Antiques series. The experts tackle form and function, offering tips and advice about decorative antiques and collectables. Elizabeth Talbot learns about enamelling.
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You've been coming to our Flog It! valuation days
for well over ten years now,
bringing in all manner of wonderful things
to put our experts through their paces.
-Oh, gosh, he's rather scary!
During that time we've helped you sell around £1 million worth
of antiques and collectables.
And along the way we've all learnt a great deal about the items
that have passed through our hands.
In this series I want to share some of that knowledge with you,
so stand by to hear our trade secrets.
More often than not, when we set up home,
we set about decorating it, too.
Not just with antiques, but with ornamentation - pictures,
mirrors, chandeliers, carpets, curtains,
the latest designs on our cutlery.
We all love a splash of colour
and we also like to leave our own stamp on a property.
So on today's Trade Secrets we're looking at decorative items -
which to leave alone and which are worthy of closer inspection.
Coming up, James discovers a giant item with big problems.
Just... Oh, no!
Elizabeth gets to grips with the ancient art of enamelling.
-If you put it straight down...
-It's exciting, isn't it?
It's deja vu as Philip is put under pressure.
Four weeks ago I was watching Flog It! Saw that make £200.
And Anita hits the jackpot.
Some of the decorative things we surround ourselves with at home
have no practical use, like ornaments, for instance.
They're there just to look good but, by their very nature,
some of them are of very high quality.
Time and time again they turn up at our valuation days,
so here are some tips on what to look out for.
What I like you might like, he might not like...
We've got different taste as to what makes good decoration or not.
Some people like very little,
some people like very fussy, very elaborate.
Does the shape and the decoration work together?
Because, if they don't, it's going to be hard on the eye,
if they do, it's going to look a treat.
Don't just think, "That's quite nice,
"I'll have another look at it," it's got to hit you.
If you're trying to find the very best of decoration,
then look no further than Wedgwood's Fairyland Lustreware.
These works by artist Daisy Makeig-Jones
are riots of stunning bold colours and fantastical shapes.
You can't imagine, can you?
We don't often see Fairyland Lustre on our valuation days,
but when we do it quickly works its magic.
Yes! Brilliant. Well done.
The legendary David Barby was a huge fan.
Mary, I can't understand...
if anybody owned a piece as beautiful as this,
they would wish to sell it.
Does it have unhappy memories for you or what?
-I think I was frightened by the figures as a child.
'One of the most distinctive things, I think,'
in 20th century ceramics, you can tell a piece of Clarice Cliff,
and you can certainly tell a piece of Wedgwood Fairyland Lustre.
Beautifully decorated, very intricate.
always got fairies on it, of course,
and under this beautiful lustrous glaze.
This design is called Paradise Garden.
And if we look at the outside
it's full of fairies in the most exotic settings.
-This is the one you disliked, is it?
-Yes, that's right.
-The goblin on the rainbow.
-But isn't it beautiful?
I love these rich lustre colours.
They used metallic pigments - gold, silver copper, etc,
suspended in oil -
and then they'll paint it with this metallic pigment.
And when it's fired,
you're left with the shiny metallic glaze on top of it.
What I find extraordinary is the use of giltwork inside.
In the arcades, we have views of exotic buildings,
like distant Constantinople and minarets and towers.
But we also have those black fairies with green wings.
David estimated £1,200-£1,600.
Truth or fairy story?
Time for the auction!
Five phone lines booked. There's serious interest from the USA.
And the website has been going crazy, the internet.
All over the world for this one. Let's find out.
This is the big one.
This is the Wedgwood Fairyland bowl.
I'm going to start the bidding at £1,300.
Is there 1,400 in the room?
1,400. 1,500. 1,600. 1,700.
Now I'm tingling.
As decorated pieces go,
I do think that Fairyland Lustre is right up there with the very best.
Daisy Makeig-Jones is a big name in ceramic decoration,
and it pays to remember that big names often command high prices.
John Piper was another big 20th-century designer.
He is best known as an official war artist of World War II
and for designing the glass
during the renovation of Coventry Cathedral.
His artwork can be expensive in the saleroom.
But you can pick up a less pricey Piper for your sitting room.
In the 1950s his work was used to decorate furniture.
It's some sort of photographic reproduction
that is laminated onto the top of that table.
It's accessible fine art,
but not everyone appreciates the appeal.
-You gave it to him?
-He was going to skip it!
-I was going to skip it.
-You know what this is!
-I do now, yeah.
Four weeks ago I was watching Flog It! Saw that and it made £200.
Well, let me tell you, five or ten years ago,
I wouldn't have known what this is.
It's just a lovely view of London by John Piper.
And it's a real cool thing.
When I started, when dinosaurs walked the earth,
people wouldn't want John Piper tables.
They wanted traditional 18th-century oak tables.
But that's how the business is changing.
As Paul said, we'd seen the same model on Flog It! a year earlier.
I think this is great.
Furniture like this was bought, really,
because it represented everything that was up to date.
You know, pared down, modern materials -
that's the most important thing of all, I think.
It was sold at Philip's saleroom.
The next item, £200 in the room.
At £200 and I sell then...
