The team advise on what to look for among the best of British objects. Plus a follow-up with one visitor who put the proceeds of her sale to interesting use.
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Over the last 11 years on Flog It!,
we've travelled the length and breadth of the British Isles
several times over.
Along the way, you've turned up in your thousands
with beautiful items for our experts to muse over.
Do you take a wee dram?
Only for medicinal purposes! THEY LAUGH
This little nation of ours boasts a rich and proud antique heritage.
So, in today's programme,
we're going to give you the low-down on some of our great British makers.
In this episode, we'll be looking at the best of British -
antiques and collectibles from up and down the country.
This is a lovely one we found, as well.
The Bridlington Excelsior Prize Silver Band.
And sometimes, it's not just what you have,
it's knowing where they came from
and the best place to sell them.
That really makes a difference.
Coming up, we'll give you the know-how to find your own
best of British.
If it's from a limited edition of 100,
try and get the earlier pieces.
This is where I drop it.
James Lewis visits Derby to learn some trade secrets
from one of Britain's iconic ceramics makers.
This is just not easy, is it?
When it comes to English greats,
we'll let you know when damage won't dent their appeal.
A bit of sticky tape isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Now, the great thing about this show is, we get to visit
the four corners of the United Kingdom.
And there's always a buzz amongst our experts
as to whether you will bring us some local treasures to look at.
And you never disappoint.
'So, if you want to buy a bit of British, here are some pointers.'
Whatever you buy, make it the best you can afford.
So, rather than perhaps buy five items at £100 each,
buy one for £500.
You go with your gut reaction, but if you've got
a little bit of knowledge, turn everything upside down.
Strangely, in our business,
we attach value to who made something, who painted something,
when it was made, rather than the object itself.
Look out for stylised pieces from the 1950s. They're on the up.
So here are some of our very best finds
and what you can learn from them.
'And British names don't come any bigger than Royal Worcester.
'For Flog It! expert Philip Serrell, it's almost a way of life.'
I think the wares are stunning and because I'm in Worcester,
it's something that I've tended to specialise in throughout the years.
Highly decorative wares and models of the 19th century,
and then in the 20th century, the real key for me,
I suppose, are the hand-painted wares - cattle by the Stintons,
hand-painted fruit by people like Sebright.
You know, I remember Adam took in a vase by White
that was decorated in peacocks.
And you've brought me a lovely example
of a Worcester vase. Can you tell me how you came to own it?
Well, it was my parents'.
They acquired it from friends about 40, 45 years ago.
And my parents gave it to me about 15 years ago.
Worcester porcelain is one of the most historic
and longest-established porcelain factories in the world and because they're one of the best,
they are widely collected all around the world.
It's obviously hand-painted, brightly enamel painted, with...
-That's a peacock, isn't it?
-I think so, yes. It certainly looks like it.
Peacocks in Worcestershire are an unlucky bird,
because the peacock tail is meant to represent the devil's eye, and if
you have a peacock tail in the house, it's meant to bring you bad luck.
Now, the lid doesn't sit on quite right. Oh, look!
-They didn't come out the factory like that!
-No, that's courtesy of my father.
Your father did that to preserve it?
-To preserve the lid.
-To preserve the lid.
Unfortunately...is that a crack? It is. A hairline crack in the lid.
The damage on that vase really didn't count
as a major damage at all. And, if anything,
it showed that it had never been near a dealer's shop,
it had never been in a fair, it was just nice and honest and genuine.
A bit of sticky tape isn't necessarily a bad thing.
And the date code for this,
we add up all these dots here, there are 17 dots in total
which...my calculations make it around 1908, when that was made.
So, if we turn it back round again,
we've got a very handsome Worcester vase with cover.
So, I think that we should put an estimate of £200 to £300
and I think it will make 300 to 350, eventually,
once everyone's had a bid at it. Does that sound acceptable?
-Sounds reasonable to me, yes. But I would want a reserve on it.
-No, I would say 200.
-Does that sound all right?
You'd have thought that was primed to go in Philip's sale,
and it was, because Philip has the big collections of Worcester,
every sale he has, he's in Worcestershire
and it's one of the things he specialises in.
