Antiques series. The market for antique souvenirs is the theme for the Flog It! team, and Paul Martin explores the history of the British beach hut.
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With over a decade of "Flog It!" valuation days and auctions
all over the British Isles,
we've built up a wealth of knowledge valuing your unwanted antiques.
And now, we want to share some of that with you.
-Happy to see it go?
He's very positive about this, isn't he?
-It's nearly time for afternoon tea, isn't it?
-It certainly is!
Our experts are raring to go with inside information,
so if there's something you need to know,
you'll probably find it right here.
Welcome to Trade Secrets.
In today's show, we're investigating how holidays and travel
can affect our collecting habits.
For centuries, we've been a nation of adventurers,
keen to explore foreign lands.
And we've always enjoyed bringing home mementoes of our travels.
So today, we are browsing through the market for antique souvenirs.
And there is not a stick of rock in sight for Catherine,
as she get a flavour of Hollywood glamour.
-Is that Clark Gable? Wonderful.
And here we have Cary Grant on Santa Monica Boulevard.
Michael makes some first-class predictions.
We'll put it into auction for £1,000 to £1,500.
And I'm off to the seaside,
to unlock the story of the Great British beach hut.
Sun shining down on us outside your own beach hut - what could be better?
-Well, apart from a chocolate biscuit.
-There we go!
Who doesn't like to be beside the seaside
or explore great open spaces,
wander the streets of cities and towns - home and abroad?
And let's face it, we all like to bring back souvenirs.
But how do you distinguish the tourist tat from the hidden gems?
Well, here are a few tips.
Most souvenirs are what my mother would have called frippery.
Penny dreadfuls. And don't have quality.
If you can buy something from a region that's just got
a little bit of quality...
It'll cost you more, but it will be well worth collecting.
Don't just buy something because it's got Ramsgate on it.
That's not going to help.
Goss is certainly the big name in crested china.
That's the one you'd go for. Obviously, other lesser makers
copied what Goss was doing and achieving.
But really, you go by the rarity of the object.
Or possibly the rarity of the crest.
Buy something that's hand-painted. Classic example.
Go down to the West Country, some wonderful potteries down there.
Buy an original piece of pottery with a signature on it.
We had Troika. And these were made as souvenirs
to be bought in Cornwall.
So I don't think that we should scoff at holiday souvenirs,
we should always have a second look at them
because very often they can be of quality.
And they can be desirable.
When I think of souvenirs - paperweights, crested china
and stuffed donkeys cross my mind.
But something altogether more exotic found its way to Michael's table.
Obviously when you see something that you haven't seen in the normal
course of events at a Flog It! valuation day
you get very excited.
When you find it's by a very big and important maker,
doubly so, so I was thrilled to see it.
Where on earth did this, dare I say it, grotesque little fellow come from?
Just out of a box at a charity sale that I went to,
with some other little bits and pieces.
It was unusual, it was cheap, so I thought, "I'll have that."
-When you say it was cheap, hopefully not more than a fiver, was it, or...
Something in my brain is saying a couple of pounds with some
other little bits, that's all.
Couple of pounds, well, I think a couple of pounds is all right for it.
It is a gourd, a hardened bean pod,
I mean, variously you get gourd shaped pods in India and China,
the whole of South-east Asia, really.
Somebody's grown this
and then I think somebody has had a go at making it a bazaar object.
Possibly sold to a tourist.
But the tourist that bought this would probably have been shopping in about 1880.
There's always the Victorian taste,
remember we're at a time before film, before television,
bringing back objects that were extraordinary,
that they could remember from their trip but also describe the exotic locations they'd been.
And they've come back to England
and they've got this thing and they've thought,
"What the devil can I do with this?"
And they have taken it into a silversmith's who have been
really ingenious and they have fitted this silver foot
in the form of a leaf, but we have the hallmarks there are for London, 1878.
And they have followed the naturalistic design
and they have a vine leaf going up the side and a scroll
and they have put a pepper pot top on it.
The most interesting thing, though, is the maker's mark.
It's a very important London firm of jewellers called Giuliano.
This is done by Carlo Giuliano. He's incredibly sought after.
And quite an important Victorian maker.
