Life's Little Luxuries - Part 2 Flog It: Trade Secrets


Life's Little Luxuries - Part 2

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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Transcript


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

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of your antiques and collectibles.

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And as some of you know, it's not easy to put a value on them all.

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But there are some things we know will always find a ready market,

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and here's where you can find out more.

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This is Trade Secrets.

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On today's show, we're sneaking a peek at

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some of life's little luxuries, whether it be a Rolex watch...

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-I'd love to own that.

-..or an Art Deco Dunhill lighter.

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-This is a stylish thing.

-These are the things we talk about when we're talking about quality and value.

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Gosh, look at the quality of that enamel!

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Each week you bring us a whole host of wonderful items

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which remind us of altogether more stylish times,

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so today we're going to be unpicking the secrets of the luxuries

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of times gone by.

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Coming up, we've got little novelties with big pulling power.

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It's got "win, win, win, win", listed all the way down there.

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And intriguing words of wisdom.

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Get out there, buy hunting things, buy smoking things

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and buy all the other things that have been banned

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because they've got to come back in value.

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Finding a little bit of luxury on valuation days

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is always a thrill, as James Lewis discovered

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with a pair of stylish cigarette cases.

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This certainly looks interesting.

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Wow. That's lovely.

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Absolutely super quality.

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Gosh, look at the quality of that enamel. 'Whenever you see enamel,'

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it always does very, very well.

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Originally, it belonged to my grandmother. First known to be in the family about 1944.

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-It appears on a house inventory that my grandfather kept for insurance purposes.

-That's what we have here.

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And the item appears here.

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"Silver enamelled cigarette case and match box." Two pounds fifteen.

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Two pounds fifteen shillings, yes.

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-1944.

-That's right.

-How super.

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Having a silver case to start with, you have to have money,

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but then the enamelling on it times the value by 20 or 30 times.

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The enamel is the key, not the silver.

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The three wheat sheaves in the centre for Chester and the date is Chester 1900.

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So that's good and clear. Now let's have a look at this one. That's lovely, too, isn't it?

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If anything, that's slightly better.

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Nice and clean. Ah, that's interesting. Now that's different hallmarks.

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We've got the leopard's head there for London and the T, which is the mark for 1894.

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They were made six years apart in different towns, different makers

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and somebody, probably in the 1920s or 1930s, has decided to put them together as a smoking set.

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'Yes, OK, it's hunting, so it's not quite such a popular subject,'

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but still there are hundreds and thousands of people out there who love that.

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Then you've got the quality as well and you've got it boxed.

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It's got win, win, win, win listed all the way down there.

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Now then, value. Any thoughts?

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I haven't got a clue.

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-More than £2, 15 shillings.

-I would have thought so by now!

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-I think if we put these into auction, they'll make £300-£500.

-Really?

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-That much.

-Yeah.

-I had no idea.

-I think they're going to do really well.

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I love this match box, I love the vesta and the cigarette case,

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but the vesta to me is worth 300 quid alone. The auctioneer thinks it might struggle at the bottom end.

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Well, I agree with you. The vesta case is worth that on its own. Hunting's not that popular,

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-but it's worth it.

-It's right now.

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Put together as a set, Lot 565. Can I say £300 to start?

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£200 away?

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It's a strange atmosphere when the person that's in control

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doesn't have as much faith in the object as you do.

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At 200. I'll take 20 to get on. At £200.

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Come on! This is worth it! Put your back into it, man!

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220. 240. 260.

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280. 300. 320. 340.

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360. At 360. The bid is at the back. At £360.

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"No, it's worth far more than that!" And then the bids start.

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380. 400. 420. 440. 460.

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480. 500.

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520. 550. 580. 600.

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And the telephones come in...

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620. 650. 680.

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700. 720. 750.

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780. 800. 820.

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820, still at the back. At 820.

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At £820.

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And then to turn to the people who own it and see their expression. Super.

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-How cool was that?

-Yeah!

-How cool was that?

-Oh, my God.

-Top, top money.

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Enamelled cigarette cases were an item of real luxury at the turn of the century

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and were still being carried as a fashionable accessory 50 years later. Very few people use them now,

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but there's a smoking hot collectors market for them as Kate Bliss realised.

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-Where did it come from?

-It was my grandmother's.

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-She must have bought it in the 1920s but I don't know the history.

-And did she use it?

-Yes, she did.

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-She used to smoke Black Russian and she kept them in there.

-They'd fit very well in there.

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Modern cigarettes are too big and too fat. They don't fit any more, which makes it useless.

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I think 1920s is pretty much bang on for the date.

