Eastern Flog It: Trade Secrets


Eastern

Antiques series. The team looks at antiques and collectables from the Middle East, China and Japan. Michael Baggott is wowed by a collection of Japanese antiques in Durham.


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Transcript


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It's been well over ten years now since "Flog It!" first set up shop.

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During that time, you've come to trust us to value and sell

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your unwanted antiques and collectables.

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£1,100. Put it there.

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Thank you. Thank you.

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Absolutely wonderful.

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During that time, the variety of things you've brought in to show us has been absolutely astonishing.

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It's not easy to put a price on them all.

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But some things WE know are guaranteed to sell

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and this is where YOU can find out more.

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Welcome to Trade Secrets.

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Europe has always been fascinated by the East.

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We've been trading with North Africa, Turkey

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and the Middle East for centuries,

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but the furthest reaches of the Orient have been closed

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to all but a few intrepid travellers until relatively recently.

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But items from those lands regularly turn up at our valuation days.

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So, today, we're exploring all things Eastern.

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Coming up, we explore the wonders of the Orient,

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taking in the Middle East...

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India...

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Japan...

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and China.

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Thomas and I are bowled over by the finest Indian craftsmanship.

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The work in this is amazing.

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One of the best items I've seen on "Flog It!" for many, many years.

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We try to solve an Eastern mystery...

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Would it surprise you to know that this is not a Welsh item?

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-No. No, not really.

-Where on earth did you get it from?

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..and we reveal the secrets of the Asian markets.

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At 3,600.

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Yes!

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Well done.

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-Well done, you.

-Fantastic.

-Gosh.

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As an imperial power, Britain once ruled the waves with military might.

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But it was trade that was the driving force behind our expansion

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and import and export were the mainstays of our economy

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and many of the items that turn up

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at our valuation days are part of that legacy.

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We see a huge amount of Oriental items in Great Britain.

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Probably much more than Middle Eastern items,

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but that's quite simply because China was a huge place

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and made a huge variety of items.

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The market for Chinese porcelain works of art is

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booming at the moment

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and every time any auctioneer conducts a sale of Oriental objects,

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there are all sorts of shocks and surprises.

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There's a perception at the moment that everything's Chinese, Chinese,

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Chinese, Chinese and certainly the Chinese market

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is really, really strong.

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But you know, the Islamic world equally, in my view,

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they're desperate to acquire goods as well.

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The Middle East, the Persians specifically,

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there's less knowledge around it,

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so with a little bit of dedicated research,

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you can really get one step ahead of the market.

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The Middle East has its own appeal and collectability

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and definitely shouldn't be overlooked.

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We don't see many items from these parts at our valuation days,

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but when we do, they are intriguing and unique,

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as James Lewis discovered.

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Tell me the history. Where did you find it?

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-In a junk shop in Chingford.

-Did you really?

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I bought this 60-odd years ago when I was a schoolboy.

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Well, this is Arabic,

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known as a janbiya,

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which, basically, is Arabic for a knife.

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This is from Yemen and the janbiya

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was used as a fighting knife.

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But today, they are used more ceremonially.

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This is a hardwood handle

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and then we have overlay in silver.

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And the silver overlays the hardwood handle

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and also this leather scabbard.

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It's 19th century.

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It's covered in silver.

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It's ceremonial.

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But it's still something that has quite a good second-hand value.

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The value of them depends really on their hilt.

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They can be made from lapis lazuli, they can be made from wood,

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they can be set with precious or semiprecious stones

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and the case can be covered in gold filigree wire rather than silver.

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So, the variety of coverings and styles and qualities is endless.

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I think in auction an estimate of £100-£150

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and I think it'll do jolly well.

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And it was Flog It's own Will Axon who took to the rostrum

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to sell this traditional piece of Middle Eastern culture.

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There we are. Where do you start me on that?

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Again, interest in this. I've got to start here. Where?

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-At 80. 90. 100.

-Wow.

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'There's a big market for Arab items'

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and most Arab clients and buyers have got fairly deep pockets.

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160. 180 I'm bid. And 200 I have with me.

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-At £200.

-That was a quick jump, wasn't it, to £200?

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At £200 now. Shakes the head at £200. On commission, then. At £200.

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All done, then. All the bidding's here with me. All done at £200.

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Hammer's up and selling at 200.

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Well done. That was good.

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That great result proves there's a big market for Arabic artefacts.

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But what other objects are worth looking out for?

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A good way to get into Middle Eastern antiques would be,

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I would suggest, eastern metalwares.

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Copper, brass, that sort of thing.

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There are vases, ewers, plates, chargers,

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some of the more elaborate with silver inlay, gold inlay.

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They're produced in huge numbers

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and I think as an entry-level, that's a fairly good pointer

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and work your way up from there, really.

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But you have to understand what you're buying.

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There are so many fakes out there, so many modern tourist things.

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Just be careful.

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But Nick Hall threw caution to the wind and went ahead with a valuation

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of these rarely-seen shields from Persia, modern-day Iran.

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How on earth did these come to be in your possession?

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-They were left to me by a neighbour back in 1980.

-Right.

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Was she a collector of sorts or a traveller?

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No, her husband was a merchant.

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-He was in the Merchant Navy.

-Right.

-He used to travel a lot

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-and brought things back.

-That explains it.

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They've come a long way, all the way from what used to be called Persia.

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'At the time of the valuation day,'

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we didn't see a lot of Persian items.

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We're starting to see a little bit more now

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with the growth of the Asian market as a whole.

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But Persian items,

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a little bit scarce and rarer,

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so it was a great pleasure to see those walk in. Wonderful things.

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Date-wise, these are probably late 19th century.

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Nice decoration on them as well. They're not a pair.

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-They're very similar.

-Right.

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Same region, same date, same type of decoration.

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This chasing on the metalwork we can see here,

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these little bits of enamelling on the top there,

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some wonderful designs. Almost too nice to be hacked to bits

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with a big sword. Lovely things and quite rare to see.

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We don't see a lot of Middle Eastern artefacts.

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'It's always difficult to value things that you don't'

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see that often. You've got to have a bit of market knowledge, of course.

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You've got to constantly read up on the subject, study the subject,

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you've got to go through trade journals

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and follow other international sales,

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so that you are ready and prepared that when you do see them,

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you've got all that knowledge ready.

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Not easy. It's hard work and dedication,

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but worth it when something like that walks in.

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So, we need to put a sensible price on them.

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I think each shield is worth in the region of

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-150-250, there or thereabouts...

-OK. That's good.

-..per shield.

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As they weren't a matching pair,

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-Nick decided they should be sold separately.

-Come on.

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100 then to start. 100 I'm bid. Got you. 100.

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110. 120. 130. 140.

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-150. 160.

-This is good.

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170. 180. 180 on my right.

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Selling at 180. Are we all done at 180?

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Got you at £180 now. Selling at 180.

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Hammer's going down.

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Let's see if we can get 180 for the next one.

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120. 130. 140.

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150. 160. 170.

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180. 180 on my right.

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Selling at 180.

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-Not bad at all.

-Very pleased with that.

-Not bad at all.

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-Very pleased.

-That's a result, isn't it?

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They would have sold better if they'd been a true pair,

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rather than two very similar objects.

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Pairs always make more. Not just twice the price of a single one,

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but often three or four times.

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So, yes, if they'd been a true pair,

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they would have made considerably more.

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I suspect there would have been even more collectors on them

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because you just don't see them.

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What you are more likely to see in Britain are these - rugs.

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The Persian tradition of carpet-making

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goes back thousands of years.

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Britain began importing them in the 1880s

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and some experts say today there are possibly more of them

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in Europe than there are in Iran itself.

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If you want to collect them, here are a few tips.

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I think the best thing to look for in Persian rugs are old rugs

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and it's quite easy, luckily, to distinguish

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an old rug from a new rug based on the fact that

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most old rugs are dyed using natural dyes

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which fade over time.

