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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In over ten years on Flog It
we have valued thousands of your items and we've stood by you
in the sale room, as they've gone under the hammer.
And during that time,
we've all learnt a great deal about antiques and collectables
and now I want to share some of the knowledge with you.
So sit back and enjoy as our experts let you in on their trade secrets.
I'm always saying that collecting antiques is the ultimate recycling.
They are, by definition,
second-hand, third-hand and fourth-hand
and many are past their best
and they end up getting thrown away.
But as we discover, it's those items which have ended up on the scrap heap
or hidden away in a forgotten corner, that prove that sometimes
you CAN get something for nothing.
Bang! The hammer's gone down.
Coming up: our experts tell us their secrets of good detection.
Sometimes all that glistens is gold.
We hear about when you have the nose to sniff out a find.
What a clever bloke to pick them up.
And how a hunch can sometimes earn you a fair old sum.
Here are our experts' tips on what to do
if you think you've unearthed something valuable.
Not every car has a mascot on the front telling you who made it.
But when you open the door and look inside,
it's fairly obvious whether it's a Lada or Rolls-Royce.
And the same is true with antiques.
You do your research. It's all out there for you
in books and the internet.
And even just asking questions.
If you think you've unearthed something of value,
if your have a trained eye, or even amateur eye,
you can tell whether it's well-made and something that's got weight to it.
You should be able to pick it up and think, "Yes."
Even if you're thinking that, take it to someone who might know.
Take it to your local auction house.
Over 900 Flog It valuation days
and you still surprise us with the array of discarded and overlooked treasures you bring in.
But sometimes, something comes along
that is not about the monetary value
but about our own social heritage.
This next find in the north-east
appealed to the inner geek in David Fletcher.
I believe it's from the Swan Hunters Wigham Richardson shipyard on the Tyne.
It lists all the ships that were built during that shipyard's life, I believe.
At each launch, all the visitors and dignitaries,
captains, admirals, both local and national, signed the book
at the launching of the ship.
There was a bit of me that was a bit excited.
'Although I wouldn't claim to be any good at interpreting old documents,
'that one shouted at you, really.'
You didn't need to be an expert to see the appeal.
These superbly illuminated pages.
Each one with a flag or a spray of flags.
Presumably Her Majesty's South African ship Natal.
And there's a South African flag.
And some signatures beneath that.
One of whom is the High Commissioner for South Africa.
And then it's interesting to note that in the early days,
we really just have signatures.
And we go back to 19...
..11. That's the first entry.
The social importance of something like that is enormous.
It tells a tale of the splendour, really,
that was British industry in the middle years of the 20th century.
I must say, it's the best thing I've ever seen on Flog It.
The flags were fantastic.
There were some big names there, too.
So it had more of an instant appeal than the average document.
It wasn't quite as crusty as some of the books in this lovely library appear to be.
How did you come by it?
I believe it was found in a skip down in the area where the shipyards were
at a clearing out of the shipyards.
It was given to me a few years later by the person who found it in the skip.
When the shipyards closed, people just chucked things away.
They had no commercial value.
And, at the time, they seemed to have no social or historical value.
And people just threw them away.
It's very regrettable.
'To pick up a document like that
'in that lovely leather binding'
and just chuck it. Who could do that?
It's been lying in the book case at home for a lot of years.
And now is the time for somebody to have it who'll appreciate it more than I would.
It's practically impossible to value something like this.
But I would be inclined to give an estimate of three to £500.
And I would suggest a reserve of 300.
Did David find someone like-minded amongst the bidders
who understood its social significance?
Lot 110. One of my favourite lots.
The leather-bound visitors book.
One commission bid.
I start at £300.
At 300. 310.
To my right. In the room at 310.
20, yes or no?
At £310. Are we all done?
Thank you so much for bringing it in.
-A lovely bit of heritage.
Not a bad price for an item that nearly ended up in the dump.
And yet it's worth so much more in terms of historical significance.
I was delighted to find it had been bought by the shipyard archivists.
That was fantastic.
This book started out at the shipyard
and incredibly has found its way home
to a place where researchers can learn about the region's social history.
It's nice that one turned up. But for every one that turns up,
there are thousands lost forever.
Think twice if you come across old documents
that don't interest you.
They could represent an important part of British history
and someone out there will snap them up.
One item had Charlie Ross reminiscing about his own social history.
Imagine seeing something at a Flog It
that I hadn't seen for, crumbs, 40 years?
No, 50 years plus!
They are wonderful.
I looked through a few of them
and I recognise so many of the actual pictures.
Not just Babar himself
but some of the characters in the books.
It's terribly exciting for me.
I can remember the stories being read to me
by my parents when I was small.
And I think they lasted long enough for me to read to my children.
I don't know where they are now. Probably got torn and scribbled in.