Hammer's gone down. £200 - top end of that estimate.
-Why did you get rid of it?
-I just needed some room in my flat.
I mean, I didn't know anything about it.
He needed a table so I said he could have it.
-What did the one in my saleroom make, £200?
A bit better condition than this one,
but we can we can put £100-£200 as an estimate.
-So that's all fine, isn't it?
-Right, that's sound!
Sound indeed, but will it fetch more than its Flog It! predecessor?
1950s coffee table with the John Piper views of London.
I bid £100. I'll take 10.
At £100. Any advance on £100?
Anyone else? At 120.
-It's gone down.
-I'm pleased about that. 70-50, fair split, isn't it?
Well, a little less than we'd hoped for,
but the previous table was pristine, which proves
the importance of condition when it comes to decorative items.
Damage is always going to affect the sale of anything, really,
some things more than others.
And I think collectors would rather pay you
maybe 50%-100% more for a perfect one
than for one with a bit of damage on it.
Now, on Flog It! we are forever making the point
that quality sells, always.
With decorative items, quality is often clear from the outset.
Take this German super-sized wine rummer from the 19th century.
Chris, imagine you are a 17th-century lord
and you are hunting for the day and coming back to a roaring fire...
-..and you want a great glass of wine to drink.
This is the sort of thing that you would have had at your table.
Probably not quite as large as this in the 17th century,
but certainly this style.
'This goblet was probably made for a ceremonial purpose.'
Certainly not for everyday household use.
It was made around 1870-1890,
but the thing that makes me fall in love with it
is the wonderful quality enamelling on the bowl.
If you were looking at this on a canvas done in pure oil paint,
you'd think it was good.
But imagine doing it in enamel that had to be heated and fired.
Brilliant. I really love it.
It's a pity it's broken,
-but it was broken when we got it.
When it came out of the late mother-in-law's house,
it was already broken.
Just... Oh, no!
But I'd already fallen in love with the top!
So by the time the foot was exposed it was just too late.
What's it worth?
-If it had been perfect this would have been £400-£600.
Something like that. But it's not.
-It's still got to be £60-£100, isn't it?
-I would have thought so, yes.
I think the enamel work is amazing.
James and Chris were confident
that the decorative quality of this unusual piece
would trump the damage.
But were they right?
It has a great big chunk missing out of the base.
I don't think it even stood quite straight with the chunk missing,
so it's not the best start.
What about £100? £50 for it? £50, the goblet.
Not the sort of thing I'd recommend putting a reserve on.
It's an impressive thing. £50. £50. Large green glass goblet.
He's a good auctioneer, so he gave it his all.
Not an easy thing to mend, I suppose.
Paintings, furniture, porcelain... silver...
can all be repaired fairly easily, but glass?
Probably the most difficult of all.
It's a shame for Chris it didn't sell, but perhaps no surprise.
Quite apart from the serious damage,
where do you put a two-foot wine glass?
When decorating your home, simplicity pays.
And what could be more straightforward
than putting up a picture?
Art-lover Anita Manning was taken with a fine pair of maritime scenes
brought along to a valuation day by Angela.
Tell me, where did you get them?
I found them in a loft. My husband was a third-generation butcher
and we moved in to become the third-generation
and they were in the loft when we moved in.
They are by Adolphus Knell,
a British artist active in the middle to late 1800s.
Adolphus Knell came from a family of marine or maritime painters,
so the painting of these subjects was in his blood
and these were well-executed pictures.
They had a... A luminous quality.
When I looked at the sky and the reflection of the sun
in the water, I could see wonderful quality there.
I really enjoy them.
I would probably estimate somewhere 250-350.
-Are you happy to put them to auction at that price?
-Yes. Quite happy.
They were being sold in Bristol,
and his family came from Bristol,
so it was being sold in the right area.
Fingers crossed. They are going under the hammer.
A pair of oils on board, both signed
Adolphus Knell. And interest here.
250. 280. 300. 320. 350.
380. 400. 420. 450. 480. £500 on the book. 550. 600.
It's still going on!
My estimate was a wee bit conservative.
I can be like that sometimes. But it encourages the bidding.
Thank you. £1,000 in the room. 1,100 anyone else?
All done now at £1,200. Selling in the room at £1,200.
Those beautiful paintings would make fine additions to any home.
Even if you can't stretch to £1,200,
why not check out a painting sale at your local auction house?
You might just snap up a bargain, and a lovely image to boot.
Taste is paramount when collecting decorative pieces.
You don't have to be an expert to know what you like.
Be wary of damage to decorative items.
Remember, they are made to be admired.
So if they are chipped or cracked, like Chris's glass goblet,
It doesn't get more decorative than Wedgewood Fairyland Lustre
but it's much sought-after
by collectors with extremely deep pockets.
This set sold in the UK in 2013 for almost £30,000.
So, if a fairy grants you a wish, you know what to ask for!
During the 16th and 17th century,
bedrooms in grand country houses were of semi-public nature.
So to get from one room to another
you literally had to totter through somebody's bedroom
by opening a huge great big door, creating a draught.
So beds had to be extremely impressive, highly decorative.