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So when you see variations in colour in a rug,

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you know that it's old.

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The first rug is a rug probably made for the European market.

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The flowers are very European.

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Look at the variations in the reds, for example.

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That's the indication of a natural dye. The rug is not very fine.

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It's more exuberant than it is a fine work of art,

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so it's not going to be of great value.

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The second rug, the design is much finer

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and there's a lot of attention to the colour

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and all the little details.

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But with fine rugs,

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you tend to cut the pile, which is the furry bit, closer

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so that you can see the design better

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and as a result, they tend to survive less well over time.

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I think it's better to spend one's money on a rug in good condition

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than a beautiful fine rug

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which was much nicer 100 years ago than it is today.

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You can buy a good-quality antique rug for around £150,

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but the record for a Persian one at auction is for over £20 million.

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Carpets not your thing?

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Well, then Persian miniatures are also highly collectable

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and once again there's a lot to learn.

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This is a Persian one

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and if you look at the faces, they're usually not in profile.

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They're more rounded faces with more Asian eyes.

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And this one, there's a little Persian inscription on the side.

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It says "Khosrow and Shirin". They're two lovers.

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They're kind of the Persian version of Romeo and Juliet.

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But with values ranging from tens of pounds to millions,

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you need to be careful not to get caught out.

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This is a Mogul miniature from India and these are more common.

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The Mogul faces which are almost always in profile

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and usually the background is quite plain

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and the whole emphasis is on the figure that you're depicting.

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It's easy to confuse Persian with Indian

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as the Persian influence was strong in India 300 years ago.

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It's quite easy to tell if something's a fake

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if there's a lot of writing in the miniature.

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One of the most common things with miniatures that you buy today

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is that they're actually an old piece of paper with a new painting.

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What they do is they get some old notebook

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and just paint an elaborate scene in the centre of the page.

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Those are the things to watch out for.

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Also, these are very delicate objects

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and they will show some signs of wear if they're original.

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Bear that in mind.

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The next country on our eastern voyage is India -

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jewel in the crown of the British Empire for over 300 years...

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Wow.

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..and a country that adopted some of our most treasured traditions.

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-Sophia, what a wonderful tea set.

-Thank you.

-Where did you find this?

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-Well, my grandfather has given it to my mother..

-Yes?

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-..as a wedding gift.

-As a wedding gift?

-Yes.

-When was that?

-1956.

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-Right.

-Handed down from family.

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-I was going to say, this is not 1950s.

-No.

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-Do you know how old it is?

-I think it's '20s or '30s.

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Very much. We've got pure Art Deco lines.

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-The Indians were very influenced by the Art Deco period.

-Right. OK.

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'A huge amount of very, very poor'

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quality items have come out of India,

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as indeed the Far East. So, if you're thinking

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of starting, go for quality.

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There are two things, really, that set it aside

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and make it absolutely obvious

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-that it's not an English tea set.

-Right.

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One is this very intricate Indian chase decoration in the panels

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and also this extraordinary, very Indian-looking spout.

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You just wouldn't have a spout like that finishing off

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-an English teapot.

-Oh, I see.

-Of course, if it had a hallmark,

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we would be able to tell you exactly where it was made

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and we would be able to tell you the date and who made it.

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None of that information is available here.

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Other than, of course, the bottom where it says "made in Kashmir".

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-It is a Kashmiri design.

-It is a Kashmiri design, is it?

-Yes.

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The hallmark tells us a great deal about a piece,

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but a lot of Indian silver isn't hallmarked

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making it difficult to know exactly what you've got,

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but there are a few exceptions to the rule.

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A lot of really good English silversmiths went to India

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and a nice piece of Indian silver made by an English silversmith,

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you will find marks on it that would enable you to date it.

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Now, I suppose of all the pieces of silver that are least saleable

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-it's tea services, simply because people don't use them any more.

-Yes.

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So, you're really looking at a value of...

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-a few hundred pounds, £200 or £300.

-OK.

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Charlie's valuation of the Indian tea set was on the cautious side

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and reflected its scrap value.

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All hallmarked silver in the UK has a minimum 92.5% silver content.

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But without a hallmark to prove its purity,

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this tea set may contain a lot less.

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You just can't tell without having it tested.

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It's worth probably £500 in weight of silver

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-if it was English sterling silver.

-Yes.

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You've cottoned onto this, haven't you? You rang James up.

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I had a quick chat with the auctioneer

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just before the sale started. Sophia has now upped the valuation.

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We've got a fixed reserve of £450.

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So, it just... It just might struggle, but you don't know

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-because you can't tell the quality, can you, of Indian silver?

-No.

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You don't know if it's equal amount or slightly less.

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But in the end, it's all down to the bidders.

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I have two commissions on the book and I start the bidding

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with me at £450.

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Yes! Worry over.

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460. 470.

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480. 490.

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500. 520. 540.

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-What do I know?

-560. 580.

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600. At £600.

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With me on the book at £600.

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Are you all done?

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The hammer's gone down. £600.

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-Well done.

-Thank you. Thank you. I'm really pleased.

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The tea set's fine quality and exquisite Kashmir design

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definitely set it apart in the saleroom.

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But my advice is unless you've absolutely fallen in love

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with a piece of silver, be cautious.

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If you're unsure of the silver content

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don't pay more than you have to.

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If it's not by a particularly well-known maker, yes,

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it comes down to the scrap value

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and you can follow the scrap value very, very easily online

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and it goes up and down like a yo-yo.

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As I sit here, it is at £11 an ounce.

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A few weeks ago, it was £16 an ounce.

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Two, three years ago, it was £4 an ounce.

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Quite extraordinary fluctuations.

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When Indian craftsmen are working at their best,

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the quality and the use of materials are beyond compare.

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One example is among the finest things

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I've ever seen on "Flog It!" -

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Thomas was impressed too.

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This piece of Anglo-Indian art

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would be the kind of thing you would find in a house like behind me.

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-Wonderful.

-It's that sort of quality.

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-Do you like it?

-Fantastic. I do, yes. I do.

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'The Anglo-Indian chessboard and chess pieces'

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I called Anglo-Indian because of the work and the style of the piece.

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Anglo-Indian furniture or colonial furniture

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has its influence in us Britons going to India

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and asking craftsmen to create pieces of furniture,

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decorative items, in our taste.

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Where did it come from?

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It came from my late husband's family

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and he inherited it from his grandparents.

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It's got the use here of bone, ivory and tortoiseshell.

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The ivory in this was used and this was made well before 1947.

0:17:490:17:55

Anything later than 1947, we cannot sell, we cannot touch,

0:17:550:18:00

it's illegal to handle.

0:18:000:18:01

But ivory made pre-then is OK.

0:18:010:18:05

To top it all off, not only have you got the chessboard,

0:18:050:18:09

you've got the pieces as well. White and red stained.

0:18:090:18:13

Again, these are ivory. It's amazing that it's all complete.

0:18:130:18:16

There's one or two nicks out of the rooks.

0:18:160:18:19

We've got a bit of fret missing.

0:18:190:18:21

Yes, this work needs to be restored and they can be restored.

0:18:210:18:24

But it's not the end of the world.

0:18:240:18:25

'When looking at antiques,'

0:18:250:18:28

I have a sort of thing in my head,

0:18:280:18:31

"Keep on going. Don't compromise on quality.

0:18:310:18:34

"Don't compromise on quality."

0:18:340:18:35

And when you see something of quality, you're thinking,

0:18:350:18:39

"Is this really good? Is this something I've not seen before?

0:18:390:18:42

"Should I compromise on it? Do I pick holes in it?"

0:18:430:18:46

-The work in this is amazing, isn't it?

-It is. It's beautiful.

0:18:460:18:50

You've got this tortoiseshell base

0:18:500:18:52

and then this beautiful fretwork

0:18:520:18:54

with this amazing engraved and painted design

0:18:540:18:59

around the octagonal

0:18:590:19:01

on this beautiful turned-horn stem

0:19:010:19:06

with ivory roundels

0:19:060:19:08

and again on a similar tortoiseshell

0:19:080:19:11

and fretwork carved base on these poor feet.

