Found, Part 2 Flog It: Trade Secrets


Found, Part 2

The Flog It! team take a look at items people have found and brought along to valuation days, and Paul Martin goes on a special kind of treasure hunt on Dartmoor.


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Transcript


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In over ten years on Flog It

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we have valued thousands of your items and we've stood by you

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in the sale room, as they've gone under the hammer.

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APPLAUSE

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£600.

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-Yeah!

-Yeah!

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And during that time,

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we've all learnt a great deal about antiques and collectables

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and now I want to share some of the knowledge with you.

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So sit back and enjoy as our experts let you in on their trade secrets.

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I'm always saying that collecting antiques is the ultimate recycling.

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They are, by definition,

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second-hand, third-hand and fourth-hand

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and many are past their best

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and they end up getting thrown away.

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But as we discover, it's those items which have ended up on the scrap heap

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or hidden away in a forgotten corner, that prove that sometimes

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you CAN get something for nothing.

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Bang! The hammer's gone down.

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Coming up: our experts tell us their secrets of good detection.

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Sometimes all that glistens is gold.

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We hear about when you have the nose to sniff out a find.

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What a clever bloke to pick them up.

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And how a hunch can sometimes earn you a fair old sum.

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Here are our experts' tips on what to do

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if you think you've unearthed something valuable.

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Not every car has a mascot on the front telling you who made it.

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But when you open the door and look inside,

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it's fairly obvious whether it's a Lada or Rolls-Royce.

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And the same is true with antiques.

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You do your research. It's all out there for you

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in books and the internet.

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And even just asking questions.

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If you think you've unearthed something of value,

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if your have a trained eye, or even amateur eye,

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you can tell whether it's well-made and something that's got weight to it.

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You should be able to pick it up and think, "Yes."

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Even if you're thinking that, take it to someone who might know.

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Take it to your local auction house.

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Over 900 Flog It valuation days

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and you still surprise us with the array of discarded and overlooked treasures you bring in.

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But sometimes, something comes along

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that is not about the monetary value

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but about our own social heritage.

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This next find in the north-east

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appealed to the inner geek in David Fletcher.

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I believe it's from the Swan Hunters Wigham Richardson shipyard on the Tyne.

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It lists all the ships that were built during that shipyard's life, I believe.

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At each launch, all the visitors and dignitaries,

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captains, admirals, both local and national, signed the book

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at the launching of the ship.

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There was a bit of me that was a bit excited.

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'Although I wouldn't claim to be any good at interpreting old documents,

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'that one shouted at you, really.'

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You didn't need to be an expert to see the appeal.

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Amazing.

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These superbly illuminated pages.

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Each one with a flag or a spray of flags.

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HMSAS Natal.

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Presumably Her Majesty's South African ship Natal.

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And there's a South African flag.

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And some signatures beneath that.

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One of whom is the High Commissioner for South Africa.

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And then it's interesting to note that in the early days,

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we really just have signatures.

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And we go back to 19...

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..11. That's the first entry.

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The social importance of something like that is enormous.

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It tells a tale of the splendour, really,

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that was British industry in the middle years of the 20th century.

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I must say, it's the best thing I've ever seen on Flog It.

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The flags were fantastic.

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There were some big names there, too.

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So it had more of an instant appeal than the average document.

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It wasn't quite as crusty as some of the books in this lovely library appear to be.

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How did you come by it?

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I believe it was found in a skip down in the area where the shipyards were

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at a clearing out of the shipyards.

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It was given to me a few years later by the person who found it in the skip.

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When the shipyards closed, people just chucked things away.

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They had no commercial value.

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And, at the time, they seemed to have no social or historical value.

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And people just threw them away.

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It's very regrettable.

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'To pick up a document like that

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'in that lovely leather binding'

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and just chuck it. Who could do that?

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It's been lying in the book case at home for a lot of years.

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And now is the time for somebody to have it who'll appreciate it more than I would.

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It's practically impossible to value something like this.

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But I would be inclined to give an estimate of three to £500.

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And I would suggest a reserve of 300.

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Did David find someone like-minded amongst the bidders

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who understood its social significance?

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Lot 110. One of my favourite lots.

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The leather-bound visitors book.

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One commission bid.

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I start at £300.

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It's sold.

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At 300. 310.