These were the most expensive pieces of domestic furniture
in any grand house.
This one dates back to the 1660s
and it was the height of fashion back then.
The bed itself is of simple construction -
you have a headboard, a framework, four posts and a wonderful canopy.
But the whole thing is beautifully disguised
in yards and yards of the finest fabric imported from overseas,
no expense spared.
It's there to show off. And look at the detail in this canopy.
Look at the brocading! That must have taken somebody months to do.
The sprung bed - well, there was no such thing as a sprung bed.
What you actually slept on were ropes.
A series of holes would be drilled around this bed,
around the framework, and ropes would be passed through
and then tightened up into a knot and held there.
And this is where we get the phrase "good night, sleep tight."
To get a good night's sleep every now and then
you had to tighten the rope up.
The bed boards are known as the dossers,
because people slept in a sort of semi-upright position.
Again, look at the brocading. Highly decorative, gilded as well.
Up to the hilt sometimes with coats of arms.
It is a highly decorative piece and as a piece of furniture, well,
it doesn't get any better, does it?
As well as decorating their homes,
men and women of all cultures
have looked at ways of decorating themselves.
One example, the fearsome warriors of ancient Britain
terrified the invading Romans by painting themselves blue.
Now, in Georgian Britain,
one particular fashion of adornment grew up,
as Caroline Hawley explains.
These are both 18th-century patch boxes.
They would contain patches, or beauty spots,
which were actually very important
in the late 18th and early 19th century.
Not just for vanity,
but smallpox was rife in those days
and those that didn't die were left with fairly unsightly scars,
and this was a method of covering up the scars.
They would be made of velvet, very soft velvet,
or sometimes poorer people would have made out of mouse skin,
and they would be cut into the shapes of hearts, stars, diamonds,
and they would be placed on the scars on your face.
These were made in England.
Originally, they were made in gold and beautifully enamelled,
and terribly expensive.
But that was really the reserve of the very, very rich.
And other people wanted to copy the fashion,
so consequently, these lovely little boxes were enamelled on copper.
And you can see on this one, which is very badly damaged, sadly,
the enamel coming away and the copper at the base.
They were very often given as love tokens.
Now, this one says on top says,
"This trifle pleads my constant love."
Sadly, I had to buy this for myself,
it wasn't given to me as a love token.
What distinguishes these from snuff boxes
is the fact that there is a mirror inside.
And you would use that to strategically place your patch.
Something in this condition, which is fairly poor,
I think you could still buy this for well under £50.
Now, this one here is another patch box in much better condition.
This, because it's in better condition,
I think would have a value of £100-£200,
but in perfect condition
they would get something between £200-£400 at auction.
But they are very fragile, easily knocked,
and the enamel is easily broken.
This one says on top, "Look without and think on me.
"Look within my love you'll see."
That is just so sweet.
I think these are gorgeous.
The word "enamel" derives
from the old German word "smelzan", "to smelt".
It's made by fusing powdered glass to a base material
such as metal or glass.
And then it's fired in a controlled environment.
In the late 18th century,
the proximity of Birmingham's metal producers
and the glassworks of Stourbridge
made one Black Country town a leader in this craft.
Bilston, on the south-east tip of Wolverhampton,
became world-famous for enamelling.
And today it holds a special place
in the heart of expert Elizabeth Talbot,
as it's where her mother grew up.
The origin of what I do
really stems, magically, from the enamels of Bilston,
because I grew up surrounded by people who collected and loved them.
As I've got older, I suddenly realised I needed to know more
about these beautiful things for my own benefit, too.
I'm here today at Bilston Craft Gallery to meet with John Grayson,
who is an enamel craftsmen.
We've got a lovely selection here in front of us.
-May we have a closer look at some of them?
The candlestick is particularly interesting because,
in its nature, it's got to be quite a large object.
But the technology of the time
only allowed them to fire relatively small objects.
So that's a very good tip for collectors -
the early pieces would be produced in smaller sections
-because they hadn't got the capacity to make a bigger pieces.
We've got some patch and snuff boxes at the front.
That's a very good example of transfer printing.
White-coated enamel transfer put on, fired on.
My two favourites
are the dog and the bird.
-I really love the sculptural form of those and the painting.
And with my own work I try to emulate those forms and shapes,
just bring them into the contemporary age
by putting kind of contemporary images
intertwined with these traditional shapes and patterns.
Enamelled goods are a huge area for collectors
and beginners will find it easy to pick up boxes for about £70.
Larger objects and more unusual pieces can reach four figures.
If you're keen on contemporary examples,
the simple transfer-printed works are more affordable
than the labour-intensive hand-painted ones.
John has offered to show Elizabeth how it's done.
The first stage is putting some coats of enamel onto the metal surface.
The metal is copper?
Yep, and in Georgian times they would have used copper as well.
The enamel, in simple terms, is coloured glass ground down in water.
-And we're just going to give it a shake.
-Certain wrist action there!
And that's just to basically mix it up, OK?
And I've got a container.
As you can see it's quite thick,
-like double cream.
-It looks like custard from here. Delightful!
I'm going to pick that up. Try and keep my fingers off it so it's clean
and literally dip it in.