0:19:110:19:15

-These feet are bone.

-Are they bone, not ivory?

-They're not ivory.

0:19:150:19:19

-They're bone. Because you see little black flecks in there?

-Yes.

0:19:190:19:22

Those are little blood vessels.

0:19:220:19:23

'When looking at this Anglo-Indian chessboard,

0:19:230:19:26

'you can see the quality and the design. Also...'

0:19:260:19:30

it did have that naive charm of being Anglo-Indian.

0:19:300:19:34

But that gave it a certain je ne sais quoi

0:19:350:19:39

which was delightful.

0:19:390:19:41

You've got people who collect Anglo-Indian works of art

0:19:420:19:45

and you've got people who collect chess pieces.

0:19:450:19:48

But also you've got the emerging economies.

0:19:480:19:50

The emerging economy of India are collecting back

0:19:500:19:53

-some of the items.

-Really, are they?

-Of course.

0:19:530:19:56

Therefore, that will command a good valuation.

0:19:560:19:59

I think an estimate should be £500-£700.

0:19:590:20:03

-I think that's pretty good.

-Yes?

-Yes!

0:20:030:20:05

Personally, I thought the estimate was a bit conservative.

0:20:080:20:11

I'd like to thank you for bringing possibly one of the best items

0:20:110:20:14

I've seen on Flog It! for many, many years.

0:20:140:20:17

That little Anglo-Indian chess set,

0:20:170:20:19

which Thomas had the pleasure of valuing.

0:20:190:20:22

Lots of interest. It's quality - quality always tells.

0:20:220:20:26

The damage won't put anybody off.

0:20:260:20:28

This is going to be exciting

0:20:280:20:29

because it's going under the hammer right now.

0:20:290:20:32

Fingers crossed. Hope it flies, I really do.

0:20:320:20:34

Shall we say 450? 550?

0:20:360:20:40

650. 750.

0:20:400:20:44

850. 900 we're bid.

0:20:440:20:47

950 I'm bid for it.

0:20:470:20:50

1,000. I have 1,000. And 50.

0:20:500:20:52

1,100. I've got 1,100. Thank you.

0:20:520:20:55

At £1,100 then.

0:20:550:20:56

I sell for £1,100...

0:20:590:21:02

Thank you.

0:21:020:21:04

-That's good, isn't it?

-Very good.

-Very good.

0:21:040:21:07

That Anglo-Indian chessboard and chess pieces was complete.

0:21:070:21:12

I don't think you'd find another one complete.

0:21:140:21:17

That's the reason why it made £1,100.

0:21:170:21:20

Now, we don't get that many Indian pieces in our Flog It!

0:21:220:21:26

valuation days, but if Barbara's spectacular chess set

0:21:260:21:30

was anything to go by, they are definitely worth looking out for.

0:21:300:21:33

Fine quality in craftsmanship will always draw in the bidders.

0:21:330:21:37

So if you're interested in collecting such artefacts,

0:21:370:21:40

keep this check list in mind.

0:21:400:21:43

The Arabic market is growing. Don't overlook it.

0:21:430:21:46

Indian silver is unlikely to be hallmarked, so always be aware

0:21:470:21:51

that its silver content may be less than that of sterling silver.

0:21:510:21:56

If you can, get it tested and then you'll know its true scrap value.

0:21:560:22:00

But quality will always out,

0:22:020:22:04

be it beautifully decorated silver or the finest carved ivory.

0:22:040:22:08

Ivory was once widely used in European art works.

0:22:080:22:11

It's now illegal to buy or sell pieces created after 1947.

0:22:110:22:16

Older items tend to be more yellow, but seek advice,

0:22:160:22:20

and if in doubt, stay clear.

0:22:200:22:22

Still to come, our travels take us even further east,

0:22:270:22:29

into the heart of the Orient.

0:22:290:22:31

And Mark gets these sisters all aflutter in the saleroom.

0:22:310:22:35

-Isn't that good news?

-Yes, lovely.

-Big smiles all round.

-Absolutely.

0:22:350:22:39

-Wasn't that worth the wait?

-Yes, it was.

0:22:390:22:41

We find out how to avoid buying fake Chinese ceramics.

0:22:410:22:45

I have to be honest, I looked at it and I thought, "That's a fake."

0:22:450:22:48

All the scratches and all the marks are telltale signs of wear.

0:22:480:22:53

But it is a minefield.

0:22:530:22:55

And Michael explores the wonders of Japanese antiques.

0:22:550:22:58

It's a true passion project.

0:22:580:23:01

I love inros.

0:23:010:23:02

On Flog It! we're used to seeing Japanese ivory and ceramics, but you

0:23:100:23:14

may be surprised by this Japanese export of a very different kind.

0:23:140:23:19

It's Taiko drumming, which I tried my hand at in 2011.

0:23:190:23:24

The drums used for Taiko are traditional instruments

0:23:260:23:29

in Japan, and they've been heard for centuries.

0:23:290:23:32

It's believed they were first used by the military.

0:23:320:23:35

Modern Taiko drumming like this

0:23:380:23:40

was developed in the 1950s by Japanese musician Daihachi Oguchi.

0:23:400:23:45

Many of you may know that at one stage of my life

0:23:490:23:51

I was a professional drummer many moons ago,

0:23:510:23:54

so I'm absolutely delighted to come here today to the Barnfield Theatre

0:23:540:23:58

in Exeter, to pick up the sticks once again,

0:23:580:24:01

albeit with a difference.

0:24:010:24:04

I'm here to meet Jonathan Kirby,

0:24:050:24:06

one of the first people to bring Taiko drumming to the UK.

0:24:060:24:10

I know a little bit about drumming, but nothing about Taiko.

0:24:100:24:14

So explain a little bit further.

0:24:140:24:15

We talk about four principles when we play Taiko - attitude -

0:24:150:24:19

the way you approach it.

0:24:190:24:20

Your kata, which is a martial arts term.

0:24:200:24:23

That means your stance, the way you stand,

0:24:230:24:25

the way you project in performance art.

0:24:250:24:27

Technique - about doing simple things well.

0:24:270:24:30

And then we move on to ki, which is the energy.

0:24:300:24:33

That's what makes it so exciting. That's what you need to...

0:24:330:24:37

Get the breathing right, get focused.

0:24:370:24:39

So how do you go about converting a kit drummer?

0:24:390:24:42

Aha! We introduce you to one of our group members.

0:24:420:24:45

My son Oliver is a member of the main performing group.

0:24:450:24:48

Thanks for helping us out, Oliver. Where do we start?

0:24:480:24:51

We can show you the ropes, introduce you to some of our fundamentals.

0:24:510:24:55

-And have a little go.

-Come on, then.

0:24:550:24:57

I'm quite excited about this.

0:24:570:24:59

First of all, take your left leg and plant it behind the left

0:24:590:25:02

corner of the drum, the right leg going behind.

0:25:020:25:04

This is to get your body weight down.

0:25:040:25:06

Yes, and you've got a nice foundation to work off.

0:25:060:25:09

The arms go out in front.

0:25:090:25:10

-There's space under the armpits.

-And open your diaphragm.

0:25:100:25:13

-Open your body out.

-So you can breathe.

0:25:130:25:15

And even a group of people doing this is a performance in itself.

0:25:150:25:18

-It's quite ceremonial, isn't it?

-Absolutely.

0:25:180:25:21

It's a very powerful feeling just standing here

0:25:210:25:23

knowing that you're going to hit this in a moment.

0:25:230:25:26

-It's going to be really loud!

-Exactly.

0:25:260:25:28

And that feeling of tension goes to the audience as well.

0:25:280:25:32

OK, so the first beat we're going to play is called the dongo.

