Paul Martin and the team of experts look at objects from Europe and the Far East, and Paul discovers how to distinguish between a real Chinese ceramic and a copy.
Browse content similar to Far Flung Flog It!. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
For well over ten years now, you've brought along thousands of objects
to our valuation days, to put our experts through their paces.
-I reckon 300-500.
In this series, I want to share with you
some of the things we've learnt about those items.
Welcome to Trade Secrets.
On today's show we'll take a whistle-stop tour around the world,
taking a look at items that have travelled hundreds,
even thousands of miles to reach our doors.
We'll be seeing what gems of knowledge we can pick up en route.
On this programme, our experts will be showing you their favourite international treasures.
You get little palpitations in your stomach.
"Oh, my goodness, how exciting, what a wonderful thing to see."
And I seek out some advice on how to date Asian ceramics.
You have to go on the object itself.
If you want to get some world-class, top tips
on the best of European and Oriental collectables, all will be revealed.
For centuries we've plied our wares back and forth across
the English Channel to Europe and the Orient.
Traders hoping to capture something unique which cannot be found on our shores.
For years, we've featured some wonderful well-travelled pieces
that have hailed from all across the globe.
I think the real key, if you're going to buy a foreign antique, is
it's a worldwide market now, so what might be inexpensive in one country,
might be expensive in another place and the trick is to move A to B.
I would be aware not to follow trends.
Five years ago, Russian antiques were very popular,
now it's Chinese antiques.
If you get swept along with that wave, you can come a cropper, I think.
The best thing to do is just buy items,
irrespective of where they're from, on their quality and their rarity,
and most importantly, whether you like them or not.
A tip at the moment would be,
after the Chinese market has strengthened and levelled off,
I think the Indian market,
the Indian subcontinent market will prove to be very strong.
But first, let's take a look at some of the very best items that
have appeared over the last 11 years on the show and what we can learn from them.
British people have always enjoyed travelling
and in the 19th century, a lot of people went to travel Europe
on what was termed the Grand Tour,
which gave us a real taste for Continental works of art.
And right up to the current day,
we Brits have had a love affair with things foreign that seem
a little bit different and yet delectable to us.
I remember my very first ever "Flog It!" -
years ago, when I had hair - and that was at Bradford
and I was quite a nervous young chap, I think, then.
Hard to believe, isn't it?
Please, tell me, how did you come to own these fantastic things?
The set there came from my grandparents.
This tea set is different from most ordinary silver tea sets
because it's by one of the most important silversmiths
and designers of the 20th century, by Georg Jensen.
-Is that so?
-"Ge-org Yensen", as some people say.
These are really wonderful examples of his work.
It was 1931, very high design, ivory handles, one of those things
when you see it you get little palpitations in your stomach.
"Oh, my goodness, how exciting, what a wonderful thing!"
If we look underneath, all this writing here,
you can actually see Georg Jensen's mark there.
They're sterling silver. That's a very nice object.
I said to the lady, Yorkshire lady,
"I think this is worth at least £2,000-3,000."
She said to me, "Are you sure, dear? You look very young."
She didn't believe me.
I should have stuck to my guns but instead we put 800-1,200.
-Which is a tidy sum.
So what happened to our callow youth's estimate when it came to auction?
I'm going to have to start the bidding on my sheets at £1,800.
We have 1,850 in the room. 1,900, 1,950?
2,800, 2,900. £3,000?
3,200. 3,200, may I say?
3,400, 3,600, 3,800.
4,400, 4,800. £5,000. 5,200.
All finished then at £5,000.
-All done and finished.
Good gracious me!
-Oh, I've gone all hot.
-So have I.
It just shows, though, a good European designer name will make huge prices.
So look out for the name, Georg Jensen
and if you find a piece by him, don't hesitate to snap it up.
If there's one thing the Europeans have given us antique lovers,
it's an eye for the classical nude.
The female nude, the male nude, is not an easy thing to do.
Ask Michelangelo himself.
You know, you'd rather see a sculpture of a tractor
than a bad nude.
One that's beautifully done, and you can tell immediately across a room.
I have fallen in love with this figure. I think it's delicious.
What better form is there than the female nude?
