Paul Martin and experts offer tips on antiques and collectibles. The experts reveal what's hot and what's not in the world of sporting memorabilia.
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We've all got bits and pieces tucked away in garages and attics
that haven't been looked at for many years.
It may be you that's got something of real historical interest and value,
or something that a collector is looking out for.
It's a bottle of gin now, never mind a glass of gin!
For over ten years now on Flog It, you've shared with us your stories and items,
and today I want to share some inside knowledge with you.
Welcome to Flog It! Trade Secrets.
Among the thousands of things that you bring along to show us at our valuation days,
there's always something relating to our love of the countryside,
whether it's walking sticks or fishing rods.
And more often than not Flog It!
valuation days feature a few pieces of sporting memorabilia.
Of course, they're all gold.
So, stick around because today we're playing to win.
-Yes! The hammer has gone down.
Charlie Ross has an unusual game plan.
I'm working this out as I go along.
And David Fletcher is in for a few sporting surprises.
In all my years as an auctioneer I've never encountered one of those.
But let's get the ball rolling with some tips
from our match-fit experts.
Really go for the most prominent sportsperson that you can
and the most sought-after sport.
I see endless boxes and boxes of football programmes,
but it's really the pre-war ones that people are collecting.
Don't spend a lot of money on sporting memorabilia
unless you know its provenance.
The national excitement over the 2012 Olympics
is just the latest example of our nation's passion for sport.
It's a passion that's reflected at our valuation days.
We see all manner of sports memorabilia turning up.
-From the rare...
-It's a Sunday stick.
-..to the iconic...
-We've got David Beckham's boots!
..to the quite frankly bizarre.
I love the adult bats.
Collectors of sporting memorabilia are some of the most fanatical you are going to come across.
How many have you got in your collection?
I would think about 15 to 20,000.
This is what collecting is all about - a fanatic!
So, if you want to know the secrets and the inside track
on what's hot in the world of sport,
then get ready, we're under starter's orders.
Here are some of the most interesting items we've seen over the years.
If you have a sporting hero or a team you support,
you want sort of relics, objects,
that relate you to them.
And sometimes the memorabilia is literally related to its owner.
The nice thing about this group of medals is, they come from the vendor's father.
He'd gone and seen his father play, he had the whole history with it and he had all the records, as well.
So, this is your father here.
Yes. Ernie Pattison.
It was as complete an archive of that footballer's life
as I think it's almost possible to get.
We've got some of his original contracts, as well.
-Yes. That one, I think, is the Scunthorpe contract.
-This is the local interest one.
But what's more important is, we've got the medals.
-And, of course, they're all gold football medals.
-Yes, they are.
There was a nice history. He'd started off as an amateur,
he was a miner, and it had got him out of the mines.
He came from a mining village called Barlborough, near Derbyshire.
He left there when he was 16 and he went to play for Frickley Colliery.
And then Notts Forrest came and they signed him on,
and then he was transferred to West Bromwich Albion.
You had all of it, the whole story,
encompassed by a tableful of objects, which is lovely.
Any idea of value?
-I had them appraised locally for gold...
..just the gold itself, and it's somewhere between
£360 and £400, with the gold value.
Thankfully, the interest in football
takes them above and beyond that, you'll be glad to know.
I think we should put them in auction
at a reserve figure of, say, £700
and we'll put the estimate at eight to 1,200.
A sporting connection will often increase the value of an item beyond its weight in gold.
But auctioneer Colin Young thought Michael overshot the estimate
and revised it to £500 to £700.
But let's see how much it went for.
Lot number 275. Who's going to start me at £500?
Four to go, then, surely? £400. 400? Three? £300, anyone?
-That's far too low.
320. 340. And 360 on the book. At 360.
380 now? 380. 400.
-You can't buy gold football medals for 400 quid.
460 do I see? 460 bid now?
460 bid. At 460. 480. At 480 bid. Any more bids now?
At 480. 500 bid. At 500.
-It's going up.
-Just teased it.