0:25:320:25:35

It's a swung-based rhythm and it sounds... Dong-dong-dong...

0:25:350:25:41

There you go! Exactly!

0:25:410:25:43

I wonder if you're up to the challenge of playing a little piece with me and Jonathan.

0:25:430:25:47

OK, get Dad on. Here he is.

0:25:470:25:49

-The master!

-JONATHAN LAUGHS

0:25:490:25:51

What are we doing?

0:25:520:25:53

-Is this a traditional song or one of your songs?

-It's one of mine.

0:25:530:25:57

We'll play a piece called Congruenza, an extract from it.

0:25:570:26:00

It'll feature Oliver playing a couple of melodies, as we call them,

0:26:000:26:03

on that side.

0:26:030:26:05

I'll play a couple this side and we'll have a little bit at the end

0:26:050:26:07

and you'll play the same as Oliver or me throughout.

0:26:070:26:10

OK. Here we go.

0:26:100:26:11

-Absolutely fabulous.

-HE LAUGHS

0:26:500:26:53

Japan came late to the worldwide antiques trade.

0:27:030:27:06

In fact, it wasn't until the mid-19th century that it

0:27:060:27:09

opened its ports to foreigners, and what treasures poured out!

0:27:090:27:13

You've brought in this really exquisite item. What a lovely find.

0:27:140:27:17

Karen, you've really made my day today,

0:27:170:27:21

bringing this little collection along.

0:27:210:27:23

Because of the interest in the Chinese market,

0:27:230:27:26

it's pulling the Japanese items up as well.

0:27:260:27:30

-Got to be happy with that.

-I'm very happy with that.

0:27:300:27:32

With the wealth that the Chinese are creating,

0:27:320:27:35

they are buying up Japanese works because they look so similar.

0:27:350:27:38

And a lot of

0:27:380:27:39

the symbolism you see in the Japanese

0:27:390:27:42

means something to the Chinese, anyway.

0:27:420:27:44

£1,100! Put it there!

0:27:440:27:47

There's a great dissemination between Japanese and Chinese taste.

0:27:470:27:51

The Japanese will copy the Chinese, the Chinese will copy the Japanese.

0:27:510:27:54

So you just have to look at the individual items

0:27:540:27:57

and sometimes get it right and sometimes get it wrong.

0:27:570:27:59

And getting it wrong could prove expensive.

0:27:590:28:03

Just take a close look at these two cheeky chaps.

0:28:030:28:06

Two sumo wrestlers in a mid-match clinch.

0:28:060:28:09

For many years these were used as a doorstop here at Burghley.

0:28:090:28:14

Now, considering these have been battered over the years,

0:28:140:28:18

the condition is remarkable.

0:28:180:28:21

I don't know how they survived, I really don't,

0:28:210:28:23

but thank goodness they have,

0:28:230:28:25

because they turned out to be

0:28:250:28:26

17th-century Arita Japanese porcelain worth a small fortune!

0:28:260:28:31

The lesson here is make sure you know what you've got.

0:28:330:28:36

Today there's a wealth of Japanese treasures to choose from,

0:28:420:28:45

like the one Mark discovered in Cardiff in 2012,

0:28:450:28:49

brought along by sisters Olwen and Lynne.

0:28:490:28:52

Where on earth did you get it?

0:28:530:28:55

Well, my husband inherited it in the year 2000.

0:28:550:28:59

And it was from an uncle of his, and his wife,

0:28:590:29:02

-when she was alive, was in the antique business.

-Was she?

-Yes.

0:29:020:29:08

This was made during the Meiji period, so between 1868 and 1912.

0:29:080:29:15

It was so humorous,

0:29:150:29:16

the little crushed figure underneath the barrel,

0:29:160:29:20

and these little Japanese characters.

0:29:200:29:22

It just screams the Meiji period in Japan. And beautiful quality.

0:29:220:29:27

To me, it looks like this tradesman is being attacked by these

0:29:270:29:31

-little gargoyles.

-Yes.

-I think he's throwing salt or something at them.

0:29:310:29:36

Down here, we've got somebody rubbing their eyes,

0:29:360:29:39

so maybe some salt has gone into their eyes.

0:29:390:29:41

-This one is protecting himself with a bowl of eels for something.

-Yes.

0:29:410:29:45

And they are all carved ivory.

0:29:470:29:48

Japanese carvers, of course, use many materials - wood,

0:29:480:29:51

bamboo, silver.

0:29:510:29:54

Ivory, I think, lent itself to carving these types of figures

0:29:540:29:58

because it was in plentiful supply, and they have that lovely

0:29:580:30:02

creamy, soapy feel that age has added to the ivory.

0:30:020:30:07

It's wonderful, isn't it? Where does that live at home?

0:30:070:30:10

-Have you had it on display?

-No, I haven't.

0:30:100:30:13

It's been wrapped in tissue paper

0:30:130:30:15

and then bubble-wrapped in a box in the bottom of the wardrobe.

0:30:150:30:18

-Well, that's not very nice, is it?

-No, it's not.

0:30:180:30:22

But I'm not fond of it at all, to be honest with you.

0:30:220:30:25

The thing with something like this, the auction house will love it

0:30:250:30:28

because it's fresh to the market, it's quality

0:30:280:30:31

and there's a big collector market for it, I'm sure.

0:30:310:30:35

So if we put it in 500 to 700 with a 500 fixed reserve, I think

0:30:350:30:40

they'll come out of the woodwork, if you excuse the pun.

0:30:400:30:43

If you're a collector or a dealer,

0:30:430:30:45

what you're looking for are pieces that haven't been seen for a while.

0:30:450:30:50

This has obviously been in private hands for many years,

0:30:500:30:53

so when it came to the market,

0:30:530:30:55

it really excited the collectors and the dealers.

0:30:550:30:58

Lot 608 is the Japanese carved ivory and hardwood figure group.

0:30:590:31:03

Lot 608.

0:31:030:31:05

500, I have, and 20. I'll take 500.

0:31:060:31:08

At 20. 550. 580. 600.

0:31:080:31:11

620, 650, 680, 700.

0:31:110:31:13

720, 750, 780, 800.

0:31:130:31:16

Great. Great.

0:31:160:31:19

-850, 900.

-He's very good, isn't he?

0:31:190:31:21

'It flew past the top estimate and just kept going.'

0:31:210:31:25

1,200. And 50.

0:31:250:31:26

1,300. And 50.

0:31:260:31:28

-1400.

-Is it exciting enough?

-It is!

0:31:280:31:30

Very much so.

0:31:300:31:32

With me at £1,500.

0:31:320:31:34

1,550 on the net.

0:31:340:31:36

Are we all out on the telephones and in the room?

0:31:360:31:39

At £1,550.

0:31:390:31:42

Thank you.

0:31:420:31:43

-Hammer's down.

-Wonderful.

-Isn't that good news? Big smiles all round.

0:31:430:31:47

There was a lot going on there.

0:31:470:31:48

You had... 3, 4, 5, 6 figures or so.

0:31:480:31:51

And the whole humorous nature of it.

0:31:510:31:54

And to collectors and dealers that just would've floated their boat.

0:31:540:31:58

In fact, it did float their boat.

0:31:580:32:00

There is a huge collector market for Japanese items.

0:32:000:32:04

But you do have to go for quality.

0:32:040:32:08

190, 200.

0:32:080:32:09

So, how do you spot a quality piece of Japanese carving?

0:32:090:32:12

Well, I know just the man to ask.

0:32:120:32:14

Auctioneer Nick Hall is a regular on Flog It! and his auction room

0:32:140:32:18

has been the scene of some high drama over the years.

0:32:180:32:22

He's a man who knows quality when he sees it.

0:32:220:32:26

So who better to let you in on some trade secrets?

0:32:260:32:29

One of the questions I'm asked an awful lot

0:32:290:32:32

is what makes an object valuable?

0:32:320:32:34

Is it the rarity, the material it's made from, the quality,

0:32:340:32:37

or the author of the object?

