Antiques series. The team discuss innovators in the world of antiques and collectables. Claire Rawle explores the life and legacy of Christopher Dresser.
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For over a decade now,
you've been bringing the Flog It! team your unwanted antiques and collectables,
and we've helped you sell around £1 million worth to date.
-I don't believe it!
-I'm going to sell.
Yes! I like that sound, that is the "sold" sound.
Don't you just love auctions?
During that time 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 experts' Trade Secrets.
The world of antiques is full of wonderful
and valuable objects of all kinds, but some pieces stand out
more than others as being the work of mavericks and pioneers.
So in today's show we are celebrating the men and women
whose innovation and genius have left a lasting legacy.
Coming up first, your collectables delight our experts.
It's probably one of the best pieces of Moorcroft I've seen on Flog It!
Then they go to make waves at auction.
-Not bad, eh?
And we explore the work of a 19th-century trailblazer.
People must have thought he was completely mad.
There are some names we quite often hear on the show
and instantly you think of William Moorcroft, George Jones,
Geoffrey Baxter of Whitefriars Glass fame.
You've probably got a few yourself. The list is a long one.
But there is something all these people have in common
with each other - they are all pioneers of their field.
But what makes them worthy of the collectors' interest?
Pioneers are probably one of the most important types of people
because they bring about the changes
that we need to develop as a society.
My definition of pioneer is someone that goes somewhere
that nobody has been before.
It might be discovering a continent,
but perhaps it's working in a new material.
Somebody like Charles Horner, who worked out of Halifax
and was fabulous with Art Nouveau jewellery.
William Morris was a pioneer. Mackintosh was a pioneer.
Anything by them would be incredibly expensive.
Why not think in terms of Georg Jensen jewellery?
You can buy a Georg Jensen silver ring for less than £100.
Great names all of them.
We've had the privilege of encountering many works
by those pioneering craftsmen of the past.
And we've stumbled on more modern ones too.
At a valuation day in 2009,
Thomas Plant got his hands on an item
from one of the giants of 20th-century fashion.
Tell me about it and how it came into your possession.
Well, my grandmother gave it to me
when I was about ten and I've had it ever since.
I don't know much more about it other than it's Christian Dior, I believe.
It is Christian Dior. We can see it from here.
The mark there is Christian Dior.
Of course that conjures up all these wonderful fashion items
and high-end jewellery.
But this is Christian Dior the costume jeweller
we are looking at here.
Christian Dior - after the Second World War
he sort of established his business
as the first global fashion house.
You have the aspirational haute couture which the Hollywood stars
would wear, by Christian Dior.
And I think in the '50s and '60s his costume jewellery was aspirational.
You could actually buy a piece of Christian Dior. He'd realised
that there was going to be demand for his product, his design.
And hence, that's why his costume jewellery is so good
Now, it is costume jewellery, we should explain that.
You've got the mauve stones and the pink and this is glass
or diamante or paste, as we call it, on a base metal.
"Vintage" is a new word for antiques. Vintage is very cool.
So if you're going out to a party
and you're putting on vintage Dior, they'll all ask,
"Where is that from?" "Actually, it's vintage."
It's Dior, isn't it?"
It would probably make over £50,
but I should have the estimate sort of £70-£100.
If it had been...
an unknown piece of costume jewellery, which you get
quite a lot, I'd probably have said it wasn't worth selling.
It's quite a difficult subject to sell in a traditional saleroom
-like this, but we're going to give it a go.
-OK. Here we go.
Fingers crossed. You never know what's going to
happen at an auction. let's check this one out.
And as it happened, quite a few bidders also wanted to check it out.
110. 120. 130. 140. 150. 160.
-Lady's bid now. 160. 170 now.
160. At 160. 170 on the phone. 180.
190 if you like. 190.
-200. At 200.
-They absolutely love this!
-They do know it's paste?
I was flabbergasted. I think I said it three times.
-I am flabbergasted.
Did you miss something, Thomas?
-Do they know something we don't know?
-I don't know!
-What's going through your mind right now?
-Oh, I can't believe it!
Good old Nana!
At £440. It's on the phone at 440...
-Incredible! £440. Angela, that's wonderful!
-Thank you so much.
-Good old Nana, eh?
-Yeah, good old Nana!
I can get something really nice with that.
I am flabbergasted.
Auctions are a real education
and whenever I see a piece of Christian Dior
costume jewellery now, I give it a lot more attention than I used to.
Me, too, Thomas!
Since that auction I won't pass a piece of paste jewellery
without checking it out to see
if it bears one of the big fashion house names.
Without doubt it was the mark of the pioneering designer Dior
which made Angie's bracelet fly.
Now, Elizabeth Talbot knew she was on to a winner when she came across
a piece of pottery by a designer who is a firm favourite on this show.
I did like Beryl's vase.
Her Moorcroft vase was a delight.
It's probably one of the best pieces of Moorcroft I've seen on Flog It!
What can you tell me about it?
My parents had it as a wedding present in 1929,
so it's been around all my life.
'William Moorcroft was a pioneer to the extent'
that his methods of production were very individual,
from the handcrafting of the pot on the wheel through to the
tube lining, a bit like decorating a cake.
Throughout the 20th century his designs
and his factory's successive designs have remained very much
accessible and relevant to the generations that have followed on.
It's a very distinctive and quite a rare pattern by Moorcroft.
I have to hold my hands up at this point
and say I can't remember the name of the pattern.