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To my right. In the room at 310.

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320, anybody?

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At £310.

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20, yes or no?

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At £310. Are we all done?

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Thank you so much for bringing it in.

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-A lovely bit of heritage.

-Thank you.

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Not a bad price for an item that nearly ended up in the dump.

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And yet it's worth so much more in terms of historical significance.

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I was delighted to find it had been bought by the shipyard archivists.

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That was fantastic.

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This book started out at the shipyard

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and incredibly has found its way home

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to a place where researchers can learn about the region's social history.

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It's nice that one turned up. But for every one that turns up,

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there are thousands lost forever.

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Think twice if you come across old documents

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that don't interest you.

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They could represent an important part of British history

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and someone out there will snap them up.

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One item had Charlie Ross reminiscing about his own social history.

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Imagine seeing something at a Flog It

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that I hadn't seen for, crumbs, 40 years?

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No, 50 years plus!

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Babar books!

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They are wonderful.

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I looked through a few of them

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and I recognise so many of the actual pictures.

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Not just Babar himself

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but some of the characters in the books.

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It's terribly exciting for me.

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I can remember the stories being read to me

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by my parents when I was small.

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And I think they lasted long enough for me to read to my children.

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I don't know where they are now. Probably got torn and scribbled in.

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Never scribble in a book!

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Never colour a book unless it is a colouring book.

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It completely wrecks the value.

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These books need to be mint condition to make top dollar.

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How did you get hold of them?

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Many, many years ago, I worked for a motoring organisation.

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In those days, I was on a motorcycle and side car.

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-Yep.

-And one day, between Raglan and Usk,

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in one of the lay-bys,

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all these was thrown out!

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-No.

-I looked through them

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and collected them up and took them home.

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What a clever bloke to pick them up.

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Yes, they're 20th century,

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but in another 20 years, they'll be 100 years old.

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The original author, Jean de Brunhoff, was French.

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-So I understand.

-He was born in 1899

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-and these are dated...

-1934, '35, '36, '37 and '38.

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'38 is interesting,

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because I thought he died in 1937.

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-I presume it was just published the year after he died.

-Possibly, yes.

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So to have five in a run,

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at the end of his life,

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I think is very exciting.

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Lovely, lovely colours.

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Big, big images.

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The illustrations are wonderful.

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-They are very nice.

-Just fantastic!

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I'd like to stay here and read them all.

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There is one other image. Look at that!

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I remember that so well.

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I think he was genuinely surprised to find that they were of a value.

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I think that these volumes are worth over £100.

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-Are they?

-I do.

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I think we'll estimate them at 100 to £200.

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I think there'll be no shortage of people wanting to buy these.

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If I were allowed, I'd buy them myself!

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Well, you can't, Charlie. Give someone else a chance.

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Was anyone as enchanted with them at auction as Charlie?

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Lot 622 is The Story of Babar,

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five in the set here.

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£100 I have to start. £100.

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110. 120. 130.

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-140. 150.

-Going well.

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-Takes me out at 150.

-On their way.

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150, now. At £150.

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Are we all done, then, at £150.

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Yes. Sold. £150.

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-In and out, virtually.

-Yes.

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Lovely things. Good illustrations.

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-Very nice.

-Good for you for looking after them all that time.

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They've been in the attic for ages.

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I think collecting children's books is a fascinating thing.

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It's a bit like toys. Do you use them or tuck them away and keep them in mint condition?

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The answer, of course, if you're interested in investment,

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is to keep them in mint condition.

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If you want to read the book, read it.

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There's a very healthy market for the first print or first edition of a children's book.

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The most valuable you can own are those by famous writers.

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If you also have a signed copy, you're in the money.

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This signed edition of a Beatrix Potter book

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would sell for £10,000.

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Not exactly child's play!

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Sometimes it takes you, our visitors,

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to rescue an item that would otherwise be lost to posterity.

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Our expert Philip Serrell was delighted to be the recipient.

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How did you come by it?

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I'm a stonemason by trade.

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I was working on a house in Weymouth

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and they had a skip there that people were using for the job.

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And I went to put something in the skip and I knocked a box over

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that someone had chucked in there

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and I saw this in there.

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It was rolled up. I assumed it was costume jewellery.

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That's a good example of "one man's rubbish is another man's jewels."