0:32:370:32:39

Well, in this instance, and here we're talking about

0:32:390:32:43

Oriental works of art, it is the quality, the craftsmanship.

0:32:430:32:47

Now, on the face of it, they're very similar objects.

0:32:470:32:49

They are both Japanese, both date from the late Meiji period,

0:32:490:32:53

1900 to 1910.

0:32:530:32:55

They're both carved from ivory,

0:32:550:32:57

and they're both what we call okimono -

0:32:570:33:00

which are freestanding decorative ornaments that serve no purpose.

0:33:000:33:03

So, on the face of it, they should have very similar values.

0:33:030:33:06

But you need to look closely.

0:33:060:33:09

Come in close and see what I mean.

0:33:090:33:10

If you take this little group at the front here,

0:33:100:33:13

you've got this nice little seated group of fishermen.

0:33:130:33:16

A nice little tableau group.

0:33:160:33:18

Behind it you've got a single figure of a fruit picker.

0:33:180:33:20

But look at the detail.

0:33:200:33:23

The little group of fishermen at the front,

0:33:230:33:25

when you get very close, the carving is actually quite bland.

0:33:250:33:29

If you look at the features on the hands and the face, the feet,

0:33:290:33:33

there's not a lot of detail there.

0:33:330:33:35

But you get closer, closer still,

0:33:370:33:39

and you look at the fruit picker behind

0:33:390:33:41

you can see the veins in the leaf hanging at the front here.

0:33:410:33:45

You can even see the feathers on the quail,

0:33:450:33:48

perched on the top there.

0:33:480:33:50

And the features on the elderly chap's face -

0:33:500:33:53

the lines from all that toil and labour.

0:33:530:33:55

It's little touches and detail like that that

0:33:550:33:58

that collectors of Japanese carvings go wild for.

0:33:580:34:01

And that's what pushes the price up.

0:34:010:34:03

So, what are they worth?

0:34:030:34:05

Nice little group at the front, 100 years old, plainly carved -

0:34:050:34:09

you could buy that for probably £100.

0:34:090:34:11

Whereas the fruit picker with all that fine quality detailing,

0:34:110:34:15

that is going to be nearer £1,000.

0:34:150:34:18

So look closely and then you will know exactly

0:34:180:34:21

the value of the object you are dealing with.

0:34:210:34:24

Worth remembering.

0:34:240:34:27

The Japanese are world renowned for their superior carving.

0:34:270:34:30

Another area in which they excel is lacquer work -

0:34:300:34:33

an intricate and elaborate technique.

0:34:330:34:37

Claire Rawle found a typical example in Hertfordshire.

0:34:370:34:40

You've brought such a pretty item.

0:34:400:34:42

Japanese lacquer. But tell me a bit about it. How did you come by it?

0:34:420:34:46

It was tucked away in one of the boxes at home.

0:34:460:34:49

We got a whole collection of items from my dad

0:34:490:34:53

who was an avid collector of antiques, Japanese items, especially.

0:34:530:34:58

So we've got, in essence, a lacquered box.

0:34:580:35:02

In actual fact, it's a card case, isn't it?

0:35:020:35:04

To put visiting cards in.

0:35:040:35:06

And it was made in the latter part of 19th century for export,

0:35:060:35:10

to be sold in this country,

0:35:100:35:12

to be used as a European item.

0:35:120:35:14

-Very interesting.

-They made the most beautiful lacquer work.

0:35:140:35:17

'It's a varnish.'

0:35:170:35:18

The Chinese discovered it and used it to protect items, initially.

0:35:180:35:24

So it's a varnish built up in layers

0:35:240:35:26

and then they're very often carved back through the layers

0:35:260:35:29

to decorate it.

0:35:290:35:30

Or just build up the decoration and then guild it finely.

0:35:300:35:33

It's very intricate art.

0:35:330:35:34

And you've got this wonderful eagle.

0:35:340:35:36

A very typical Japanese emblem.

0:35:360:35:38

Then, on the back, we have -

0:35:380:35:40

which is always a giveaway if it's Japanese - Mount Fuji!

0:35:400:35:44

The most traditional emblem you'll see on Japanese works of art

0:35:440:35:48

is Mount Fuji.

0:35:480:35:50

The summit was always believed to be - and still is - sacred.

0:35:500:35:53

And, in fact, ladies were not allowed up on the summit

0:35:530:35:56

until the Meiji period, which is the late 19th century.

0:35:560:35:59

And then again, pagodas - very, very typical.

0:35:590:36:02

It's lovely. You've got a bit of general wear, which you'd expect.

0:36:020:36:06

The eagle's a bit rubbed.

0:36:060:36:07

It's been used, you hold it in your hand, that's fine.

0:36:070:36:10

It's actually in very nice condition.

0:36:100:36:12

There are some items that you will accept damage on.

0:36:120:36:14

The trouble sometimes with a lacquered items, for instance,

0:36:140:36:18

it's very difficult to repair because it's difficult to restore it

0:36:180:36:21

without making it look brand-new again.

0:36:210:36:24

-I think an estimate of 150 to 200.

-Oh, lovely.

-It's such a pretty item

0:36:240:36:30

that somebody out there is going to love it.

0:36:300:36:32

What about that Meiji period box?

0:36:330:36:36

There it is.

0:36:360:36:37

With the gold decoration.

0:36:370:36:39

£150 for a fine little box. Yes or no? 80, OK. Are you 90 for the box?

0:36:390:36:45

100 for the box?

0:36:450:36:46

Oh, come on, a bit more.

0:36:460:36:48

120 and 30 and 40 and 50.

0:36:480:36:50

-He wants it.

-£150 for the box, then.

0:36:500:36:53

150 I have it.

0:36:530:36:54

At £150 I'm going to sell. Thank you.

0:36:540:36:58

Great result.

0:36:580:37:00

It wasn't a bad price for what it was.

0:37:000:37:02

But I think maybe if it had been Chinese,

0:37:020:37:04

it would have been quite a different price, yeah.

0:37:040:37:07

Michael Baggott has a particular passion for

0:37:110:37:14

precious metals and gems.

0:37:140:37:15

And you can quite often see him at our valuation days with a loop,

0:37:150:37:19

a small magnifying glass to his eye.

0:37:190:37:21

He's also fascinated by the Orient

0:37:220:37:24

and everything from the Far East, so when he was invited to view

0:37:240:37:28

a new collection of Japanese antiques he jumped at the chance.

0:37:280:37:31

When I left Birmingham to go to college and study antiques,

0:37:390:37:43

I suddenly found a love or an excitement of all things Chinese

0:37:430:37:48

and Japanese, and from that point on I've been hooked.

0:37:480:37:51

Out of the whole scope of Japanese art and design, the ceramics,

0:37:510:37:55

the prints, I think my favourite has to be the little inro

0:37:550:37:59

which is so collectable in so many different designs.

0:37:590:38:02

And hopefully here at the Oriental Museum in Durham we can see some.

0:38:020:38:06

So, Rachel, thank you for liberating these from the cases momentarily.

0:38:100:38:15

It's a wonderful display.

0:38:150:38:17

Obviously, you're very familiar with Chinese and Japanese art

0:38:170:38:20

and the fact that they share quite a lot of techniques and iconography.

0:38:200:38:25

What hints have you got for telling the difference between Chinese

0:38:250:38:29

and Japanese objects?

0:38:290:38:31

-That's the million dollar question.

-It is.

-It's not easy.

0:38:310:38:34

Really what it comes down to is just looking at as many things

0:38:340:38:38

as you possibly can.

0:38:380:38:40

Japan has always been heavily influenced by China

0:38:400:38:43

and by Chinese art, so a lot of Japanese art looks very similar,

0:38:430:38:47

uses the same motifs, the same colours.

0:38:470:38:49

But we've got a selection of ceramics here

0:38:490:38:51

that are more uniquely Japanese in design.