Never scribble in a book!
Never colour a book unless it is a colouring book.
It completely wrecks the value.
These books need to be mint condition to make top dollar.
How did you get hold of them?
Many, many years ago, I worked for a motoring organisation.
In those days, I was on a motorcycle and side car.
-And one day, between Raglan and Usk,
in one of the lay-bys,
all these was thrown out!
-I looked through them
and collected them up and took them home.
What a clever bloke to pick them up.
Yes, they're 20th century,
but in another 20 years, they'll be 100 years old.
The original author, Jean de Brunhoff, was French.
-So I understand.
-He was born in 1899
-and these are dated...
-1934, '35, '36, '37 and '38.
'38 is interesting,
because I thought he died in 1937.
-I presume it was just published the year after he died.
So to have five in a run,
at the end of his life,
I think is very exciting.
Lovely, lovely colours.
Big, big images.
The illustrations are wonderful.
-They are very nice.
I'd like to stay here and read them all.
There is one other image. Look at that!
I remember that so well.
I think he was genuinely surprised to find that they were of a value.
I think that these volumes are worth over £100.
I think we'll estimate them at 100 to £200.
I think there'll be no shortage of people wanting to buy these.
If I were allowed, I'd buy them myself!
Well, you can't, Charlie. Give someone else a chance.
Was anyone as enchanted with them at auction as Charlie?
Lot 622 is The Story of Babar,
five in the set here.
£100 I have to start. £100.
110. 120. 130.
-Takes me out at 150.
-On their way.
150, now. At £150.
Are we all done, then, at £150.
Yes. Sold. £150.
-In and out, virtually.
Lovely things. Good illustrations.
-Good for you for looking after them all that time.
They've been in the attic for ages.
I think collecting children's books is a fascinating thing.
It's a bit like toys. Do you use them or tuck them away and keep them in mint condition?
The answer, of course, if you're interested in investment,
is to keep them in mint condition.
If you want to read the book, read it.
There's a very healthy market for the first print or first edition of a children's book.
The most valuable you can own are those by famous writers.
If you also have a signed copy, you're in the money.
This signed edition of a Beatrix Potter book
would sell for £10,000.
Not exactly child's play!
Sometimes it takes you, our visitors,
to rescue an item that would otherwise be lost to posterity.
Our expert Philip Serrell was delighted to be the recipient.
How did you come by it?
I'm a stonemason by trade.
I was working on a house in Weymouth
and they had a skip there that people were using for the job.
And I went to put something in the skip and I knocked a box over
that someone had chucked in there
and I saw this in there.
It was rolled up. I assumed it was costume jewellery.
That's a good example of "one man's rubbish is another man's jewels."
-What do you think you've got?
-I thought it was amethyst.
I'm not sure. Some are a purple colour and some aren't. But I'm not an expert.
When I told my friend Andy I was coming here today, my mate,
he just thought I was mad.
"It's not even gold." I said, "I'm sure it's gold."
-What does Andy do?
-He's a stonemason, too.
Tell him to stick to stonemasonry!
I can understand someone discarding that necklace
but sometimes, all that glistens IS gold!
And it was in this instance.
If you just flip that over,
have a look through there.
See that little tab that says nine carat?
-That's nine-carat gold.
Are they amethysts? Truth is, I don't know.
I think they're probably paste, in all truth.
-Would you ever wear this?
-I don't think I would.
-It's quite showy.
Yes, I prefer personally something plain.
But I can see that somebody would like it.
They were a lovely, lovely couple. They're rescued something, is how I look at it.
Rescued something that had been discarded.
And they'd owned it but it wasn't being used
and they realised that not using it, give someone else the chance to own it. Bring it to Flog It.
In a way, it's a happy result all round.
So we'll put this into auction with an estimate of 30 to £50.
-Is that OK?
-Yes, that's fine. Yes.
The hardest thing about our job
is telling someone something they thought was priceless is worthless.
And the real joy is telling someone
that something they thought was not worth much is actually good.
Well, how about if we put it in with a three to 500 estimate?
-Well, that would be even better!
No, we'll leave it to Adam.
OK? We'll tell him we want a minimum reserve of £200 on it.
And if he wants to estimate it anywhere - I mean, if they're amethysts,
it might be that it's five to £800.
-They're a lot more expensive, are they?
If they're not amethysts, it might be two to four, three to 500.
It's that ballpark. We'll tell him we want a fixed reserve of £200
and where he goes after that is up to him, really.
Depending on what he finds. Are you happy with that?
-Very happy with that.
So, was it their lucky day?
360. 380. 400.
-Didn't see this coming!
420. Any more now? At £420.
£500. At 500.
At £500. All done, then? Selling.
Bang. The hammer's gone down. 500 quid.