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-What do you think you've got?

-I thought it was amethyst.

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I'm not sure. Some are a purple colour and some aren't. But I'm not an expert.

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When I told my friend Andy I was coming here today, my mate,

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he just thought I was mad.

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"It's not even gold." I said, "I'm sure it's gold."

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-What does Andy do?

-He's a stonemason, too.

-Stonemason.

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Tell him to stick to stonemasonry!

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I can understand someone discarding that necklace

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but sometimes, all that glistens IS gold!

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And it was in this instance.

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If you just flip that over,

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have a look through there.

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See that little tab that says nine carat?

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Oh, yes.

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-That's nine-carat gold.

-Nine-carat gold.

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Are they amethysts? Truth is, I don't know.

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I think they're probably paste, in all truth.

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-Would you ever wear this?

-I don't think I would.

-It's quite showy.

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Yes, I prefer personally something plain.

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But I can see that somebody would like it.

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They were a lovely, lovely couple. They're rescued something, is how I look at it.

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Rescued something that had been discarded.

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And they'd owned it but it wasn't being used

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and they realised that not using it, give someone else the chance to own it. Bring it to Flog It.

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In a way, it's a happy result all round.

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So we'll put this into auction with an estimate of 30 to £50.

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-Is that OK?

-Yes, that's fine. Yes.

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The hardest thing about our job

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is telling someone something they thought was priceless is worthless.

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And the real joy is telling someone

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that something they thought was not worth much is actually good.

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Well, how about if we put it in with a three to 500 estimate?

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-Well, that would be even better!

-Amazing!

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No, we'll leave it to Adam.

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OK? We'll tell him we want a minimum reserve of £200 on it.

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And if he wants to estimate it anywhere - I mean, if they're amethysts,

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it might be that it's five to £800.

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-They're a lot more expensive, are they?

-Yeah.

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If they're not amethysts, it might be two to four, three to 500.

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It's that ballpark. We'll tell him we want a fixed reserve of £200

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and where he goes after that is up to him, really.

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Depending on what he finds. Are you happy with that?

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-Yeah.

-Very happy with that.

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So, was it their lucky day?

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280.

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290. 300.

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320. 340.

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360. 380. 400.

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420. 440.

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-Didn't see this coming!

-No.

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420. Any more now? At £420.

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440. 460.

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480.

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500.

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520?

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£500. At 500.

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At £500. All done, then? Selling.

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At £500.

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Bang. The hammer's gone down. 500 quid.

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You go barmy when you have a skip and somebody dumps their clutter in it!

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-You do. But we don't mind that.

-Excellent.

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Were those real amethysts? I don't know.

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But I'd guess, with the money they made, they must have been.

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As a rough rule of thumb,

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if you've got a piece of glass, you put it in a bit of tin.

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If you've got a quality stone, you put it in gold.

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In a way, that's a really good indication of whether you have a good thing or a bad thing

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in your hands or even round your neck.

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What a gem of an item.

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But remember, you must always ask permission from the skip owner before helping yourself.

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Here are my trade secrets about what to look out for

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if you unearth something that tickles your interest.

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It's easy to overlook dusty old documents, but don't.

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There's a niche market for things that tell of our social history.

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Unlike historical documents,

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which can have the patina of age,

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if you come across an old book from a famous author

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that you think could be rare, keep it pristine

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and get some specialist advice in this highly sought-after field.

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While luck played a part in each of these finds,

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each person had the wherewithal to pick them up

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rather than walk on by.

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Be alert. If you come across something that looks a bit special,

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go with your instinct and investigate.

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You could be sitting on a gold mine!

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The little boy or girl in all of us often imagines discovering treasure.

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So what better way to indulge the dream than by going on an unusual kind of hunt,

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on rugged Dartmoor.

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I'm here today to try out something a little bit different,

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something I've not really come across before.

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And that's the unusual hobby of letter-boxing.

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Letter-boxing was developed for the very first tourists on Dartmoor.

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It's basically a giant treasure hunt.

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You follow the clues to find the hidden letter boxes

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and it takes in all the 1,000 square kilometres of the National Park.

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I'm here on an orienteering-style treasure hunt,

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which is basically a hunt all over Dartmoor, as far as you can see,

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using map references and clues looking for hidden boxes.