He was an Italian trained under Castellani in London,
and he did some work for the leading Victorian jeweller,
Robert Phillips, before setting up on his own and certainly
while his silver is very niche, his jewellery now is extremely popular.
It's considered to be amongst the finest of the 19th century work in this country.
It's a question of price.
What do you think is a fair return on your couple of pounds?
What do you think it is worth?
I am hoping it is worth a couple of hundred or something like that.
A couple of hundred? I don't want to disappoint you, Julie, so I won't.
We'll put it into auction for 1,000 to £1,500.
-We'll put a reserve of £1,000 on it.
Carlo Giuliano's work in jewellery is incredibly
sought after and rare, his work in silver is even rarer.
In terms of putting an estimate on it
I did know of slightly similar but smaller objects by Giuliano
that had sold at auction and they have sold at 700, 800, £900.
This being a larger example, I thought
we would have no difficulty whatsoever getting 1,000 or
£1,500 for it and secretly I was hoping it might do over 2,000.
So, was Michael's confidence well placed?
-At 860 on the book. At 860.
-That's a good start.
880, at 880 now. At 860. At £860. 880 anywhere now?
At £860? You sure now then?
At £860? You all sure at 860...
I said just then it was a great start but it was also the end.
It was the end. Why?
All along I thought, because it is so it is a specialist type thing, isn't it?
It's not something everyone could live with.
Put it into a specialist silver sale because I promise you that is worth £1,000.
All day long.
It was obviously very disappointing when it did not sell.
Sometimes you need the right person to understand an object.
A lot of collectors of silver would look at that
and think 1,000 or 1,500 was a lot of money,
if you collect Giuliano jewellery, you think it is an absolute bargain.
Michael was disappointed the gourd did not find a new owner,
but he was right that the name Giuliano can make big money.
In 2011 a stunning gold enamel engraved pearl necklace
by Giuliano sold at auction for around £55,000.
If Julie still has her wacky souvenir, I think
she should try her luck again at a specialist sale.
If you do, remember to put a reserve on it.
Now, a souvenir from a little closer to home caught David Fletcher's attention.
You have got with you a...gizmo, really.
If I can unscrew it there...
we have...a pen.
Not a fountain pen but a dipper.
At the other end, of course, a paper knife.
One other thing which I suspect is going to be the case is that
if I look through this little hole at the end, I am going to see
a black and white photograph.
Items like this were bought as souvenirs, they were affordable.
If you went away on a charabanc in the 1920s or you have gone
away on a train in the 1890s to the seaside and you had a Mum at home
and you wanted to buy a souvenir, something to take back to her, you
could go out and buy one of these and it would not break the bank.
This type of magnifying device is known as a Stanhope.
Because it was invented by the third Earl of Stanhope.
-Who, quite honestly hadn't got much to do with his time.
He was probably very thrilled with it and I must say it is miraculous.
It didn't really have any purpose, they were just novelties,
just bits of fun.
And they related to a particular resort
and there was a scene in that resort and if you have been there
you took it home, it was a logical thing to do.
This isn't going to make the earth, but it is good fun
-and I would like to suggest an estimate of 30 or £50.
-That is OK.
-We will go ahead and I will see you both at the auction.
-Lovely. Thank you.
The question is, will this lot about your love this?
Let's find out. It's going under the hammer right now.
What did he say? 22? 24, 26 standing now.
28, 30, 32, 34, 36, £36. Are we all done at 36?
36, do I see 38? Selling at £36.
It's gone! £36.
Collectors of Stanhopes today, it must be said,
are fairly or relatively few and far between.
They're by no means the most syllable of all collectable
items but they are collected by people who are buying on a budget.
I don't think it will prove to be good investments, necessarily,
but they might be.
It may just be worth punting a pound or two if you see one.
I agree, Stanhopes shouldn't be overlooked as a collecting field.
They're an affordable and interesting entry-level item for those
who want to start collecting.
Stanhopes were added to all kinds of useful objects,
like walking canes and cigarette holders as well as being
made into purely decorative pieces.
Personally I think they are fascinating and the images
they contain remainders of long lost landscapes and city scenes.
Catherine also spotted a collection that whisked her back to another
place and time.