So, in that respect, it was the perfect sale for the vase to go in.
Lot 760 is this really lovely vase.
I've got 400. Will you go 420? 420.
Straight in there at 400.
If you think about it, there's probably more Worcester porcelain
in Worcester than there is anywhere else.
And so, as the local auctioneer, I'm probably going to sell more Worcester,
and so, people tend to come to us for it.
-Oh, my giddy aunt.
-Gosh, it's going on and on, isn't it?
850, 880, 900.
You need to be mindful, all the time, that whatever you see
is someone's property, and it's your job, your duty,
to get the most that you can for it.
-Let's see if we can get four figures. 1,100.
-50, is it?
You can never predict what's going to happen in an auction.
1,150, is it?
-This is quite special.
-There is the bid. In America.
-In America, that's gone to the States.
-At £1,200, and I sell, then...
-How are you feeling?
£1,200 - the hammer's gone down. That's what we like to see!
'Selling the vase in Worcester meant the buyers knew where to look.
'And now this classic English piece has a new home,
thousands of miles away.
You always have in the back of your mind, "local" -
if it's local,
it's going to have an interest.
The auctioneer will work harder for you.
And in Harrogate, there was this amazing postcard and photograph album.
Tell me, how did you come about them?
My mum had them at her house, and I just cleared her house out.
What's amazing is the condition of the album, just to begin with.
It's super. But what's even more interesting is what's inside, actually.
The album is awash with postcards and photographs from the 1900s,
1910, 1920. Some pre-war ones. This is a lovely one we found, as well.
The Bridlington Excelsior Prize Silver Band.
Things like that are just wonderful.
They were all there their trophy, their twin-handled cup,
and these lovely instruments all on display.
God, it would have made a noise.
Then we had the polling card which, again, was local. Local elections.
All of these aspects - you could never photograph them again.
This polling card, you could never make again.
That group of people, that's what's so interesting about them. They're so local to that area.
That's why people are after it.
-I would like to put an estimate on it of about £300 to £500.
-Are you happy with that?
But has Thomas got carried away by a few choice cards?
'On the day, the auctioneer had his doubts.'
-£300 to £500 on this.
There are one or two local ones here, but not that many.
Which is a shame. I think, as so often with these things,
they sell best in their own area,
so if you had a great album of Yorkshire cards,
they'd sell like mad, but when you get a mixed album like this, not quite so easy to sell.
This will be a struggle, I think, personally.
I agree with you, Paul, I think we are going to struggle on that one.
I can remember when we got to the auction, Paul was, you know,
"I've had a chat to the auctioneer. We don't think it's going to sell.
"Oh, it's going to be taken home."
First round, into the ring, the bell's not even gone,
we're on the floor already, trying to claw our way up after the ten-second count.
-This is going to be a tricky one, but I think we should just get it away.
-I don't know.
And then, suddenly, the auction happened. There's a phone bid.
Yes, quite a lot of them there, lot 509. Couple of hundred for it?
200 I'm bid, 210, now, £200, the opening bid.
210 I'm bid, 220, 230, 240, 250, 260, 270, 280...
There's somebody with their paddle just up. You just love that.
As an auctioneer, you cannot pray for anything better.
Somebody doing this all the time,
they've got somebody on the phone, or somebody's there,
you've got two people doing that, both paddles up, it started. 300. And 20. 340, 360, 380, 400.
410, 420, 430. 430, 440, 450.
-This is fantastic.
The album is working. It's fighting its corner.
And I felt vindicated that I put that bullish estimate on it.
I was so wrong, cos I agreed with the auctioneer.
I thought it would struggle.
Ye of little faith!
510, 520, 530.
It just went on and on and on and on.
700, upstairs. At £700. Any more? 700, then, it's going at £700.
I think she was ecstatic.
I reckon it made that money because there were some interesting
black-and-white photographs of the silver band.
There were some colliery photographs.
There was also that piece of political ephemera.
And it was an early card as well.
It was early 1900s, before women had the vote, so, again, fascinating.
With all those things of local interest...
that's why it made the £700.
'And that's the thing about our beautiful country - every region has its own gems,
'but with so much variety out there in the early days, even we were caught out occasionally.'
