics
that no-one really cared a great deal about.
It's just the majolica that people want from George Jones.
-Any idea what they might be worth?
-No idea at all.
-Have you ever shown them to anyone else?
-My father died 13 years ago.
At that time, an antique dealer came to the house and he offered us £30.
-We weren't bothered, so we left them back in the cupboard.
I don't think that was the most generous offer,
but the maybe the market for majolica has improved a bit.
-I'd estimate £100 to £150.
-For the pair.
Damage is a real important factor,
as we keep banging on about on the programme,
so I didn't want to overburden them with a huge estimate.
That's the biggest turn-off to the potential buyer,
so hence the low estimate.
These belong to Rosalyn, George Jones majolica, great name.
We've got a valuation of £100 to £150 put on by our expert.
-It is a bit, isn't it?
-Especially for George Jones.
And a pair. It's not very often you see two of anything of George Jones,
but I like these, I think the colour's very good.
And I'm sure you'll find these will double or treble the estimate,
-your bottom estimate.
-We had a valuation of £100 to £150.
I had a chat to John, the auctioneer.
-He thinks they might creep to £300 to £400.
You want to put it nice and tempting.
-Hopefully, we'll get another great auction result.
-I think we will.
-This is it.
-One of the prize lots of the day, 170.
-And the commission bids start here
Oh, yes! That's a "come and buy me", Adam!
£750 I'm bid.
As the auction kicked off,
I soon realised that I had undercooked my oysters.
And 20. 850.
At 850... 880.
And they raced on. They kept going and going and going.
All done? Sold.
£980, how about that, serving up for you right now on those plates?
-I guess we missed a nought off that estimate, didn't we?
-That was a "come and buy me".
-It was. It was very conservative.
Oysters are meant to be an aphrodisiac,
but if I came home with £980,
I think that would be more of an aphrodisiac
than two broken majolica plates.
The oyster plates were damaged, but expert Philip Serrell explains why,
in this case, it didn't put the bidders off.
You never, ever want to buy really damaged items.
The only exception to that is when rarity dictates
that the only way you'll own something
is by buying something that might have a bit of damage to it.
So just because an item is cracked, it doesn't mean
it can't make you cash.
But if a period piece is in mint condition
and made of the finest quality, like this cocktail shaker,
the bidders will pay serious money for it,
as Charlie Ross found out.
What a stunning object!
What an absolutely typical object from the Deco period!
The shape, the materials from which it's made,
I think this is a real statement of the period.
I just looked at it across the room
and it just screamed "Charleston" at me
and old-fashioned cigarette holders and ladies in flappers and things.
It was such a great thing.
And the reason I really love it is that you twiddle the top round
and it's got all the recipes for each of the cocktails.
You've got a choice of about eight recipes.
That'd keep me going for an evening.
-That's a sure way to end up on the floor.
-Most of which contain gin.
-There's a strainer there.
You put your cocktails in there with the ice
and that will drain out lemon pips and a bit of peel and mint
if it's in there. Here we are, spout.
It's foolproof, isn't it?
They don't want to waste any of their cocktails.
A cocktail was a 1920s, 1930s drink,
based on gin or vodka or rum,
or even whisky, vermouth, whatever.
It was in mint condition.
Generally speaking, a cocktail shaker is not an item
of any particular value.
They're usually silver-plated, sometimes Bakelite.
So where did you get it from?
That came from my parents.
I think it might have been a wedding present. They were married in '36.
-I can't see my father buying one.
Did you bring it, thinking it will send you to the Bahamas?
I thought it might buy me a bottle of gin.
It's going to struggle to make more than £50, I would have thought.
My guide price would be perhaps 40 to 60.
It's not going to make £200 or £300 in a month of Sundays.
By golly, weren't we wrong!
It's a bit of fun and I'm sure this will do really, really well.
It's put a smile on everybody's face. We've enjoyed this moment.
Here it is, it's going under the hammer.
Lot 529, an early 20th century Art Deco cocktail shaker.
45 over there.
At 45. 50. 55. 60. 65.
This is amazing.
90. 95. 100. 110.
130. 140. 150.
-160. Behind you at 160...
-On the phone, 170...
-It's an iconic design, isn't it?
-We would have been happy with 40 quid, wouldn't we?
-You said 40 to 60!
-I think they missed a nought off. Didn't we say 400 to 600?
-This is astonishing.
-This is madness.
-This is a golden moment.
At 360, I sell in the room...
At 360. Are you sure you're out on the phone? It's an important piece.
Someone has designed a whole range of giftware on this.
Thank you so much.
And thanks for your advice - 40 to 60 quid!
A pleasure to be so incompetent!
Why did it do so well? It looked very good. It was in mint condition.
I don't think it had ever been used before.
It had those recipes, some of which I had never heard of,
but quite fun to experiment, and I'm sure whoever bought it
would have mixed all those cocktails within a week of buying it!
While they may not have a use in today's world,
these luxury items help preserve the memory of a more glamorous age.
All these items were handed down from past generations,
family heirlooms that might not look like they're worth much,
but the key is in the quality.
If it's a luxury piece, it's likely to be well-made
and therefore hold its value.
So have another look at that trinket from the '20s
your great-aunt left you.
If it's good quality or rare, it might be worth a bob or two.
If you're thinking of buying something from this period,
or in fact anything at all, turn the item upside down.
Look at it from every single face side.
Check the construction joints.
Look at it in detail. Look at it through a magnifying glass.
If it's too dark in the premises, shine a torch on it.
Well, if that lot gives you food for thought,
my next stop in Richmond, North Yorkshire,
is guaranteed to nourish the soul.