You go barmy when you have a skip and somebody dumps their clutter in it!
-You do. But we don't mind that.
Were those real amethysts? I don't know.
But I'd guess, with the money they made, they must have been.
As a rough rule of thumb,
if you've got a piece of glass, you put it in a bit of tin.
If you've got a quality stone, you put it in gold.
In a way, that's a really good indication of whether you have a good thing or a bad thing
in your hands or even round your neck.
What a gem of an item.
But remember, you must always ask permission from the skip owner before helping yourself.
Here are my trade secrets about what to look out for
if you unearth something that tickles your interest.
It's easy to overlook dusty old documents, but don't.
There's a niche market for things that tell of our social history.
Unlike historical documents,
which can have the patina of age,
if you come across an old book from a famous author
that you think could be rare, keep it pristine
and get some specialist advice in this highly sought-after field.
While luck played a part in each of these finds,
each person had the wherewithal to pick them up
rather than walk on by.
Be alert. If you come across something that looks a bit special,
go with your instinct and investigate.
You could be sitting on a gold mine!
The little boy or girl in all of us often imagines discovering treasure.
So what better way to indulge the dream than by going on an unusual kind of hunt,
on rugged Dartmoor.
I'm here today to try out something a little bit different,
something I've not really come across before.
And that's the unusual hobby of letter-boxing.
Letter-boxing was developed for the very first tourists on Dartmoor.
It's basically a giant treasure hunt.
You follow the clues to find the hidden letter boxes
and it takes in all the 1,000 square kilometres of the National Park.
I'm here on an orienteering-style treasure hunt,
which is basically a hunt all over Dartmoor, as far as you can see,
using map references and clues looking for hidden boxes.
Traditionally, once you found one of these boxes,
you would leave your calling card with your details on it
so the next person to find that box would see your card and send it to you in the post.
He would leave his card, and the next person finds that, and it goes on and on.
Now, some traditional aspects of letter boxing have been kept alive,
but it's not necessary to leave your personal details today.
What you have now is an individual stamp which you find in each box.
You collect the stamps. And that's exactly what I'm going to do.
It all started here in 1854 with James Perrott,
a local guide from Chagford who took early tourists deep into the moor.
He built a small cairn of rocks at Cranmere Pool,
a popular walking destination,
where he placed a stone jug.
This has been recognised as the very first letter box.
150 years later,
it's still going strong.
And Roger Poole, co-chair of the prestigious Dartmoor 100 Club,
is going to initiate me into the secrets of this historic pastime.
I've been given all I need in my rucksack.
So where do we go first? What do we do?
Well, we need some clues and a map.
-Fortunately, I've got the clue book.
I've also got a map of the area.
Where are we? What are we looking at?
We're at Shilstone Tor in grid 65.
And we look in the book and it gives us a clue for the tor.
It says, "Tor 172 degrees,
"and a white chimney is 86."
Is that the white chimney over there?
That's the white chimney that you can see in the trees.
So if you look through the compass...
-That's dead on... It's just under 80 degrees.
Now take a bearing of it on the tor.
-That's the tor.
-That's the tor.
That says...150 degrees.
So we've got to move over that way at least 25 degrees.
I see how this works, now!
-So if we walk towards the chimney...
If we head up towards that way.
'By keeping two landmarks in constant view,
'we can calculate our route to the letter box.'
-There's our chimney again.
-Is that about right?
It's about 83. I think we need 86.
And we need 172 on the tor.
-Virtually 172, 173.
-So we're spot on?
So if we keep tracking this way,
it's got to be around here, somewhere.
Now, the rest of the clue. It says, "The box is under a boulder,
"a backward L-shaped."
That's a boulder.
You're like a schoolboy running round a playground, aren't you?
How big is this box, Roger?
-It's a little white pill pot. Like that.
I was expecting...
No, no, no.
There it is!
See if it's the right one.
There's the stamp.
So what you need to do is get your stamping gear out.
It's probably hidden away.
If you want to take a copy.
-I've got a special rubber stamp that we had made.
A bit of blue Flog It ink.
You want to put your Flog It stamp on here.
There we go.
-Yep, that's very good.
'So we leave a stamp and take a stamp. Mission accomplished.'
So how did you get involved in this? When did you start?
We started over 25 years ago now, with a school walk, with our children.
And we found a couple of letter boxes,
and thought, "This is good", it kept the children active.
They didn't get bored. We just went on from there.
It's all about the hunt. So onwards and upwards.
99 to go, and I get one of these?
And not before. And you can have a badge!
'And now it's time for Flog It to add to the 150-year tradition.'
This is where we can place our Flog It letter box.
What do you want me to do, Roger?
If you give me the letter box...
Check that everything's in it.
It's in a nice water-tight container.
Perfect container for this. That's for you.
-So you're going to go off...