0:38:510:38:54

Can you tell us about them?

0:38:540:38:55

This one in the front is the kind of piece that people

0:38:550:38:58

most readily think of as being very Japanese.

0:38:580:39:00

This lovely porcelain with these beautiful bright colours on it

0:39:000:39:03

is the kind of thing that was made specifically in Japan

0:39:030:39:06

for export to Europe,

0:39:060:39:08

so it's the kind of thing collectors are most likely to see here.

0:39:080:39:11

This piece here dates to the 18th century.

0:39:110:39:14

And by great contrast, some people might have a five-year-old

0:39:140:39:18

that's come back with something very similar to this,

0:39:180:39:20

but this is not the case. Tells us about his bowl.

0:39:200:39:24

This is an example of perhaps the most typically Japanese of wares.

0:39:240:39:29

This tea bowl dates to about 1,600.

0:39:290:39:32

And it's in a style that's specifically designed to look simple

0:39:320:39:37

and rustic and very rough.

0:39:370:39:40

But actually has taken a huge amount of skill,

0:39:400:39:43

a huge amount of thought has gone into it.

0:39:430:39:45

This is really if we've got a chance of finding something out there

0:39:450:39:49

that's undervalued, it's going to be this class of Japanese tea wares.

0:39:490:39:53

-Yes.

-And this is a stark contrast to what we have in the West.

0:39:530:39:58

We're buying the brightly coloured, fancy wares.

0:39:580:40:03

But moving on from that,

0:40:030:40:04

they were also masters of metalwork as well, weren't they?

0:40:040:40:07

-Yes, they were.

-Those aren't real, are they?

0:40:070:40:10

They are wonderful fun.

0:40:100:40:12

These kind of pieces were made by Japanese swordsmiths and armouries.

0:40:130:40:18

During the Edo period, so from 1615 onwards,

0:40:190:40:22

when you've got peace in Japan,

0:40:220:40:24

swordsmiths and armouries are not so much in demand.

0:40:240:40:27

So they are making these kind of pieces to show

0:40:270:40:30

the quality of their workmanship, so these are fully articulated,

0:40:300:40:34

the snake moves, the legs on the crab all move.

0:40:340:40:37

-It's an immediate effect, isn't it?

-Yes.

0:40:370:40:40

When they're not doing that, they are making swords

0:40:400:40:42

and they're make sword fittings.

0:40:420:40:44

They are. We've got a collection of them here. These are tsuba.

0:40:440:40:47

This is the piece that fits at the base of your sword blade

0:40:470:40:51

and protects your hand when you're holding the hilt.

0:40:510:40:54

The more solid ones are the sort of thing you think of

0:40:540:40:56

as earlier, more practical pieces.

0:40:560:40:58

During the Edo period, your sword can become much more decorative,

0:40:580:41:01

it's much more about showing off your status.

0:41:010:41:04

And these sword fittings again become more decorative.

0:41:040:41:07

And obviously when Japan opens up to the West,

0:41:070:41:10

people were bringing back swords, but swords are rather bulky to carry,

0:41:100:41:13

so something like a tsuba makes an ideal souvenir,

0:41:130:41:17

and so these things came back to the West in large numbers.

0:41:170:41:21

Now, we move on from those to my favourites...cos I love inros,

0:41:210:41:27

and you've picked out four super ones.

0:41:270:41:29

I have. The inro is the compartment.

0:41:290:41:32

These were created first of all to carry medicines, herbs and seals

0:41:320:41:37

and they hung from your belt of your kimono

0:41:370:41:40

and the netsuke is the toggle that secures it in place

0:41:400:41:43

and makes sure that you don't lose all your precious things

0:41:430:41:46

hanging from your belt.

0:41:460:41:47

And I've tried to get a range of materials.

0:41:470:41:49

People tend to think of the lacquer ones,

0:41:490:41:51

Japanese lacquer is, of course, wonderful,

0:41:510:41:53

but I also wanted to get a couple of different ones out.

0:41:530:41:56

So, I got this lovely wooden one with these very playful monkeys.

0:41:560:41:59

So, really, in terms of what's attainable in collectables today,

0:41:590:42:04

I think, certainly, if you look at the tsuba,

0:42:040:42:06

they're easily accessible at the very bottom level.

0:42:060:42:09

You can buy a really simple example for what?

0:42:090:42:12

£50, £100, going up to, for the decorated ones, two, three,

0:42:120:42:17

maybe even £10,000 for the very best examples.

0:42:170:42:20

I mean, my love of the inros,

0:42:200:42:22

you can buy a very nice inro for £300 or £400.

0:42:220:42:25

When you get into the very better ones,

0:42:250:42:28

you're talking multiples of 10,000.

0:42:280:42:30

But it just shows you that if you want to collect Japanese art,

0:42:300:42:34

it's accessible at every level, isn't it?

0:42:340:42:37

I've had a wonderful day at the Oriental Museum.

0:42:410:42:44

I've seen lots of wonderful objects beautifully made.

0:42:440:42:47

I think if this has inspired you to collect Japanese art,

0:42:470:42:52

just beware of the huge diversity of objects you can find

0:42:520:42:55

but if you're on a budget, don't go for the obvious.

0:42:550:42:58

Maybe go and choose an obscure area of ceramics to collect.

0:42:580:43:02

That would be my advice.

0:43:020:43:04

I mean, after seeing that wonderful tea ceremony bowl,

0:43:040:43:07

I'm going to go off now and look for some wonky pots. Who knows?

0:43:070:43:11

One of them might be by a 16th-century master.

0:43:110:43:13

And now for the last port of call on our eastern travels.

0:43:220:43:26

When it comes to the oriental antiques and collectables,

0:43:260:43:28

China is the emperor.

0:43:280:43:30

20 years ago, Japanese pieces were far more valuable,

0:43:310:43:36

far more saleable than Chinese.

0:43:360:43:38

Today, it has reversed so much.

0:43:380:43:41

-Brilliant.

-Very happy.

-That is a good result, isn't it?

0:43:420:43:46

I think mainly because the Chinese themselves are buying them back.

0:43:460:43:49

There's great wealth out there and for a long time,

0:43:490:43:51

they were denied their culture,

0:43:510:43:53

they were denied owning items that showed history.

0:43:530:43:57

-Sold.

-£980.

-That is wonderful.

0:43:570:44:00

What a lovely surprise. I'm tingling.

0:44:000:44:03

Chairman Mao put forward a law to say that

0:44:030:44:05

if you were caught with items from the Imperial past,

0:44:050:44:08

you were seen as being disloyal to the communist doctrine

0:44:080:44:12

so people buried things in their back garden,

0:44:120:44:14

they destroyed them, they were burnt, they were smashed

0:44:140:44:17

and now, of course, China is the economic superpower.

0:44:170:44:21

Hammer's up, we're selling at £3,300.

0:44:210:44:24

-£3,300.

-Absolutely fantastic.

0:44:240:44:29

Much of China's surviving artistic heritage is here in Europe

0:44:330:44:37

but it isn't all fine antiques.

0:44:370:44:40

There are items that reflect the country's social history too.

0:44:400:44:44

Angela, I have never, ever seen shoes like this before

0:44:440:44:49

and I think they are absolutely incredible.

0:44:490:44:52

These are Chinese women's shoes.

0:44:520:44:58

-Not doll's shoes, women's shoes.

-Yes.

0:44:580:45:01

I must admit I don't think I've ever seen Chinese shoes before,

0:45:010:45:06

coming into a "Flog It!" valuation day.

0:45:060:45:08

They are a bit unusual,

0:45:080:45:10

a bit of a curio,

0:45:100:45:11

and something that I don't know if I'd like to handle again.

0:45:110:45:15

Young girls when they were about four years of age,

0:45:150:45:18

their mothers, they used to bind back their toes with cotton

0:45:180:45:23

so that they had small feet because they were considered to be pretty.

0:45:230:45:27

And those are minute.

0:45:270:45:29

The standard size of foot was considered to be three inches.

0:45:290:45:33

Where on earth did you get these from?

0:45:330:45:35

Well, my in-laws had lived out east from the mid-'30s.

0:45:350:45:40

They certainly date from the 20th century.

0:45:400:45:43

I mean this idea of binding feet, binding children's feet,

0:45:430:45:47

was actually outlawed in 1911 but it still went on a lot longer

0:45:470:45:51

-than that.

-Yeah.

0:45:510:45:52

I think something like that, something like these shoes,

0:45:520:45:55

are a bit of a curio

0:45:550:45:57

and it's something that you either like or you don't like.

0:45:570:46:00

These as objects, aside from that, whether it's right or wrong,

0:46:000:46:04

these are absolutely beautiful.

0:46:040:46:07

I think they are silk with this wonderful embroidery.

0:46:070:46:12

It's really hard to value something that you've never seen before,

0:46:120:46:16

something that you've never had any experience with.

0:46:160:46:20

A lot of it comes down to whether we've seen similar items

0:46:200:46:24

like that sell at auction, how much they have gone for before.

0:46:240:46:28

I would suggest probably putting a reserve on of £50 cos

0:46:280:46:31

I certainly don't think they should go for anything less than that.

0:46:310:46:34

And probably an estimate on for about £80-£120.

0:46:340:46:39

When you don't quite know whether it's going to make it into the

0:46:390:46:42

100s or whether it's going to go for under £100 so you put £80-120 on it.

0:46:420:46:48

That's my secret.

0:46:480:46:49

A little tiny pair of shoes, something like I've never, ever

0:46:520:46:55

seen before and that's the beauty of doing "Flog It!", isn't it?

0:46:550:46:58

We come across all sorts of curios when we're out there on the road.

0:46:580:47:01

Right. Lot 386. Can I see £80? £50? £30, our bid.

0:47:010:47:06

At £30, I'll take five. 35. At 35, 40 now. At 35, 40? 40.

0:47:060:47:11

This is interesting.

0:47:110:47:13

50. At £50. At £50's on the phone.

0:47:130:47:16

I'll take five now. Are we all done?

0:47:160:47:19

£50.

0:47:190:47:20

Yes, they've gone, only just, though.

0:47:200:47:23

-It went right on the reserve.

-Yes.

0:47:230:47:25

-Happy?

-Yes.

-It's gone.

-I'm happy.

-OK.

0:47:250:47:28

It's one of those things that you either like or you don't like

0:47:280:47:31

so I just think the right people weren't there on the day.

0:47:310:47:34

But one area that's ever-popular and breaking all records is

0:47:380:47:42

something the Chinese have been producing for centuries

0:47:420:47:45

and the clue's in the name - China.

0:47:450:47:47

Annette and Caroline.

0:47:470:47:48

When I was a boy, I had all my goldfish in the pond.

0:47:480:47:52

Some people have them in little bowls.

0:47:520:47:54

But if you're in 18th-century China, this is what you would have used.

0:47:540:47:58

A fish bowl.

0:47:580:47:59

-It's a fish bowl?

-A fish bowl.

-I had no idea that's what it was.

-Really?

0:47:590:48:03

I thought it was a bidet.

0:48:030:48:05

THEY LAUGH

0:48:050:48:06

Well, you can wash your bottom in it

0:48:060:48:08

if you like but I really don't think the fish would approve.

0:48:080:48:12

I have to be honest, when I first saw this,

0:48:120:48:15

I looked at it and thought, "Don't want to look at that,

0:48:150:48:17

"that's a fake." And I dismissed it completely.

0:48:170:48:21

The more valuable a subject area becomes...

0:48:210:48:25

..the more attention is spent on trying to fake those items.

0:48:260:48:30

The world record for a piece of art other than a painting was

0:48:300:48:35

a Chinese porcelain vase selling for £53 million.

0:48:350:48:40

Sold.

0:48:410:48:42

So, when you get something making that,

0:48:420:48:45

imagine how many people there are trying to fake it and the

0:48:450:48:50

biggest difficulty we have today is telling whether it's right or wrong.

0:48:500:48:55

So, how could you tell that it was?

0:48:550:48:57

The first clue was when you said, "I've had it for 40 years."

0:48:570:49:03

I thought, "Hmmm.

0:49:030:49:04

"They've only been making these fakes in the last 20 or 30,"

0:49:040:49:06

so let's have another look.

0:49:060:49:08

And then there are signs when you start to look - the scratching

0:49:080:49:11

in the glaze, the chips around the edge here and I think it's right.

0:49:110:49:17

All the scratches and all the marks are telltale signs of wear but it is

0:49:170:49:22

a minefield and the fakers can make things we can only dream about.

0:49:220:49:28

They will take something and put keys in the bottom of the bowl

0:49:280:49:31

and put it on a thing that just shakes keys

0:49:310:49:34

so it makes little scratch marks.

0:49:340:49:36

They have these pushers and rubbers to actually wear the piece out.

0:49:360:49:40

It lived outside and I took a pottery class and they gave me some

0:49:400:49:44

pottery magazines to just inspire me and that's when I saw this bowl.

0:49:440:49:48

I went, "Well, Lord, it's got the same pattern around it."

0:49:480:49:51

-How extraordinary.

-That's when I brought it inside the house.

0:49:510:49:54

-So, pottery classes have saved it.

-It saved it, yes.

0:49:540:49:58

Estimate - let's put £800-£1,200.

0:49:580:50:02

Reserve - £800.

0:50:020:50:04

But you know, if it doesn't sell, you're not having it back.

0:50:040:50:07

HE CHUCKLES

0:50:070:50:08

But the biggest question was not whether it was a fake,

0:50:120:50:15

but what was it actually used for?

0:50:150:50:18

Vanessa and Caroline, good luck.

0:50:180:50:19

I know we're just about to go under the hammer

0:50:190:50:21

with that Chinese porcelain foot bowl -

0:50:210:50:23

-because it IS a foot bowl.

-I thought it might be a foot bowl...

-It is.

0:50:230:50:26

James has done a bit more research, but I had a chat to Will

0:50:260:50:29

earlier yesterday, as well, and he said it was definitely a foot bowl.

0:50:290:50:32

This I thought was a foot bath, because of the relatively low sides.

0:50:320:50:37

Fish bowls tend to be a lot higher, sort of bowl-shaped.

0:50:370:50:40

A lot of the time they were also decorated with fish,

0:50:400:50:42

either on the inside or the outside.

0:50:420:50:45

And also the telltale sign, in my view,

0:50:450:50:48

was the plug, the drainage hole in the bowl itself.

0:50:480:50:52

You know, not really wise to have a drainage hole in a fish tank,

0:50:520:50:55

because that could lead to a nasty accident.

0:50:550:50:58

Is it a foot bath? Is it a fish bowl? What is it?

0:50:580:51:01

I don't know, it could be a washing bowl!

0:51:010:51:03

It's one of those things

0:51:030:51:05

that because it's so foreign to our culture,

0:51:050:51:08

it's quite difficult to pin it down.

0:51:080:51:11

But whatever it was, it was in demand.

0:51:110:51:14

And I've got to start this at...

0:51:140:51:16

1,200, 1,400, 1,600, 1,800,

0:51:160:51:20

2,000, 2,200, 2,400, 2,600

0:51:200:51:22

2,800, 3,000, I'm bid on commission.

0:51:220:51:25

-At £3,000.

-What?!

-3,000.

0:51:250:51:27

At 3,200, at 3,200 in the room. All three bidders are out at 3,200 bid.

0:51:270:51:32

3,200.

0:51:320:51:34

At 3,200, I have you at 3,200.

0:51:340:51:36

Do carry on!

0:51:360:51:38

At 3,200, all done at 3,200...

0:51:380:51:42

3,400 on the telephone. At 3,400.

0:51:420:51:45

3,400. At 3,600.