At 500. 520 now. At £500, are we all done? Going this time.
-It's one interested bidder, isn't it?
-Any more bids from the net?
No. Any more from the room?
All done and finished, then.
They are sold at £500.
Well done, Colin. He teased that last bit out.
Colin knew his market and was right to bring the estimate down.
It was a bit disappointing,
but the most important thing is that the vendor's happy.
Thankfully, the medals sold for more than their scrap value.
If they belonged to a famous footballer, they would've sold for even more.
Here's our expert Michael, with the inside track.
If you're investing, really go for the most prominent sportsperson that you can
and the most sought-after sport.
So it's going to be football, it's going to be cricket.
I don't suspect you could buy Andy Murray's tennis racket
that he won the Olympic Gold Medal for,
but if you could, that's the sort of thing that will be an icon in 100 years to come.
Merchandise relating to big names in sport
is certainly worth looking out for.
But more obscure items can have value, too.
You never know, you might have something lurking in your garage
that's a treasured collector's piece,
but it's disguised as something else.
In all my years as an auctioneer, I've never encountered one of those.
I've never seen one of these.
I suppose it's possible I might've done and not known what it was,
but I was very surprised and pleased to see that.
-Have you hurt your leg?
-No. This is not really a walking stick.
-Is it not?
-No. It's a Sunday stick, as it was called.
You could go walking on a Sunday, when golf wasn't able to be played,
and you could use this to hit the occasional golf ball.
People would think you were out for a walk with your walking stick.
It evoked a time when people didn't take leisure on a Sunday.
Sunday was a day of rest. You didn't work and you didn't play.
-You weren't allowed to play golf on a Sunday.
-In certain places, no.
Like, St Andrews is closed on a Sunday.
So if you're out a walk, you would take this with you
and when no-one was looking, hit a few golf balls.
So, you'd be in trouble if you saw the minister coming along
-on the opposite side of the road?
That's when you spun it round and reverted to it as a walking stick.
And what a lovely story.
Doesn't it seem curmudgeonly to prevent people from playing golf on a Sunday?
You work jolly hard all week, you want a bit of fresh air,
and your local minister says "No, no, no!"
I think I'd rather be playing golf.
Now, this is going to appeal to collectors both of walking sticks
and, of course, people like yourself who are golfers.
-How did you come by it?
-It belonged to my mother. She had it for many years.
Although she wasn't a golfer, she was interested in golf and anything Scottish.
It's difficult to value something which you haven't encountered before.
It's very useful to get a bit of input from the owner,
and Richard, frankly, knew more about that golf stick than I did.
We're always very grateful for a piece of input like that.
It helps us to come up with a valuation.
I suppose, otherwise,
your valuation probably is instinctive.
I knew it wasn't going to make £400 or £500,
but I knew it was of some value.
Now, I would be inclined to estimate this
-in the region of £30 to £50.
If it made 50 or 60,
-I wouldn't be surprised.
But I can't see it making much more than that.
Collectors of golfiana, as it's called, what a horrible word,
tend to be reasonably well off and they'll spend money on their hobby,
and that'll end up in a collection somewhere.
I don't think the owner will take it out for a walk when he exercises the dog,
but I might be wrong!
I think this will go in Scotland.
There's a lot of golf memorabilia in Scotland.
-Here we go.
We have the Sunday stick in the form of a golf club.
-I'm bid 40 to start. At £40. 45. 50.
-That was good.
At £60. Anybody else left? 65. 70.
-Someone on the phone here.
£80. Are you all done?
£80 and we're away at 80.
-85. Just in time on the net.
At £85. All done, ladies and gents?
On the internet - the room's out - at £85.
-That's more like it, isn't it?
-That's a good price.
-Someone was serious about that. That's going in a collection.
-I hope so.
When it comes to sport and leisure you can collect anything from bats to books,
but how do you know what will reap you rewards in the future?
It's back to David Fletcher with some advice...
If I was collecting sporting items,
I would collect in the field which I either played or watched.
Clearly, if you're not a golfer you're going to get as much enjoyment out of a golf stick.