-I shall go away now and site it.
-Site it. And then log all the co-ordinates and the bearings.
-There you go.
-And then I'll put that on our website.
-Thanks very much.
-What a wonderful day out.
-Away we go.
-Bye! See you again.
Even I don't know where he's going to hide that.
I've got to look up all the bearings, just like you have.
That's the way it works.
This is certainly no outdated tradition, I can tell you.
It started as one Victorian man's initiative to get people out and about,
to explore the moors and get them out in the fresh air.
But 150 years later, it's still fulfilling its aim.
I bet James Perrott never expected the popularity to grow
to the extent where there are now some 3,000 letter boxes
dotted all around these moors.
Wherever you look, you'll find one, if you've got the co-ordinates.
And today, I got my first stamp, so it's a start.
Are you tempted?
Now, I know Anita Manning is one of your favourite experts.
She is the first lady of Flog It!
We're used to seeing Anita at our valuation day tables,
giving valuations to our owners and also on the rostrum as an auctioneer
in her own sale room in Glasgow.
But what inspired Anita to become a pioneer herself?
What sets me apart from other auctioneers
is that I'm a woman.
Now, I started my business in 1989, over 20 years ago.
And I started the business with my daughter.
It's not that I'm anti-men. I love men!
I've been married several times and I've always had a great time with them.
But I wanted to start up on my own.
I wanted to feel empowered. I wanted to have my own business,
to make my own decisions, to use my own philosophy behind my business.
# Sweet dreams are made of this... #
I was a young woman in the 1970s and 1980s.
We were earning our own living, we were doing our own thing.
After all, I'm a Glasgow girl and was pretty adventurous.
My dad was a union man, my mum was pretty feisty.
And I was a woman who wanted to be mistress of my own destiny!
I love Kelvingrove Museum.
I live five minutes away
and I find myself drawn to this museum weekend after weekend
and I bring my grandchildren down as well and they love it.
It shows just a marvellous selection of items from all over the world.
Wonderful pictures, wonderful objects.
But my favourite room is this room here,
which shows the Glasgow style.
In the late 19th, early 20th century,
there were a remarkable group of women artists and designers
working in Glasgow.
Now, central to this movement,
was the Glasgow School of Art
and its director at that time, Francis Newbury.
Francis Newbury encouraged equal opportunities and encouragement for women.
And that was at a time when women were denied further education
Now, these women worked in a variety of different media,
painting, ceramics, metalwork, textiles and interior design.
They were celebrated throughout Europe
and exhibited their work in all the major international exhibitions.
Margaret MacDonald was one of our most important Glasgow girls.
An English girl, but she'd come with her sister, to study at Glasgow School of Art.
They had a studio in the centre of Glasgow and they collaborated on many projects.
If you look at these wonderful panels,
we see an example of this.
And they're a pair of candle sconces.
We have this long, elongated figure
stretching up to greet the morning light.
Not only did the girls work in Glasgow,
they fell in love.
Margaret married Charles Rennie Mackintosh
and Frances married his fellow architect, Herbert MacNair.
And they formed a formidable group.
They were known as "The Four".
These are two wonderful, wonderful panels.
They were done in collaboration.
Margaret and Charles.
This one was done by Margaret, entitled The May Queen,
and this one was done by Charles and it's entitled The Wassail.
Now, these wonderful panels were made for Miss Cranston's tea rooms
but they were exhibited in the Secessionist exhibition
in Vienna in 1900.
And it is said that works like these from Scotland
influenced artists such as Klimt and Hoffmann.
The Four were also known as "The Spook School",
and when we look at this mirror by Frances MacDonald, we know why.
If we look at these long elongated female figures
with the skeletal arms and fingers pointing towards the centre,
the mirror is decorated with images of the plant "Honesty",
and at the top we have flower heads
and this is surrounded by seed pods
which are symbolising rebirth, regeneration.
And they are... They are symbols.
And they are stylised. This was another thing about the Glasgow style.
It took things from nature and it stylised them. It turned them into design.
We also have these hearts here,
again a symbol of love,
and it's a motif which is often used in the Glasgow style.
A bit too honest!
I may be a little long in the tooth now,
but I still think of myself as a Glasgow girl.
I may not have the talent of that lot,
but hey, we've all got to do our little bit for girl power!
Those Glasgow girls were prolific.
So look out for other names, like Jessie M. King,
Ann Macbeth, Margaret Mary Gilmore,
Bessie McNichol and Nora Nilsson-Grey.
Anita would agree. You never know what might turn up!
And all of our experts would agree that when it comes to selling
antiques, the most unlikely looking items can turn a tidy profit.
But the real secret on today's show is stay alert
and don't be afraid to get your hands dirty.
And assume if something's been thrown away, that's it's rubbish.
See you next time.
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.