Let it drain off.
Just going to put it on top of the kiln to dry out.
If you put it straight in the kiln
at 800 degrees centigrade,
it's going to make the water boil instantly
and at best you'd have a textured surface.
The heat from the kiln soon dries it out.
Then it's going to go straight into the middle of the chamber.
-So that's 800 degrees in there.
-And you can see that the temperature is dropping on the kiln.
So we're waiting for that to come back up to temperature again,
which will take a couple of minutes.
It depends on the size of the piece.
Oh, my goodness!
And there you can see that the colours have actually changed.
It's changing in front of my eyes. How amazing.
The colour is going to be quite muted anyway
-because of the contamination from the copper.
But if you look at the edges where the enamel is a bit thicker,
you can see that that's what it will be like
with the multiple coats all over.
-How many coats would that take?
-Probably about five.
John has carefully coated one for the next stage.
Applying a transfer.
-The colour is still enamel, so it's glass.
-On the transfer?
But it's ground much more finely and it's put in oil rather than water.
In the Georgian time they used to print onto tissue paper
and then, when it's fired, the paper would burn away,
leaving the enamel pigment on the surface.
So you can see now it's loose...
Oh, yes, on the slide, yes.
You can see how thin that coat is.
-It's a bit like putting on a contact lens.
And that's going to go onto the surface...
-..of the enamel.
-Do you want to do that one or do I...?
-You can have a go if you want. If you put it straight down...
OK. You can see, because the shape is irregular
and the print is flat, at first it doesn't want to go down,
but this is where the stretchiness of the transfer comes in.
So you can actually start to stretch it to shape.
-It's coming, isn't it?
-It's slowly getting there.
Some Georgian enamel boxes,
they just put a print on it,
but the more elaborate ones would either be painted over the top...
-And coloured in.
-In effect, yeah, like a very, very posh drawing book!
Or painted directly onto that first coat.
So, having seen it completed to this level,
do you have any that you've already painted and decorated in colours?
Well, these two you might be interested in.
That's one unpainted, just with the transfer.
-So that's the same stage we've just reached.
-But then just stopped at that point.
And then this one shows a classic example of how
I would then overpaint over the top. So this lady, again,
was a transfer print, exactly the same.
But you can see there's colour has been added to it, painted on.
Like you would paint normally, but it's ground-down glass,
-rather than normal paint.
-So do you use very fine brushes?
-Very, very, very fine, yeah.
-It's exquisite work.
It's wonderful to meet somebody who has brought this
method of production and decoration into the 21st-century,
but in very honest and traditional ways. So, thank you for your time.
-Thank you very much.
I shall go away and re-look at the enamels again
with far more satisfaction and understanding
than I even had before today.
Still to come on today's show,
Philip slips up on some tiles.
You know, they're not hugely valuable.
On 40, on 50. Keep going.
I meet a couple with a flair
for decorating their Edwardian time-capsule home.
-It's like a mini museum!
And some Victorian embellishment drives James potty.
I mean, really, it's vandalism in the extreme.
Now, figurines are usually purely decorative,
but closer inspection may reveal some hidden secrets,
as Mark explains.
Well, this cheeky little chappie is quite important to me
because I don't normally collect things
that mention a town or a city or anything,
but first of all I fell in love with the object.
It's a little flask, a spirit flask.
The hat comes off here
and then you put your favourite tipple in there -
a bit of gin, or a bit of rum, or whatever it is.
And you've got this rather portly gentleman -
so maybe it's for port, actually - sitting on a bar stool,
looking jolly happy with himself in his bright-yellow tail coat.
But then if you look at the bottom it says, "In the bar at Brighton".
And as I live in Brighton and I'm rather partial to a drink -
but I don't wear such outlandish clothes -
I just think he's rather wonderful.
Mass-produced, German, about 1910 or so.
But I've never seen one,
and a lot of people I know who like collecting Brighton memorabilia
haven't seen one either.
So he's quite a rarity as well as being an oddity.
And I hope, when I'm his age,
I'll be sitting on a bar stool with my glass, chin-chinning everybody.
When we speak about the decorative arts,
we're normally referring
to the design and the manufacture of functional objects.
Now, most of what we see at a Flog It! valuation day
falls into this category - your unwanted household items.
So, how can you spot good decorative design?
In every case, it's always the quality that shines out.
So, if you have a piece of marquetry furniture,
where there's an exquisite design in the surface of the piece,
then that's where the value lies.
If you're looking at silver,
an emerging area I would suggest
is the wonderful 1970s designs of Stuart Devlin.
Great designer, innovative, very much of the era, of the period.
His work is always signed, because you get a set of hallmarks.
So, you get that lovely mark stamped in there.
They are rising in value rapidly.
Don't be influenced by other people.
Because somebody else thinks something is wonderful,
don't feel that you need to think it's wonderful as well.
Be individualistic with your tastes.
Functional doesn't have to be dull.
Some vases that Michael found
at a valuation day in Portsmouth in 2012
were certainly not dull.
The vases were obviously Chinese,
which is flavour of the month at the sale rooms.
I spotted you in the queue with these marvellous vases.
They have the signs that we look for in the trade
of private ownership, continuous private ownership.
-Do you know what that sing is?
-It's specks of white emulsion.
-All over them!
Cos people never used to cover up,
-they just used to do the painting, and you'd get splatters.
-They scream Chinese.
But very, very early form of Chinese vessel.
This shape would date back possibly 2,500 to 3,000 years.
These are end of the 19th century.
-They're about 1870,
-up to about 1900.
I didn't think they'd be that old.
We've got cloisonne decoration.
'With cloisonne, you will have wires'
that you apply to a body,
although they can be cast in place when an object is more robust.
In this case, these are quite moderate quality.
You get little pop marks where the glass hasn't quite filled up,
-but they've still smoothed it off.
Let's be cautious and say £80-120,
and let's put a fixed reserve of £70 on them.
They won't go for any less than that.
They're a good-looking pair of vases that could brighten up the home
and come in handy.
-What did your grandmother put in them?
-Remember those huge feathers?
-Sort, I suppose, '70s, late '70s?
-I know the ones.
-She used to have those.
-Yeah, bright colours.
-Which is a good look, really.
-It is, for an interior designer.
Here we go. Let's find out what the bidders think.
Lot 540 - the Chinese copper vases.
£50... £50, surely.
50 I have. And 5.
55. 65? 70? At £65...
Oh, we need a bit more than that.
We do, I'm afraid.
-Maybe they needed the feathers in them.
65, then, all done.
-Not sold, I'm afraid.
-Sorry about that.
Look on the bright side, it's not a chest of drawers -
-you don't have to drag that home, do you?
I was surprised they didn't sell,
because I think they might have even scrapped out as bronze
for the low estimate, but they were the lowest quality of that type.
Objects with a use generally find a buyer,
but with highly decorated pieces, taste is a bigger consideration.
Clearly, this pair didn't hit the spot on the day.
Functional antique silverware
is a firm favourite of the "Flog It!" tables.
We see a huge quantity of cutlery, tea sets and plates,
all with a variety of decorative features to delight the eye.
Of all the things I was expecting to find in Worcester today,
it wasn't a George I solid-silver coffee pot.
Is this something you're using still today?
No, I've never used it.
I was a licensee for many years,
and one day a customer came in and it was that colour all over.
It was absolutely black.
He said, "Jim, I'm short of cash."
I said, "Oh, really. How much?" He said, "I want £100 for it."
-£100, a lot of money.
-It was a lot of money, I thought.
But there you are.
As soon as you find and you see a piece of 18th-century silver,
you think, "Wow, fantastic, let's talk about this."
It's that typical George I shape, tapered cylindrical,
domed cover, spire finial.
Look at that panelled spout.
It goes right the way down to halfway down the coffee pot,
and it's got what's called a skirted base.
That's a classic Georgian style.
But... Here's the but...
Imagine you're sitting in a Victorian house
and all your friends
are having these up-to-date rococo-style coffee pots.
You don't want to buy a new one,
so you emboss and decorate something you already have.
That was made in 1720 but all of this was done in 1860, 1870.
Banging it around to try and make it more fashionable...
I mean, really, it's vandalism in the extreme.
To try and put flowers and scrolls and emboss all these silly things
onto something that was just beautiful when it was made...
If it had been plain, undecorated,
you'd be looking at around £1,000.
But it's not. Let's put a conservative estimate on it.
If we put 300-500...
The difference between Georgian and Victorian taste
was writ large in this poor, tampered-with coffee pot.
Did the bidders mind?
Lot 355 is the 18th-century coffee pot.
200 bid for that.
210, 220, 230, 240, 250...
Gosh, it's climbing fast.
270, 280, 290, 300 bid.
Straight up to the lower estimate.
Is there any more?
At £300, and I sell.
At £300 and done...
Yes, the hammer's gone down. It was a good deal, wasn't it?
Very good. One of my better deals.
-One of your better deals.
-There was a profit.
Why the Victorians couldn't just make their own things
and start with a lump of silver and make something themselves...
Why they had to continuously go back
and mess up something that was perfectly good, I really don't know.
Jim's coffee pot provides a lesson for us all.
Ornamentation can be a blessing to a piece,
but if it isn't authentic, it can also turn off purist collectors.
Just as the Victorians disliked
the Georgian taste for simple, classic lines,
today's buyers don't always appreciate
a piece of quality craftsmanship from the past.
It's in remarkably good condition. 19th century.
-1850s, 1860s, something like that.
It's what we call Bohemian glass.
Bohemian glass, because it comes from that part of the world.
I think it would have held something in it, certainly.
It's too big to be unused.
I think it certainly would have had a water, a tonic, something in it.
What happens is...
the glass is blown,
and it's a clear glass.
Then this red ruby you can see around it
is flashed over the glass.
So, the clear glass is blown
and then it's dipped in a ruby glass
and taken out immediately.
It's then shaped and left to cool.
Then, how does the decoration get made?
The wheel engraver comes off and takes away the ruby,
to leave what we see now, and it creates an effect, a 3D effect.
It is very difficult to achieve that 3D effect,
years and years of knowing... Because once you do something,
you can't rub it out.
You're taking away rather than adding.
Each side has an architectural building on it.
Austro-Hungarian, something like that. So that Middle European.
'Karlsbad in the Czech Republic'
certainly has lots of these Bohemian glasses in there,
which have these scenes on them.
They are quite collectible, and I would feel disappointed
if you didn't get between £120 and £180.
Lot 272, Bohemian ruby flashed and engraved decanter.
85, 90, 95, 100.
£100 now, selling at 100.
Got you at 100. Are we all done?
At £100 now.
-It was a struggle.
-Sold on the reserve.
-It sold on the reserve.
We see so much Bezak, Troika and Whitefriars,
and now something quality comes along, wonderfully made...
And much cheaper than Bezak and Troika.
Much cheaper and much rarer.
-But, you know, maybe not so fashionable...
Yeah, we're in the fashion business.
How collectible is it these days?
You know, I think we'd be hard pushed to make £100 on it now,
to be candid.
I think this would go really well in a bathroom.
Many decorative objects are more subject
to the vagaries of fashion than purely functional ones,
regardless of their quality and craftsmanship.
That said, some pieces never go out of style.
Catherine Southon spotted some timeless items
at a valuation day in Hampshire.
I was given them by my granddad in 1994.
As far as I know, they were an engagement present
for my nan and granddad.
When I saw their quite simple shape and the vibrant colours,
I thought that they were probably 1930s Art Deco.
And when I found out
that her relatives were engaged in the '20s, '30s period,
then that did all make sense.
What I like about them is that they are in lovely condition
and they are glass.
From a distance they may look ceramic,
and indeed I thought they were ceramic first of all,
but as you see them, they are actually made from glass.
And they look to have been painted on the reverse of glass,
so this is the glass on the outside, but underneath that,
that's where they've been painted.
Which was great because it means from the outside
you couldn't really damage them, they couldn't be scratched.
And the colours on them, these have all been hand-painted,
they were absolutely beautiful.
They're really lovely, soft blues for the butterflies
and the vibrant red dragon.
They're really well done and rather beautiful.
And also, they've got a lovely clear stamp on the bottom
that tells us that they were made in Stourbridge.
Stourbridge glass is one of the...best in the world.
I mean, it's amongst the best in the world.
This goes back centuries,
but the real Stourbridge glass which we associate with the name
goes back to the 19th century
when there's lots of different factories working in that period.
The lids aren't in such good condition,
these do look a little bit tarnished.
But nonetheless, you seem to have looked after them.
Oh, absolutely, yeah.
They put £200 to £300 on these caddies.
£100. And 10. 110. 120. 130. 140.
Right up at the top - 150.
They didn't really, in my opinion, reach their full potential.
And I would have liked to have seen them make £300.
I mean, they were a trio, which is unusual.
At £150 for the very last time.
-Right on the reserve. They've gone.
The lids were quite tarnished, so maybe that put some people off,
but generally speaking, I mean, they were fab.
I agree, those caddies would add a glorious splash of colour
to any kitchen shelf.
I must say, I have never seen tea caddies like them before.
For a piece of Art Deco design
which usually sells for pretty high prices,
they were most certainly bargains.
Dawn, where do you reckon the expression,
"A night on the tiles comes from"? Hey?
A collectible that combines
functional and decorative appeal like no other
is the communal garden ceramic tile.
How many of these have you got?
-And this is just a sample. Where are they from?
-Have you been knocking somebody's fireplace apart?
They was in my nan's house, we moved them from a fireplace,
and then when I got them home I didn't know what to do with them,
so I put them in the loft.
I think these date from around the Art Nouveau period.
And that's typified... If you think of Charles Rennie Mackintosh,
if you think of those stylised Art Nouveau flowers on vases,
they look very much like that, don't they?
See, I do like some tiles,
and I like early Delft tiles that are blue and white
and relate perhaps to, you know, I don't know, 1700, 1740,
but for me, these were just a little bit Victorian,
and I've got to admit,
the Victorian era actually sort of doesn't do it for me too much.
They're not hugely valuable.
I think they're worth between 75 and perhaps a couple of quid apiece,
which is £20 to £40.
-I don't think we need to put a reserve on, do you?
They're not going to make a great deal, are they?
What will you do if I make 20, 30 quid, is that...?
I want to send me daughter to Australia.
-Yep. To meet her uncle.
I don't think she's going to get to the bus station on these.
-Every little helps.
Did these prove to be famous last words?
30 glazed ceramic tiles.
30 quid, straight in. 30. 32. 35. 38.
You in? 40. 45.
50. 55. 60.
At 60 now.
5 on the net. 70. 75. 80. At 80.
Keep going. 95. 100.
This is exciting.
110. 120. At 120.
I can only assume someone spotted something we missed.
150. 160. 170.
200 now. The net at 200. 220.
At £240. Look at that picture again,
internet bidders, and bid.
At £260. Back on the net at 280.
At £280 now. I sell at 280. Anybody else?
Dawn, you've got to be over the moon with that?
Cos we were all going to settle for 30 to 40 quid -
no reserve, we didn't care.
Perhaps not all the way to Australia,
but a bit further than the bus stop, eh, Philip?
The £1 apiece, that was clearly silly.
Perhaps it's easy to overlook tiles
as no more than something to be walked on.
But there's clearly a market for the rarer and more collectible varieties
of this most commonplace item.
-Oh, that is wonderful.
So what is their appeal?
These were works of art as well.
They were mass-produced like bricks for houses,
but they were tube-lined, they were engraved, they're embossed,
so many techniques of decoration in something just so functional.
I used to collect tiles myself until my mean wife made me sell them all.
If you're in the market for tiles, what should you be aware of?
Look for good-condition ones
and be prepared to pay quite healthily for proper tiles.
You can pay several hundred pounds for an individual tile
if the design is correct and the maker is important enough.
If you've got a name on a tile, anything like that,
if it's particularly decorative, arty, then it's going to sell well.
Here's a name to look out for - Minton.
11 Minton tiles are going under the hammer right now. Quality.
£280, that's 30 quid over top end.
Minton pottery began producing ceramic tiles
during the Industrial Revolution.
Both for exterior use on roofs and for inside the home
on floors, walls and furniture.
During the Victorian period, the use of decorative tiles exploded.
As all the big names in pottery
wanted a piece of this lucrative action,
ceramic tiles were produced in their millions
throughout the 19th century.
To this day, millions of homes across Britain
boast tile porches, hallways and fireplaces.
In the early 20th century,
the use of tiles in architecture reached new heights.
London's famous Michelin building,
now a swanky Chelsea restaurant,
astonished the world with its exuberance
when it opened for business in 1911.
At another London landmark, Harrods,
visitors to the food hall can still see a sumptuous display
of Royal Doulton tiles
designed in 1902 by William Neatby.
More recently, tiles have moved from being seen as functional items
to wonderful works of art, in their own right.
This probably dates back to the 1960s and 1970s
when there was a revival in interest in Victoriana and Art Nouveau.
At the turn of the century,
the Arts And Crafts movement began to champion the production of tiles.
Look for William De Morgan - he is without a shadow of a doubt
the most interesting decorator of tiles that I know of.
His work was produced in the late 19th century,
the early 20th century, wonderful deep red, lustrous decorations
of exotic birds, sea galleons,
serpents, really wonderful things.
Nick Hall is not the only fan of William De Morgan.
He was a close associate of William Morris and the Pre-Raphaelites,
so he was at the very centre of the art world and the craft world
at the end of the 19th, beginning of the 20th century.
And he rediscovered the lost techniques
of the making lusterware of the Middle East.
Now, we can see this in this little tile of a galleon in full sail
and this was one of his very common motifs.
We see this red, a ruby lustre,
and what this gives us is depth in the colour,
an iridescent quality which is very, very beautiful.
He also made huge murals composed of many different tiles
of galleons in full sail.
And these are just a wonder to be hold.
If you're hoping to spot a William De Morgan tile,
familiarise yourself with his designs.
There's an array of different marks that you can look at,
you can learn, so a little bit of knowledge,
a little bit of research, you can get ahead of the game
and buy one that's worth twice as much as some of the others.
If you're unlucky you might unearth a gem.
In the room, the bid at 2,600.
-That is incredible. £2,650.
-Even I am sitting down now.
Look for De Morgan, study him, find him,
build a collection, and I think you'll earn money.
One single De Morgan tile bearing this chameleon design
was sold at auction in 2013 for nearly £9,000.
If your pockets aren't deep,
there are plenty of tiles by other makers to tempt you.
Even if you can't afford enough to cover your bathroom wall,
you'll still have a lovely array of artworks.
When you think of decorating a house,
heavy industry doesn't immediately spring to mind.
I went to Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria
to see how people decked out their homes in Edwardian times.
This is Vickerstown,
built especially to house the local shipyard workers.
A house like this is typical of the type a foreman would have enjoyed
and, thanks to its current owners, who have lovingly restored it,
we can see what life was like
back in the early 1900s in Vickerstown.
-And here are the couple, Russ and Nicola.
-Pleased to meet you.
-Pleased to meet you too.
-What a talented couple as well.
This is so impressive.
Just by first impressions, it's like a mini museum.
-It really is, but the whole house embraces you as well.
-Attention to detail!
-Or spots of it.
-Who's it down to?
-It's both of us.
-We both have got a good eye for things.
-We both know the same things.
-We both like the same things.
Well, obviously, this was very fashionable, this look,
in the early 1900s.
It reminds me of William Morris. You've got the whole theme going on.
How did this come about? You obviously bought the house...
-You're local anyway. You were born and bred here.
It was very old and dilapidated when we got in.
-Yeah, all the fencing had collapsed.
-It was crying out...
-..to be loved, really.
-It was just in a desperate...
So, obviously, you had to renovate it, but were the skirting boards
and the architraves and the cornices here?
-No, I put all them in myself.
-You're a carpenter by trade.
Yes, I served my time in the yard as a carpenter.
That's really taking it back to sort of where, in the early 1900s,
you would have been working in the shipyard, living here,
maybe as a foreman carpenter,
going to work, and here you are now.