She's a pretty girl. Oh, hi, Philip.
I'm not convinced that that's always been in there.
-No, I don't think that has.
-No, it hasn't.
It's slightly Arts and Crafts looking.
-I'd imagine you're about right there.
-What £30 to 50?
-Purely because it's got Newlyn on. Otherwise, about 20 quid.
That's the joy of Flog It! - the fact that you're standing there or sitting at your table
and you never know what's going to pitch up next.
I think that's quite sweet, that.
So what do you know about Newlyn brassware?
Well, I didn't know anything about it.
It was just a present. And then I looked
and saw it was made in Newlyn, but that's as much as I know.
I have seen one other piece, but bigger than that...a plate.
-I quite like it. I think it's a bit of fun. I don't think it's worth a fortune.
It's very easy to become insular in this job. I live and work in Worcester
and I look at Worcester pots, Worcester pots, Worcester pots,
and I don't get too much local Newlyn School copper that's made there.
I wouldn't profess to be an expert in Newlyn metalware.
I've had a word with Paul, but it's probably got a value of around £30 to £50.
-Yeah, well, that'd be handy.
-What would you do with that?
-I'd get some seed potatoes.
-Are you a big gardener?
-I like a bit of gardening, yes. That keeps me on me feet, moving about.
I think seed potatoes are more important to Eric than Newlyn bowls. really,
and I just think... that was just typical of him.
If we put that in at £30 to £50, put a reserve on it of £25,
I would hope that it would sell, because I just think it's an interesting thing.
-Somebody will enjoy it, won't they?
-Absolutely. I think it's rather nice, actually.
-Certainly, Eric, if I ever see any Newlyn copper again, I shall think of you, sir.
-Oh, thank you.
-Thank you very much.
Philip valued it at £40.
It's certainly undervalued.
To be quite honest, it's a lovely example of Newlyn copper, beaten all the way around.
You've got this lovely Cornish fish emblem throughout. He's going to have a surprise.
We're going to start the bidding at £200. £200 straightaway.
-200 quid, straight in.
You can't ever beat local knowledge, can you?
260. At 270. 270 I'm bid. Anybody else? At 270 in front of me.
-What do you think?
-I never thought 270...
-That's really good, isn't it?
-I'm bid 270.
-At 270. Thank you.
-It went for more than we thought.
I'm delighted. As I said,
I'm not an expert in items from the Newlyn School.
I'm delighted for you. And it's taught me a bit as well.
That's the beauty of this game.
-I thought it was worth about 50 quid.
-We can always learn more.
I go out now and I know if I see a piece of copperware with fish on it there's a chance it's Newlyn ware.
It might be by Pearson.
Travelling hundreds of miles up and down Britain for Flog It!,
our experts have picked up quite a few trade secrets along the way.
Buying a British collectible,
if you're buying something from a limited edition,
make sure you're buying it at the start of the run.
So, if it's from a limited edition of 100, try and get the earlier pieces or, obviously, the last.
An antique or whatever you're buying should speak to you,
and if you like the '60s then buy that.
For me, it's the 17th century that speaks to me.
And don't forget, the antiques market is international
and great British names will attract worldwide attention.
And always collect something you're passionate about - that way you'll never get bored.
You can never have too much Royal Worcester. You should have more and more...and them some more!
We British are a nation of porcelain lovers.
We see more ceramics at our Flog It! valuation days than any other single category of antiques.
And the great thing about porcelain is,
normally all you need to know is right there in front of you, on the plate.
Firstly, in its overall condition
and, secondly, when you turn it over and look at the factory stamp marks or the potter's name.
And with a little bit of information and a good guidebook,
you can normally work out if what you have is of any value.
James Lewis lives and works in Derbyshire,
and it's so fitting that among the antiques
he gets most excited about are pieces of this best British product.
Derby has been famous for its porcelain from the mid-18th century,
since the Dewsbury factory started work here.
And it's been collected and treasured by Royal families,
monarchs, collectors all over the world, for about 250 years.
And for anybody who loves porcelain,
this is just paradise.
For me, it's England's finest factory and sometimes you get tingles.
And, for me, they're coming all down the spine and all to the fingers.