But it is one of the rarer patterns.
The whole methodology of production was very pioneering
and it hasn't been bettered or really improved on in terms of that
type of pottery since the late 19th century.
His factory is renowned for the double firing.
So the pot with the colour was fired
and then the clear glaze was put on top and then it was fired again.
And that's what's really lifts those marvellous colours out
and makes it so vibrant and distinctive.
What do you think it might be worth, offered to the market?
Well, I would have thought it has to be at least £150-£200,
but I think it might be more than that.
Well, it might be, yeah.
It's rather charming
when people underestimate the value of their items,
and it makes my job so much easier and far more enjoyable
when I can break good news rather than having to beat them
down from high expectations which are not achievable.
I would like to see this sell for between £700 and £1,000.
-Does that please you?
And the man whose job it was to make good on Elizabeth's estimate
was Flog It! regular Will Axon. So what did he make of the vase?
This was a nice early piece.
A William Moorcroft piece, signed on the base, an impressed Moorcroft.
The shape was quite interesting,
that sort of subtle baluster vase, which is very desirable.
You can value them to a certain degree on the more general patterns, by size and shape.
-But I suspect if she had known the name of the pattern,
which incidentally is Moonlit Blue,
I mean, at £700-£1,000
they'd be queuing up with the chequebooks at that sort of estimate.
I've got interest. At 500. 550. 600. 650. 700.
At 700. And it's in the market. 750. 800.
850. 900. 950. 1,000. 1,100. 1,200. 1,300.
-They absolutely love it.
1,450. It all helps. 1,500.
And another 50. At 1,500 I'm bid here. Try me again, sir.
At £1,500 I'm bid here. At 1,500.
Who else is in now? At £1,500. Are you sure?
I shall sell it. The hammer is up. On commission then, at £1,500...
-Not bad, eh? What are you going to put all that money towards?
-Go on a train journey to Austria.
-Oh, are you?
-Oh, how romantic!
This particular vase sold very well indeed, partly because of the
pattern, which is relatively rare, so a very choice collector's piece.
It was a nice size and the pattern suited the shape
and the condition was great.
Yes, Beryl's vase certainly had a lot going for it,
especially the name Moorcroft, whose items always do the business.
There are of course other pioneering potters. Take Clarice Cliff,
she was a leading businesswoman whose Jazz Age designs
bucked the trend.
Today there's a huge market for her work
and we see many pieces on the show.
-The magic name of Clarice Cliff.
Which is so desirable and so collectable.
Clarice Cliff is an old Flog It! favourite.
If you're eager to become a Clarice Cliff collector,
get to know your subject. When buying always check condition.
This is key. But it's also worth researching the pattern.
I've never seen this in this blue colour before.
You'd normally see this colour in reds and greens.
Clarice Cliff always does well at auction,
but some of her rarer designs can fly.
Gosh, this is rare! They know something we don't know, Philip.
Are we all done at £2,700?
Hammer's gone down. What a wonderful moment. £2,700!
What a result!
But it isn't just the great designers like Clarice Cliff
who demonstrated a pioneering spirit.
It was also the merchants who sold their wares.
In 1875 a new London emporium opened its doors.
It quickly became known for its eclectic and cutting-edge stock.
Arthur Lasenby set up Liberty's, which was a quite new
and innovative type of department store at that time.
And his association with the finest craftsmen
and artists of the day certainly showed in the goods that he sold.
He didn't want to just to sell utilitarian or ordinary
or boring-looking things. He wanted to sell things which were...
..innovative. The most exciting goods, the best quality goods.
They are made of pewter and the pewter is hand-hammered.
They have these asymmetric squares on them
and we have the little enamelled medallions in the middle.
So they are aesthetically pleasing.
If we look on the back, we can see that these are called Tudric.
Tudric was the name for the Arts And Crafts pewter
that was made for Liberty & Company.
We had all sorts of boxes.
We had we had frames of clocks, Arts And Crafts, Art Nouveau -
these were the themes, the feeling that these items had.
-Where did you get them?
-Well, they belong to my son, really.
-I'm just bringing them in on his behalf.
-Where did he get them?
-I believe he got them at a boot sale.
-A car boot story, I love them!
How much did you pay for them?
Not a lot, knowing my son.
Probably under a tenner, I'd think.
I would put an auction estimate on these of £60-£80.
They may do more than that.
We do have a pair and they do have the Tudric name on them.
Anita was confident that the car boot napkins were going to
make a good return on their money.
What did auctioneer Claire Rawle think?
I love it if something has Liberty on it because you know it is
going to appeal across the board and is going to make good money.
That name is just so popular.
If you want an example, I had a couple of really,
really dull-looking picture frames in recently.
They came in on a valuation morning and I thought, "OK, firewood."
Turned them round, Liberty's label on the back. Fantastic.
They are Arts And Crafts. They sold for hundreds of pounds.
Nice pair of napkin rings. And this one I have to start at £100.
-At 100. Do I see 110 in the room?
110. 120. 130. The bid is in the room now. £130.
At £130. Are you all done? Selling then at 130...
-The hammer's gone down.
Do you know, I wish it was as easy to turn
£4 into £130 just like that every day of the week.
It was a good price for the napkin rings.
I felt they made good money and it was down to the Liberty's name.
When you see the name Liberty and Tudric on an item, you know
that it's going to soar.
