Victorian Flog It: Trade Secrets


Victorian

Antique series. The Flog It! experts explore a passion for odd Victorian inventions and visit a typical period house to see how the Victorian middle classes lived.


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Transcript


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As we know on Flog It, the world of antiques is simply vast,

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with so many eras and items for you to collect

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that sometimes, the choice can seem daunting.

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We've got a wealth of experience

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with over a decade of valuing and selling your antiques and collectables.

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These are fabulous!

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You've travelled the world, haven't you?

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Last call, then. Going at £600.

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-Wow!

-Would you like a seat?

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So if there's something you need to know,

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you're more than likely to find it right here on Trade Secrets.

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In today's Trade Secrets, we're exploring the appeal of Victoriana.

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You bring along to our Flog It valuation days

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more items relating to the Victorian era

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than any other period in our design history.

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Queen Victoria was on the throne from 1837 until 1901.

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And everything designed in that period

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has come to be known as Victoriana.

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Mass production meant more goods were available to buy

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and many of these things are still in circulation today.

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But which ones are worth a second look?

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On today's show, our experts have loads of tips

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on how to spot the best of it.

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Look for something which has a patent to it.

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Because the Victorians loved their patents.

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Everyone was an inventor!

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They share their thoughts on some colourful items.

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It was hot property.

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It was the thing we look for. The thing we hope to buy.

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And we see some excellent results at auction.

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Are we call done at £4,100?

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Yes!

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'So, keep watching to get our tips

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'about how to sort out the Victorian wheat from the chaff.'

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The Victorian age was one of imitation and reproduction.

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Old styles were revived and reinvented.

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And sometimes more than one style was used to influence a single piece,

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all of that fussy ornamentation.

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A lot of you cannot get enough of it.

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And judging by our Flog It valuation days,

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there is loads of it out there.

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So, if you want to get your hands on the very best of Victoriana,

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here are our experts to give you their trade secrets.

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Just because it's Victorian, doesn't mean it's large and cumbersome.

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What I think is the best buy in today's market

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are Victorian and antique pieces of furniture.

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They are so cheap.

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Of course, the Victorian era lasted an awfully long time.

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And we're all tempted to think of the latter part of that period

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where things were mass-produced, big, brown and ugly.

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But it's far from that.

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Look at majolica.

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That's not brown!

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The Victorian interior

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was vivid to the point of vulgarity!

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I think jewellery is something which is very collectable.

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Victorian jewellery

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is worth looking at.

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You can find some beautiful, beautiful pieces

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which sit nicely and comfortably in a modern setting

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but stand out as being superb quality.

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Victoriana is our bread and butter on Flog It.

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But it can be about much more than frills and frippery.

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And here are our experts to show you why.

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Anita Manning found a piece that was utterly high Victorian,

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complete with flutes and cut glass.

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But it had more to it than first met the eye.

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This wonderful centrepiece

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is about elaborate dining in the 19th century.

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Tell me, where did you get it?

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It was handed down from my family.

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And, they had a big house

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and obviously they had all this sort of thing that went with the house.

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So it came from a big house?

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Can you imagine the beauty of a Victorian dining room,

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candle-lit, the table laden with beautiful food

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and this lovely centrepiece in the middle?

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It's silver-plated. It is of such good quality

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that I would believe it to be Elkington's.

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This piece was made by George Elkington.

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Now, he was the first to devise the process of electroplating.

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This new Victorian process

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to attach silver by means of an electrical current to another metal.

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If we look at the style, we can see these elaborate winged horses

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with fish tails.

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On these arms, we have a ram motif.

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Now, this was typical of the Victorians.

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They would mix their styles up. You've got this classical column here

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and these more elaborate aspects to the item.

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On top of these arms, we have these cut glass bowls.

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And again, they're in good condition.

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Condition is always important when you are buying something.

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You want it to be as good as it can be.

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I would estimate it in the region of £200 to £300.

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Would you be happy to sell it?

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-Yes, yes we would.

-Yes.

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So, more than just a showy centrepiece.

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A demonstration of Victorian innovation at its best.

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But did it attract the buyers?

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-I've got one, two, three, four, five commission bids here.