If you like football, collect football programmes.
If you like rugby, collect signed rugby shirts.
See if you can find something autographed by..
an All Black team from the 1930s.
That is where the potential lies, something which has got a bit of age and character.
That's a good tip from David.
To get a sporting chance of success in the saleroom,
look out for items that you have special interest in.
You're likely to know more about the subject and enjoy your buy,
regardless of its value.
But now to our most modest expert,
with a very personal connection to cricket.
I'm going to be in the Wisden Cricketers' Almanack
because I played cricket for Poland.
There you go. A surprised look from the director there!
Poland does have a cricket team and I'm half-Polish, my mother's full Polish,
and I qualified and played in a Euro cricket tournament for Poland a couple of years ago.
Did quite well, especially against Croatia!
So when I saw the autograph album, I thought,
"This is a good way of me giving some of my knowledge on cricketers
"and the famous names of olden-day cricket."
So your father got this book and managed to fill it with lots of autographs of famous cricketers.
All in the 19...
-..about 1924, I think.
So we'll look through...
This one was a particularly good one because it had some real old-time legends of cricket in there,
names like Jack Hobbs and Hammond and Sutcliffe
and all the big names.
When you get something really good like that, the price is hard to predict.
There's going to be a few famous Yorkshiremen there, I'm sure.
-That's great, isn't it?
It's a super album. There's a lot of interest to cricket collectors there.
I think it'll probably make between £100 and £200 for the collection.
-That could be good.
When we got to the auction room, I always thought it would do a bit better,
and there was a sort of palpable sense of excitement about the album,
but you don't know for sure until it comes under the hammer.
He absolutely loved it.
And he's got a buyer on the phone from Spain.
-It's going under the hammer now.
When the album came up for sale, Paul may have given me a slight indication
that this was going to go well.
As it came up...
150. 160. 170. 180. 190.
-..it went really quickly.
-This is more like it.
It was one of the more exciting auction moments that you can find.
580, our number-two telephone. All finished in the room?
Sold and away at £580.
-The hammer's gone down. £580.
I thought it might make two or 300, perhaps a little more.
As it happens, I think it made almost 500,
which was a bit more.
It's a new game - "Higher" she says "Higher!"
I can't believe it!
-Janet, what's the name of your grandson?
-Well, what do you think of that?
Part of the reason that the autograph album sold so well, I'm sure,
is because the autographs were not overlapping each other
and they were all done on a single sheet
so that later on, if you decide to sell it
or your descendants decide to sell it,
they will be able to maximise the profit out of it
by having the potential to split it up, if necessary.
So if you're a keen autograph collector,
get each signature on a different page
and don't write their name underneath.
Like most collections, they'll get split up in the future
so make sure there's room for the scissors to cut around them.
The Flog It experts have decades of experience and an encyclopaedic knowledge of antiques.
But sometimes, even the very best are left baffled.
I love to find something about which I know nothing.
And I think, unlike some people,
I'm very, very capable of putting my hands up and saying,
"I know nothing!"
I need you to tell me what it is. Let's just talk it through on the outside.
It's a bamboo...
basically a bamboo walking stick with a bit of carved bone on the top.
-It's not ivory, it's carved bone.
The age looks to me to be...
almost Victorian, probably Edwardian.
What an exciting thing to find. I thought it was just a walking cane.
When I pulled the top out,
I thought it was going to be a sword stick!
Does that give you a clue?
Was it a sword stick? No! It was a horse-measuring cane.
It's got the hands... Can we stand it upright? There we go.
-That shows the measurement there or opposite here?
-It would have to be there.
-It would show on there, yes.
-It couldn't be there because that would always be the same.
You're quite right!
I'm working this out as I go along!
And it was really beautifully made,
it had some restoration, but an unusual thing.
Difficult thing to value. I think I put about £50 on it.
Lot 237! Nice old horse-measuring stick!
These used to make an awful lot of money round Newmarket,
-and still do.
-All the traders used to have them.