I mean, perhaps I'm just saying that and I'm slightly biased,
but it is a perfect format
and it's beautifully, beautifully carved.
Where did she come from?
-She came from a castle in France.
-Not far from Paris, yeah.
I've been to Fontainebleau.
Have you found a signature on it, have you ever looked?
There is one somewhere, but...
-Ah, here we are.
Caradossi has a certain significance in certain areas.
He wouldn't be... What could one say? ..not Premier Division. Division One.
Good grief, that's heavy.
Who was born in 1861.
-I think we're talking about this figure being 1890, 1900.
-I think this figure is worth £1,000.
I think she's lovely, delightful, and I hope she does well.
Nudes do sell well, male nudes and female nudes.
You've only got to go to Rome or Florence, and there are more
nudes per square inch than anywhere else in the world.
Charlie seemed confident about his valuation
but was his hunch about nudes right?
I think this is the best thing in the saleroom.
-Yes, it is.
-Then I would, wouldn't I?
-It's the star of the show.
We have a telephone bid.
-We've got commission bids as well
-and we're starting at 800.
850? 850. 875? 875.
I feel 1,000 coming on, don't you?
At £900. 925.
925, 950? 950 on the telephone.
-Christine will be happy.
£1,000 I've got.
£100 bids now.
1,100, sorry? 1,100, I've got.
1,200? £1,200, I've got.
1,300? 1,400? £1,400.
I wish she was here. I just wish she was here.
1,500. 1,600 on the telephone.
-She'll be going to Las Vegas now.
At £1,500 in the room. Sold at £1,500.
-Yes! Well done, Charlie.
-I'm pleased with that.
-What a result!
The great thing about sculpture, and, indeed, paintings nowadays,
you can look up immediately what the last work by a particular
artist made and it'll give you a benchmark for the next piece.
The signature is hugely important.
This statue and the silver service before sold well
because of the name and the fine workmanship,
but it's not the only way you can measure value.
If you want to invest in European objects,
you may need to think out of the box.
And Mark Stacey likes to do exactly that.
Now, as soon as I saw you holding this,
I thought, "I've got to film it if you are interested in selling it."
Oh, Harlow, how can I forget Harlow with that wonderful figure.
That Austrian pottery figure, this high.
I mean, I described it as "camp". What other word is there for it?
Where on earth did you get it from?
I inherited this from my grandfather,
and it's resting itself in my house now.
It appealed to me because it was sheer Victorian fun,
but on a serious note, it was quality.
You've got this wonderful plumed hat.
There's a lovely, delicate expression on her face
and she is holding this wonderful, oversized fan.
I think it's a fantastically outrageous item.
I must admit, I hadn't seen one quite as big as that before,
or since, I have to tell you.
I would be tempted to suggest something like £300-400.
I think, on the day, it might prove to be a surprise. It might just fly away.
Very, very expensive to make and produce
and I just knew there would be collectors out there for it.
So did the kitsch Victorian lady find someone to appreciate her at auction?
I have two commissions with me and I start the bidding at £280 with me.
300 with Ian. £300, 320, 340,
800... 920, 940, 960...
-What have we missed, Mark?
-I don't know.
1,500. At £1,500, on my right now at £1,500.
Mark, that's incredible.
I thought 300-400 was a little on the conservative side
but it is best to tease the bidders in. But 1,500,
you can't beat it.
Of course, there's always been a very, very exciting market in Europe
for ceramics, shipped all over the world,
and a lot of it, inevitably, came over to the United Kingdom.
We would have loved that. The Victorians loved covering every space of their drawing-room.
When you find something like this, in good condition, it's a premium.
Great advice from Mark Stacey as he says look out for Victorian
ceramic knick-knacks, which haven't been chipped while dusting
and, remember, for European art, the more unusual, the better.
At the turn of the century the trend for items with a saucy secret
appealed to our British taste for concealment.
And one caught the eye of our expert.
In Winchester, towards the end of the day, I had a real treat
because a lady brought in an absolutely fabulous bronze lamp base.
Originally, it was my nan's and then she gave it to my mum
and then, when she died, I just took it and I don't use it.
It's a very pretty little lamp.