So the next time you're trawling a car boot, jumble sale or a
charity shop, it's definitely worth keeping an eye out for this stamp.
But what other innovative names are worth considering?
Well, Rene Lalique was a great pioneer in 20th-century glass-making.
And he was widely copied as a result afterwards by other glass-makers.
But they never managed to achieve the sort of design quality
and the production quality that Lalique used to achieve.
There was quite a range of glass that was produced - bowls
and vases and, of course, car mascots.
Sue, very nice to see you here in Hereford Cathedral.
Has this come off one of your cars?
Unfortunately not, because I think he would have gone on a Rolls-Royce.
-Right! He's a Lalique mascot.
He's a falcon, known as the Faucon.
-Designed in 1925, I believe.
And we've got the moulded Lalique mark just there.
What you did in those days, of course,
you didn't just have your Rolls-Royce with your
silver lady or whatever on the front,
you'd get your own mascot that you fancied for your car.
So you'd go and you say you wanted want a falcon or an eagle or a fox,
and then you'd have that done.
So they weren't made for specific cars,
they were made for the people who then bought them for their cars.
Condition, the chip to the beak,
which obviously drastically compromises the value.
There were often damaged, of course.
A glass mascot on front of a car isn't going to last long,
and I would have thought a few of them probably got pinched.
I think in good condition, this is £500's worth.
-I would have thought about 400-ish.
-£400-£500 in good condition.
-But because of the chip, I'd halve it, probably.
-As much as that?
-So 200 to 300, I'd think, is sensible.
-I think so.
-I would have thought less.
-You'd have thought less?
-Less than 200?
Well, that's what I'd just guessed.
Well, I figure 200 to 300 is a sensible guide on it.
-Does that sound...?
-That sounds fantastic, actually. Sounds good.
There's a huge demand for all sorts of Lalique,
especially the early Lalique, and especially car mascots, actually.
But I'm acutely aware of the fact that any damage -
particularly on a piece of glass, that can't be restored,
be made good, it's always going to have that chip on its beak -
I thought that would drastically reduce the price.
Was Adam right? Time to find out.
Bids on the line, bids on the book
and bids on the net. So who's got, I don't know, £300 to start?
Nobody wants it?
500? Thank you.
-I'm bid £500.
-That's a good start.
At £500 only.
-Twice the price already!
550 on the telephone. 580.
On the net, 580.
-That's the beauty of auctions, isn't it?
-Two people or more...
600 on the telephone.
620 on the net. 650. 680.
£700 only, on the telephone.
On the net at 720.
Is there any more?
£720 and done...
-It's made its money. 720.
It was damaged. Um...
But I'm not surprised it made what it did
just because of the strong areas of collecting.
-That's fabulous, Sue.
-I'd have got 700-800 if it was perfect.
I never thought it would make anything like that.
Indeed, I had undercooked the estimate.
Partridge values falcon too low.
We are quite familiar with the work of Rene Lalique on Flog It!
And often we see high prices realised at auction.
But Sue's car mascot, that took us all completely by surprise.
It had double the appeal.
The Lalique collectors were fighting it out
with the car mascot enthusiasts.
And there really is a huge market out there for the rarer designs.
In 2011 a Rene Lalique mascot of a fox sold for around £125,000.
And if you're interested in pioneering makers like Lalique,
what should you be aware of?
Never underestimate the value of a good name.
It can increase the worth of a collectable exponentially.
-Angela, that's wonderful!
-Thank you so much, that's great.
If you're investing in pieces from one of the leading potteries,
consider shape, colour and rarity of pattern
to find a winner.
And always think out of the box.
It's not only the designers' names you should keep an eye out for.
The association with an innovative retailer like Liberty
can help a collectible soar.
Liberty never revealed the names of its designers,
but between 1899 and 1912,
there was one prolific artist on its books whose work was so distinctive,
his name just couldn't be kept secret.
It's made by Liberty and the famous designer Archibald Knox
and when you put those two names together,
-of course it's a very, very collectible field.
The nice thing with Knox's work is it's very different.
You can see in his designs almost immediately
if it's an Archibald Knox piece, the way it's organic,
the enamelling is wonderful,
you get a very rich texture in the enamelling,
which is very appealing and which, of course,
adds a lot of value to the pieces.
And when Knox collectibles come up for sale,
they achieve great prices.
All done at £430? Any advance on 430? 430.
They've done it, £430. That'll do you, won't it?
Oh, yeah, champion, there.
Archibald Knox was born on the Isle of Man in 1864.
At a young age, he joined the newly-opened Douglas School of Art,
where he developed a lifelong interest in Celtic design.
His creative talent blossomed
and he designed a huge range of both ornamental
and utilitarian objects - clocks, jewellery,
tea sets, boxes, garden ornaments,
ink wells, carpets, fabrics and even gravestones.
His work at Liberty made him a household name.
He was one of their leading designers,
creating items for its Pewter Tudric range
and the Cymric range, made from precious metals.
Knox's sense of his Celtic ancestry can be seen in the stylised knots
decorating many of his wares.
These were often intertwined with flowering Art Nouveau motifs.
What I particularly like about it
are these little sort of Art Nouveau, heart-shaped roundels here,
which are rather nice.
So what do you need to know if you're interested
in collecting items by Archibald Knox?
Get to know your subject.
Although Knox's Liberty pieces weren't signed,
his designs often shout his name, but if in doubt,
look at a pattern number,
which can be related to a known book of Knox designs.