50. 55. 60. 65. 70.
-75. The undertaker's in on this one.
85 with the lady. 85.
You see, it's equine memorabilia. Big money.
That lady there, at £85. Anybody else? Who's going to bid?
It goes with the lady, then, at 85.
It's remarkable, something like that,
that was used purely for the purpose for which it was intended -
measuring horses - has become a collector's item.
I don't suppose it'll ever be used to measure a horse again.
It's a fantastic piece of memorabilia.
Sporting memorabilia can certainly win gold in the saleroom
and there are a few things you can do to secure yourself a medal.
Look out for famous sporting names. If they're famous now,
there's a good chance they'll be sought-after in the future.
-He played for Glasgow Rangers.
-He's going to be well sought-after. Very collectable.
Collect a sport you're interested in.
If you're asking a player to sign their life away in an autograph book,
make sure the names could be split in the future.
Or you could take your sporting memorabilia to a specialist sports auction
where you might get a better price.
And one tip that applies not just to sport
but to all sorts of antiques...
Always buy something that makes you feel good inside, that puts a smile on your face
because it's always going to be a good investment, even if it doesn't go up in value.
If you could have any beautiful antique you liked,
what would it be?
I put that question to Charlie Ross.
If I wanted to own one thing in the world,
it would be a complete set of Wisden Cricketers' Almanack.
What is Wisden? Wisden is the cricketer's Bible.
First published, I think, in, er, 1864 and still being published today.
They are just a history of cricket,
and you can look up anybody.
I love using them today. You meet someone and they say, "My dad played for so and so"
and then when they've gone home you can look in Wisdens and check them out,
see if their dad did really play for so and so.
Because people tend to spin yarns about these things, dare I say it!
But for me, it's a complete fascination.
I'm a member of the Lord's Taverners, of the MCC.
I still, dare I say it, turn out and play the odd game of cricket.
There are about 150 volumes of Wisden,
of which I have 120, 125,
so I've got more to buy. But they're the expensive ones, of course.
The relevance of this particular Wisden, 1938,
it's got the scores from the 1936-37 tour of Australia,
England playing Australia Down Under.
Now, the bat has got signatures
of all the players that played in the test matches.
Some of the names are a little illegible now.
Signed in old fountain pen, it's hardly surprising they're illegible.
But if you look up the Wisden, you can check all the names so you've got the full teams.
That, for me, is real history.
This bat belonged to Len Hutton who was playing for the England team.
And at the top of the Australian list is the signature of Donald Bradman,
the greatest cricketer that ever lived - by miles.
I don't think anybody would argue with that.
If you're a good batsman,
you average 40 or 50 runs per innings.
Quite simply. Donald Bradman's average when he finished playing
Had he scored four runs in his last ever test innings, he would've averaged 100,
twice as much as anybody's ever averaged, or nearly twice as much.
Sadly, he was out for nought.
But they say that possibly a tear in his eye got in the way of the ball.
I think Charlie might shed a tear when he sees which Flog It! expert
appears in this year's almanac.
Cricket is just one sport we Brits are proud to have invented.
But not all lawn games that evoke an image of Englishness were born on our shores,
as I found out in Devon.
There's something quintessentially English
about playing croquet on a lovely summers day like this,
on a very smooth velvety lawn.
This particular croquet court is at Castle Drogo,
in the heart of Devon.
But far from being the embodiment of Englishness,
the game is thought to possibly have been French,
developed around the time of William the Conqueror in 1066.
The game was recreated to construct the battle scenes where William the Conqueror's army
were marching through the ranks of Harold's defenders.
Over the next few hundred years the game grew in popularity,
and when James I descended to the throne of England in 1604
he brought his croquet equipment down from Scotland,
and along with it... his golf clubs!
Well done! Roger, it's a pleasure to meet you.
You're chairman of the Budleigh Salterton Cricket Club,
so you must know all there is to know about this wonderful game.
I think the game really is lost in the midst of time.
There are many, many old references to the game.