Yeah. Maybe we've lived here before, then.
-Yeah, this could be our second life.
How do you take this house, though, into the millennium?
-What's the kitchen like? I mean...
-Well, come and have a look.
-Very nice! I like the AGA. Obviously you cook on it.
Yeah, we do. Just about. We heat things on it.
So how has this changed? What have you done in here?
Originally, it used to be a small kitchen, half-and-half,
and the bathroom, downstairs bathroom.
-So there was a toilet, bath and sink.
-You've moved that upstairs?
-We've taken that upstairs now.
-So, where are the white goods?
-Well, if you look into that cupboard there.
-Can I look in your cupboard?
-You certainly can.
-Oh, yeah. Look at that. A fridge-freezer.
-Well hidden away.
Microwave and toaster under there. And underneath...
Everybody's got to do some washing, so there's the washer and dryer.
-They're all the boring bits.
-Great, though, isn't it?
The most recent one we've done, though, is the bedroom.
So that's probably the favourite one at the moment.
We've probably done the best job of our bedroom.
-So this is our favourite room at the moment.
-Great colours again.
-Nice, isn't it? Really rich and warm.
-Yes. Is it all original?
-Most of it is, yes.
-Windows are. Fireplace is original.
-There's obviously one obvious thing that's not...
-Look at that cornice!
-We made a little mistake but we think we've got away with it.
-That is a bit OTT, isn't it?
-Yeah, it is.
-But, hey, it's a bedroom.
-Yeah, it looks great.
-It's nice and rich.
-Thank you so much for showing me around.
It's great. It's a trip back in time.
-Thank you very much.
-It's been a pleasure having you, showing it off.
This may not be to everyone's taste,
but if you have a passion for a particular period of decoration,
it's amazing what you can do.
Decoration can apply as much to the person as to the house.
Now, at a valuation day in Bath back in 2012,
a flash of blue caught my eye.
Oh, wow! Oh. Hey, look. Look.
You'd have to give me a lot of money for them.
This is totally out of my league.
I wouldn't have a clue what I'm talking about here,
but I can appreciate that they're beautiful. I love the enamelling.
'I bought the cuff links in the belief that they were 1919,'
that's when they were made.
Actually, they were made in 1950. Big difference.
If I go off and get it a quick...
Shall I say, off-the-cuff, valuation...
Working away off camera are lots of Flog It! valuers,
and I've asked Sophie Hutton to take a look at Stephen's cuff links.
OK, let's just say they haven't got a lot of age.
-Let's say they're, what, 1950s, 1960s?
I would think, at auction, you'd be looking at...easily 400 to 600.
Well, there was a fine quality to them.
You know, 14 diamonds, blue enamel.
They looked like Faberge, almost.
They weren't, sadly.
This will go on the phone or online. Here we go.
A pair of Russian diamond-set blue enamel cuff links. 340, 360...
There's a commission bid, look. He's looking down on the book.
£420. Fresh bidder in on 420. Anyone else?
They're just selling, aren't they, over the reserve?
-Yes. I think it's a bargain.
I will still look for a pair that were made and hallmarked in 1919.
If anyone can find them, Stephen can,
with 23 years of hunting under his belt,
he's amassed an astonishing collection
of over 2,000 pairs of cuff links.
My journey with cuff links began
when I'd just been appointed into a junior management role
in the mining industry
and I ended up with a French cuff
and the need for a pair of cuff links.
And then I found, "Ooh, I'm wearing a blue tie today,
"and a blue pocket square," because I liked to be dapper in those days,
many years ago, so I would go out and buy a blue pair of cuff links.
Anyhow, it just took off.
Cuff links go back to 1662 at least,
when Charles II married Catherine of Braganza
and some cuff links were made for that occasion.
I'd love to come across a pair of those.
I think it's real fun collecting cuff links,
and wearing them, of course, because I want to wear my collection.
I've got some cuff links that are absolutely solid gold, really heavy.
I bought them from the auction
when they cleared out the home of Agatha Christie, the author.
Special ones like this are, I think, 1960s.
They're gold and it's 14 sapphires with one diamond,
and what's unique about these
is they belonged to the man with short, fat, hairy legs -
Ernest Wiseman, or Ernie Wise as we knew him, out of Morecambe & Wise.
So they're quite special,
because I've got short, fat, hairy legs as well.
If you want to be finely dressed and look dapper,
then cuff links are the finishing touch. They're easy to collect.
Lots of antique fairs and shows, bric-a-brac shops,
and there's a value to some of them as well,
so it's a long-term investment.
When I want to sell some, it'll be a trip to New York.
They fetch a good price in New York, I've noticed.
Go for it. Be smart. Get smart.
It's always a joy to meet a collector,
and Stephen's clearly passionate about his subject.
Now, if you fancy trying your hand at a bit of buying and selling,
then join us again soon for more Trade Secrets.
The Flog It! experts tackle form and function, offering tips and advice about decorative antiques and collectables. Elizabeth Talbot visits her mother's Midlands birthplace to learn about the ancient art of enamelling, and presenter Paul Martin travels to Cumbria to meet a couple whose home is an Edwardian time capsule.