When considering one of Knox's silver items from the Cymric range,
check for a clear hallmark
and make sure the item hasn't been altered or isn't a cast copy.
Pewter is far softer than silver,
so with Knox's items from the Tudric range,
consider the clarity of the design and the original patination.
You should also take into account
any wear to the pattern from over-polishing.
If you're only going to invest in one Knox collectible,
then his clock cases in either silver or pewter
are a timeless favourite,
especially those which incorporate enamels into the decorative scheme.
Although she's a relative newcomer to "Flog It!",
auctioneer Claire Rawle has had years of experience
in the antiques world...
At £260, then, if you're all done. Selling here at 260.
..and during that time she's developed a passion
for the work of one of Britain's foremost designers
of the 19th century, a true pioneer.
Christopher Dresser was a prolific designer
who created a variety of objects
throughout his long, industrious career.
I think my love for Dresser came from his simple designs.
I love the way he designs things and they're very functional,
you can use them,
and they were made very much for the ordinary person, for the masses.
He was the first independent designer,
he was probably the leading ceramic designer,
not only just of his age, but of any age.
I'm here in Middlesbrough at the Dorman Museum,
where I'm going to meet curator Gill Moore,
who I know is going to tell me a whole lot more
about Christopher Dresser.
Well, Dresser was actually born in Glasgow in 1834,
but his family actually came from Yorkshire.
There was a Yorkshire connection
and Dresser showed exceptional talent as an artist when he was quite young
and he was enrolled in the Government School of Design
The family at this point had actually moved down to London, so 1840s,
and he was actually accepted at the School of Design
-two years earlier than normal. He was only 13.
-So he was obviously quite a child prodigy, then.
-He certainly was.
He did exceptionally well while he was at the School of Design,
won several medals and he set up his own studio quite early on,
so he would have employed maybe half a dozen apprentices.
He was probably one of the first independent designers, really?
Yes, he was. He was a pioneer in that way.
Dresser was fundamental in the development
of the colourful work of Linthorpe pottery.
In 1875, John Harrison invited Dresser to visit
his struggling brickworks in Linthorpe, near Middlesbrough.
Dresser was quite impressed by the quality of the clay,
the red clay, so he suggested it might be more profitable
to actually turn to production of art pottery rather than bricks,
so that was how Linthorpe pottery was born.
Because that was really his big tie with Middlesbrough, wasn't it?
Dresser was the art advisor for all Linthorpe pottery
and he had quite a lot of control over it.
And then, 1876, his sort of lifetime's ambition came true,
that he went to visit Japan.
He'd long had an admiration for Japan,
so this was his dream come true, really.
-Because it was so soon after he returned from Japan,
so within about two years of his return,
there's a lot of Oriental influence. And if you actually look
at the background there, you can see the Oriental silks.
We believe the silks actually came from decorating rooms at the pottery.
Really, so they were actually in there?
They were actually in the pottery, yes.
Dresser was quite concerned about
the environment that the decorators, the artists should be working in.
He wanted them to be inspired by looking at works like this.
Linthorpe was an overnight success.
I think the actual response to it was far greater than they expected.
So people really, really embraced his designs,
it really appealed to people, did it?
It was so unusual. People hadn't seen anything like it.
Linthorpe was the first pottery to use a gas-fired kiln,
so they could actually control the temperature,
so we have some really amazing glazes.
So to be sure of getting a Dresser piece,
it has the facsimile signature on the bottom,
obviously the factory name.
Yes, because he would have produced quite a lot of designs
and a lot of them were produced after his association had finished,
but, also, you want the Linthorpe mark on it, of course.
-It would always have the Linthorpe mark?
We've actually acquired a collection of Dresser items quite recently
and we have examples of everything.
We have furniture, we have metalware, we have wallpaper.
Oh, that sounds fantastic.
Is there any chance I can have a sneak preview?
I'm sure you can, come with me. Thank you!
Christopher Dresser, he was such a pioneer,
because he embraced modern technology,
he used it to manufacture his goods so that they were available
to a wide range of people
and he just designed so many different things.
He was an amazing man.
They chairs we have were from the 1880s and they were designed
for the Art Furnishers' Alliance, one of Dresser's retail ventures.
He actually brought together wallpaper design, textiles,
ceramics, glass and furniture.
This is one of the iconic pieces that you associate with Dresser,
the crow's foot decanter.
It's also very functional and beautiful
and the little feet here, they actually raise the glass
above the ground, so you could actually see the colour of the wine.
Oh, right, yes.
And the shoulder on it as well also has a purpose,
so when you actually poured your wine,
any sediment would actually be caught in it,
so you get a nice, clear glass.
-Isn't that clever?
-It's very clever, so well thought of, so Dresser.
-This is a Dresser design?
-That is a Dresser design, yeah.
-But it's not marked, I don't think, is it?
So if anyone's doing a bit of research into his design,
get an eye for it, it's the sort of thing you could find
at a boot sale or somewhere, bunged in a box with other stuff.
And just pass it by, yes.
Cos everyone says, "Oh, I hate polishing brass and copper."
You've got this lovely brass and copper teapot, kettle, whatever,
and very typical, the little, stumpy legs.
That's very Dresser, isn't it?
So that's the sort of thing that any budding collectors of his work,
if they get an eye for his design, they could stumble across
and probably pick it up for not very much.
Exactly, yes, and new items are coming up all the time
and now being attributed to Dresser.
Yeah, I think there's a good opportunity
-for collectors out there, isn't there?
-Oh, I think so.
At the end of the day, you end up with something really stylish
and really attractive, so get out there and start looking.
It's easy to admire Christopher Dresser's work in the abstract.
The wonderful forms and colours of his designs speak for themselves,
but to get a real sense of how revolutionary he was,
it's necessary to see his pieces
alongside those of his contemporaries.
This piece, believe it or not,
is a Christopher Dresser teapot that came in to me
at the bottom of a very large box of silver-plated wares
that was brought in by a member of staff at a charity shop
and she wasn't quite sure what she had.
She just said, "We've had this donated to us.
"Let us know what you think",
and I was filtering through all this silver plate,
going through, trying to find bits and bobs
and this completely stood out from the crowd to me,
amongst this load of other silver plate which was, frankly, junk.
This is just the piece de resistance.
If you think at the time that Christopher Dresser
was making these teapots, this was about 1880, Victorian England,
high Victorian, prolific decoration everywhere,
this was the sort of thing that was being used at the time.
Look at all this decoration.
It's just so Victorian, screams Victorian,
but Christopher Dresser was making this and it's so simple
and it's so stylish and it wouldn't look out of place in today's home.
He took a lot of influence from Japan,
especially this wonderful ebonised handle here.
It's such a Japanese influence,
and to me, just the fact that he was making this
and other people were making this,
people must have thought he was completely mad.
What a pioneer.
I have put a value on it of £800-1,200.
The last one of these that sold I think sold...
I think it was about £3,000.
Ours has got a few dents cos it's been used.
That's what it was made for.
But, no, that was my Flog It! moment in real life.
Still to come, I'm delighted to find
a photograph taken by a true pioneer...
The greatest female photographer possibly in history,
-definitely in 19th century.
..and Flog It! regulars share their first memories
of being on the programme.
I was full of anticipation,
thinking about the wonderful things that I might see.
My look then was very much, what shall we call it,
Spanish cavalier, perhaps?
Pioneers work across all areas of society, not just in design.
In mid-19th century Rochdale,
the Industrial Revolution brought benefits but also misery,
with long working hours, low pay, grinding poverty and hunger.
But those desperate living conditions
proved to be a force for good.
Back in 2007, I went to find out more.
A radical group of young men who, appalled at what they saw,
decided to offer the people of Rochdale an alternative,
a different way to feed their families and a chance
to escape the appalling poverty
and the conditions that most of them faced.
These young men were called the Rochdale Pioneers
and it was here 160 years ago
that their story began, right here in Toad Lane.
In fact, this building,
number 31, is regarded as the home of the Co-op.
This is where the Co-op began.
Let's go in.
So who were the men who started the Co-op, the Rochdale Pioneers?
Well, I've come to find out
and I'm here to meet the Co-op's historian, Dorothy Greaves.
-Thank you so much for talking to me today.
Where did it all start and why?
Well, it started because of the absolute poverty in this area.
People were starving because wages had gone right down from, say,
up to £2 a week to five shillings, six and ninepence.
When you had eight children, six and ninepence didn't go very far.
Of course, shop keepers used to adulterate their food
to make more profit.
What, give the wrong weights and the wrong measures?
They put sand in the oatmeal,
plaster of Paris and chalk in the flour,
-brown earth in the cocoa.
-Leaves from the trees in the tea.
And, of course, they put the blobs of lead on the back of the scales.
Now, everybody knew the lead was there, of course they did,
but everybody was in debt to the shopkeepers.
Angered by the poverty the people of Rochdale faced,
the Pioneers decided to save a small amount of their wages each week
so they could start their own co-operative shop.
They got £28 together and started looking for an empty shop
and then they came across this building.
So then it was a question of, "Right, lads, what's next?"
"Ee, well, we better do summat wit' t'walls."
"What about a counter?"
"I think a few planks and two barrels will do it."
-Incredible, isn't it?
-And then they bought some scales.
No lead on these scales. This was an honest co-operative, of course.
So tell me about the very first opening day.
-That was a red-letter night.
-Oh, a night?
Yes, don't forget these men had to do their own jobs during the day.
They couldn't give their jobs up,
so they were supposed to open at seven o'clock,
but there was such a big crowd waiting outside making such a noise,
all the cheeky doffers from the mill shouting,
"Come on, when are you going to open?"
"Hurry up, what are you selling?"
"Come on, it's dark, it's cold! Come on!"
All that noise made these men nervous.
The three anxious Pioneers in the shop that night were
James Smithies, Billy Cooper and Sam Ashworth.
Seven o'clock came and went, got to ten to eight, still haven't opened.
James said, "Come on, you lads, who's going to open the door?"
"Oh, no," they go.
So he went round and he opened the door wide.
There was such a rush forward from outside to see what was happening.
They heard so many stories, but what do they see?
This tiny dark room.
Just a few flickering candles.
Nine sacks on the floor.
And a bit of butter on the end of the counter.
One or two ladies walked in, then they walked out.
Then an old lady walked in and she asked for sugar.
And that was the very first sale here.
They went on to have a lovely evening and actually took five shillings,
-I mean, how great can you get?
-Yeah, history was made.
It said, they hopped and skipped down Toad Lane just after midnight,
thrilled to bits that they had opened their honest co-operative shop.
What happened when the group realised this was a roaring success?
One of the big things they did was to decide that
2.5% of their profits would to go education.
-They realised knowledge is power.
They actually had a school upstairs and the Pioneers did the teaching.
Reading, writing, arithmetic, mathematics,
geometry and political economy.
They did so many things.
They started the drapery in here in 1847,
they started the butchers in 1845.
Clogs and shoes, up on the next floor.
Tailoring department for gentlemen.
And eventually they decided, well, James decided, he was very
forward thinking, "Right, lads, let's have a nice big department store."
So by 1867, they bought a piece of land higher up Toad Lane
and they built a magnificent department store.
What an inspirational story.
The Rochdale Pioneers proved what can be achieved
when people come together and work for a common cause.
Anita Manning is one of Flog It's most colourful characters.
# Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. #
It's fitting that one of her heroines is a fellow Scot
whose colourful work has left a lasting legacy.
Jessie M King was one of that wonderful group of women artists
and designers who are working in the late 19th,
early 20th century in and around Glasgow.
But she was also a pioneer in that she earned her living by her art.
Although her main thing was book illustrations,
she also designed ceramics and jewellery and silver.
And many of her pieces were sold in Liberty's at that time.
Jessie's illustrations were in the main fantastical.
I've brought along two books, or two editions,
which are a wee bit unusual.
They were unlike what she had done before,
they were not full of fantastical characters.
We have The City Of The West, which is Glasgow,
and we have The Grey City Of The North, which is Edinburgh.
What the illustrations in these little books show us are...
..the streets of Glasgow and Edinburgh...
..as they were...
in the 18th century, warts and all.
There is no romance in it, there is no apparent beauty there,
there is just these...
..streets and closes of tumbling down houses.
But the beauty and the accuracy of these drawings,
and the mystery which she seems to imbue in the drawings, and
the fact that these are two cities in Scotland very close to my heart.
I feel very fond of these books and occasionally flick through them
and enjoy the work of that most talented of women.
Flog It! has been on your TV screens since 2002,
and a lot has changed since then,
but what hasn't changed is at the heart is a team that's
dedicated to helping you sell your unwanted antiques and collectibles.
So, where did it all start?
I remember my first Flog It! very well indeed.
I was a very excited young lad going off to do this filming
for this great television programme and I remember
so vividly seeing a really lovely silver tea service by Georg Jensen.
I was really excited,
my first Flog It! and this wonderful item came in
and I said to the lady, "I think this is worth £2,000 or £3,000."
And she said to me off camera, "Are you sure, dear?
"You look very young."
So I said, "Well, if you don't believe me,
"we'll put 8 to £1,200 and watch it go and make a bit more."
Don't blame me if it doesn't sell.
And guess what? It made 5,000 quid.
How I wished I'd have stuck to my 2-3,000,
it wouldn't look quite so embarrassing.
I was hoping she was going to say, "Oh, you did say beforehand,"
but no, do you know what she said?
"Bless him, he's only learning."
Slightly overawed by it all,
because there were a lot of people there.
And I wasn't sure if I'd find the right things, say the right things,
and once I got going it was great cos there's a great team
behind you giving you lots of support,
and lovely people as well, great contributors.
I think the thing which makes Flog It! so special is actually
the connection between you and the contributor, the vendor.
Getting their story, where it's been, so I was more
worried about making that connection about getting valuations wrong.
My very first Flog It! I remember was in Ipswich Corn Exchange.
And of course it was with my lovely friend David Barby.
It was a bit funny because it was a bit like a tennis match
because for some reason people think we're very alike.
I really can't see it myself.
But people kept looking like a tennis match
and I think both of us, if we had a pound for somebody saying,
"Is that your father?"
Of course he's my grandfather... we would have been rich.
Anita Manning was one of the first female experts to join the show,
so she's a bit of pioneer herself.
What does she remember from her first valuation day
more than a decade ago?
I was very excited.
I don't think I was nervous - I'm not the nervous type.
But I was full of anticipation, thinking about all
the wonderful things that I might see
and having a chat to the people who own these things.
Richard, do you come from Newcastle?
-Not at all, I come from Lancashire.
-Oh, you're a Lancashire lad.
The reason I'm asking this question is
-because, as you probably know, Maling is from Newcastle.
How did you get it?
It was my grandmother's and she used them everyday.
What he brought with him was very ordinary Maling,
but I liked Richard so much,
and very often for me it's the person and their story,
and the story of their forefathers,
and their history, the family history, which is interesting.
-Can you remember your granny?
-Oh, very well.
Tell me about her, what was she like?
She was a great character. She was midwife and a very big woman.
And she had 18 children.
-18 children and a full-time job?
She rode about the countryside on a 17 hand high cob...
as well as looking after all her 18 brood.
And I found that absolutely fascinating.
That painted pictures of Lancashire that I will never ever forget.
I think if we put it as one lot and maybe...
..between 40 and £60.
-40 and £60.
-Would you like to flog them?
-We'll flog them.
So, was Anita's first Flog It! auction as an expert
a memorable affair?
Richard is a man of some style and he likes his clothes
and he got dressed up for the auction,
he had this wonderful bowtie on, his dinner jacket.
Richard, you look so smart.
You look really together here.
Well, maybe I should have been a bit more glamorous in that one,
but I thought my gold lame catsuit might not just be the thing
to wear that day.
I'm hoping to get nearer 80.
-Would you be happy with that?
-Oh, not half!
The valuation day is one thing, but when you're on the auction day
and you're hoping that all your items sell, you're hoping
that you've given the right valuation, it's quite nerve-racking
£60. 60 bid.
£60. 60 bid.
New interest. 70.
It's a lot of Maling for your money.
90. Well done.
100. 100. And selling then, are we, at £100.
That was brilliant. 100 quid. I knew that should have done 100 quid.
-Three pieces of Maling, it had to do it.
And Anita has remained a firm favourite with the Flog It!
contributors and you ever since.
Charlie Ross joined the programme about the same time as Anita.
But unlike her, he wasn't brimming with confidence on his first day.
Hello, Ron, out of your box you have pulled...
..a couple of vases here with various other pieces.
I have to say, I was extremely nervous on my first valuation day
because I wasn't expecting it to be a valuation day.
I was expecting it to be screen test.
And suddenly confronted with all these lovely people and all their
charming objects, I really felt I was being thrown in the deep end.
But kicked like mad and carried on swimming
and got to the end of the day.
-They are 18th century...
So, probably 1760, 1770.
There is a chunk off the bottom here, but frankly, given the age...
-..that's not surprising.
-And it certainly isn't, in terms of value, terminal.
This still will have a value.
We've got the lid here...
and the little dog-au-feu, firedog...
there we are, which sits on there.
If we move on to the next pair, as you can see,
different hexagonal shape...
No damage to this vase, but there's some rubbing, you can see.
All this would have been highlighted in gilt decoration
between each panel here, here...
Well, I think, given the condition,
-you can really put £150-200 on each pair.
-We wouldn't want to give them away.
I was well exhausted by the end of the day,
and of course my brain was swimming around, thinking, "What have I said?
"What valuations have I put on these things?"
You know? "Oh, dear!"
It was quite concerning.
And wielding the gavel over Ron's Chinese vases
was auctioneer Will Axon.
Will has since become another of our favourite experts,
but back then this was his first ever appearance on the show.
My look then was very much - what shall we call it?
Spanish cavalier, perhaps, with my long hair and goatee?
But no, you know, I mean, I had longer hair than that before,
believe me. I had a raver's ponytail, me.
You know, I grew up in the '90s.
He's had his hair cut.
Other than that, I don't think he's changed at all.
Charlie was uncharacteristically low key
during his first Flog It! filming.
But did Will manage to raise a smile, by getting the vases away?
380, 390, 400.
And 20? Or I'll take 10. 400 it is, in the doorway at 400.
10, sir, if you like. At 400, be quick if you do...
400, my bidders are well out, at 400, now, all done.
Well, that is a result, given the damage.
So, did the second pair of vases do as well?
At 380 now, you're all done elsewhere? At 380, I shall sell...
-I'm so pleased!
-..one more shake of the hand.
-Thank you very much.
Charlie's an old hand at this game,
he knew they were going to sell at that sort of money,
and actually they ended up selling really well, didn't they?
And that was probably before that big Chinese boom.
Today, these objects would be making...plus a nought probably,
despite their damage.
Charlie's first Flog It! valuation was a great success,
and it marked the start of a long friendship with the show.
But does he feel he's changed over the years?
I'm older. Lost a bit of hair.
I'd like to think I'm more relaxed.
I think the first time you do a programme,
first time you do anything in your life,
and it's unusual, you're a little bit nervous,
and perhaps you don't let the real you come out.
Now, I think, when I'm meeting people on camera,
valuing things, I'd like to think what you get is pure Charlie Ross.
Charlie's onscreen confidence has certainly grown
during his time on "Flog It!"
Back to the drawing board, matron.
But how much has he and the other experts changed down the years?
Oh, gosh. That's tricky, isn't it?
Oh, dear. Get myself into a lot of trouble here.
I can't think.... I wish I'd have prepared this one.
Well, I had longer sideboards!
And I looked like I was still in short trousers.
I think most of the Flog It!s I've filmed so far
I've been quite pregnant.
I've gone from this, to this,
to this, to this!
Gone from blonde to brown.
Some people have become wider. And I include myself in that.
And some people have become greyer.
Philip Serrell hasn't got as much hair.
Anita's hair looks great!
The first thing I think of when I look back
on my first appearances on the show is...
time hasn't been very nice to me, really.
Mark has probably changed the most.
Not so much in personality, in the way he is,
but I saw an early episode
and he did look a lot younger back then, didn't he?
I certainly think, after 11 years or so,
I've probably had too much red wine, so...
Too much rich food.
It's all that easy living, Mark!
And too much of vino chateau collapso, I reckon.
But I have kept my hair, which is unlike some of us -
like Adam Partridge.
He's got a little bit thinner on top. You're welcome, Adam.
I suppose me, then, because I've gone bald.
Is that what you wanted to hear?!
Well, it's been lovely working with you all.
The general consensus, then?
The boys have changed more than the girls.
Now, to a new member of the Flog It! team,
who hasn't yet had time to change.
Caroline Hawley hit the screen as an expert in 2012.
On my first ever valuation day,
I was SO nervous.
The night before, I could hardly sleep.
I was really, really nervous.
And then as soon as I got there, and I got in front of the items,
in front of the contributors, the whole thing was just fantastic.
The adrenaline kicks in, and it was just brilliant.
I've loved it, absolutely loved it.
And we love you too, Caroline.
How does a man like you end up with five pairs
of fabulous ladies' shoes?