It's on a marble base and it's cast bronze, and we're helped out
immensely by the fact that on the back of the chair,
there's a little inscription that says "Nam Greb".
Nam Greb is the mark of the Austrian bronze founder Bergman.
And it's "Bergman" backwards.
I think there was a very good reason that he used to sign them like this
because he didn't want his name on things like this,
-which people might think, "Oh, that's peculiar."
That's just a table lamp. There's nothing offensive about that.
Shall we share its little secret?
One, two, three.
Often when you get an overtly erotic scene,
rather than just a classical female nude,
or a nude used in a form of decorative device that's acceptable, it would be concealed.
It's a rare, early novelty.
-Shall we cover her modesty?
-Yeah, why not.
-Everyone at home's had enough of a shock.
I think we can put this into auction and say...
-£250 to £350.
So were our buyers as naughty a nation
as their Edwardian counterparts?
I'm going to start the bidding at £500.
I can't believe it.
550, 570, 600 and 20,
650, 670. Commission bid's out.
At £700 for the telephone and selling at £700,
is there any more?
-Oh, you've got to be so happy with that, haven't you?
There's nothing like a great name like Bergman.
Add that to the quality and the pretty lady
and you have a hat-trick.
What the bronze typified was that some of the very best things
that we see on "Flog It!" actually do come from around the world
and particularly Europe.
So here's what we've learnt so far.
A well-known name and good quality workmanship always adds to value,
so do your research, so you know what to look for.
Be on the lookout for nudes, as long as they are beautifully executed.
And seek out the naughty or the novel. It might have the
je ne sais quoi that will set the bidders' hearts aflutter.
We've all got something at home,
that one special item, that we're particularly attached to.
But I want to know what's the one thing
our experts would rescue from a burning building?
Gosh, if there was a house fire, the one thing I would really save
would be this painting here, the Moulin Rouge in Paris.
Not of any great commercial value. It's not a rare French Impressionist
painting worth millions of pounds, but it's the sentimental value.
I bought this in a flea market in Paris,
the day after a most wonderful and sumptuous evening at the Moulin Rouge.
I was whisked away by my wife, a surprise birthday treat,
holed up in the most wonderful Art Deco hotel
on the Left Bank, overlooking Notre Dame,
and then picked up and taken to the Moulin Rouge that evening.
The most incredible night. I shall never, never forget it.
And the following day, just wandering along this fantastic flea market in Paris,
I stumbled across this painting and just had to have it.
I like art anyway, I love the painting,
and the memory this evokes for me makes it my most valuable treasure.
Here on "Flog It!" we have broad tastes,
and we love it when you bring us items from as far away
as the Far East. It's an area that's always been of interest
to collectors. And something you've brought in for us again and again
has been the popular Willow pattern with its tale of the Orient.
But its origin isn't what it seems, as you're about to find out,
and we'll discover just how valuable it is today.
Of course, you know what they are.
Open salt cellars cos in the 19th century, 18th century,
right the way back to the Elizabethan period,
salt wasn't put in a little shaker.
It was put in an open salt, like this.
And if we take one out, and have a little look, these detach quite easily.
They're like miniature bowls in their own right, aren't they?
-They're lovely, aren't they?
Turn them over, a clear mark underneath there,
and that is the mark for Royal Worcester.
And that's the capital letter T, and that's the date letter for 1882.
-The pattern in the centre, do you recognise it?
Willow pattern, exactly.
It's the most well-known pattern of all blue and white.
I think they're quite sweet.
So, I'm going to put an estimate of £50-£80 on them. Is that OK?
That might not be the highest of valuations,
but we'll come back to see how that did at auction.
The enduring appeal of Willow goes back to the 18th century
when an interest in all things Oriental really hotted up.
Traders returning from the Far East brought back exotic lacquerware
and silks adorned with pagodas, strange animals,
and fanciful dragons.
We'd never seen such outlandish designs before, and we were hooked.
Soon, the great and the good descended on their own designers
to create wallpapers, furniture,
and ceramics, which all hearkened to the mysteries of the East.
One phrase captured this new European vogue for taking
Chinese designs and embellishing them.
Nothing epitomises it better than the Willow pattern,
which appears in the 1790s and depicted a tragic romance.