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The style of decoration is very much 1920s,

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but I think in fact that this is reminiscent of a Georgian style of design.

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And the Georgians loved silhouettes. If you look at her hairstyle,

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it's very much like a Georgian-style portrait, the sort of thing you'd have on a Georgian cameo.

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And she's wearing a rather diaphanous dress, isn't she?

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In this lovely green, very 1920s green.

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And, of course, with a bare chest, which is a little bit exotic,

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a little bit risque. And, of course, risque items like this, enamelled items,

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are very commercial today.

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Now value, I think, because it's got this little bit of erotic, risqueness about the design,

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I would think it'll make towards £100 at auction, possibly £150.

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-Are you happy to sell it at that?

-Yes, I would.

-That's great.

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I like this. It's continental. We're looking for £100-£150. Let's hope we get it.

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-It's very unusual.

-From the inside it looks like a very ordinary continental silver cigarette case,

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which would be £20 at the most, but the enamelling makes the difference. And it's quite an unusual subject.

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-The pressure is on. You have already spent the money.

-I have.

-What did you buy?

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A history of Scarborough for £95.

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-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.

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435A. A silver and enamel cigarette case. £100?

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50 bid. 60? £50 the bidding.

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55. All right. 60. 5. 70.

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75. 80. 85.

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90 next door. 95. 100.

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110. 120.

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130. 140. 150. 160.

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170. 180?

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170, it's yours. 180. 190.

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200. 210.

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£200!

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£200. Anyone else? It's going at £200.

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Yes! We thought it would struggle. Well done, Kate.

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-I am pleased!

-£200.

-Fantastic.

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-You can spend a bit more money now.

-I work in a home for people with dementia, so we'll have a party.

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-Oh, superb.

-Yes.

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Luxury cigarette cases sell very well at auction, but not all smoking paraphernalia has the same appeal,

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no matter how flamboyant it looks.

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One of the things I love about this business is things are done in style.

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-I know exactly where this has come from.

-Where?

-Your house.

-Yes!

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And James from Lancaster brought in a cigar dispenser.

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Would we have one today? No.

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This is typical of Black Forest or Bavarian carved wooden items

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that were produced in the 19th century and typified by this here.

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-Right.

-This is wonderfully well carved.

-What's it made of?

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It might be oak. A lot of them are oak.

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-It lifts up like that.

-Yes.

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-I reckon in today's society that is a particularly useless item.

-It probably is.

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It wasn't actually a humidor which keeps your cigars at the right humidity.

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Practically, it hadn't much use.

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So your cigars would sit in these channels

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and after your dinner party the brandy would come out and you'd offer your guests a cigar.

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'I can see that on the desk of an Edwardian gentleman'

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with a very luxurious 'tache and perhaps calling for the footman to bring his table lighter over.

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Gently puffing away with his large brandy.

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Today he'd be outside in the bus shelter smoking it.

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-It's quite a fun thing. Where did it come from?

-Just down from my father originally.

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I assume he bought it second-hand or had it given or something.

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-And you just want rid?

-I don't smoke so...

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I think we can put an auction estimate on this of £100-£200 and a fixed reserve of £80.

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-How does that grab you?

-Yes.

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Next up, something that really caught my eye and Philip's. It belongs to James, but not for long.

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It's that Black Forest carving, catalogued as a cigar holder.

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-Why are you selling this? It's a nice object to look at.

-It is.

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-But somebody may as well use it if they can.

-OK.

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We'll find out if that somebody is right here, right now. It's going under the hammer. This is it.

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Lot number 74, the Black Forest-style cigar box. It's a very, very nice piece.

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Can I ask a couple of hundred? Start me at 100, surely.

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100? Where will I start, then?

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£70. £70 bid.

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-Come on.

-70 bid.

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-80 away now? £70 on the bid. I'll take 80.

-We're in trouble.

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70 bid. 70 bid.

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80 now. £80 seated. 80 bid.

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That's little money. £80 only. At 80.

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It sold. That is really surprising for a bit of Black Forest carving.

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Smoking is a real big no no, but people collect smoking memorabilia.

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But with James I probably got it a little bit wrong. I said £100-£200 and there wasn't that demand.

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-Well, it's gone, anyway, James. Somebody got rather lucky.

-It's OK.

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It fetches what it fetches. Thank you very much.

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If you're going through your cupboards looking for things

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to part with, remember this tip -

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the more usable an item is, the more value it's likely to have.

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Next, Catherine found a piece of theatrical history

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that only the very elite would have enjoyed.

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Cyril, as soon as I saw this lovely little cylindrical fish-skin case,

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I knew we'd have something interesting. Shall we take a look?

