Tips on antiques and collectibles. Paul Martin and the team look at the finer things in life and go behind the scenes at Longleat House in Wiltshire.
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Over the years on Flog It, we've helped you sell many thousands
of your antiques and collectibles.
And as some of you know, it's not easy to put a value on them all.
But there are some things we know will always find a ready market,
and here's where you can find out more.
This is Trade Secrets.
On today's show, we're sneaking a peek at
some of life's little luxuries, whether it be a Rolex watch...
-I'd love to own that.
-..or an Art Deco Dunhill lighter.
-This is a stylish thing.
-These are the things we talk about when we're talking about quality and value.
Gosh, look at the quality of that enamel!
Each week you bring us a whole host of wonderful items
which remind us of altogether more stylish times,
so today we're going to be unpicking the secrets of the luxuries
of times gone by.
Coming up, we've got little novelties with big pulling power.
It's got "win, win, win, win", listed all the way down there.
And intriguing words of wisdom.
Get out there, buy hunting things, buy smoking things
and buy all the other things that have been banned
because they've got to come back in value.
Finding a little bit of luxury on valuation days
is always a thrill, as James Lewis discovered
with a pair of stylish cigarette cases.
This certainly looks interesting.
Wow. That's lovely.
Absolutely super quality.
Gosh, look at the quality of that enamel. 'Whenever you see enamel,'
it always does very, very well.
Originally, it belonged to my grandmother. First known to be in the family about 1944.
-It appears on a house inventory that my grandfather kept for insurance purposes.
-That's what we have here.
And the item appears here.
"Silver enamelled cigarette case and match box." Two pounds fifteen.
Two pounds fifteen shillings, yes.
Having a silver case to start with, you have to have money,
but then the enamelling on it times the value by 20 or 30 times.
The enamel is the key, not the silver.
The three wheat sheaves in the centre for Chester and the date is Chester 1900.
So that's good and clear. Now let's have a look at this one. That's lovely, too, isn't it?
If anything, that's slightly better.
Nice and clean. Ah, that's interesting. Now that's different hallmarks.
We've got the leopard's head there for London and the T, which is the mark for 1894.
They were made six years apart in different towns, different makers
and somebody, probably in the 1920s or 1930s, has decided to put them together as a smoking set.
'Yes, OK, it's hunting, so it's not quite such a popular subject,'
but still there are hundreds and thousands of people out there who love that.
Then you've got the quality as well and you've got it boxed.
It's got win, win, win, win listed all the way down there.
Now then, value. Any thoughts?
I haven't got a clue.
-More than £2, 15 shillings.
-I would have thought so by now!
-I think if we put these into auction, they'll make £300-£500.
-I had no idea.
-I think they're going to do really well.
I love this match box, I love the vesta and the cigarette case,
but the vesta to me is worth 300 quid alone. The auctioneer thinks it might struggle at the bottom end.
Well, I agree with you. The vesta case is worth that on its own. Hunting's not that popular,
-but it's worth it.
-It's right now.
Put together as a set, Lot 565. Can I say £300 to start?
It's a strange atmosphere when the person that's in control
doesn't have as much faith in the object as you do.
At 200. I'll take 20 to get on. At £200.
Come on! This is worth it! Put your back into it, man!
220. 240. 260.
280. 300. 320. 340.
360. At 360. The bid is at the back. At £360.
"No, it's worth far more than that!" And then the bids start.
380. 400. 420. 440. 460.
520. 550. 580. 600.
And the telephones come in...
620. 650. 680.
700. 720. 750.
780. 800. 820.
820, still at the back. At 820.
And then to turn to the people who own it and see their expression. Super.
-How cool was that?
-How cool was that?
-Oh, my God.
-Top, top money.
Enamelled cigarette cases were an item of real luxury at the turn of the century
and were still being carried as a fashionable accessory 50 years later. Very few people use them now,
but there's a smoking hot collectors market for them as Kate Bliss realised.
-Where did it come from?
-It was my grandmother's.
-She must have bought it in the 1920s but I don't know the history.
-And did she use it?
-Yes, she did.
-She used to smoke Black Russian and she kept them in there.
-They'd fit very well in there.
Modern cigarettes are too big and too fat. They don't fit any more, which makes it useless.
I think 1920s is pretty much bang on for the date.
The style of decoration is very much 1920s,
but I think in fact that this is reminiscent of a Georgian style of design.
And the Georgians loved silhouettes. If you look at her hairstyle,
it's very much like a Georgian-style portrait, the sort of thing you'd have on a Georgian cameo.
And she's wearing a rather diaphanous dress, isn't she?
In this lovely green, very 1920s green.
And, of course, with a bare chest, which is a little bit exotic,
a little bit risque. And, of course, risque items like this, enamelled items,
are very commercial today.