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Traditionally, once you found one of these boxes,

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you would leave your calling card with your details on it

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so the next person to find that box would see your card and send it to you in the post.

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He would leave his card, and the next person finds that, and it goes on and on.

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Now, some traditional aspects of letter boxing have been kept alive,

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but it's not necessary to leave your personal details today.

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What you have now is an individual stamp which you find in each box.

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You collect the stamps. And that's exactly what I'm going to do.

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It all started here in 1854 with James Perrott,

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a local guide from Chagford who took early tourists deep into the moor.

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He built a small cairn of rocks at Cranmere Pool,

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a popular walking destination,

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where he placed a stone jug.

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This has been recognised as the very first letter box.

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150 years later,

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it's still going strong.

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And Roger Poole, co-chair of the prestigious Dartmoor 100 Club,

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is going to initiate me into the secrets of this historic pastime.

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I've been given all I need in my rucksack.

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So where do we go first? What do we do?

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Well, we need some clues and a map.

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-Fortunately, I've got the clue book.

-OK.

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I've also got a map of the area.

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Where are we? What are we looking at?

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We're at Shilstone Tor in grid 65.

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And we look in the book and it gives us a clue for the tor.

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It says, "Tor 172 degrees,

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"and a white chimney is 86."

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Is that the white chimney over there?

0:17:510:17:53

That's the white chimney that you can see in the trees.

0:17:530:17:56

So if you look through the compass...

0:17:560:17:59

-That's dead on... It's just under 80 degrees.

-Right.

0:17:590:18:03

Now take a bearing of it on the tor.

0:18:030:18:05

-That's the tor.

-That's the tor.

0:18:050:18:07

That says...150 degrees.

0:18:070:18:10

So we've got to move over that way at least 25 degrees.

0:18:100:18:13

I see how this works, now!

0:18:130:18:15

-So if we walk towards the chimney...

-Yeah.

0:18:150:18:18

If we head up towards that way.

0:18:210:18:23

'By keeping two landmarks in constant view,

0:18:230:18:27

'we can calculate our route to the letter box.'

0:18:270:18:29

-There's our chimney again.

-Is that about right?

0:18:290:18:32

It's about 83. I think we need 86.

0:18:320:18:35

And we need 172 on the tor.

0:18:350:18:37

-Virtually 172, 173.

-So we're spot on?

0:18:370:18:41

So if we keep tracking this way,

0:18:410:18:43

it's got to be around here, somewhere.

0:18:430:18:44

Now, the rest of the clue. It says, "The box is under a boulder,

0:18:440:18:48

"a backward L-shaped."

0:18:480:18:50

That's a boulder.

0:18:500:18:52

That's L-shaped.

0:18:520:18:53

You're like a schoolboy running round a playground, aren't you?

0:18:560:18:59

How big is this box, Roger?

0:19:000:19:02

-It's a little white pill pot. Like that.

-Right. OK.

0:19:020:19:05

I was expecting...

0:19:050:19:07

No, no, no.

0:19:070:19:08

There it is!

0:19:080:19:10

See if it's the right one.

0:19:120:19:14

OK.

0:19:150:19:16

There's the stamp.

0:19:180:19:20

So what you need to do is get your stamping gear out.

0:19:220:19:25

It's probably hidden away.

0:19:250:19:27

If you want to take a copy.

0:19:270:19:29

-I've got a special rubber stamp that we had made.

-Well done.

0:19:290:19:32

A bit of blue Flog It ink.

0:19:320:19:34

You want to put your Flog It stamp on here.

0:19:340:19:37

There we go.

0:19:430:19:45

-Yep, that's very good.

-Brilliant.

0:19:450:19:47

'So we leave a stamp and take a stamp. Mission accomplished.'

0:19:470:19:51

So how did you get involved in this? When did you start?

0:19:510:19:54

We started over 25 years ago now, with a school walk, with our children.

0:19:540:19:59

And we found a couple of letter boxes,

0:19:590:20:02

and thought, "This is good", it kept the children active.

0:20:020:20:05

They didn't get bored. We just went on from there.

0:20:050:20:09

It's all about the hunt. So onwards and upwards.

0:20:110:20:15

99 to go, and I get one of these?

0:20:150:20:17

That's right!

0:20:170:20:19

And not before. And you can have a badge!