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There we are. This lovely little monocular.

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It was really neat and it fitted into this really smart case.

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'It really was a beauty.'

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Because of the decoration, it's something maybe a lady would use, or a gentleman at the opera.

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Now this monocular is by a very important scientific instrument maker.

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On the bottom, the name's G Adams. Does that mean anything to you?

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-I believe he also used to make sextants for the navy.

-G Adams is George Adams.

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There was a George Adams Senior and son. So a father and son team.

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They worked in Fleet Street in London. I would say this one probably dates from around 1800.

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George Adams was a very significant instrument maker, in the 18th and 19th century.

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As soon as I saw the monocular and the name, I got very excited.

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There's a band of tortoiseshell and then this mother of pearl inlay,

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these little spots going round and then strips of mother of pearl.

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I think it's a charming little piece. Are you happy to let it go?

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Yes, I am really, yeah.

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I've been a bit of a collector and a hoarder and now it's time to get rid of some of the things.

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It was all there. Often you find the monoculars without the case.

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It was nice to see it was all there, complete and in the case and by a good maker.

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It had everything going for it.

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Value-wise, I hope that people will recognise the importance of this

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and I would probably put an estimate on of £100-£150.

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-I would like to see it making about £200.

-I'm happy with that.

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Thank you very much.

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Lot 206, a 19th-century monocular single-draw opera glass. £100?

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In the original case. I'll start at £100.

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10 I'd like. At £100. 110 I see.

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-120.

-Come on... It's a nice thing.

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At 130, thank you. 140.

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150. 160. 170.

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This is great. They love it now.

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190. 200. And 10 again?

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210. 210.

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At £210.

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Yes! What a great result!

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-That's another great one.

-£210.

-Beautiful.

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Quality.

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Well, that little monocular was certainly a winner

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and that's largely because it was of high quality.

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If you're hunting around for small, quality items

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keep in mind that those made from precious metals

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are most likely to retain their value.

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But it's also important to remember

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that the market for gold and silver fluctuates

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so it can be hard to know what your trinkets or ornaments are worth.

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Fortunately for us, there isn't much

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that Flog It! expert Michael Baggott doesn't know

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about silver dating from the last few centuries.

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Today, though, there is a group of talented silversmiths working away,

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the next generation.

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Are they crafting the antiques of the future?

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I grew up in a little council estate on the outskirts of Birmingham.

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Really, there wasn't any exposure to antiques there,

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apart from a burning Cortina.

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When I was young, I had no idea that Birmingham was this very important centre

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for silversmithing and it had its own assay office.

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That was all something that I came to subsequently when I started to have an enthusiasm for silver.

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Metalworkers and craftsmen have been turning out all kinds of treasures in the Jewellery Quarter

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from shoe buckles to trinket boxes, as well as jewellery, since the 17th century and beyond.

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What was surprising to me to find out within my own family,

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my father told me years after I'd had an interest in silver

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that his father had, for a long time, run a silver polishing workshop in the Jewellery Quarter.

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Michael is taking the opportunity to visit the factory

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of Smith and Pepper, the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter,

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with silversmith Owen Condon.

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Later, Owen is going to teach Michael a thing or two

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about fashioning silver at the Birmingham School of Jewellery.

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-Owen, lovely to meet you.

-Michael, nice to meet you.

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What an auspicious place to be meeting in!

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My grandfather was a silver polisher in Birmingham

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and he'd be quite at home in this wonderful workshop.

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As a contemporary silversmith, I'm quite at home within this workshop.

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I could sit down here and work away quite nicely with all the machines here.

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Even though they're 200 or 300 years old, they can do the job I need them to do today.

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I've brought a few things because later on, you're going to try,

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I emphasise "try", and get me to make a spoon.

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-These are all Birmingham made.

-Right.

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That one's by Edward Sawyer who was working in Great Charles Street.

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That was in the early days of Birmingham.

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That's hand-forged. That's the type of work you do, isn't it?

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It is. We do hand-forge a lot of spoons still, cold-forge.

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But we have obviously moved on slightly and we have little tricks and new ways of raising the spoons up

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which I'll show you today.

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-Hopefully, in 240 years, you've made some leaps forward.

-Yeah.

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-You are the future.

-Yes.

-So what's your perspective on it?

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I like to mix traditional skills and keep the core traditional skills, but mix them with new technologies,

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such as laser technologies and computer design.

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Even in the couple of years that I've been here in Birmingham,

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the technology has moved on and on and is getting better every year.

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-So they're always pushing...

-More innovation again.

-..forward all the time?

-Most definitely.