Over my 20 years as an auctioneer, I have handled thousands of pieces of Royal Crown Derby,
but I've never really spent too much time thinking about the work that goes into it.
But today, I have access to all areas of the factory.
And rumour has it they're going to let me make a plate.
-Tim, nice to see you.
So, tell me, what's going on here?
Here we're making one of your favourite plates, I believe, Marie Antoinette.
What are you saying?
-So where does it start from here?
-Well, it's just a roll of clay,
it's made in the smith house, comes out through a machine, like a giant sausage machine.
-Comes out here and just cut in a roll.
So how many of these do you make an hour?
-You can make about 60 an hour.
-And if you're working hard(?)
-This is going to fall apart.
-No, it won't.
-You can do this.
You can do this!
Just place it in the middle of the mould.
It'll be a miracle if it actually gets to the mould.
You think you're making pizzas, don't you?
Pull the gate down.
You need to press. Foot on there. That releases it.
It will come off. There you go.
Yay! I can't believe that actually worked.
It wasn't that hard, was it?
-The famous 1128. Or Imari.
-Yes, the Imari one.
These are the patterns that Royal Crown Derby are most well-known for -
the Imari. Called the Imari because of the influences from the Japanese port of Imari.
And the port of Imari was exporting porcelain that was mainly red, green, blue and gold.
Royal Crown Derby started these patterns around 1870
and this market is still as buoyant today as it was in the 1870s.
-I've been told you're the queen of the fettlers.
-I believe so.
That sounds like something from The Hobbit.
What is a fettler?
A fettler is a person that cleans down a piece of work once it's made.
Clean all the rough edges, any blemishes, any marks.
Well, if you're working on one that I've just done, there'll be plenty of work to do.
-Is this one that I made earlier?
-One like you made earlier, yes.
-It'll have gone round the drying process for a couple of hours.
We've cleaned the edge off with a knife.
And then we'll use what we call a whirler...
-just to hold the sponge against the edge. And that is dissolving...
Yes, it will dissolve the plate if you leave it on there long enough.
Why couldn't I just have had a straight plate?
-A lot easier.
-Wouldn't have been so interesting for you.
-There you go. The next one's yours.
-I knew this was coming.
That doesn't look like you were doing it at all.
-That would be enough.
-Are you sure?
-Yeah. That's fine.
You're just being kind. ..Excuse me, would this pass?
-You'd pass that, wouldn't you?
OK, now this is where I drop it.
-Not too bad.
-That looks fine.
We can send that on its way now to be inspected.
-And who inspects it?
-Christine will inspect that.
-Thanks very much. Thanks.
-Is that all right?
-Yeah, it's OK.
-Thank goodness for that.
The last time I saw my plate, it was unfired clay.
Since then, it's been fired, glazed, fired again,
then the underglaze blue and fired again.
And it's been decorated and gilded and fired again,
but now it's ready for the final stage, my gilding.
Right. It's starting to look like the 1128 pattern that I recognise.
-So you're filling in the white gaps.
-Anything you see that's white,
we will fill with 24-carat gold and then it will go off to be fired and burnished.
-Right. Now, I was always told that the gilder's job was the most responsible one.
If you make a mess, all the work that everybody else has done is ruined, isn't it?
-No pressure. Right, great. Thanks very much.
-Would you like to have a go?
-Come on. Right, here goes.
It's brown. Why does it look brown?
Because all the oils and the chemicals that are in the gold,
and then when it's fired, all of those come out. And that's why it goes into burnishing.
-Everything that's left on the top gets burnished out and the gold's left underneath.
-No, that's fine.
If you need a cloth, we have one there.
I'm going to need more than a cloth, I think!
We're going to need a whole sink. So we get it quite close, do we?
Yeah. Just take a little gold off your brush so you don't run.
-I haven't run in years.
I think you could get a job here if you wanted.
You've got a very steady hand. I'm impressed.
I've gone over here.
Just put your brush down, pick up the cloth. That's it.
That's it. And just wipe it off.
-I've still not done it.
This is just not easy, is it? It really isn't.
It's like anything else - practice makes perfect.
I've been doing this for 15 years now and I'm still learning every day.
-It can be a lot of fun sometimes. It's a lovely job.