A princess decided to ignore her father's demands to marry
a nobleman of his choosing, and eloped instead with a servant.
Life was blissfully happy for them
until her disgruntled father hunted them down and had them killed.
They lived eternally together afterwards, as doves,
a symbol of everlasting love.
A charming story, but entirely fabricated.
Some say it was probably British potter Josiah Spode
who came up with the Willow pattern story
as a marketing ploy to sell more plates. And it worked.
Remember, when you're looking for the Willow,
there's a lot to choose from, as the Willow pattern has been
made by more than 400 potters in Great Britain alone.
So, look out for good makers, like Spode, Minton and Royal Worcester.
Look at the mark,
and you can find out who made it from reference books.
And keep in mind, if it isn't marked, you're on shaky ground.
It could be old or a cheap reproduction.
So you need to be prepared to do some more research to learn
how to tell the treasure from the trash.
So, how did the Royal Worcester piece valued at £50-£80 do at auction?
I think there's a lot of value here for not a lot of money.
A nice little lot there. Who'll start me?
70, 5. 80, then. New blood.
5, 90, 5, 100,
-Wow, they love it.
-150 with me. 160, 160 in the room and the book's out.
-That was so good!
-Wasn't that good?
It just goes to show, even after all these years, our love affair
with the affordable Willow pattern is still going strong.
But if you want the real Chinese pieces, prices can be much higher.
To the owner's astonishment,
this pot found in the attic was valued at £2.6 million.
So keep your eyes peeled.
With luck like that, you could be as rich as an emperor.
If you do want to get your feet wet buying original Chinese pieces,
you're entering a complicated field.
A few years ago, I was lucky enough to get some help on how to spot the real thing.
It seems that to be a dealer or collector of Chinese antiques,
you need to have a PhD in the subject.
Dr Tim Foster not only deals in Chinese ceramics,
he's also a leading expert in this field.
How did your passion for Chinese ceramics start?
Well, it grew out of a passion for history, really.
Both sides of my family were in the business, so I grew up with it.
And it was when I realised that you could buy a cracked 18th-century
tea bowl that was 250-280 years old for five or £10
and I thought, "There's a piece of history."
-It's quite incredible, isn't it?
-It is. It is.
Can you explain what the dynasties are?
The focus on the dynasties is a bit misleading, really,
because they span hundreds of years.
So, the Ming Dynasty actually lasts about 300 years
from the 14th century right through to the middle of the 17th century.
And the most recent is the Qing Dynasty, and that ran from
the mid 17th century, almost through to the beginning of this century.
Is it really as complicated as it seems?
Are we walking into a minefield?
It is a fairly complex field because the one thing
you can't do with Chinese ceramics is rely on the marks.
This piece shows one of the complexities of the field,
in as much as it is marked, but it's marked with a Ming mark.
So this says it was made 400 years before it was made.
And the marks that you find
on Chinese porcelain are nine times out of ten incorrect.
-They don't correspond to the item.
Because the Chinese have such a reverence for the past,
it wasn't unusual for them to mark newer pieces with older dates.
And the other factor, of course, is that the Chinese have quite
a consistent sort of aesthetic sense, so they reproduce shapes,
styles and patterns literally over hundreds of years.
This is a Kangxi jar, symbolic of the coming of spring.
300 years old.
This is a 100-year-old reproduction.
-You can see it is a copy, can't you?
-Well, I think so.
-When they're side-by-side.
-And you do see them around.
So, you could collect this. It's 100 years old, it's hand-painted.
And it is symbolic.
So you can't go on the pattern or decoration,
-you have to go on the object itself.
Know your feel. What do you look for when you go and see a piece of blue and white?
Well, the foot rim is important on any piece of ceramic.
And on a Kangxi foot rim, it will be absolutely dense,
very, very hard, very, very smooth. There are an awful number
of factors that you take into consideration.
-The only way to learn about it is to handle it.
And to know what it is that you're handling when you're handling it.
Live with it, you know, enjoy it, feel it, that's how you learn.
-It's not marked.
-Well, this is a very good vase.
And, I suppose, again, it would depend on where you're buying it.
But several thousand.
-Several thousand? Really?