Now I love to see a good selection of ephemera
and that is what we have here. The lovely bit of social history.
Where has it all come from? Tell me the story.
My grandfather went to America in 1954 to visit his cousin.
He was 73 and had never been abroad, never been out of the country.
I do not think he had ever been out of Lancashire or Yorkshire at that time.
And he went out on the ship called the SS Flanderer. He went to New York
and flew from New York to LA, he had never flown before in his life.
It wasn't really common as it is now in the 1950s for people to
travel and travel really across to America,
it was really only the rich, the very wealthy who were
making their way over to America and travelling extensively.
And he went out on the Flanderer and these are the menus.
They look very grand, don't they?
That was second-class, what was first class like?
He came back on a ship in December 1954,
called the Saxonia and that ship was brand-new in 1954 and launched by
Lady Churchill, there is a booklet there telling you all about it,
which he brought back with him as well.
It was interesting to look at the brochures that were
produced at the time, looking at the fashion, the furniture,
the way that the actual ship was dressed.
But also what I loved was the postcards that he had,
he had an amazing collection of postcards
which his grandfather bought when he was over in America.
It was interesting to see how Hollywood looked then
and how it looks now.
-They're so colourful.
-There are a lot of pictures of film stars' houses.
Here we have Will Rogers, and the Nelsons.
And here we have Cary Grant on Santa Monica Boulevard.
The value was in the fact that it was a great collection,
it wasn't only the postcards from the '50s, it was
also about the travel in the '50s so it was really an entire story
and I think the fact that it was all really beautifully documented
and it was in superb condition.
That was wonderful.
Now, I think we should put it in auction with an estimate of
2 or £300, and a fixed reserve of £200.
Which means we won't sell it below that.
A fascinating collection,
certainly deserving the top end of its estimate.
-What did the bidders think?
-£100 to start me. 100 to go.
-110, 120, 130, 140.
He hasn't put his bidding card down.
170, 180, 190, 200, £200 there.
In the middle of the room at £200. Anyone else want to come in?
I can sell it then at £200. I am selling it for 200.
It's got £200 and that chap over there was very, very keen.
He did not put his bidding paddle down.
I wanted, I am going home with it.
-I just wish there was someone else in the room doing the same!
Yes, John, unfortunately it always takes two bidders to get top dollar.
I think the gent that won that lot got himself a bargain.
That's auctions for you.
Not all modern souvenirs from sunny climbs will fit snugly
into your hand luggage, as Adam Partridge discovered.
You have brought this handsome Murano sculpture in today.
Can you tell me much about it?
About 25 years ago I was in Italy on business
and a colleague and I went on a boat to Murano and had a look at it and bought one each.
They're lovely. We've never regretted buying it.
Murano is an island off Venice which has been famous for glass
making for probably 1,000 years.
Since the 10th century.
And in the last hundred years in particular it's been a great
area for tourists, holiday,
souvenir hunters etc to bring back colourful paperweights,
vases, they had a whole range of glass produced by Murano.
-This is heavy, how did you get it home?
-It was shipped home, thankfully.
-I know you carried it in today in a holdall.
-£93 excess baggage if we brought it by plane.
Was it really? Do you mind me asking how much it was?
-Just about £800.
-£800. So a couple of million Lira?
Indeed. I spent a couple of million. First and only time I've ever spent 2 million!
I see a lot of Murano glass coming through the salerooms
but it is always smaller pieces, vases and things like that.
I've never seen anything as impressive as this from Murano
-so it is really a great object to see.
-It is lovely.
What was unusual about this, it was all clear for a start at it
was a very distinctive and unusual piece of modern glass, not really my
cup of tea but I was quite excited to see an unusual piece of Murano.
-Presumably you want your money back and a bit more?
-I would hope so.
I would hope so as well. I think £800 is probably the top end of what it is worth in an auction.
When I saw it I thought six or £800 but it is lovely.
-Does it have a name?
-It is called Adam. After yourself.
That is very kind. It's a handsome chap.
It's very nice to have the Murano seal on here, the stamp
and signature on the front there, which is
Rosine and his first name was Loredano Rosine.
The pieces that are signed and designed, those are the ones
that have the best chance of appreciating in value.