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-Their forebears would be proud of them.

-I think so.

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-Now you can try and get me to make a spoon.

-Yes.

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-Follow me.

-Let's go.

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If someone wants to start collecting silver now,

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the first thing to do is go out and spend your money on some very good reference books

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because they'll stand you in good stead for ever.

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Spoons are by far the most accessible.

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I know people make fun of me because I promote spoon collecting,

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but the reason is you can buy a beautiful piece of 18th century silver for £80 or £100.

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£80 is a lot of money, but for something that was handmade and is 250 years old

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and has an intrinsic value of maybe £50 or £60,

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it's not a lot of money to pay

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and I think in years to come these things will go up in value quite dramatically.

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So we're here in the workshop, which is fantastic,

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-and we've got some of your silver here.

-Yes.

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Talk me through what you've made here because these look fantastic.

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We've already seen the traditional spoons

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and these are made in the traditional way,

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hand-forging, cold-forging.

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I love this. That's the most beautiful design. You've got a moonstone in the end of that?

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Yeah, a little moonstone set in an 18-carat bezel.

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You deliberately leave all the planishing marks?

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Yes, we use that as the finish. It looks like a glitter ball and the light sparkles around the silver.

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-It's bizarre to think that 250 years ago, they were at pains to get rid of that.

-Yes.

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-Because that's the idea...

-To add it as a texture technique.

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-Where would we start?

-We've marked a circle on a 1mm sheet of sterling silver,

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which we pierce out with a piercing saw.

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Gently turn the piece.

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-This could be a little more awkward for you.

-You're left-handed?

-Yes.

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That's why it's not going to work.

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It's going every... It's going everywhere.

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-I must finish without breaking the blade.

-Brilliant.

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-Still outside the line.

-As long as we're outside the line, we can fix it.

0:20:430:20:48

-There was a bit of danger there, but I veered away.

-We can file it now into a true circle.

0:20:480:20:54

-How do we turn that into the bowl?

-OK, so we drop it into the centre.

0:20:540:20:58

So we're pretty good.

0:21:000:21:02

Now it's at this point, we can let it go a bit more aggressively.

0:21:020:21:06

-Go for it again?

-Yeah.

0:21:060:21:09

So we're really getting close to our end line now.

0:21:130:21:17

-Done.

-There we go.

-Yeah.

0:21:200:21:22

Now we're going to planish-finish, so we will basically put small, flat facets on to this using the hammer.

0:21:220:21:28

-Light?

-Yeah. And you can see the facets start to appear.

0:21:280:21:34

I think it's as good as I'll ever get it, so what do we do now?

0:21:410:21:45

-Now we will move on to the handle.

-Let's do the handle.

0:21:450:21:49

So we've got this handle ready-made, but it's not finished enough to go on the bowl.

0:21:490:21:54

What we need to do now is basically curve the end to solder to the bowl,

0:21:540:21:59

-so we want to match it in the same radius.

-Right, how do we do that?

0:21:590:22:03

We've started to ease it into place.

0:22:070:22:09

-We're getting there. We need to do a bit more.

-Just a bit more.

0:22:090:22:13

Now try it a little bit further.

0:22:130:22:16

It needs to be over there.

0:22:160:22:18

-Pretty good.

-Shall we solder that on?

-Yeah, I think we're ready to solder.

0:22:190:22:24

I think we're pretty good at that. What we do now is we'll quench it

0:22:350:22:39

-in some water, then we put it into a weak acid solution, just to take that blackness back off it.

-Right.

0:22:390:22:45

Now, Michael, we've taken it from the pickle and it's basically white,

0:22:470:22:51

-which is a layer of fine silver that's come to the surface.

-But it's matte.

-Exactly.

0:22:510:22:56

We just give it a little rub of the cloth and we're ready to present you with your finished spoon.

0:23:010:23:08

Oh, that's amazing. I can't believe

0:23:090:23:13

that not that long ago that was a disc of metal and a bar of silver.

0:23:130:23:18

It's transformed it. Thank you so much indeed for helping me make this lovely condiment spoon.

0:23:180:23:24

-I'll treasure it forever.

-You're more than welcome.

-I'll be back tomorrow! Thanks very much.

0:23:240:23:30

'Didn't Michael do well?

0:23:300:23:34

'And here are some of his Flog It colleagues with tips on buying silver.'

0:23:340:23:38

Look for an area you find interesting.

0:23:380:23:41

It could be nutmeg graters. It could be vesta cases.

0:23:410:23:45

But don't be narrow-minded and look for a year. Look at that whole section of nutmeg graters

0:23:450:23:52

or vesta cases.

