Favourites 2 Flog It: Trade Secrets


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Memento mori jewellery was created to commemorate the dead in Victorian times, and this show takes a look at some pieces that have appeared on Flog It!


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Over the years on Flog It, we've helped you sell thousands

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of your antiques and collectables to raise some much needed cash

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and every valuation day throws up something new

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and some old favourites, just to keep our experts on their toes.

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And here's where they share what they know, as they let

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you in to their trade secrets.

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'On today's show,

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'we bring you everything from the outlandish to the ever popular.'

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And however much we think we know about these items,

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as I've discovered from working on the show over the years,

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there is always something new we can learn.

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'Coming up, a whistle-stop tour of some of the most popular items

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'seen at our valuation days.'

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Now, these sorts of things are very collectable.

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'And a voyage of discovery, as we explore one of the more

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'unusual legacies of the Victorian era.'

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Although these aren't popular as things to wear, they are collectable.

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'Something that we see a great deal of at the valuation days

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'is jewellery - often family pieces.

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'One particular category of jewellery that was especially

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'popular in the Victorian period can today divide opinion.'

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Things have certainly changed since the days of Queen Victoria,

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particularly in the process of mourning.

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People nowadays conduct themselves totally differently,

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but it's been fascinating to learn more about what we call

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memento mori through the items that you bring to us

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at our valuation days.

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Jill, welcome to Flog It!

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Many pieces of jewellery come through the sale room,

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which I suppose I would call memento mori.

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These are mementos of the dead, loved ones who have passed away.

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We see a lot of Victorian items like this.

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Let's just have a closer look at it.

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The case is not marked for gold.

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Very often when a piece was made specially for someone by a jeweller,

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if it had been commissioned, then they would not have hallmarked it.

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But the touch of it, the colour of it, the weight of it,

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all these things indicate to me that it is gold.

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Jewellery has always been influenced by the fashion of the day,

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what was happening in the day.

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When Prince Albert died and Queen Victoria went into mourning,

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and she was in mourning for a long, long time,

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she wore black and that became fashionable.

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The front of it has this beautiful

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banded agate oval on it.

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We have a gold and enamel starburst here and a beautiful pearl.

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It's a lovely thing. It's a quality item. I like it very, very much.

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When we opened the locket,

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there was a little portrait of a whiskered gentleman,

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quite a young chap.

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Not my taste, but I suppose some Victorian lady thought he was good-looking.

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On the other side, there were locks of hair.

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So this locket was obviously worn by a Victorian lady.

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-Do you know who this is?

-I'm afraid I don't, no.

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-He's quite a sombre looking chap.

-Yes, he is.

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-Could he have been a boyfriend or a fiance?

-I just don't know.

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-You don't know.

-No.

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And we have the hair whorl here,

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which is sort of typical of mourning jewellery.

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People like to collect jewellery

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and folk have different periods that they're interested in.

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Someone who collected Victorian jewellery, or Victorian objects,

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would buy this type of thing

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because it told us part of the history of that time.

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Although these aren't popular as things to wear, they are collectable.

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Price-wise? I would put an estimate of 120-180 on this locket.

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-Would you be happy with that estimate?

-Yes.

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Well, let's put it to sale, Jill.

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'The locket went for sale under the watchful eye of Flog It

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favourite, Charlie Ross.

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Gold, pearl, and enamel pendant.

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Circa 1880. Late Victorian pendant.

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I can start that at 85. 90, 5, 110, 120, 130.

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Although this belonged to the Victorian age,

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I think that it was quite a fashionable item

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in today's tastes.

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380, you're out on the stairs.

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380 in the middle of the room now. At £380.

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-Are we all done? Selling at £380.

-Yes.

-That is excellent.

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Memento mori is a practice which has died out, really,

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in today's modern world.

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But people still want to look back and see how people lived

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and see their customs, traditions, and fashions, and so on, of the past.

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Nowhere can this be more clear than

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when we look at the memento mori jewellery of the Victorian age.

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I thought that it might be to today's tastes.

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A big, chunky piece like that.

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And also a 'come and buy me' valuation.

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-Yes, I can be a bit like that, you know me.

-It was excellent.

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You're a canny lass.

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Would I wear a picture of a dead person round my neck?

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I'm not sure.