It is. And if you've got an artistic nature,
then it is a really fulfilling job.
That's very good.
Are you sure you don't want a job here?
Do you know, I love Royal Crown Derby,
and to see a factory employing real human beings,
not doing everything by machine, is lovely.
Yeah. And this will be a completely unique and individual piece.
You're telling me!
That's one word for it!
The next stage is, it'll be fired,
then it'll be moved on into burnishing where it'll be polished up
and the end product will be what you see in the shop.
Finished! Look at my plate!
I'm so proud of it! OK, I didn't do all of it but I did some.
I've sold these for years and years and I always appreciated them,
but I appreciate them even more
now I know how much work goes into them.
One thing is for sure, I am not going to give up the day job,
I'm going back to auctioneering.
And the great thing about Royal Crown Derby
is it's still out there to be collected.
And if you can find an Imari piece from around 1870,
it could be worth several thousand pounds.
James Lewis may have lost his heart to those wonderful ceramics,
but for David Fletcher, his passion lies with another great British icon.
It's a car mascot...
modelled as a cartoon character called Old Bill,
created by a man called Bruce Bairnsfather.
And this is a model of Old Bill, a bust of Old Bill made in bronze.
The helmet's actually signed Bruce Bairnsfather.
He was a Tommy, a British soldier
who got up to all sorts of escapades
and found himself in pretty grisly situations,
as you might expect any poor soldier in the First World War to experience.
And people used to decorate their car radiators with objects like this.
They would affix them to the radiator cap.
I would save this because... it belonged to my dad.
So for purely personal, sentimental reasons, really,
he collected anything to do with Old Bill.
And when he died, we sold his collection with the exception of this particular piece.
And did you know that the police are referred to as the Old Bill
because in the early 1920s they used to have moustaches like this?
I've often wondered what some of our successful owners have done with the money in the past.
You probably have as well. So we've caught up with a few of them.
Anne came along to our Cheshire valuation day in 2010
and brought a rather unusual brooch, which caught David Fletcher's eye.
Tell me a bit about it.
It was given to me on my wedding day 29 years ago
by my late husband
and I wore it at our wedding reception and during our honeymoon.
-I bet your eyes popped out, didn't they?
Your loss is our gain, as they say.
I went with an open mind. I had no idea what value it was.
-It splits apart. Do you want me to show you?
-Yeah, you show me, please.
OK, so you're taking it out of it's case - fantastic.
And you're left with two... or at least a pair of clips.
So, really, whoever buys this is getting three
pieces of jewellery for the price of one.
But why do you want to sell it?
-We've got alpacas...
And we want to buy some land to keep them on.
We've got eight.
Scarlett, Honeysuckle, Buttercup,
Noah, Jacob, Monty, Daisy
and Olympia Rose, who was born during the Olympics.
OK. But I'm not sure how much land an alpaca uses,
but I think this will make between £1,000 and £1,500.
It's a sparkler. I do love it, I must admit.
It's going under the hammer now.
585. Give me 800.
800 on the phone. At £800, I'll take 20. 820, 840.
It was a bit slow to start and I thought it wasn't going to sell.
And 50. 1,100.
1,200 and 50.
1,300. 1,300 on the phone. And 50 in a new place.
But then all the bidders started and I was very pleased with what I got.
1,350, now in the room with 1,350.
Thank you, sir.
-Yes! Yes, £1,350!
-And have you got your eye on some land already?
We want to really get enough money together to get enough land for
when the herd grows.
So that's a great start for the fund.
But since then, her empire has expanded in a slightly different direction -
a new business.
I've just opened, and I'm really excited about it.
I'm like a child in a sweet shop.
I love craft things.
Meanwhile, Honeysuckle, Noah
and the gang remain in their rented accommodation.
But don't worry - they're still very much part of the plan.
This is a picture of two of our alpacas - Honeysuckle and Buttercup.
And this is the alpaca wool.
I can't wait to get our own alpaca wool onto these shelves!
'So it just goes to show, you can turn your unwanted antiques into almost anything.'
Well, that's it for today's show
and I hope we've given you some food for thought.
Join me again soon for more inside information and surprising sales.
But until then, it's goodbye.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd