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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As we know on Flog It, the world of antiques is simply vast,
with so many eras and items for you to collect
that sometimes, the choice can seem daunting.
We've got a wealth of experience
with over a decade of valuing and selling your antiques and collectables.
These are fabulous!
You've travelled the world, haven't you?
Last call, then. Going at £600.
-Would you like a seat?
So if there's something you need to know,
you're more than likely to find it right here on Trade Secrets.
In today's Trade Secrets, we're exploring the appeal of Victoriana.
You bring along to our Flog It valuation days
more items relating to the Victorian era
than any other period in our design history.
Queen Victoria was on the throne from 1837 until 1901.
And everything designed in that period
has come to be known as Victoriana.
Mass production meant more goods were available to buy
and many of these things are still in circulation today.
But which ones are worth a second look?
On today's show, our experts have loads of tips
on how to spot the best of it.
Look for something which has a patent to it.
Because the Victorians loved their patents.
Everyone was an inventor!
They share their thoughts on some colourful items.
It was hot property.
It was the thing we look for. The thing we hope to buy.
And we see some excellent results at auction.
Are we call done at £4,100?
'So, keep watching to get our tips
'about how to sort out the Victorian wheat from the chaff.'
The Victorian age was one of imitation and reproduction.
Old styles were revived and reinvented.
And sometimes more than one style was used to influence a single piece,
all of that fussy ornamentation.
A lot of you cannot get enough of it.
And judging by our Flog It valuation days,
there is loads of it out there.
So, if you want to get your hands on the very best of Victoriana,
here are our experts to give you their trade secrets.
Just because it's Victorian, doesn't mean it's large and cumbersome.
What I think is the best buy in today's market
are Victorian and antique pieces of furniture.
They are so cheap.
Of course, the Victorian era lasted an awfully long time.
And we're all tempted to think of the latter part of that period
where things were mass-produced, big, brown and ugly.
But it's far from that.
Look at majolica.
That's not brown!
The Victorian interior
was vivid to the point of vulgarity!
I think jewellery is something which is very collectable.
is worth looking at.
You can find some beautiful, beautiful pieces
which sit nicely and comfortably in a modern setting
but stand out as being superb quality.
Victoriana is our bread and butter on Flog It.
But it can be about much more than frills and frippery.
And here are our experts to show you why.
Anita Manning found a piece that was utterly high Victorian,
complete with flutes and cut glass.
But it had more to it than first met the eye.
This wonderful centrepiece
is about elaborate dining in the 19th century.
Tell me, where did you get it?
It was handed down from my family.
And, they had a big house
and obviously they had all this sort of thing that went with the house.
So it came from a big house?
Can you imagine the beauty of a Victorian dining room,
candle-lit, the table laden with beautiful food
and this lovely centrepiece in the middle?
It's silver-plated. It is of such good quality
that I would believe it to be Elkington's.
This piece was made by George Elkington.
Now, he was the first to devise the process of electroplating.
This new Victorian process
to attach silver by means of an electrical current to another metal.
If we look at the style, we can see these elaborate winged horses
with fish tails.
On these arms, we have a ram motif.
Now, this was typical of the Victorians.
They would mix their styles up. You've got this classical column here
and these more elaborate aspects to the item.
On top of these arms, we have these cut glass bowls.
And again, they're in good condition.
Condition is always important when you are buying something.
You want it to be as good as it can be.
I would estimate it in the region of £200 to £300.
Would you be happy to sell it?
-Yes, yes we would.
So, more than just a showy centrepiece.
A demonstration of Victorian innovation at its best.
But did it attract the buyers?
-I've got one, two, three, four, five commission bids here.
At 350, just. At 350 I'm bid.
360 I'll take from you. At 360.
All my bidders are out. At £360. Left-handed in the room at 360.
Who'll join us? Yes or no?
I shall sell it, then, at £360.
-Hammer's gone down.
-Good, good, good!
It just goes to show you can't always judge a Victorian piece by its cover.
And someone really appreciated the cutting-edge silver technique
behind its ornate appearance.
Look out for names like Elkington and make sure the condition is as good as possible.
'Why did it do so well at auction?'
Well, it was quite simply
a lovely big quality piece.
The Victorians loved their bling
and we see a lot of it on the show.
But Michael Baggott came across a piece of late Victorian jewellery
that was a cut above the rest.
The necklace was such an unusual piece,
because normally, at this stage,
you would find pearls set with other gemstones
or in a slightly different setting.
That very loose fringe setting
which just set off the pearls themselves.
And the fact that it was original and mint and cased
made it quite a rare and unusual find.
Can you tell me anything about it? Where did you get it from?