We don't want you to lose money so you will want a reserve on this.
I think I would want the reserve to be what I paid for it before,
-there is no point in selling it if I will make a loss.
-I quite agree. I wouldn't do that either.
We'll put a deserve of 800 which I think is the top end
but fingers crossed, we will see what happens.
Bob and I didn't exactly see completely eye to eye,
I would have estimated that at five or £6-£800 rather than £800-£1,000.
But Bob was insistent on wanting the £800.
I actually thought this probably isn't going to sell.
We'll see you at the auction, Adam.
Who was proved right, Bob or Adam?
When the Murano souvenir went under the hammer.
An important piece of modern glass, very seldom on the market.
I have interest. I can start this at £650. 650, 650,...
-It's above your valuation already.
-Stop it, Bob!
800 with you, sir. 800.
-But I can sell, are you quite sure? All done at £800?
You've got your money back.
Bob was extra victorious. When it made the 800,
he said, "I could do your job much easier than you!"
So congratulations, Bob, on making me look like an idiot.
I think it was a fair price, a very strong price.
Perhaps in time to come that might prove to be an investment
but I think it will take a few years.
You can't win them all
but luckily for Bob there was one very determined bidder in the room.
What should you consider when shopping for mementos on holiday?
The best things in life are free. Well, fairly inexpensive.
Travel brochures and postcards from your trip may cost you a few
pounds today but could prove very valuable in the future.
Always keep an eye out for the weird and wacky,
but if you are selling at auction sniff out a specialist
sale and always protect your prized possession with a reserve.
And if you are thinking of starting a holiday-themed collection,
you can't go far wrong with a Stanhope.
These are charming, inexpensive souvenirs that make a perfect
starting point for those who are new to antiques.
Sooner or later,
all British travellers make their way to the coast.
And when they do, there's only one place to hang out - the beach hut.
Having a swim in the sea is one of the great pleasures
of coming to the seaside.
And it all took off really in the early 18th century
when doctors encouraged their patients to have a
dip in the saltwater to improve their general health and well-being.
Early bathers were encouraged to bathe naked.
But that wasn't as straightforward as it sounds.
It wasn't appropriate to have people walking naked along the beach.
So a more discreet solution was needed.
Bathing machines, which were basically beach huts on wheels,
were invented to provide the occupant with the modesty,
and as a way of getting from the top of the beach down to the water.
But fashioned changed, and by the turn of the 20th century,
it became acceptable to wear a bathing costume and be seen in it.
But people still needed a place to change in.
And the answer was static beach huts.
These soon became a sought-after accessory to any seaside holiday.
Nowadays, these brightly-painted beach huts are an iconic symbol
of the Great British seaside resort.
We tend to take their presence for granted.
So I'm here to find out a little bit more.
And the person to tell me is Dr Catherine Ferry -
a seaside historian who is an expert on beach huts.
Do you have a beach hut yourself?
Oh, I wish I did. I don't. I feel a bit of a fraud admitting that.
But there's something that appeals to me
about these tiny buildings on the margin between the land and the sea.
They could get blown away but they're bright and cheerful.
-You know, I love that.
-They do put a smile on your face.
-What a backdrop we've got.
-With the golden sunshine.
-It keeps you snug.
On some of our summer's days, you know, you want to be in there
-if the sun doesn't come out.
I think that's why the British love them so much.
Because when the rain comes down, it doesn't matter.
You spent months on the road
going on virtually a tour of the coast of England.
That's right. And I did actually count the beach huts as I went.
OK, come on. Let's hear it.
I counted just over 19,000. But I think I missed a few.
Actually, that's quite a surprisingly low number,
because there's so much interest in beach huts these days
that you imagine that there's going to be hundreds of thousands of them.
-I like the brightly painted ones.
-So do I.
-They remind me you of a stick of rock.
-They put a big smile on your face.
-They're so summery, aren't they?
-Even in the winter, they look summery.
-Yeah, I think that's what it's all about, don't you?
Beach huts aren't just places to relax in,
they're also highly sought-after pieces of real estate.
Prices have rocketed in recent years,
with some in popular locations now selling for well over £100,000.