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'It might be beautiful,

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'but the Victorian way of death isn't everyone's cup of tea.'

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The whole concept of having a lock of

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a deceased person's hair confuses me.

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It's a watch chain, or, I think, more strictly a watch rope, really,

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because obviously it's not a chain as such.

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What makes this interesting is the fact that it is

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almost certainly, and again I can't prove this, made out of human hair.

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The Victorians did have a thing about death,

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there is no doubt about it.

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They dignified it in some ways, they romanticised it.

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I suppose they were more religious than we are today,

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they were probably confident that you were going somewhere else,

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to a better place.

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We feel a little bit unhappy about these things today

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and perhaps we don't confront it like the Victorians did.

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Perhaps they had it right.

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A person would, at some stage in their life, probably have just

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cut a piece of hair off, which they might have given to a friend or

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a husband or a wife and when that person died,

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those lockets of hair were mounted into what became known as

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mourning brooches and presented after the funeral of the deceased

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to members of the family.

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Death is less commonplace than it was.

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If your children died young,

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your wife was likely to die in childbirth, your husband

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might die young, for heaven's sake, he might die in battle somewhere.

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He was as likely to do that as die of natural causes.

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It was part of their life.

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Did you have a particular sum of money in mind?

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No, I didn't have anything,

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-I was just hoping, perhaps, it might be enough to plant something in the garden.

-Right.

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If there was enough, perhaps it could be a small tree.

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Dear Nancy was such a lovely, lovely lady and I have fond thoughts

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of her and I just thought it would be a nice thing to remember her by.

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-That's lovely. Nancy was the lady who left you this?

-Yes, yes.

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I think that is a great idea.

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If my death was to be commemorated, I would rather someone planted a tree.

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That would be something lasting, wouldn't it?

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So I think this is going to make, as a group, between £30-£50.

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The plaited hair watch chain at £50

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and I sell to the back of the room. Done, then, at 50.

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And done, thank you.

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It's gone.

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So whilst we wouldn't necessarily want to own a watch chain

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made out of human hair,

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I don't think we should condemn the Victorians for wanting to do so.

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Mourning jewellery is often passed down through generations,

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among other precious heirlooms.

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It was recently at Glasgow,

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when we were filming at the Kelvingrove Museum,

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that a lady brought in a rather unassuming box.

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Well, you've got a real mix in here, haven't you?

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Let's get a few pieces out. Let me see what we have here.

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We've got a little gold frame, a cameo brooch.

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Then we've got this rather interesting gold

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and enamel naturalistic frame which I think must have had

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something in the centre there at some stage.

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At some point, probably.

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We opened it up and, sure enough, inside there was

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a vast range of memento mori jewellery, mourning jewellery -

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Victorian mainly.

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It is one of those odd areas of collecting that some people

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find it slightly morbid, but there is a market for it -

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certainly the earlier pieces.

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We've got a right Aladdin's trove here.

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Well, there's a little selection of brooches in there,

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some portraits brooches, I can see we've got another mourning brooch,

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a typical one there with the plaited hair.

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You had people who were skilled in plaiting

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and making these patterns out of human hair and they would often

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adorn the back of a brooch or a pendant or even a portrait miniature.

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There seems to be a theme running through the jewellery

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you've got here, doesn't there?

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Brooches and mourning jewellery, such as with the plaited hair

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and again here with the black enamelling

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and the seed pearls there, a classic combination of mourning jewellery.

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That's what interests me, I think, is the iconography of

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mourning jewellery, as well as some of the inscriptions,

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because it gives you an insight into some of the social history of the time.

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These are people's names and dates, so it just evokes

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an interest in what this person did and who they were.

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We'll let Anita go through it and catalogue it

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in detail for her sale and we'll give her a guide price of 100-150.

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-OK, excellent. Yes.

-Was Will's estimate right?

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It's a superb lot of Victorian jewellery, a lovely lot.

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Will you start me at £100?

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I often find if you have that group, it promotes a lot of bidding,

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a lot of interest, because we've got lots of bits.

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£310 and the hammer goes down. Yes!

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'In some families,

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'those Victorian mourning traditions have survived to this day.'

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I'm enthralled by this lovely little piece that you've brought in today.

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Do tell me about it.

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Well, it's a brooch that's been in the family for many, many years

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and mostly brought out, well, always brought out, for funeral occasions,

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because it was looked upon in our family as a mourning brooch.

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The brooch had a charming family providence

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and was so beautifully and positively

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described and explained by the owner.

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It was lovely to hear, the context of funerals represented in such

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a positive, and quite joyous, way.

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My aunt, who gave it to me, she had a wonderful sense of humour,

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so funerals weren't terribly sad things

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and so it was a case of out with the jewellery box,

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out with the brooch, and stick it on whatever you were wearing.

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The brooch itself, I personally wouldn't have taken that up and said

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this is a piece of mourning jewellery,

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but the interpretation of it was perfect

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and, with the two little doves on it, it actually does tie in with

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Victorian symbolism for memory, remembrance, and the passing of a life.

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Stylistically, it retains a lot of the Victorian sentiment

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and expression of feeling through imagery,

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ie, in this case, with the birds.

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The Victorians used the symbol of doves for lots of aspects of both

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memorial and passion, I suppose, two sides of the same coin,

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I suppose, passion and death are linked inextricably.

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The Victorians were very good at expressing that.

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I would think, as the market stands currently,

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which is very enthusiastic for good quality jewellery,

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that it should fetch between £100-£150 at auction.

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Oh gosh, how lovely.

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-Are you pleased with that?

-Yes.

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It was all summed up in this beautiful piece of jewellery.

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I found it quite moving, quite emotional, really,

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but in a very positive way.

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You depart from things,

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whether it's a place or a piece of furniture, or an article,

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but no-one can take your memories away.

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-This is very true.

-So I have those happy memories.

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-Good.

-So maybe it will bring joy to somebody else.

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Lot number 80 is the micro-mosiac brooch, this time, with doves.

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550 in the room, 550. 580, may I say? 580? Nope?

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I have 550 on the net then.

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At 550. 580 anywhere else in the room?

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At 550 bid, last call then we're selling on the internet at £550.

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Yes, that is the sold sound!

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Mourning jewellery I would say at the moment is good value.

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'Well Anita couldn't be clearer. What other tips have we?'

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If you're talking 17th to early 18th century,

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when mostly it was iconographic -

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say skulls, picks, spades, crosses and hourglass for obvious reasons -

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the more morbid, in a way, the more collectable.

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'If mourning jewellery interests you, here are some pointers.

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'Many memento mori encapsulate a slice of culture history

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'and their value lies in that context.

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'Lost art forms, like hair work or miniature paintings,

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'are worth looking out for.

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'With a plethora of pieces to be found, aim for quality and style.

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'Craftsmanship and design will transcend any association

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'with sadness. Go for earlier pieces, if you can find them.

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'Victorian items became mass-produced

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'after the widowed Queen made mourning fashionable.

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'Pieces may have been commissioned, so the metal might be unmarked.

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'Weigh it up your hand if you think it might be gold.

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'The only way to tell for certain is to have it tested by a jeweller.'

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'Precious metal cannot officially be called silver,

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'gold, or platinum unless it has been hallmarked.

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'The first thing our experts look out for

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'when presented with an item of jewellery or precious metal

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'at the valuation day is a hallmark.'

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So there we are, we've got the hallmarks. What else does it tell us?

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-How old it is.

-How old it is.

-Yeah.

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Seeing a little bit of Birmingham silver with the anchor.

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If we look along here, we've got a full set of hallmarks

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and it's for London, 1781 and the maker is John Scofield.

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'These symbols are official marks struck on items

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'made from precious metals - gold, silver and platinum.

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'The hallmark guarantees the purity of the metal,

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'which has been determined by formal testing at an assay office.

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'The original assay office was in London,

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'but others opened up shortly afterwards, including

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one in Birmingham, Sheffield, and Chester during the 18th century.

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'Each office has its own identifying symbol,

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'a leopard's head for London, an anchor for Birmingham,

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'a crown or rose for Sheffield, and a castle for Edinburgh.'

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'Items will generally bear other marks, such as the metal type -

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'a lion for silver - maker's marks, and the year the item was assayed.'

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That's interesting. Look, there's the hallmark there

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but that's got the leopard's head for London.

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'You brought us many fine examples of the work of great silversmiths,

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'such as Marius Hammer, Omar Ramsden,

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'and Mappin and Webb.

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'One of the best names in the business from the 18th century

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'was Hester Bateman.'

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-The date letter is for 1781.

-Oh, right.

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A little mark in the centre - HB. HB is the mark for Hester Bateman

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and Hester Bateman is probably the most famous of all

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-the silversmiths in London in this period.

-A woman?

-She's a woman.

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-Oh, right.

-Exactly.

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Her husband was a maker of gold chains and they had

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a business in London, but he died shortly after the business started.

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I think it was 1760.

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And, of course, Hester Bateman took over the business.

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-She had never made a bit of silver.

-How brave!

-Exactly.

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It really is a woman in a man's world in those days.

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The fact that she was a woman in the 18th century as a silversmith,

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that is why she is sought after.

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What's it worth?

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-You tell me.

-Go on, have a go.

-Erm, £200-£250. Something like that.

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You've been watching too many Flog Its, haven't you?

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-I've been watching lots of Flog It.

-Spot on.

-Is it really?

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-It really is spot on.

-OK.

-£200-£300.

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You can't even get a tablespoon by Hester Bateman for less

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-than £100 these days.

-Right.

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'Was Susan really spot-on?'

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It's the Hester Bateman silver half-pint mug.

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London, 1781, 200 grams. There's been a lot of interest in this.

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290, who says? 290. 300? At 290. All done at £290. Are you all sure?

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Yes!

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'Larger pieces by Hester Bateman can set you back a great deal of money.

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'A silver soup tureen recently sold at auction for £52,000.'

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'You'll find it hard to get by in the world

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'of antique precious metals without a hallmark bible.

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'There are many books on the market, which list over 14,000 hallmarks.

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'Check for rubbed marks.

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'Not being able to identify a hallmark can reduce

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'the value of an item.

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'And be on the lookout for the Chester mark - the wheatsheaf and the shield.

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'The Chester office closed in 1961 and the items assayed here

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'are now highly collectable.

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'On Flog It, there are certain types of item that crop up

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'again and again.'

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You brought in a variation of exotic woods here, some table treen.

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'One of my Flog It favourites is treen, small items of turned wood.

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'It speaks to me of great craftsmanship and simple pleasures.'

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Now, these sorts of things are very collectable.

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What I do like about it is all the lovely little studs here

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and the beautiful patterns that we can see all over.

0:19:510:19:53

Lot 375 is the 19th-century treen snuffbox in the form of a boot.

0:19:530:19:58

In the room now at £60. And five anyone else? Selling on the 60.

0:19:580:20:04

We just did it. Right on the bottom end.

0:20:040:20:07

'These little items don't command huge prices

0:20:070:20:10

'but they're a lovely thing to own.'

0:20:100:20:12

'Produced in Cornwall, between 1963 and 1983,

0:20:160:20:20

'Troika is a very familiar sight to our valuation days.

0:20:200:20:24

'It's one of those things that you either love or you hate

0:20:240:20:27

'and I'm not alone in loving it.

0:20:270:20:29

'In 2004, a piece like this one sold for £2,700.

0:20:290:20:35

'Another regular on the show is Beswick pottery,

0:20:350:20:37

'one of Stoke-on-Trent's many potteries.

0:20:370:20:39

'It was founded in 1892 and is known to this day for having

0:20:390:20:43

'produced high-quality figurines - particularly farm animals.'

0:20:430:20:48

Beswick is certainly up there as the choice item to collect.

0:20:480:20:53

'A figure like this rare pit pony, dating from 1931,

0:20:530:20:58

sold, in 2005, for £8,500.

0:20:580:21:02

We've got the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh Trooping the Colour, 1957,

0:21:050:21:09

by Beswick England.

0:21:090:21:10

-I think we'll put them in the sale as three separate lots.

-Right, OK.

0:21:100:21:14

And I think on these two we'll put an estimate of £300-£500 each.

0:21:140:21:18

-Really?

-Yes.

0:21:180:21:20

Now the Beswick. Hammer's up then. And sold away at £640.

0:21:200:21:25

What do you think?

0:21:250:21:26

Oh, my goodness, I can't believe it.

0:21:260:21:29

'Beswick ceased production altogether in 2003,

0:21:290:21:32

'so even the late figures may one day prove a wise investment.'

0:21:320:21:36

'It just goes to show that

0:21:390:21:40

'because we see a lot of something, it doesn't mean it's not valuable.'

0:21:400:21:44

'All manner of weird and wonderful things land on our valuation tables,

0:21:500:21:54

'but there is one thing which gets Catherine Southon's heart racing.'

0:21:540:21:59

The item that I would love to own more than anything is a pocket globe.

0:21:590:22:05

I love globes, but what I love more than anything are pocket globes -

0:22:050:22:09

these small, Georgian globes that are about 1750 in date.

0:22:090:22:14

I love the colours,

0:22:140:22:16

all these different colours that are outlined around the continents.

0:22:160:22:19

I love the geography, I love the fact that on some of the maps

0:22:190:22:24

Australia hasn't really been discovered,

0:22:240:22:27

California is only an island.

0:22:270:22:30

I love it.

0:22:300:22:31

Once upon a time, when I started, they were about £1,500

0:22:310:22:34

and I wish I had bought one then because now they're about £5,000.

0:22:340:22:40

However, I have bought something which is not quite a pocket globe,

0:22:400:22:45

but it is the same kind of idea.

0:22:450:22:48

It's not in a fishskin case, but I saw this at an antiques fair

0:22:480:22:51

and my eyes lit up when I saw it, but it is, in fact, a little inkwell.

0:22:510:22:57

So you put your ink in here,

0:22:580:23:01

you dab your pen on there, and then you roll it with a blotter.

0:23:010:23:05

I bought it for a couple of hundred pounds and it's a bit of fun,

0:23:050:23:09

not quite the real McCoy, but one day, perhaps, I'll get it.

0:23:090:23:13

'On our travels with Flog It,

0:23:210:23:23

'I'm especially privileged to go behind the scenes of some

0:23:230:23:26

'of the most beautiful heritage sites in the country.

0:23:260:23:29

'I want to give you a sneak peek at one of our filming days.

0:23:290:23:32

'Today, we're at Guildford's stunning cathedral.

0:23:330:23:36

'The day starts early at 8am for the crew.'

0:23:360:23:40

There's lots to do.

0:23:400:23:41

We're filming two inserts today, so there's lots to get done,

0:23:410:23:44

lots of pieces to camera, lots of people to interview and talk to.

0:23:440:23:46

So, yeah, it's going to be busy. Excited to get going on it, really.

0:23:460:23:50

I'm the director, which basically means, erm...

0:23:500:23:54

It sounds far more grand than it is.

0:23:540:23:56

It's my job to make sure that Paul knows what he is doing,

0:23:560:23:58

make sure everybody else knows what they're doing,

0:23:580:24:00

and get it done as quickly as possible.

0:24:000:24:03

'They're ready for action, but where is the presenter?'

0:24:030:24:06

Hi, sorry about that. Traffic problems.

0:24:110:24:14

Hello.

0:24:150:24:17

The good news is I've learnt all my lines being stuck in traffic

0:24:170:24:20

with nothing else to do.

0:24:200:24:22

Right, do you want to do the first piece to camera?

0:24:220:24:24

-Shall we knock off some out here while we've got the weather?

-Yeah.

0:24:240:24:27

So the cathedral was built in the 20th century,

0:24:270:24:29

so it's the history of the church script.

0:24:290:24:32

We'll do it out here. You turn around at the end and go back in.

0:24:320:24:34

-OK, yeah.

-OK.

0:24:340:24:36

And action.

0:24:370:24:39

A cathedral built in the 20th century is perhaps impressive

0:24:390:24:42

enough, but the story that lies behind this magnificent building

0:24:420:24:45

makes this feat of modern architecture truly unique.

0:24:450:24:48

Cut. That's good. All right, let's go in and do our bell-ringers.

0:24:510:24:55

'On this show, I've made almost 1,000 film inserts

0:24:550:25:00

'and have been to countless amazing and inspiring places

0:25:000:25:03

'and there is always something new to learn.'

0:25:030:25:05

There's a lot to get done in a very short amount of time,

0:25:050:25:09

so the pressure is on and it should be fine.

0:25:090:25:12

It will be fine, it always is.

0:25:120:25:15

So we've got the bell-ringers here today.

0:25:150:25:17

They're showing us a little bit about what they do

0:25:170:25:19

and Paul is just going to have a go.