Well, it was given to me by a dear friend of my husband's
who later became godmother to my son.
I've had it since about the 1950s/1960s,
and I've just kept it as a memory of this lady.
-It's very delicate and isn't for everyday wearing.
Have you got any idea what the date is of it?
-I've really no idea. No idea.
You judge things stylistically.
It's the way it's fashioned, the way it's made,
can tell you something about it.
If you get gemstones with a closed backing, that tends to be 18th century.
'Open-backed tends to be 19th century.'
It's made out of not diamonds, well, small diamonds there,
but these pearls.
-Have you noticed they're quite irregular?
-I have noticed, yes.
Well, this was before you had mass-produced cultured pearls
where you basically get a piece of carved mother-of-pearl,
insert it in an oyster and let it build up over time.
These are all natural Scottish river pearls.
It's lovely to find freshwater pearls,
'but it's quite rare to get Baroque pearls like that in that setting.
'A lovely thing.'
They're extremely rare, now. You're no longer allowed to fish for them.
The Scottish mussels are almost extinct.
As a consequence, the pieces that do come onto the market are highly sought-after.
It's at a time when the pearls were more valuable than diamonds themselves.
-So you've got the diamonds actually setting the pearls off.
They're not worth their weight in diamonds at the moment.
But they were back then.
I think, in its state, which is absolutely mint,
in its original case, and that's all perfect,
I think you're probably looking in the region of about £300 to £500 at auction.
Jewellery is very much fashion-led
with private buyers.
Because they want to wear it.
But did the buyers find this unique bit of Victorian sparkle
on trend today?
750. 75. 800.
825 against you. 850? At 850.
To be sold. 950.
Can't believe it. Can't believe it.
Second thoughts? 950 and going.
Someone truly appreciated the quality
of that very special necklace.
It's always a good idea to look out for a piece with its case.
It'll be worth a lot more if it's in mint condition.
We've seen some pieces that are elegant and beautiful.
But if you still think Victorian can be over the top,
well, you'd be right.
And there's plenty of that around, too.
Majolica, colourful earthenware inspired by Italian pottery
was a big hit with the Victorians.
And, back in 2002,
David brought Thomas Plant a piece by famed Minton designer, George Jones.
That was a hot ticket with the buyers at the time.
This looks interesting.
I believe this is majolica.
-And possibly George Jones.
I think that it's referred to in a book that I saw recently
as "Dog on a Cushion".
Dog on a Cushion. Am amazing piece of Victoriana.
That just sums it all up.
The colours. The complete opulence of it all.
Who wants a dog on a cushion in pottery?
It is something which is appreciated by a lot of people.
A universally collected item.
For the love... I mean, honestly.
It is ghastly!
I'm just going to turn it over. Here we are. Here's the kite mark.
If I look in my book here. Here are the registrations.
1870, it's got here, for the year.
So I think 1870, 1871, I think that's correct.
English majolica was popular because the colours were bright,
the designs were new, it was forward thinking.
You can imagine the bourgeoisie class
being built up within Britain.
A new middle class being built.
Therefore, they wanted to spend their money on new items
and this was something new, exciting, forward-thinking.
It was the new style.
Tell me, have you an idea what the actual item was used for?
Sort of an ink well, I believe.
It could be an inkwell,
could be used on a ladies' dressing table.
Et cetera. It's certainly quite a feminine piece.
What makes it so Victorian is the colours,
those beautiful bright, bright colours and so juxtaposed.
'You open the lid, it's a different colour to the outside.
'It was the start of what you could call kitsch.'
That's what makes it Victorian.
Something like this, I would suggest,
£1,500 to £2,000.
To go for sale. Is it something you'd like to include in the sale?
It seems a pity to keep it locked away.
It should be enjoyed, I think.
So the Victorians were made about majolica.
But did today's buyers feel the same?
We have had a lot of interest here.
I can start on 1,000, 1,100,
1,400, 1,500, will you?
It was hot property. It was the thing to look for.
The thing we hoped to buy.
Or hoped to see come into Flog It.
And it did really well.
-In the room at 2,100.
-Thinking of the money already, Terry?
At £2,300 now.
Well, well, well. Congratulations.
-That's brilliant. Thank you.
-Happy with that?
Would it make that money now?
No. Definitely not!
That fashion has changed, the market has gone.
Prices have gone down over the last ten years
as it's just gone out of fashion.
But if you're one of those who love these kitsch majolica designs -
you know who you are! -
it's a great time to pick up a bargain.
Keep a keen eye out for celebrated designers such as George Jones,
Hughes Protat and Paul Commalero.
Some highly decorated Victorian ceramics like majolica
are prone to a little bit of damage.
It's forgivable - it's made of soft paste.
And a lot of serious collectors are willing to overlook this
if the piece is unusual or rare.
So, don't throw away your cracked plate.
Get specialist advice.
Mark Stacey came across an extraordinary vase back in 2006
that proves my point.
If we look at the vase in detail,
the quality is just breathtaking.
I think it's by a firm of glassmakers called Webb of Stourbridge.
It's not signed, but I'm almost sure it can only be their quality.
Stourbridge housed some of the most important English glass factories
including Thomas Webb.
This was a very good example of its type.
This white layer is applied right over the body.
And an artist etches out this pattern.
As we go around it, we can see a fantastic flying beetle here
with the most delicate of wings.
And these wonderful curling leaves
and a wonderful floral display here.
The thing that stands out in this particular piece is the decoration.
The sheer complexity of it all,
the fact that all that white glass was applied
and then very carefully taken away
leaving the most finest of details.
I love this butterfly overlapping
and the whole thing just sits perfectly.
I want to keep going...like that to it.
-It's such a wonderful tactile object, isn't it?
To do something like that requires great skill.
In terms of date, it's around about, I suppose, 1860.
-Roughly that sort of date, and it's a good size.
I have a couple of slight reservations.
The background colour is not as bright and vivid as some of these vases.
To me, the only thing that slightly let it down
was that the colour was a little bit dull.
If it had been a vibrant red or a vibrant yellow,
it would have been a bit more interesting.
And, of course, it was chipped.
We've got a small chip on the rim
which I'm not going to be unduly concerned about
but we have to acknowledge that it's there.
I'm always concerned with damage when it comes to ceramics and glass.
A chip is easier to repair than a crack,
but if it's a rare item, collectors will still pay a good amount of money for it.
I would suggest you put in an estimate of £400 to £600.
-Would that surprise you?
-It does, really, yes! Yes.
I knew it was nice quality, but I didn't think we would get that much.
Well, I think we should put a reserve of 400 on it as well,
so we don't give it away too cheaply
because it must be worth that all day long.
Look, I knew that £400 to £600 was conservative,
I just didn't realise it was uber conservative!
Quite a few commissions here and interest.
Starts me straight in at £500.
500 I have and 20. 550.
And 20. 650. 680. 700.
And 20. 720. 750.
780. 800. And 20.
Well, Mark, the chip and the subdued colour
didn't seem to bother the bidders!
What do I know? Cos it still went way above my estimate.
1,650. And 50. 1,700.
And 50? And 50. 1,800. 2,000.
And the bids kept on coming!
-When will it stop?
At £4,100. Are we all done at 4,100?
SALE ROOM APPLAUDS
Oh, how fantastic!
That was a surprise for us,
but even more so for Jill.
If you think you have something interesting at home,
there's loads of places now you can take and get reference and advice on.
Your local auction house, your local dealer, the internet.
These are all good places to start researching your object.
It might well be worthwhile.
An incredible sum, and an exquisite piece.
If you've got something like that that shouts quality
and it's by an interesting maker,
it doesn't matter what the colour is.
It could make a small fortune.
Now, here are a few tips on navigating your way
around the whacky world of Victoriana.
If you're trying to date jewellery,
look at the setting and the kind of metal.
But best of all, get to know your jewellery by handling it.
If you want to collect majolica,
examine the kite marks to date it.
You can tell George Jones from those vibrant colours
and whatever you do, be patient.
What goes out of fashion can just as easily come back in.
You should look out for astonishing and unusual pieces.
The rarer they are, the more valuable.
And if they're that good, a small chip won't matter.
Remember, Victoriana doesn't have to mean garish.
There are some beautiful pieces out there
just waiting to be appreciated.
The Victorians had inventiveness surging through their veins
and our tables are often groaning with fascinating Victoriana.
And they thought of everything, as Charlie Ross discovered!
I've never seen one of these before!
-It's a gold changer.
-It changes sovereigns into change.
-The sovereign would come through the front.
-Sovereign comes in there.
-Through the channel.
-Down it would come.
-And it would...
-Trip the counterbalance
then you could open the drawer through the front.
And then take your change out.
The Victorians had an answer for everything
but how did they become such masters of invention?
During the Victorian era, Britain emerged as a powerhouse of industry.
Steam technology, which had been developed by James Watt,
powered the great factories,
allowing them to churn out raw materials -
iron, textiles and manufacturing goods - all at a terrific rate.
As these rolled off the factory belt,
other British inventors came to the fore.
Isambard Kingdom Brunel designed the new railways
and powerful new steamships which sped goods to a waiting world.
And scientists like Michael Faraday
made possible the electric telegraph
which meant that communication could happen on a global scale.
The stage was set for industrialists to feed a new Victorian appetite
So, what did the Victorians do for us?
The list goes on and on and on.
Some of these inventions often land on our tables,
like that sovereign changer.
And they can be much sought-after,
as we found out when it went to auction.
285's there. 290, anywhere?
285 on the phone. 290, anyone?
We nearly did the £300 for you.
We looked after you!
It's that spirit of inventiveness which we still enjoy collecting today.
Look out for the kind of gadgets that show you how much Victorians loved problem solving.
And which stand out as being unique to the period.
What's so delightful about the Victorian age
is that if you cannot afford a steam engine,
you can have your pick of the most innovative items without breaking the bank.
Matches as we know them today came into use around the 1830s.
But they had a rather alarming tendency to ignite spontaneously in your pocket back then.
How like the Victorians to come up with a sensible solution!
An area I think is well worth looking at
is the collection of Vesta cases.
It's something that at entry level you can buy for less than £5.
I've brought along an interesting variety of three I have here.
One is this terribly iconic Victorian figure of Mr Punch.
He's got a Wee Willie Winkie candle-holder to light him to bed.
So you could also put your little match in there
and he would just give you enough light to blow out your candle
and get into bed.
The next one along is something close to my heart.
It's French, and I love all things French.
A little French Vesta case, continental silver,
decorated in mistletoe. Beautiful little thing.
But my favourite and most unusual one is this.
It's brass, silver-plated and it's in the form of an outside lavatory!
Complete with the timber-boarded door.
We'll knock at the door here,
open the door, and there we see the Victorian gentleman,
complete with top hat, sitting on the lav!
Because it's quite unusual and a little bit cheeky,
I think this would have a value of around £100.
My top tip for buying Vesta cases
is to think outside the box
and buy something a little quirky.
Don't get the run of the mill, get something different, a bit cheeky, a bit funny.
The Victorians loved their heroes,
whether inventors or great leaders.
But nobody encapsulated heroism more than the Duke of Wellington.
He defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815
and it established him as one of the great figures of the time.
In 1859, Wellington College, a charitable school,
catering for the orphans of army officers
was founded as a tribute to him.
I visited it in 2011.
Its 19th-century Baroque style was designed by John Shaw
who was influenced by the work of Sir Christopher Wren.
Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone in 1856
and Prince Albert was elected president of the governors.
The first 76 boys arrived on 20 January in 1859.
49 of them were army orphans,
paying fees between £10 and £20 a year.
The remaining 27 were sons of serving officers and civilians.
Since then, the school has gone from strength to strength.
Today, it's a thoroughly modern public school.
I'm here to meet former pupil, Patrick Mileham. Hello!
-How do you do?
-Pleased to meet you. How would the school have been in its very early days?
When it was opened by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert
back in 1859,
it had sprung up within three years on a particularly awful piece of land.
-It was barren.
Barren sand, heath, gorse, the back of beyond!
This must have looked like a beacon of hope back then?
-Well, it is.
It was built to dominate, because it was built in the heroic style.
It must have been pretty grim, to start off with.
Rising up as it does starkly from the wilderness.
And for the first boys, it must have been quite a shock
to stumble across this building and realise you were here for six months
for your first term.
They were taught by mainly clergymen in the traditional Victorian education system.
But they had their fun, too, and they pretty quickly took to sports and rugby was established early.
Cross-country running, presided over by Charles Kingsley of Muscular Christianity.
A lot of the early pupils would have gone into the army once they'd finished their education here.
That is true. They were sons of soldiers
and naturally, a lot of them went into the same profession.
As a mark of how highly Queen Victoria esteemed the college and the boys,
many of whom would join the Establishment,
she was there to inaugurate it.
That's the main gate, where Queen Victoria would have arrived by horse-drawn carriage.
You can imagine the sense of urgency and importance as she came through that arch.
Up there is the college motto, "Sons of Heroes", which is very appropriate.
Brave fathers gave their lives at the Crimean War and the Indian Mutiny.
Up there is Wellington's motto.
"Fortune favours the brave."
There he is, the iron duke, the Duke of Wellington,
looking down on us.
150 years ago, the college stood out in open countryside.
Today, that landscape has matured.
It's now surrounded by 400 acres of lush parkland.
Much here has changed,
but the college philosophy of duty, courage and the spirit of public service
is thriving, as a living memorial to one of our greatest heroes.
I hope we've opened your eyes to the flamboyance and inventiveness
of Victoriana in all its varied glory.
Well, that's it for today.
Join me again soon for more Trade Secrets.
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.