Well, my girlfriend Heather's at work today,
so she told me to bring them in
and see if they were worth anything, so...
Well, I'm so glad you have.
They're absolutely beautiful,
and they've caused such a stir with all the ladies around today.
I remember the dance shoes - they were one of the first items I valued
and they really stick in my memory,
because they just made you want to dance and smile.
They were just so, so beautiful.
They actually come from New York, from a fabulous department store,
They're beautifully made, with leather, satin,
little rhinestone buckles. They really are fabulous quality.
And this - excuse the pun,
but it would have to be a very well-heeled lady that bought these.
They're not for your average lady at all.
They're really beautiful.
And they date from the 1920s, 1930s.
They were such good quality, they were in such good condition -
they'd hardly been used.
One of the main things I was thinking,
"Well, what sort of value could you put on these?"
Cos, to me, they're absolutely fantastic, but I know, commercially,
that they're not ever going to really hit the heights.
Pricewise, I would think, to sell them -
again, it's better to keep them as a collection -
and I would put an estimate of between 150 and 250
for the collection, and if we put a fixed reserve of £150,
-would you be happy with that?
-Yes, I think that'd be OK. Yes.
So, fingers crossed,
and I am so delighted you brought them, I love them.
So, had Caroline's nerves abated by the time she got to the auction?
I'm an auctioneer by trade,
and I am used to standing on the rostrum and selling things,
but being put to the test the other side
and standing next to the lovely couple that had put them in,
it's a different experience altogether.
Everything kicks in, you're just, "Ooh..." It's quite nerve-racking.
At £120, 30 if you want them.
150, now. At £150. Against the room at 150.
At £150, then.
Quite sure, everybody? At £150.
Sold to somebody on the phone.
-Bang on the reserve.
Bang on the reserve.
The pressure of the auction has eased the more I do
but I still always am quite competitive,
and I do want to - I want to get a result for them,
and I want to get a good result.
Since Flog It! has been on air,
our experts have worked hard to make you gasp, make you laugh
and put those all-important values on your antiques and collectibles.
So, here's to all of our much-loved experts
who've appeared on the show over the years,
and to those we've yet to meet.
Trailblazers in all fields are an exciting prospect
for antique enthusiasts,
so you can imagine my delight when not one but two turned up
in a single package at a valuation day in Henley-on-Thames
back in 2011.
My name's Angela Bess, I was chair of governors at -
it was Slough Grammar School at the time,
it's now Upton Court Grammar School.
We had a picture, we knew it had some value,
and we'd take it to Flog It! to see how much money we could raise.
-OK, this is the scientist Herschel.
Who - there is some local connection, isn't there?
-Yeah, he was born and brought up in Slough.
-which is just down the river, when you think about it.
Herschel used to work at the Eton observatory, I believe.
Eton is about five minutes up the road from here.
That's the connection.
-Credited for pioneering and developing the telescope.
And optical lenses
But it's not the subject matter,
it's not the sitter I'm interested in, it's the photographer!
Because I've been to Julia Margaret Cameron's studios
-on the Isle of Wight, and this is an original by her.
The greatest female photographer possibly in history,
definitely in the 19th century.
It was hung in the head's office for many, many years,
and we'd have meetings, finance meetings,
and we'd laugh and say, "If we ever needed money, we'll sell the picture.
I think we take this to a major sale room in London, see what they think,
and we get it put into a specialist sale, a photograph and print sale.
-Are you happy with that?
-Yeah, that's really good.
Angela was accompanied to the auction by Mercedes,
the school's headmistress.
-It's been catalogued at £4,000-6,000.
We had a chat to the auctioneer yesterday,
it's due to a lot of damage.
-Whatever it brings, the students will be delighted.
At 6,500. 7,000, now. At 7,000.
At 7,000. Any more at 7? We're at 7,000.
I have 7,500 ahead of you, will you go 8,000?
At 8,000 on the telephone, now.
My bid is out. Last chance in the room.
We're at £8,000, and selling, then at 8,000.
-£8,000 on the hammer.
-Well done, both of you.
What we definitely needed to do, and wanted to do,
was upgrade the IT equipment for sixth-formers.
The old computer facilities for the sixth form was a small,
cramped room with a few computers,
but now we have a big area with lots more computers,
and there's always some space to sit down,
there's always a free computer.
It's amazing, it's a transformation,
that the students are coming in here now,
getting their heads down, working hard.
They're able to do homework, they're able to do coursework.
It's really useful to have the IT,
because as well as the books that we have in the library,
it's really useful to have up-to-date information
and interpretations of old texts.
-We're very pleased, yeah.
It was a positive experience.
It was really good to see what happens behind the scenes, as well.
I'd do it again.
And if we can find anything else in school we can sell,
we would do it again.
Well, how about that?
Two pioneers for the price of one - Herschel, the celebrated astronomer,
photographed by Julia Margaret Cameron,
a devoted and dedicated pioneer to the art of photography.
So, it just goes to show,
always make sure you have a good look at your old photographs
you've got knocking around.
Well, that's it for today's show. I hope you enjoyed it.
So, go out there, buy some antiques, have some fun
and put some of this knowledge to good use.
And see you next time for more Trade Secrets.
The Flog It! team discuss innovators in the world of antiques and collectables, offering tips and advice. Claire Rawle explores the life and legacy of visionary 19th century designer Christopher Dresser and Anita Manning explains her love of the work of a pioneering Scottish artist.