0:25:190:25:21

We'll pick up on you and then if you just have a quick chat. Ready?

0:25:210:25:25

That was excellent. How do you do that? Is it just feel?

0:25:250:25:29

It is definitely a sense of rhythm.

0:25:290:25:31

The gap between each bell is as important as the sound

0:25:310:25:33

of your own bell - to have them equally spaced. So, yes.

0:25:330:25:37

Will it be yourself showing Paul how to do it?

0:25:370:25:40

I think the best thing about working on Flog It is that fact that

0:25:400:25:44

you get to learn so much about so many different things.

0:25:440:25:47

For example, today, we're filming this insert, it's not

0:25:470:25:50

just about learning about the venue and the history of it, but it's also

0:25:500:25:53

about learning about bell ringing and the people involved in that.

0:25:530:25:57

So, you become a little mini expert overnight about

0:25:570:26:00

so many different things that perhaps you wouldn't have ever

0:26:000:26:02

spent the time investigating or looking into and

0:26:020:26:05

actually it's all that knowledge that maybe you wouldn't have picked up.

0:26:050:26:09

'I agree, Jess.

0:26:100:26:12

'In-between takes, I love to wander about

0:26:120:26:13

'and get a real feel for the place.'

0:26:130:26:15

'I always find I come across wonderful people

0:26:170:26:20

'and at the cathedral, I bumped into Dennis,

0:26:200:26:23

'who has carved some of the most beautiful wooden figures here.'

0:26:230:26:27

I'm impressed with your work.

0:26:270:26:29

Those big sections of lime wood that you've carved.

0:26:290:26:32

How long did each figure take to carve?

0:26:320:26:34

I would think two to three months.

0:26:340:26:36

That's a lot of work, isn't it? You were a young man, weren't you?

0:26:360:26:39

-How long ago was that?

-56 years ago.

0:26:390:26:42

So that was quite an important commission for you back then?

0:26:420:26:45

Oh, yes, I was only just out of college.

0:26:450:26:47

I had just qualified and, like most people who have just qualified,

0:26:470:26:51

I thought I owned the earth.

0:26:510:26:53

I wrote Sir Edward a letter telling him he needed me.

0:26:530:26:57

He said, well, as it happens the lady who is doing two in the chapel here

0:26:570:27:02

can't finish four of them and so would you like to do the other two?

0:27:020:27:07

I love the swags in the fabric,

0:27:070:27:09

those lovely undercuts creating shadow.

0:27:090:27:12

The whole thing has got movement.

0:27:120:27:14

Is that modelled on anybody?

0:27:140:27:16

It wasn't intentionally meant to be, but it was so like my wife.

0:27:160:27:20

It looks really like her.

0:27:200:27:21

This whole building is a celebration of great craftsmanship

0:27:210:27:25

and I've been fortunate enough today to bump into one of them,

0:27:250:27:28

-so, Dennis, thank you very much.

-Thank you.

0:27:280:27:30

-It was a chance meeting, wasn't it?

-Thank you.

-And great work.

-Thank you very much.

0:27:300:27:34

'What an unexpected treat. That made my day.'

0:27:360:27:39

It's a real privilege to come behind the scenes and learn this kind of thing.

0:27:420:27:45

That's what keeps me going in this job for the last 12 years, you know.

0:27:450:27:49

I've learnt so much and I'll never stop learning

0:27:490:27:51

and I'll always remember these moments, the special moments.

0:27:510:27:55

'And that experience just goes to show

0:27:550:27:57

'if you visit somewhere fascinating go a little off piste,

0:27:570:28:00

'strike up a conversation and you never know what you'll discover.

0:28:000:28:04

'That's the spirit of Flog It!

0:28:040:28:07

'Well, if today's show proves anything,

0:28:150:28:17

'it's that there is a market out there for all kinds of extraordinary

0:28:170:28:20

'collectables. So make sure you keep your eyes peeled

0:28:200:28:24

'and who knows, you may stumble across an amazing find of your own.'

0:28:240:28:29

See you next time for more trade secrets.

0:28:290:28:32

Memento mori jewellery was created to commemorate the dead in Victorian times, and this show takes a look at some pieces that have appeared on Flog It! The complicated art of reading hallmarks is also explained.


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