0:20:190:20:21

'And now it's time for Flog It to add to the 150-year tradition.'

0:20:220:20:28

This is where we can place our Flog It letter box.

0:20:280:20:31

What do you want me to do, Roger?

0:20:310:20:33

If you give me the letter box...

0:20:330:20:35

Check that everything's in it.

0:20:360:20:38

It's in a nice water-tight container.

0:20:400:20:42

Perfect container for this. That's for you.

0:20:420:20:44

-So you're going to go off...

-I shall go away now and site it.

0:20:440:20:48

-Site it. And then log all the co-ordinates and the bearings.

-Yes.

0:20:480:20:54

-There you go.

-And then I'll put that on our website.

0:20:540:20:57

-Thanks very much.

-Thank you.

-What a wonderful day out.

-Away we go.

0:20:570:21:00

-Bye! See you again.

-Bye!

0:21:000:21:02

Even I don't know where he's going to hide that.

0:21:020:21:04

I've got to look up all the bearings, just like you have.

0:21:040:21:08

That's the way it works.

0:21:080:21:09

This is certainly no outdated tradition, I can tell you.

0:21:140:21:17

It started as one Victorian man's initiative to get people out and about,

0:21:170:21:21

to explore the moors and get them out in the fresh air.

0:21:210:21:24

But 150 years later, it's still fulfilling its aim.

0:21:240:21:28

I bet James Perrott never expected the popularity to grow

0:21:280:21:32

to the extent where there are now some 3,000 letter boxes

0:21:320:21:35

dotted all around these moors.

0:21:350:21:37

Wherever you look, you'll find one, if you've got the co-ordinates.

0:21:370:21:41

And today, I got my first stamp, so it's a start.

0:21:410:21:44

Are you tempted?

0:21:440:21:46

Now, I know Anita Manning is one of your favourite experts.

0:21:530:21:55

She is the first lady of Flog It!

0:21:550:21:58

We're used to seeing Anita at our valuation day tables,

0:21:590:22:02

giving valuations to our owners and also on the rostrum as an auctioneer

0:22:020:22:06

in her own sale room in Glasgow.

0:22:060:22:08

Sixty. Seventy.

0:22:080:22:10

But what inspired Anita to become a pioneer herself?

0:22:100:22:13

What sets me apart from other auctioneers

0:22:160:22:18

is that I'm a woman.

0:22:180:22:20

Now, I started my business in 1989, over 20 years ago.

0:22:200:22:25

And I started the business with my daughter.

0:22:250:22:28

300 bid.

0:22:280:22:31

It's not that I'm anti-men. I love men!

0:22:310:22:34

I've been married several times and I've always had a great time with them.

0:22:340:22:39

But I wanted to start up on my own.

0:22:390:22:42

I wanted to feel empowered. I wanted to have my own business,

0:22:420:22:46

to make my own decisions, to use my own philosophy behind my business.

0:22:460:22:51

# Sweet dreams are made of this... #

0:22:580:23:02

I was a young woman in the 1970s and 1980s.

0:23:020:23:05

We were earning our own living, we were doing our own thing.

0:23:050:23:09

After all, I'm a Glasgow girl and was pretty adventurous.

0:23:090:23:13

My dad was a union man, my mum was pretty feisty.

0:23:130:23:17

And I was a woman who wanted to be mistress of my own destiny!

0:23:170:23:22

I love Kelvingrove Museum.

0:23:310:23:33

I live five minutes away

0:23:330:23:35

and I find myself drawn to this museum weekend after weekend

0:23:350:23:40

and I bring my grandchildren down as well and they love it.

0:23:400:23:44

It shows just a marvellous selection of items from all over the world.

0:23:440:23:50

Wonderful pictures, wonderful objects.

0:23:500:23:53

But my favourite room is this room here,

0:23:530:23:57

which shows the Glasgow style.

0:23:570:24:00

In the late 19th, early 20th century,

0:24:040:24:07

there were a remarkable group of women artists and designers

0:24:070:24:12

working in Glasgow.

0:24:120:24:14

Now, central to this movement,

0:24:140:24:17

was the Glasgow School of Art

0:24:170:24:18

and its director at that time, Francis Newbury.

0:24:180:24:23

Francis Newbury encouraged equal opportunities and encouragement for women.