0:23:520:23:54

If you're serious about it, you're looking for really good makers.

0:23:540:23:59

Different with historical pieces,

0:23:590:24:01

but I'd suggest with modern pieces

0:24:010:24:04

that you concentrate on the designer. Someone on the way up.

0:24:040:24:09

Over the years, we've visited hundreds of stately homes,

0:24:130:24:17

but one of my favourites is Longleat in Wiltshire. The sumptuous home of the 7th Marquess of Bath,

0:24:170:24:23

it's filled with a luxurious 500-year-old collection of clothing, furniture and paintings,

0:24:230:24:30

but preserving it for the future can take work.

0:24:300:24:34

What better person to provide some tips on preserving your precious luxury pieces

0:24:340:24:39

than Head Guide Ruth Charles?

0:24:390:24:41

We're over the Great Hall now and this is the Minstrels Gallery.

0:24:410:24:45

On the plinth here, we've got this rather fabulous piece of fabric

0:24:450:24:50

which is made up from a wedding dress dated 1733 when Louisa Carteret got married.

0:24:500:24:56

It would have been fantastic colours all those years ago, with silk and silver.

0:24:560:25:01

All of this would have been silver and gold thread, but over the years it's been oxidised

0:25:010:25:08

to become quite a flat grey. But in its time it would have been spectacular.

0:25:080:25:13

Look how much silver there is on it. It would have glistened beautifully.

0:25:130:25:18

This is not for your average person in the street. This is high society.

0:25:180:25:22

But at Longleat, it's also paintings that need preserving.

0:25:220:25:26

This is one of the most important paintings in Longleat

0:25:280:25:32

and so it has pride of place.

0:25:320:25:35

The problem with that is it's opposite the door visitors come through so, with our weather,

0:25:350:25:41

especially the damp weather, the humidity rises and that's not good for paintings.

0:25:410:25:46

You get mould growing. If it's too dry and it's on panel, it will shrink it and crack it.

0:25:460:25:53

So if you have a painting such as this, you might have it glazed.

0:25:530:25:57

We had this glazed last year and that protects it from that fluctuating atmosphere.

0:25:570:26:02

So what are Ruth's other top tips?

0:26:020:26:05

If you have a special painting at home, just be aware of where you're placing it.

0:26:050:26:11

Don't put it over a radiator. Don't put it in front of a door. You've got air fluctuation.

0:26:110:26:17

Don't put it near the fireplace as you'll get smoke on it.

0:26:170:26:21

They have a stunning collection of costumes here,

0:26:210:26:24

so what does Ruth advise you to do about keeping old fabrics fresh?

0:26:240:26:28

This is a lovely dress. It would have been a vivid pink in its heyday. You see in the crease

0:26:280:26:34

just a remnant of how vivid the colour was. We do have a sash that goes with this dress

0:26:340:26:40

which still retains its colour. But to do that we have to keep it in a darkened box,

0:26:400:26:46

wrapped in acid-free paper never to see the light of day.

0:26:460:26:50

But from a history point of view, at least we see the original colour.

0:26:500:26:54

But what do you do? Keep them in a cupboard and nobody sees them

0:26:540:26:59

or do you get them out and we can have a glimpse of what the fabrics and styles were like?

0:26:590:27:06

Luckily, they decided to take these sumptuous costumes out of wraps for us to enjoy.

0:27:060:27:13

Top tips for looking after your collection. Fabric - make sure it's away from light and heat.

0:27:130:27:21

And make sure if it's got natural fibres such as horsehair, for instance, in sofas,

0:27:210:27:28

that there's nothing alive in it. That can be most uncomfortable.

0:27:280:27:32

You can have things fumigated.

0:27:320:27:35

Sounds nasty! As Ruth says, even if a fabric fades a little or a painting picks up dust,

0:27:350:27:40

get it out and, most of all, enjoy it.

0:27:400:27:45

Fashions change and antiques go in and out of favour, but luxury goods that are well-made

0:27:490:27:55

will also have a value and don't have to be hundreds of years old.

0:27:550:28:00

-Family heirlooms from the recent past could make you a small fortune.

-Let's put £800-£1,200 on it.

0:28:000:28:06

Wow.

0:28:060:28:08

Today's extravagant buys may well be electrical goods rather than silverware,

0:28:090:28:14

but there's still a massive collectors' market for small luxury items.

0:28:140:28:19

I hope today's show has given you a little trip down memory lane and an insight into what to look for.

0:28:190:28:24

Join me again soon for more for more top tips from Flog It's Trade Secrets.

0:28:240:28:29

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0:28:480:28:51

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