But the modern game can be traced to 1851, to the Great Exhibition no less,
when it was a demonstration game,
and it came in from Ireland with the kind of rules that we play these days.
Has the game developed much over the years?
Oh, yes. It's developed considerably.
Like most games, it's developed mostly because people get so good at it.
Therefore, the rules get modified to make it more difficult.
So you and I will play a game, we'll have one ball each.
-I'll be yellow. What are you going to be?
-I shall be blue.
-OK, come on, then.
-We've got to what?
-Get in front of the first hoop.
-You always know the first hoop because it's got a blue top.
-Blue top. First hoop, blue top.
Find my line...
That's not bad at all. That's very good, Paul.
Let's see if I can do as well as that.
That's a good effort.
-That's the way it could go.
-Now that is a good shot.
That's a very good shot. He's a cunning old fox, isn't he?
-It was so close, wasn't it?
-It just turned at the last minute!
-Look at the grin on his face!
-That was good!
Run that and you've won. That's a lovely shot.
Well, I think you let me win that, Roger.
But we've gone through all the hoops,
that's the end of the game, what's this peg for in the middle?
There's another version of the game. It's not usually played by people just starting,
because croquet's all about fun and they like to be able to play and socialise.
-And have a few drinks while you're doing it!
-What's this game called?
-Shall we peg out, so they say? Shall we have a go at hitting that?
-Let's do it.
-Ready? Who's going first?
-You go first.
-Well done. Thank you.
-I think it's time for Pimm's.
I've often wondered what some of our successful owners
have done with the money in the past.
You probably have, as well. We've caught up with a few of them.
Today, we hear how the sale of a silver plate
helped Berenice Williams realise her artistic dream.
I think I've always been artistic and always wanted to paint,
but with a very busy life, with three children,
I never really had the opportunity.
I had a very nice silver tray
and I wasn't quite sure what it was used for.
Where does it live in your house?
Well, it sits on the coffee table in the sitting room
and it gets knocked around by the grandchildren,
so I just thought, "What a pity. I'll bring it to you and see if you liked it."
Unless you're living in a bungalow, you've got it on the wrong floor.
-This belongs in the bedroom.
-This is a dressing table tray.
It's very commercial at the moment. It never really falls out of fashion.
-Let's put it into auction with £100 to £150 on it.
-Let's put a reserve of £90 on it, fixed,
-and let's see how it goes.
-Here we go. It's going under the hammer.
80. 80 a bid there only. At £80. Five anywhere now?
At £80. Five. 90. Five.
-Silver's selling well here today.
-I hope Uncle John's watching from up there.
-I bet he is.
-140. 150 now.
At £140. All out in front of me, then? At 140...
-He knows his onions, doesn't he?
-That'll pay for my art now.
-What sort of art? Art classes?
I'm just going on some art courses and the next one is £140.
-It was meant to be!
So it all seemed very fortuitous
that my silver tray sold for £140.
I'm a very fast painter.
And I like using acrylics
because you can actually be quick,
and then if you make a mistake, you can get rid of it
and paint over it and they dry quickly.
There is a large exhibition in Reading
with over 400 exhibits,
and I sold quite a few paintings there,
which was absolutely amazing to see those red dots.
And I got highly commended, as well.
So obviously, like everybody, I've got a long, long way to go,
but I just feel that I've made a lot of progress,
and probably it all started
with my £140 from my silver tray at Flog It.
'It just goes to show, selling unwanted antiques
'can lead to more than just cash in your pocket.
'We hope you've been inspired
'by our snapshot of the intriguing items
'that reflect our love of sport.
'If you've got an object an home that you're tired of looking at...'
Dust it down. You never know, a collector may want it.
I hope you've enjoyed today's show. See you next time for more Flog It! Trade Secrets.
Paul Martin and a host of regular experts offer tips and advice on antiques and collectibles. The experts reveal what's hot and what's not in the world of sporting memorabilia.
Presenter Paul Martin learns the secrets of croquet from a pro, while Charlie Ross explains the appeal of cricket bible the Wisden Almanack.