0:24:230:24:30

And that was at a time when women were denied further education

0:24:300:24:33

at universities.

0:24:330:24:36

Now, these women worked in a variety of different media,

0:24:380:24:42

painting, ceramics, metalwork, textiles and interior design.

0:24:420:24:48

They were celebrated throughout Europe

0:24:480:24:51

and exhibited their work in all the major international exhibitions.

0:24:510:24:56

Margaret MacDonald was one of our most important Glasgow girls.

0:24:580:25:03

An English girl, but she'd come with her sister, to study at Glasgow School of Art.

0:25:030:25:08

They had a studio in the centre of Glasgow and they collaborated on many projects.

0:25:080:25:14

If you look at these wonderful panels,

0:25:140:25:17

we see an example of this.

0:25:170:25:19

And they're a pair of candle sconces.

0:25:190:25:22

We have this long, elongated figure

0:25:220:25:26

stretching up to greet the morning light.

0:25:260:25:30

Not only did the girls work in Glasgow,

0:25:340:25:37

they fell in love.

0:25:370:25:39

Margaret married Charles Rennie Mackintosh

0:25:390:25:41

and Frances married his fellow architect, Herbert MacNair.

0:25:410:25:47

And they formed a formidable group.

0:25:470:25:51

They were known as "The Four".

0:25:510:25:53

These are two wonderful, wonderful panels.

0:25:570:26:01

They were done in collaboration.

0:26:010:26:03

Margaret and Charles.

0:26:030:26:05

This one was done by Margaret, entitled The May Queen,

0:26:050:26:10

and this one was done by Charles and it's entitled The Wassail.

0:26:100:26:14

Now, these wonderful panels were made for Miss Cranston's tea rooms

0:26:140:26:19

but they were exhibited in the Secessionist exhibition

0:26:190:26:24

in Vienna in 1900.

0:26:240:26:27

And it is said that works like these from Scotland

0:26:270:26:30

influenced artists such as Klimt and Hoffmann.

0:26:300:26:35

The Four were also known as "The Spook School",

0:26:400:26:44

and when we look at this mirror by Frances MacDonald, we know why.

0:26:440:26:49

If we look at these long elongated female figures

0:26:490:26:53

with the skeletal arms and fingers pointing towards the centre,

0:26:530:26:59

the mirror is decorated with images of the plant "Honesty",

0:26:590:27:03

and at the top we have flower heads

0:27:030:27:06

and this is surrounded by seed pods

0:27:060:27:08

which are symbolising rebirth, regeneration.

0:27:080:27:13

And they are... They are symbols.

0:27:130:27:16

And they are stylised. This was another thing about the Glasgow style.

0:27:160:27:20

It took things from nature and it stylised them. It turned them into design.

0:27:200:27:27

We also have these hearts here,

0:27:270:27:30

again a symbol of love,

0:27:300:27:31

and it's a motif which is often used in the Glasgow style.

0:27:310:27:36

Wonderful mirror.

0:27:360:27:37

Honesty.

0:27:370:27:39

A bit too honest!

0:27:390:27:41

I may be a little long in the tooth now,

0:27:470:27:50

but I still think of myself as a Glasgow girl.

0:27:500:27:54

I may not have the talent of that lot,

0:27:540:27:56

but hey, we've all got to do our little bit for girl power!

0:27:560:28:01

Those Glasgow girls were prolific.

0:28:040:28:06

So look out for other names, like Jessie M. King,

0:28:060:28:08

Ann Macbeth, Margaret Mary Gilmore,

0:28:080:28:11

Bessie McNichol and Nora Nilsson-Grey.

0:28:110:28:14

Anita would agree. You never know what might turn up!

0:28:140:28:18

And all of our experts would agree that when it comes to selling

0:28:180:28:22

antiques, the most unlikely looking items can turn a tidy profit.

0:28:220:28:26

But the real secret on today's show is stay alert

0:28:260:28:29

and don't be afraid to get your hands dirty.

0:28:290:28:31

And assume if something's been thrown away, that's it's rubbish.

0:28:310:28:35

See you next time.

0:28:350:28:36

This programme tells you what to look out for when valuing things that have been thrown away, and Paul Martin goes on a special kind of treasure hunt on Dartmoor.


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