So I'm keen to have a look inside a hut and meet some of the owners.
Christine and Iain, this is the life, isn't it?
-Just the business.
-Sun shining down on us outside your own beach hut.
What could be better? Well, apart from a chocolate biscuit.
-There we go.
-Do you mind?
So, how long have you had this one?
We've had it six months. We moved to Brighton last October.
We decided we'd like to retire by the sea.
And you thought, yep, can't get any closer to the sea than this.
-That was us.
-It's just there.
I come down when the weather's nice, like this.
If it's windy then I just sit in the hut.
Just inside, out of the wind. Otherwise, out here.
-Sandwiches, food, wine, Champagne...
-You know, just have a lovely time.
-It's no wonder you look so happy.
-It's a good life.
-I've got to try some of this.
-I've got to try some of this.
-You have to.
So, where's that Champagne then?
-It's chilling down right now.
Well, I've got to say, this definitely is the life.
I've just had a fascinating insight into what life is like
owning a beach hut.
And I can honestly say, if I lived anywhere near the coast,
I would definitely invest in one of these.
And my dogs, they would absolutely love it.
As we saw earlier, not all holiday mementos are cheap tourist tat.
Some, in fact, are serious collectors' pieces.
There's one high-end souvenir that is a particular favourite of mine.
Over the years we have valued a fair bit of it on the programme
-and it often fetches memorable prices.
-All done at £400.
The hammer's gone down, 400 quid, good estimate.
Tunbridge ware is deserving of the prices it
achieves as it is a quality antique, handmade by master craftsmen.
The wooden wares were originally produced as a sideline
by woodworkers, working in the vicinity of Tunbridge Wells
to sell to the spa town's visitors.
Some believe the earliest examples were brought in from London.
The Tunbridge ware items were a popular souvenir,
you must think of Tunbridge Wells, the wonderful spa town
in the 18th and 19th century, the fine folk would go there to take
the waters, and when you go on holiday you want to bring a souvenir back.
So they would buy these boxes, caddies,
and I think there is reference to these things in the books
and letters of that time,
talking about the beautiful little boxes, the wondrous boxes.
The popularity of Tunbridge ware with the tourists who
flock to the town meant that by the mid-18th-century specialist
manufacturers had sprung up in the area.
Over the centuries different techniques were employed
in the decorating of the wares.
Early examples were often painted or print decorated.
But later, the more well-known techniques of marquetry,
parquetry and mosaic work were adopted with up to 150 different
varieties of native and exotic woods being used to create glorious pieces of Tunbridge ware.
Little bit of wood, tulipwood satinwood, boxwood, ebony,
the most wonderful stringing details in this geometric pattern
which has been coloured beautifully.
The craftsmanship and patience to apply this pattern,
this geometric pattern to both sides of this little calling card box.
Bearing in mind the level of skill
and the quality of materials that went into the wares, it is
not surprising that today they are highly sought after collectables.
So what should you be aware of if you're looking to acquire a piece?
My advice is to do your research and look out for good makers' names,
for example, Robert Russell.
Our experts have a few words of wisdom, too.
The most sought after are the wonderful pictorial scenes.
Make sure it is perfectly intact and there is no bits of veneer missing,
look for good quality perfect pieces and you won't go wrong.
Caroline is bang on. When it comes to condition,
Tunbridge Ware is notoriously difficult and costly to restore.
It's wise to look for pieces that don't need it.
-It's so cute, look at that!
There are other things to consider, too.
Learn the difference between Tunbridge ware
from Tunbridge Wells and the Italian copies being made in Sorrento.
Because they are very similar
and to the untrained eye they are almost identical.
But the difference in value is hundreds of pounds per object.
Work out what your budget is, you might say,
"I will not collect across the field I might just buy Tunbridge ware stamp boxes."
You might buy Tunbridge ware dressing table items. The choice is fabulous.
It depends on how much you have to spend.
Always keep your eyes open for unusual shapes and designs,
as they will always hold their value.
That is it for today's show. I hope you have enjoyed it.
Join us again soon for more trade secrets!
The market for antique souvenirs is the theme for the Flog It! team, and Paul Martin gets into holiday mode as he explores the history of the great British beach hut.