Now value, I think, because it's got this little bit of erotic, risqueness about the design,
I would think it'll make towards £100 at auction, possibly £150.
-Are you happy to sell it at that?
-Yes, I would.
I like this. It's continental. We're looking for £100-£150. Let's hope we get it.
-It's very unusual.
-From the inside it looks like a very ordinary continental silver cigarette case,
which would be £20 at the most, but the enamelling makes the difference. And it's quite an unusual subject.
-The pressure is on. You have already spent the money.
-What did you buy?
A history of Scarborough for £95.
-Right. So we've got to get the 100 quid mark.
-I hope so!
-We're going to find out right now. This is it.
435A. A silver and enamel cigarette case. £100?
50 bid. 60? £50 the bidding.
55. All right. 60. 5. 70.
75. 80. 85.
90 next door. 95. 100.
130. 140. 150. 160.
170, it's yours. 180. 190.
£200. Anyone else? It's going at £200.
Yes! We thought it would struggle. Well done, Kate.
-I am pleased!
-You can spend a bit more money now.
-I work in a home for people with dementia, so we'll have a party.
Luxury cigarette cases sell very well at auction, but not all smoking paraphernalia has the same appeal,
no matter how flamboyant it looks.
One of the things I love about this business is things are done in style.
-I know exactly where this has come from.
And James from Lancaster brought in a cigar dispenser.
Would we have one today? No.
This is typical of Black Forest or Bavarian carved wooden items
that were produced in the 19th century and typified by this here.
-This is wonderfully well carved.
-What's it made of?
It might be oak. A lot of them are oak.
-It lifts up like that.
-I reckon in today's society that is a particularly useless item.
-It probably is.
It wasn't actually a humidor which keeps your cigars at the right humidity.
Practically, it hadn't much use.
So your cigars would sit in these channels
and after your dinner party the brandy would come out and you'd offer your guests a cigar.
'I can see that on the desk of an Edwardian gentleman'
with a very luxurious 'tache and perhaps calling for the footman to bring his table lighter over.
Gently puffing away with his large brandy.
Today he'd be outside in the bus shelter smoking it.
-It's quite a fun thing. Where did it come from?
-Just down from my father originally.
I assume he bought it second-hand or had it given or something.
-And you just want rid?
-I don't smoke so...
I think we can put an auction estimate on this of £100-£200 and a fixed reserve of £80.
-How does that grab you?
Next up, something that really caught my eye and Philip's. It belongs to James, but not for long.
It's that Black Forest carving, catalogued as a cigar holder.
-Why are you selling this? It's a nice object to look at.
-But somebody may as well use it if they can.
We'll find out if that somebody is right here, right now. It's going under the hammer. This is it.
Lot number 74, the Black Forest-style cigar box. It's a very, very nice piece.
Can I ask a couple of hundred? Start me at 100, surely.
100? Where will I start, then?
£70. £70 bid.
-80 away now? £70 on the bid. I'll take 80.
-We're in trouble.
70 bid. 70 bid.
80 now. £80 seated. 80 bid.
That's little money. £80 only. At 80.
It sold. That is really surprising for a bit of Black Forest carving.
Smoking is a real big no no, but people collect smoking memorabilia.
But with James I probably got it a little bit wrong. I said £100-£200 and there wasn't that demand.
-Well, it's gone, anyway, James. Somebody got rather lucky.
It fetches what it fetches. Thank you very much.
If you're going through your cupboards looking for things
to part with, remember this tip -
the more usable an item is, the more value it's likely to have.
Next, Catherine found a piece of theatrical history
that only the very elite would have enjoyed.
Cyril, as soon as I saw this lovely little cylindrical fish-skin case,
I knew we'd have something interesting. Shall we take a look?
There we are. This lovely little monocular.
It was really neat and it fitted into this really smart case.
'It really was a beauty.'
Because of the decoration, it's something maybe a lady would use, or a gentleman at the opera.
Now this monocular is by a very important scientific instrument maker.
On the bottom, the name's G Adams. Does that mean anything to you?
-I believe he also used to make sextants for the navy.
-G Adams is George Adams.
There was a George Adams Senior and son. So a father and son team.
They worked in Fleet Street in London. I would say this one probably dates from around 1800.
George Adams was a very significant instrument maker, in the 18th and 19th century.
As soon as I saw the monocular and the name, I got very excited.
There's a band of tortoiseshell and then this mother of pearl inlay,
these little spots going round and then strips of mother of pearl.
I think it's a charming little piece. Are you happy to let it go?
Yes, I am really, yeah.
I've been a bit of a collector and a hoarder and now it's time to get rid of some of the things.
It was all there. Often you find the monoculars without the case.
It was nice to see it was all there, complete and in the case and by a good maker.
It had everything going for it.
Value-wise, I hope that people will recognise the importance of this
and I would probably put an estimate on of £100-£150.
-I would like to see it making about £200.
-I'm happy with that.
Thank you very much.
Lot 206, a 19th-century monocular single-draw opera glass. £100?
In the original case. I'll start at £100.
10 I'd like. At £100. 110 I see.
-Come on... It's a nice thing.
At 130, thank you. 140.
150. 160. 170.
This is great. They love it now.
190. 200. And 10 again?
Yes! What a great result!
-That's another great one.
Well, that little monocular was certainly a winner
and that's largely because it was of high quality.
If you're hunting around for small, quality items
keep in mind that those made from precious metals
are most likely to retain their value.
But it's also important to remember
that the market for gold and silver fluctuates
so it can be hard to know what your trinkets or ornaments are worth.
Fortunately for us, there isn't much
that Flog It! expert Michael Baggott doesn't know
about silver dating from the last few centuries.
Today, though, there is a group of talented silversmiths working away,
the next generation.
Are they crafting the antiques of the future?
I grew up in a little council estate on the outskirts of Birmingham.
Really, there wasn't any exposure to antiques there,
apart from a burning Cortina.
When I was young, I had no idea that Birmingham was this very important centre
for silversmithing and it had its own assay office.
That was all something that I came to subsequently when I started to have an enthusiasm for silver.
Metalworkers and craftsmen have been turning out all kinds of treasures in the Jewellery Quarter
from shoe buckles to trinket boxes, as well as jewellery, since the 17th century and beyond.
What was surprising to me to find out within my own family,
my father told me years after I'd had an interest in silver
that his father had, for a long time, run a silver polishing workshop in the Jewellery Quarter.
Michael is taking the opportunity to visit the factory
of Smith and Pepper, the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter,
with silversmith Owen Condon.
Later, Owen is going to teach Michael a thing or two
about fashioning silver at the Birmingham School of Jewellery.
-Owen, lovely to meet you.
-Michael, nice to meet you.
What an auspicious place to be meeting in!
My grandfather was a silver polisher in Birmingham
and he'd be quite at home in this wonderful workshop.
As a contemporary silversmith, I'm quite at home within this workshop.
I could sit down here and work away quite nicely with all the machines here.
Even though they're 200 or 300 years old, they can do the job I need them to do today.
I've brought a few things because later on, you're going to try,
I emphasise "try", and get me to make a spoon.
-These are all Birmingham made.
That one's by Edward Sawyer who was working in Great Charles Street.
That was in the early days of Birmingham.
That's hand-forged. That's the type of work you do, isn't it?
It is. We do hand-forge a lot of spoons still, cold-forge.
But we have obviously moved on slightly and we have little tricks and new ways of raising the spoons up
which I'll show you today.
-Hopefully, in 240 years, you've made some leaps forward.
-You are the future.
-So what's your perspective on it?
I like to mix traditional skills and keep the core traditional skills, but mix them with new technologies,
such as laser technologies and computer design.
Even in the couple of years that I've been here in Birmingham,
the technology has moved on and on and is getting better every year.
-So they're always pushing...
-More innovation again.
-..forward all the time?
-Their forebears would be proud of them.
-I think so.
-Now you can try and get me to make a spoon.
If someone wants to start collecting silver now,
the first thing to do is go out and spend your money on some very good reference books
because they'll stand you in good stead for ever.
Spoons are by far the most accessible.
I know people make fun of me because I promote spoon collecting,
but the reason is you can buy a beautiful piece of 18th century silver for £80 or £100.
£80 is a lot of money, but for something that was handmade and is 250 years old
and has an intrinsic value of maybe £50 or £60,
it's not a lot of money to pay
and I think in years to come these things will go up in value quite dramatically.
So we're here in the workshop, which is fantastic,
-and we've got some of your silver here.
Talk me through what you've made here because these look fantastic.
We've already seen the traditional spoons
and these are made in the traditional way,
I love this. That's the most beautiful design. You've got a moonstone in the end of that?
Yeah, a little moonstone set in an 18-carat bezel.
You deliberately leave all the planishing marks?
Yes, we use that as the finish. It looks like a glitter ball and the light sparkles around the silver.
-It's bizarre to think that 250 years ago, they were at pains to get rid of that.
-Because that's the idea...
-To add it as a texture technique.
-Where would we start?
-We've marked a circle on a 1mm sheet of sterling silver,
which we pierce out with a piercing saw.
Gently turn the piece.
-This could be a little more awkward for you.
That's why it's not going to work.
It's going every... It's going everywhere.
-I must finish without breaking the blade.
-Still outside the line.
-As long as we're outside the line, we can fix it.
-There was a bit of danger there, but I veered away.
-We can file it now into a true circle.
-How do we turn that into the bowl?
-OK, so we drop it into the centre.
So we're pretty good.
Now it's at this point, we can let it go a bit more aggressively.
-Go for it again?
So we're really getting close to our end line now.
-There we go.
Now we're going to planish-finish, so we will basically put small, flat facets on to this using the hammer.
-Yeah. And you can see the facets start to appear.
I think it's as good as I'll ever get it, so what do we do now?
-Now we will move on to the handle.
-Let's do the handle.
So we've got this handle ready-made, but it's not finished enough to go on the bowl.
What we need to do now is basically curve the end to solder to the bowl,
-so we want to match it in the same radius.
-Right, how do we do that?
We've started to ease it into place.
-We're getting there. We need to do a bit more.
-Just a bit more.
Now try it a little bit further.
It needs to be over there.
-Shall we solder that on?
-Yeah, I think we're ready to solder.
I think we're pretty good at that. What we do now is we'll quench it
-in some water, then we put it into a weak acid solution, just to take that blackness back off it.
Now, Michael, we've taken it from the pickle and it's basically white,
-which is a layer of fine silver that's come to the surface.
-But it's matte.
We just give it a little rub of the cloth and we're ready to present you with your finished spoon.
Oh, that's amazing. I can't believe
that not that long ago that was a disc of metal and a bar of silver.
It's transformed it. Thank you so much indeed for helping me make this lovely condiment spoon.
-I'll treasure it forever.
-You're more than welcome.
-I'll be back tomorrow! Thanks very much.
'Didn't Michael do well?
'And here are some of his Flog It colleagues with tips on buying silver.'
Look for an area you find interesting.
It could be nutmeg graters. It could be vesta cases.
But don't be narrow-minded and look for a year. Look at that whole section of nutmeg graters
or vesta cases.
If you're serious about it, you're looking for really good makers.
Different with historical pieces,
but I'd suggest with modern pieces
that you concentrate on the designer. Someone on the way up.
Over the years, we've visited hundreds of stately homes,
but one of my favourites is Longleat in Wiltshire. The sumptuous home of the 7th Marquess of Bath,
it's filled with a luxurious 500-year-old collection of clothing, furniture and paintings,
but preserving it for the future can take work.
What better person to provide some tips on preserving your precious luxury pieces
than Head Guide Ruth Charles?
We're over the Great Hall now and this is the Minstrels Gallery.
On the plinth here, we've got this rather fabulous piece of fabric
which is made up from a wedding dress dated 1733 when Louisa Carteret got married.
It would have been fantastic colours all those years ago, with silk and silver.
All of this would have been silver and gold thread, but over the years it's been oxidised
to become quite a flat grey. But in its time it would have been spectacular.
Look how much silver there is on it. It would have glistened beautifully.
This is not for your average person in the street. This is high society.
But at Longleat, it's also paintings that need preserving.
This is one of the most important paintings in Longleat
and so it has pride of place.
The problem with that is it's opposite the door visitors come through so, with our weather,
especially the damp weather, the humidity rises and that's not good for paintings.
You get mould growing. If it's too dry and it's on panel, it will shrink it and crack it.
So if you have a painting such as this, you might have it glazed.
We had this glazed last year and that protects it from that fluctuating atmosphere.
So what are Ruth's other top tips?
If you have a special painting at home, just be aware of where you're placing it.
Don't put it over a radiator. Don't put it in front of a door. You've got air fluctuation.
Don't put it near the fireplace as you'll get smoke on it.
They have a stunning collection of costumes here,
so what does Ruth advise you to do about keeping old fabrics fresh?
This is a lovely dress. It would have been a vivid pink in its heyday. You see in the crease
just a remnant of how vivid the colour was. We do have a sash that goes with this dress
which still retains its colour. But to do that we have to keep it in a darkened box,
wrapped in acid-free paper never to see the light of day.
But from a history point of view, at least we see the original colour.
But what do you do? Keep them in a cupboard and nobody sees them
or do you get them out and we can have a glimpse of what the fabrics and styles were like?
Luckily, they decided to take these sumptuous costumes out of wraps for us to enjoy.
Top tips for looking after your collection. Fabric - make sure it's away from light and heat.
And make sure if it's got natural fibres such as horsehair, for instance, in sofas,
that there's nothing alive in it. That can be most uncomfortable.
You can have things fumigated.
Sounds nasty! As Ruth says, even if a fabric fades a little or a painting picks up dust,
get it out and, most of all, enjoy it.
Fashions change and antiques go in and out of favour, but luxury goods that are well-made
will also have a value and don't have to be hundreds of years old.
-Family heirlooms from the recent past could make you a small fortune.
-Let's put £800-£1,200 on it.
Today's extravagant buys may well be electrical goods rather than silverware,
but there's still a massive collectors' market for small luxury items.
I hope today's show has given you a little trip down memory lane and an insight into what to look for.
Join me again soon for more for more top tips from Flog It's Trade Secrets.
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