OK, it looks unassuming on this road right here,
but it is a Grade 1 listed building
and it has a very important claim to fame.
It's the oldest and most complete Georgian playhouse
in Britain. And that's a fact. All the good stuff is inside,
so without further ado so let's go in and view the piece de resistance.
In the early 1700s, there weren't any theatres in Britain,
as it was illegal to act for money.
However, plays were performed by travelling companies of actors
who found ways around the law.
From the 1760s, Royal Patents were granted to a few provincial theatres
but the biggest change came in 1788
with the passing of the Theatre Licensing Act,
which allowed companies of actors the right to apply for licences
to put on plays for 60 days at a time.
And it was shortly after this that a remarkable Yorkshireman
called Samuel Butler signed a 21-year lease
with the Richmond Corporation. On 2nd September, 1788,
this remarkable, unique little theatre was opened to the public.
And isn't it just marvellous?
It really is. It's so tiny. It's fabulous.
When it first opened, this venue was simply named The Theatre.
Butler's company of actors played not only here,
but at seven other theatres
that the entrepreneurial Butler had established across Yorkshire.
Sadly, in 1830 the lease on this building was never renewed.
The theatre and the Butler company parted ways.
Over the following centuries, a few odd performances
were played out on this very stage, but it was put to different uses.
It became a wine vault. During WWII, it was a storage depot
and, believe it or not, it was even an auction room.
Thankfully, the core and fabric of this very building
was never altered greatly.
That's why it's become so important to theatre historians,
because it's the best surviving example of a Georgian playhouse
The stage itself is typical of the period and is known as
a proscenium arch, which acts as a window to the action.
The stage is raked and is a foot higher at the back than the front
in order to give the audience a better view.
Today, the Georgian Theatre Royal can seat up to 214 people,
but back in the Georgian era, 400 eager audience members
would have squeezed in.
You can imagine how lots more people were jammed in this small space all together,
but which were the good seats and which were bad?
Up here is called the gallery and these are the cheap seats,
used by the young and dissolute.
To watch performances here in the Georgian period cost one shilling.
-Did you hear that? That was me!
This gallery has a unique Georgian feature - the kicking board.
That's exactly what you do to it.
The Georgian patrons would have used this
to show signs of disapproval if the act wasn't working out properly.
And I'm told it's still used today,
but only as a sign of approval to encourage an encore.
-More, please! More!
So that's how the Georgians would have watched theatre,
but I want to see behind the scenes.
I'm going to tread in the actors' footsteps as I head down underneath
through the dressing room to the very guts of the theatre.
I'm underneath the stage right now. There it is above me now.
This whole area is known as the machine room
and these are the footlights, or floats,
as they were called in the Georgian period.
These candles would have been alight in troughs of water.
This whole trough would have been winched up here,
going up to the stage to project light back on to the actors' faces.
And they were in water because if they fell over,
it would put the flame out and not catch on fire.
Perhaps one of the most exciting parts of the theatre
is operated from right down here.
That's the trap doors.
This enables items and actors to spring up out of nowhere
onto the stage. There were originally three trap doors here,
but now there's only one.
This is a reconstruction and, sadly, it doesn't work.
So I've got to take the long way back up.
The Georgian Theatre Royal holds such a prestigious place
in the history of theatre in Britain that many of our finest actors feel
it's a status symbol to have played here - Timothy West, Judi Dench
and plenty of other legendary actors have graced the stage here,
and yours truly is very proud to have visited this fascinating piece
of theatre history.
Throughout the series, we've been finding out which item inspired
our experts' love of antiques.
Here's the ever-theatrical Charlie Ross.
A French mirror!
When I left school and joined the firm of surveyors and auctioneers,
I started working in Buckingham in the saleroom. I was 19, 20.
And I immediately fell in love with furniture of all sorts.
And the mirror you see here was the first piece of furniture
I ever bought.
And I bought it as a present for my mum.
And it was completely knackered when I bought it.
I can't remember how much.
Let's say it was £12, £14, something like that.
And I had it restored, which cost considerably more,
and I gave it to my dear mother, who was thrilled with it
and used it throughout her life.
And subsequently when she died, it was left back to me.
So it's gone full circle
and it is, to me, the most precious piece of furniture.
No, it's not Chippendale, it isn't of huge significance,
other than sentimental value. It is a nice piece of furniture.
It's George III, it's mahogany,
it's serpentine-fronted. You can see it's a swing toilet mirror.
It has three rather capacious drawers.
It's a really nice piece of furniture.
£200 or £300? I dare say in the good old times, the late '70s, '80s,
it would have been worth probably £400-£600, but I don't care.
To me it's priceless.
Brown furniture, as it's called,
has dropped in value significantly in the last 20 years.
You can pick up beautiful pieces for a bargain in auction rooms,
but plan ahead if you're thinking of buying big bits of kit.
Make sure you have man with van on stand-by
if you've got something large that needs collecting.
If you don't collect it within one week of purchase,
there will be storage charge and insurance and VAT.
It will cost you a lot more.
As we know, the market can be a fickle beast,
but there will always be an appetite for good quality luxury pieces
related to food and drink. And you never know where those little gems
may spring from.
Let's put £800-£1,200 on it.
So I hope we've given you a little taster of what's out there
and served up some useful advice.
Join me again soon for more for more top tips
from Flog It's Trade Secrets.
Paul Martin and a host of regular experts offer tips and advice on antiques and collectibles. This episode is a feast for the senses as epicurean curiosities come under the spotlight. And Paul Martin nourishes the soul on a visit to Britain's oldest Georgian playhouse.