-Yes!

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At 350, just. At 350 I'm bid.

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360 I'll take from you. At 360.

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All my bidders are out. At £360. Left-handed in the room at 360.

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Who'll join us? Yes or no?

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I shall sell it, then, at £360.

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-Yes!

-Hammer's gone down.

-Good, good, good!

-Brilliant result.

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It just goes to show you can't always judge a Victorian piece by its cover.

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And someone really appreciated the cutting-edge silver technique

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behind its ornate appearance.

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Look out for names like Elkington and make sure the condition is as good as possible.

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'Why did it do so well at auction?'

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Well, it was quite simply

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a lovely big quality piece.

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The Victorians loved their bling

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and we see a lot of it on the show.

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But Michael Baggott came across a piece of late Victorian jewellery

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that was a cut above the rest.

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The necklace was such an unusual piece,

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because normally, at this stage,

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you would find pearls set with other gemstones

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or in a slightly different setting.

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That very loose fringe setting

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which just set off the pearls themselves.

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And the fact that it was original and mint and cased

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made it quite a rare and unusual find.

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Can you tell me anything about it? Where did you get it from?

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Well, it was given to me by a dear friend of my husband's

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who later became godmother to my son.

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I've had it since about the 1950s/1960s,

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and I've just kept it as a memory of this lady.

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-It's very delicate and isn't for everyday wearing.

-No.

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Have you got any idea what the date is of it?

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-I've really no idea. No idea.

-Right.

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You judge things stylistically.

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It's the way it's fashioned, the way it's made,

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can tell you something about it.

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If you get gemstones with a closed backing, that tends to be 18th century.

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'Open-backed tends to be 19th century.'

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It's made out of not diamonds, well, small diamonds there,

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but these pearls.

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-Have you noticed they're quite irregular?

-I have noticed, yes.

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Well, this was before you had mass-produced cultured pearls

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where you basically get a piece of carved mother-of-pearl,

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insert it in an oyster and let it build up over time.

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These are all natural Scottish river pearls.

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It's lovely to find freshwater pearls,

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'but it's quite rare to get Baroque pearls like that in that setting.

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'A lovely thing.'

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They're extremely rare, now. You're no longer allowed to fish for them.

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The Scottish mussels are almost extinct.

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As a consequence, the pieces that do come onto the market are highly sought-after.

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It's at a time when the pearls were more valuable than diamonds themselves.

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-So you've got the diamonds actually setting the pearls off.

-I see.

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They're not worth their weight in diamonds at the moment.

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But they were back then.

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I think, in its state, which is absolutely mint,

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in its original case, and that's all perfect,

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I think you're probably looking in the region of about £300 to £500 at auction.

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Jewellery is very much fashion-led

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with private buyers.

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Because they want to wear it.

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But did the buyers find this unique bit of Victorian sparkle

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on trend today?

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700. 25.

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750. 75. 800.

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25.

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At 825.

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825 against you. 850? At 850.

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75. 900.

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25. 950.

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To be sold. 950.

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Can't believe it. Can't believe it.

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Second thoughts? 950 and going.

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-Close! Gosh!

-950 quid!

-That's amazing!

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Yes.

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£950!

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Someone truly appreciated the quality

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of that very special necklace.

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It's always a good idea to look out for a piece with its case.

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It'll be worth a lot more if it's in mint condition.

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We've seen some pieces that are elegant and beautiful.

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But if you still think Victorian can be over the top,

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well, you'd be right.

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And there's plenty of that around, too.

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Majolica, colourful earthenware inspired by Italian pottery

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was a big hit with the Victorians.

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And, back in 2002,

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David brought Thomas Plant a piece by famed Minton designer, George Jones.

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That was a hot ticket with the buyers at the time.

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This looks interesting.

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I believe this is majolica.

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-Yes.

-And possibly George Jones.

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I think that it's referred to in a book that I saw recently

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as "Dog on a Cushion".

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Dog on a Cushion. Am amazing piece of Victoriana.

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That just sums it all up.

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The colours. The complete opulence of it all.

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Who wants a dog on a cushion in pottery?

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It is something which is appreciated by a lot of people.

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A universally collected item.

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For the love... I mean, honestly.

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It is ghastly!

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I'm just going to turn it over. Here we are. Here's the kite mark.

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If I look in my book here. Here are the registrations.

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1870, it's got here, for the year.

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1870.

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So I think 1870, 1871, I think that's correct.

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-Don't you?

-Near enough.

-Near enough.

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English majolica was popular because the colours were bright,

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the designs were new, it was forward thinking.

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You can imagine the bourgeoisie class

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being built up within Britain.

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A new middle class being built.

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Therefore, they wanted to spend their money on new items

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and this was something new, exciting, forward-thinking.

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It was the new style.

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Tell me, have you an idea what the actual item was used for?

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Sort of an ink well, I believe.

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It could be an inkwell,

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could be used on a ladies' dressing table.

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Et cetera. It's certainly quite a feminine piece.

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What makes it so Victorian is the colours,

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those beautiful bright, bright colours and so juxtaposed.

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'You open the lid, it's a different colour to the outside.

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'It was the start of what you could call kitsch.'

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That's what makes it Victorian.

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Something like this, I would suggest,

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£1,500 to £2,000.

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To go for sale. Is it something you'd like to include in the sale?

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It seems a pity to keep it locked away.

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It should be enjoyed, I think.

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So the Victorians were made about majolica.

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But did today's buyers feel the same?

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We have had a lot of interest here.

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I can start on 1,000, 1,100,

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1,200, 1,300,

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1,400, 1,500, will you?

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It was hot property. It was the thing to look for.

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The thing we hoped to buy.

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Or hoped to see come into Flog It.

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And it did really well.

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2,000. 2,100.

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2,200.

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Wow!

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-In the room at 2,100.

-Thinking of the money already, Terry?

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-Pinch me!

-All right!

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2,400?

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At £2,300 now.

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2,400?

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Well, well, well. Congratulations.

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-That's brilliant. Thank you.

-Happy with that?

-Yeah, very!

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Would it make that money now?

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No. Definitely not!

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That fashion has changed, the market has gone.

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Prices have gone down over the last ten years

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as it's just gone out of fashion.

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But if you're one of those who love these kitsch majolica designs -

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you know who you are! -

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it's a great time to pick up a bargain.

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Keep a keen eye out for celebrated designers such as George Jones,

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Hughes Protat and Paul Commalero.

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Some highly decorated Victorian ceramics like majolica

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are prone to a little bit of damage.

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It's forgivable - it's made of soft paste.

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And a lot of serious collectors are willing to overlook this

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if the piece is unusual or rare.

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So, don't throw away your cracked plate.

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Get specialist advice.

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Mark Stacey came across an extraordinary vase back in 2006

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that proves my point.

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If we look at the vase in detail,

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the quality is just breathtaking.

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I think it's by a firm of glassmakers called Webb of Stourbridge.

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It's not signed, but I'm almost sure it can only be their quality.

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Stourbridge housed some of the most important English glass factories

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including Thomas Webb.

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This was a very good example of its type.

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This white layer is applied right over the body.

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And an artist etches out this pattern.

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As we go around it, we can see a fantastic flying beetle here

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with the most delicate of wings.

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And these wonderful curling leaves

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and a wonderful floral display here.

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The thing that stands out in this particular piece is the decoration.

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The sheer complexity of it all,

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the fact that all that white glass was applied

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and then very carefully taken away

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leaving the most finest of details.

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I love this butterfly overlapping

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and the whole thing just sits perfectly.

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I want to keep going...like that to it.

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-It's such a wonderful tactile object, isn't it?

-It's lovely.

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To do something like that requires great skill.

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In terms of date, it's around about, I suppose, 1860.

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-Roughly that sort of date, and it's a good size.

-Yes.

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I have a couple of slight reservations.

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The background colour is not as bright and vivid as some of these vases.

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To me, the only thing that slightly let it down

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was that the colour was a little bit dull.

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If it had been a vibrant red or a vibrant yellow,

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it would have been a bit more interesting.

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And, of course, it was chipped.

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We've got a small chip on the rim

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which I'm not going to be unduly concerned about

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but we have to acknowledge that it's there.

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I'm always concerned with damage when it comes to ceramics and glass.

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A chip is easier to repair than a crack,

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but if it's a rare item, collectors will still pay a good amount of money for it.

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I would suggest you put in an estimate of £400 to £600.

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-Would that surprise you?

-It does, really, yes! Yes.

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I knew it was nice quality, but I didn't think we would get that much.

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Well, I think we should put a reserve of 400 on it as well,

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so we don't give it away too cheaply

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because it must be worth that all day long.

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Look, I knew that £400 to £600 was conservative,

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I just didn't realise it was uber conservative!

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Quite a few commissions here and interest.

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Starts me straight in at £500.

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500 I have and 20. 550.

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580. 600.

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And 20. 650. 680. 700.

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And 20. 720. 750.

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780. 800. And 20.

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Well, Mark, the chip and the subdued colour

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didn't seem to bother the bidders!

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What do I know? Cos it still went way above my estimate.

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1,650. And 50. 1,700.

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And 50? And 50. 1,800. 2,000.

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100? 2,100.

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And the bids kept on coming!

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3,000. 3,100.

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3,200. 3,300.

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3,400.

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I'm crying!

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3,600. 3,700.

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3,800. 3,900.

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-4,000.

-When will it stop?

-4,100.

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At £4,100. Are we all done at 4,100?

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Yes!

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SALE ROOM APPLAUDS

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Oh, how fantastic!

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£4,100!

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That was a surprise for us,

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but even more so for Jill.

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If you think you have something interesting at home,

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there's loads of places now you can take and get reference and advice on.

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Your local auction house, your local dealer, the internet.

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These are all good places to start researching your object.

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It might well be worthwhile.

0:18:540:18:57

An incredible sum, and an exquisite piece.

0:18:580:19:02

If you've got something like that that shouts quality

0:19:020:19:05

and it's by an interesting maker,

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it doesn't matter what the colour is.

0:19:070:19:09

It could make a small fortune.

0:19:090:19:12

Now, here are a few tips on navigating your way

0:19:120:19:15

around the whacky world of Victoriana.

0:19:150:19:18

If you're trying to date jewellery,

0:19:190:19:21

look at the setting and the kind of metal.

0:19:210:19:24

But best of all, get to know your jewellery by handling it.

0:19:240:19:28

If you want to collect majolica,

0:19:280:19:30

examine the kite marks to date it.

0:19:300:19:32

You can tell George Jones from those vibrant colours

0:19:320:19:35

and whatever you do, be patient.

0:19:350:19:38

What goes out of fashion can just as easily come back in.

0:19:380:19:42

You should look out for astonishing and unusual pieces.

0:19:430:19:47

The rarer they are, the more valuable.

0:19:470:19:50

And if they're that good, a small chip won't matter.

0:19:500:19:53

Remember, Victoriana doesn't have to mean garish.

0:19:530:19:58

There are some beautiful pieces out there

0:19:580:20:00

just waiting to be appreciated.

0:20:000:20:02

The Victorians had inventiveness surging through their veins

0:20:050:20:09

and our tables are often groaning with fascinating Victoriana.

0:20:090:20:13

And they thought of everything, as Charlie Ross discovered!

0:20:130:20:17

I've never seen one of these before!

0:20:170:20:19

-It's a gold changer.

-Yeah.

0:20:190:20:21

-It changes sovereigns into change.

-Right.

0:20:210:20:25

-The sovereign would come through the front.

-Sovereign comes in there.

0:20:250:20:28

-Through the channel.

-Down it would come.

0:20:280:20:30

-And it would...

-Trip the counterbalance

0:20:300:20:33

then you could open the drawer through the front.

0:20:330:20:37

And then take your change out.

0:20:370:20:39

Fantastic.

0:20:390:20:42

The Victorians had an answer for everything

0:20:420:20:43

but how did they become such masters of invention?

0:20:430:20:47

During the Victorian era, Britain emerged as a powerhouse of industry.

0:20:510:20:55

Steam technology, which had been developed by James Watt,

0:20:550:20:59

powered the great factories,

0:20:590:21:01

allowing them to churn out raw materials -

0:21:010:21:03

iron, textiles and manufacturing goods - all at a terrific rate.

0:21:030:21:09

As these rolled off the factory belt,

0:21:090:21:11

other British inventors came to the fore.

0:21:110:21:14

Isambard Kingdom Brunel designed the new railways

0:21:160:21:19

and powerful new steamships which sped goods to a waiting world.

0:21:190:21:24

And scientists like Michael Faraday

0:21:240:21:26

made possible the electric telegraph

0:21:260:21:29

which meant that communication could happen on a global scale.

0:21:290:21:33

The stage was set for industrialists to feed a new Victorian appetite

0:21:350:21:40

for stuff!

0:21:400:21:42

So, what did the Victorians do for us?

0:21:420:21:44

The list goes on and on and on.

0:21:480:21:51

And on!

0:21:510:21:52

Some of these inventions often land on our tables,

0:21:540:21:58

like that sovereign changer.

0:21:580:21:59

And they can be much sought-after,

0:21:590:22:01

as we found out when it went to auction.

0:22:010:22:03

285. 290?

0:22:030:22:05

285's there. 290, anywhere?

0:22:050:22:07

285 on the phone. 290, anyone?

0:22:070:22:09

285.

0:22:090:22:11

-Brilliant!

-285.

0:22:110:22:13

We nearly did the £300 for you.

0:22:130:22:15

We looked after you!

0:22:150:22:17

It's that spirit of inventiveness which we still enjoy collecting today.

0:22:200:22:25

Look out for the kind of gadgets that show you how much Victorians loved problem solving.

0:22:250:22:30

And which stand out as being unique to the period.

0:22:300:22:34

What's so delightful about the Victorian age

0:22:340:22:36

is that if you cannot afford a steam engine,

0:22:360:22:38

you can have your pick of the most innovative items without breaking the bank.

0:22:380:22:43

Matches as we know them today came into use around the 1830s.

0:22:460:22:50

But they had a rather alarming tendency to ignite spontaneously in your pocket back then.

0:22:500:22:56

How like the Victorians to come up with a sensible solution!

0:22:560:23:00

An area I think is well worth looking at

0:23:020:23:05

is the collection of Vesta cases.

0:23:050:23:07

It's something that at entry level you can buy for less than £5.

0:23:070:23:11

I've brought along an interesting variety of three I have here.

0:23:110:23:16

One is this terribly iconic Victorian figure of Mr Punch.

0:23:160:23:20

He's got a Wee Willie Winkie candle-holder to light him to bed.

0:23:200:23:24

So you could also put your little match in there

0:23:240:23:27

and he would just give you enough light to blow out your candle

0:23:270:23:31

and get into bed.

0:23:310:23:33

The next one along is something close to my heart.

0:23:330:23:36

It's French, and I love all things French.

0:23:360:23:38

A little French Vesta case, continental silver,

0:23:380:23:41

decorated in mistletoe. Beautiful little thing.

0:23:410:23:44

But my favourite and most unusual one is this.

0:23:440:23:48

It's brass, silver-plated and it's in the form of an outside lavatory!

0:23:480:23:55

Complete with the timber-boarded door.

0:23:550:24:01

We'll knock at the door here,

0:24:010:24:02

open the door, and there we see the Victorian gentleman,

0:24:020:24:06

complete with top hat, sitting on the lav!

0:24:060:24:10

Because it's quite unusual and a little bit cheeky,

0:24:100:24:14

I think this would have a value of around £100.

0:24:140:24:18

My top tip for buying Vesta cases

0:24:180:24:22

is to think outside the box

0:24:220:24:24

and buy something a little quirky.

0:24:240:24:26

Don't get the run of the mill, get something different, a bit cheeky, a bit funny.

0:24:260:24:30

The Victorians loved their heroes,

0:24:350:24:37

whether inventors or great leaders.

0:24:370:24:39

But nobody encapsulated heroism more than the Duke of Wellington.

0:24:390:24:44

He defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815

0:24:440:24:48

and it established him as one of the great figures of the time.

0:24:480:24:52

In 1859, Wellington College, a charitable school,

0:24:520:24:57

catering for the orphans of army officers

0:24:570:24:59

was founded as a tribute to him.

0:24:590:25:01

I visited it in 2011.

0:25:010:25:04

Its 19th-century Baroque style was designed by John Shaw

0:25:060:25:09

who was influenced by the work of Sir Christopher Wren.

0:25:090:25:12

Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone in 1856

0:25:120:25:15

and Prince Albert was elected president of the governors.

0:25:150:25:18

The first 76 boys arrived on 20 January in 1859.

0:25:200:25:25

49 of them were army orphans,

0:25:250:25:28

paying fees between £10 and £20 a year.

0:25:280:25:31

The remaining 27 were sons of serving officers and civilians.

0:25:310:25:36

Since then, the school has gone from strength to strength.

0:25:360:25:38

Today, it's a thoroughly modern public school.

0:25:380:25:40

I'm here to meet former pupil, Patrick Mileham. Hello!

0:25:400:25:43

-How do you do?

-Pleased to meet you. How would the school have been in its very early days?

0:25:430:25:48

When it was opened by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert

0:25:480:25:52

back in 1859,

0:25:520:25:54

it had sprung up within three years on a particularly awful piece of land.

0:25:540:26:01

-A wilderness.

-It was barren.

0:26:010:26:03

Barren sand, heath, gorse, the back of beyond!

0:26:030:26:07

This must have looked like a beacon of hope back then?

0:26:070:26:09

-Striking architecture.

-Well, it is.

0:26:090:26:11

It was built to dominate, because it was built in the heroic style.

0:26:110:26:15

It must have been pretty grim, to start off with.

0:26:150:26:18

Rising up as it does starkly from the wilderness.

0:26:180:26:22

And for the first boys, it must have been quite a shock

0:26:220:26:25

to stumble across this building and realise you were here for six months

0:26:250:26:29

for your first term.

0:26:290:26:31

They were taught by mainly clergymen in the traditional Victorian education system.

0:26:310:26:38

But they had their fun, too, and they pretty quickly took to sports and rugby was established early.

0:26:380:26:44

Cross-country running, presided over by Charles Kingsley of Muscular Christianity.

0:26:440:26:48

A lot of the early pupils would have gone into the army once they'd finished their education here.

0:26:480:26:53

That is true. They were sons of soldiers

0:26:530:26:56

and naturally, a lot of them went into the same profession.

0:26:560:27:00

As a mark of how highly Queen Victoria esteemed the college and the boys,

0:27:000:27:05

many of whom would join the Establishment,

0:27:050:27:07

she was there to inaugurate it.

0:27:070:27:09

That's the main gate, where Queen Victoria would have arrived by horse-drawn carriage.

0:27:100:27:14

You can imagine the sense of urgency and importance as she came through that arch.

0:27:140:27:18

Up there is the college motto, "Sons of Heroes", which is very appropriate.

0:27:180:27:23

Brave fathers gave their lives at the Crimean War and the Indian Mutiny.

0:27:230:27:27

Up there is Wellington's motto.

0:27:270:27:29

"Fortune favours the brave."

0:27:290:27:31

There he is, the iron duke, the Duke of Wellington,

0:27:310:27:34

looking down on us.

0:27:340:27:36

150 years ago, the college stood out in open countryside.

0:27:380:27:42

Today, that landscape has matured.

0:27:420:27:44

It's now surrounded by 400 acres of lush parkland.

0:27:440:27:48

Much here has changed,

0:27:480:27:49

but the college philosophy of duty, courage and the spirit of public service

0:27:490:27:53

is thriving, as a living memorial to one of our greatest heroes.

0:27:530:27:57

I hope we've opened your eyes to the flamboyance and inventiveness

0:28:070:28:12

of Victoriana in all its varied glory.

0:28:120:28:16

Well, that's it for today.

0:28:180:28:19

Join me again soon for more Trade Secrets.

0:28:190:28:22

Dedicated to all things Victorian and featuring items that range from the innovative to the bizarre.

Flog It! regular Adam Partridge admits to a passion for odd Victorian inventions, and David Fletcher visits a typical period house to see how the Victorian middle classes lived. Presenter Paul Martin explores the story behind a tribute to that most prominent of Victorians, the Iron Duke.