It's 300 years old, and it's a very good quality piece.
How would you go about starting a collection? What would you look for?
What would your first piece be?
I think the beauty of Chinese ceramics is that it literally
does fit any pocket.
You can buy a hand-painted 18th-century plate for between £10 and £20.
-If it's damaged?
-With a hairline crack in.
Damage on a piece of Chinese porcelain will knock
between 80-90% off the value of it.
But you can learn from them.
You have to find a dealer who knows what they're selling.
And then you take that home with confidence, with a written
receipt saying that was made in 1720 or 1735, and you live with it.
Don't buy from auctions?
You see a lot in auction that really isn't...very old.
And if you bought from a dealer, you could actually return it?
Definitely, definitely. He'll tell you what it is.
There are two or three in each county, so, you know,
-it's a case of finding, asking around, and seeing who there is.
-And starting up a collection.
That's right! And you can do it for a fiver.
Because it's a very complicated market,
this can work in your favour.
It means lots of sellers won't know the value,
and you might have a better chance of picking up a bargain.
So go for it.
So today we have seen some wonderful items that have come to
the "Flog It!" tables from foreign climes, but there is one more
that shows "Flog It!" has something to give back to the world.
Last year, Gaynor Connor and Sister Yvonne brought in an item
Gaynor had squirreled away for 20 years.
We took to "Flog It!"
a beautiful Arts and Crafts mirror,
a nice brass Arts and Crafts mirror.
What we have is this hexagonal brass frame
with these Celtic knots round the rim.
Now this motif was particularly popular
during the Arts and Crafts movement.
I would say it's not the best of quality,
but it still has that very nice Celtic knot, good motif,
nice condition, obviously well looked after.
I would estimate it in the region of, say, £60-80.
-Would you be happy to sell it at that?
-Yes, I would.
-I mean, the money's going to a very good cause.
-Tell me about that.
I went to Malawi a few years ago and I saw the situation out there
and so it's going to a hospital in Malawi.
That's wonderful, Gaynor.
-£80 will do an awful lot out there, I'll tell you.
I've never been to an auction before,
so I didn't really know what to expect.
Ladies and gentlemen, this lot is being sold and the money's
going directly to St Joseph's, which is a bush hospital in Malawi.
Let's hope we get a good price for this Arts and Crafts
-brass-framed octagonal wall mirror.
Very excited at the prospect
of a big deal with somebody
to have a lot of money come in for this mirror.
I can start the bidding at £100 and 10 is bid. 110 I have, is there 120?
At £110. 120, 120 in the room.
120, all done at 120?
Anyone else now, at £120...we sell.
Not bad, double the estimate.
That's a true reflection of the price, wasn't it?
-That's not bad at all.
-We can do a lot in Africa with that.
-Hi, just a little donation.
-Oh, my goodness gracious!
'The Sisters of the St Augustinian Order have become quite expert
'at finding things that are worth a few quid in their shop,
'which they put towards their charity.'
Hey, look at this!
'We've recently built a girls' school'
because we've found that the girls are not being educated.
They go out into the bush and supply medicines to people who need help.
'So how far could the £120 raised at our "Flog It!" auction
'go in Malawi?'
The money that we raised from the sale of the mirror actually
went to buy medicines, simple things like paracetamol.
They can't afford them.
And also, mothers who have newborn babies
are not allowed to take babies out of the hospital
unless they have an item of clothing,
so it would have gone for clothing as well.
Our top tip is if you're going to have a clear out,
then do it with a friend, and it's amazing the fun you have.
Mairi, what about this for "Flog It!", eh?
'Well, I'm not sure Len Goodman would like it,
'but as Gaynor and Sister Yvonne said, try a clean out with a friend
'and as we know on "Flog It!", you can never tell what you might discover.'
We're so privileged on the show to pick up
information on antiques from all across the world,
and I hope you've learned something today on your travels with us.
Join me again next time for more on "Flog It! Trade Secrets",
but until then it's goodbye.
The experts offer advice on how to spot the best foreign antiques and collectables. The team see an eclectic mix of objects from Europe and the Far East, and Paul Martin discovers how to distinguish between a real Chinese ceramic and a copy.