0:51:450:51:48

At 3,600 here. 3,600 now bid.

0:51:480:51:52

At 3,600, the hammer's up.

0:51:520:51:54

At £3,600 now.

0:51:540:51:57

All done. You're out at the back?

0:51:570:51:59

At £3,600 - quick if you do.

0:51:590:52:01

£3,600.

0:52:010:52:04

At 3,600...

0:52:040:52:07

Yes! Well done.

0:52:070:52:09

-I'm happy!

-Well done, you!

0:52:090:52:11

-Fantastic!

-Gosh!

0:52:110:52:13

We always knew it was going to make above what James had suggested

0:52:130:52:17

as a printed estimate, but I think he probably had an inkling as well.

0:52:170:52:20

I just felt a bit of an idiot!

0:52:200:52:22

But that's nothing new! I know that feeling quite readily.

0:52:220:52:27

But to be fair to James, at the time of the sale,

0:52:270:52:29

it was a fast-moving market.

0:52:290:52:32

It was a time when...

0:52:320:52:33

..in January it would have made £1,000.

0:52:350:52:39

In June it would have made £3,000.

0:52:390:52:41

If we'd sold it six months later, it might have made £6,000.

0:52:410:52:44

You know, who knows?

0:52:440:52:46

The market has now stabilised.

0:52:460:52:48

I think if you're thinking of Japanese or Chinese,

0:52:480:52:52

it's quite a dangerous area.

0:52:520:52:54

We're all caught out all the time,

0:52:540:52:56

and I think if you're going to venture into that field,

0:52:560:52:58

unless you really know your stuff, take advice.

0:52:580:53:01

The low-end collectors in China are millionaires.

0:53:010:53:05

The top-end collectors are billionaires.

0:53:050:53:07

So within that, there's tremendous scope for all sorts of nonsense

0:53:070:53:11

and skulduggery to go on.

0:53:110:53:14

So, there we go!

0:53:140:53:15

It's a minefield,

0:53:150:53:17

but it's one that I would be very careful about entering.

0:53:170:53:21

One thing that I would not be collecting at the moment

0:53:210:53:23

is Chinese porcelain.

0:53:230:53:25

So, here are a few things to think about

0:53:260:53:28

if you're buying antiques from the Far East.

0:53:280:53:31

Japan is a safer bet than China right now, as prices are lower,

0:53:310:53:35

there are fewer fakes and the quality

0:53:350:53:37

and range of items is extraordinary.

0:53:370:53:39

Digress from the obvious and collect sword hilt guards - tsubas -

0:53:410:53:45

instead of the more popular netsukes.

0:53:450:53:48

But more than anything, watch out for fakes.

0:53:480:53:50

Provenance is everything - it provides proof of age and history.

0:53:500:53:54

If Chinese ceramics scare the life out of you,

0:53:570:54:00

honest curios like the shoes can be bought at a snip,

0:54:000:54:03

and are a great starting point for a budding collector.

0:54:030:54:06

At our valuation days, we see thousands of people,

0:54:150:54:17

many with fascinating stories to tell.

0:54:170:54:20

And we got to hear Sandra's

0:54:200:54:21

when she brought along some ivory pieces

0:54:210:54:24

she'd inherited from her father, who lived in Hong Kong.

0:54:240:54:27

-We have two ivory plaques...

-Yes.

-..and we have an ivory scent bottle.

0:54:270:54:33

And these were made around 1880 to 1900.

0:54:330:54:37

And what makes them unusual is the colouring.

0:54:370:54:40

My father was fascinated by what we called curios.

0:54:400:54:44

He would go down the little alleyways in Hong Kong,

0:54:440:54:48

and he loved finding bargains and buying exquisite craftsmanship.

0:54:480:54:53

But when, in 1941, during the Second World War,

0:54:560:55:00

Hong Kong was invaded by the Japanese,

0:55:000:55:02

Sandra's father was taken prisoner.

0:55:020:55:05

ARCHIVE NEWS: In this battle, 11,000 British soldiers are taken prisoner.

0:55:050:55:09

When Hong Kong fell,

0:55:130:55:16

my father was in a prisoner of war camp with the troops,

0:55:160:55:20

so my mother and father and my sister were separated.

0:55:200:55:24

After three years, the Americans liberated the POWs,

0:55:270:55:31

but in the ensuing chaos

0:55:310:55:32

it was another four months before the family was reunited.

0:55:320:55:37

Sandra's father's journey took him home via Canada.

0:55:370:55:41

And Sandra hoped selling the ivory pieces she inherited from him

0:55:410:55:45

would enable her to retrace his steps.

0:55:450:55:49

-400-600 for the pair here.

-Mm.

-The bottle - 1,000-1,500.

0:55:490:55:53

Gosh!

0:55:530:55:55

I think you've timed it to perfection,

0:55:550:55:58

and I think we're going to have a surprise amount.

0:55:580:56:01

It was a great impetus to do what I've always wanted to do,

0:56:010:56:05

which was part of the journey that my father did after his release,

0:56:050:56:09

and that was from Vancouver, through the Rockies.

0:56:090:56:14

Because he kept a diary, and he'd said when they travelled

0:56:140:56:19

through the Rockies, how beautiful the snow-capped mountains were.

0:56:190:56:23

The lovely autumn colours.

0:56:230:56:25

It always made me want to go and see it for myself, and that was it -

0:56:250:56:32

I could feel my father saying, "Yes, go," you know.

0:56:320:56:34

"Go for it, do it."

0:56:340:56:35

Carved and stained ivory plaques...

0:56:360:56:38

For the auction, Sandra was joined by her sister,

0:56:380:56:40

and first under the hammer were the ivory plaques.

0:56:400:56:43

We'll bypass the estimate and start these at 1,000.

0:56:430:56:47

-What?!

-1,200, 1,400, 1,600...

0:56:470:56:50

James had said that it might fly.

0:56:500:56:53

At 3,600 the bids here. And selling, then, at 3,600. ALl done?

0:56:530:56:58

And the hammer's going down. Wow!

0:56:580:57:00

I told you to come to "Flog It!"

0:57:000:57:01

And you've got the scent bottle, now.

0:57:010:57:03

1,200. 1,300, 1,400, 1,500,

0:57:030:57:05

1,600, 1,700.

0:57:050:57:07

I think it became rather unreal.

0:57:070:57:10

At 2,400, it's in the room, then, and selling.

0:57:100:57:12

I just remember my heart

0:57:120:57:14

going bang, bang, bang!

0:57:140:57:16

Have you just added that up in your head?

0:57:160:57:19

-No, I haven't.

-Well, I have.

0:57:190:57:20

And it is a whopping £6,000.

0:57:200:57:23

Wow!

0:57:230:57:25

The money was more than enough to enable Sandra

0:57:280:57:31

and her husband to make the journey to Canada.

0:57:310:57:34

We actually took a boat ride to Vancouver Island.

0:57:340:57:40

And it was when we were on the boat and actually in the harbour

0:57:400:57:43

I really felt, "Wow, this is similar to what my father would have felt

0:57:430:57:50

"coming in on a big liner."

0:57:500:57:52

So, that was very special,

0:57:520:57:54

to be able to go to where my father had been.

0:57:540:57:57

Well, I'm so glad the sale of those lovely things

0:58:020:58:04

meant that Sandra could retrace some of her father's footsteps.

0:58:040:58:08

Now, if you've got anything you want to sell,

0:58:080:58:10

bring it along to one of our valuation days.

0:58:100:58:13

Well, that's it for today. I hope you have enjoyed the show.

0:58:130:58:16

Join us again soon for more Trade Secrets.

0:58:160:58:19

Trade Secrets takes in antiques and collectables from the Middle East, China and Japan. Paul Martin explores the market for Persian collectables, while Michael Baggott is wowed by a collection of Japanese antiques in Durham. Plus Nick Hall explains how to recognise quality Oriental craftsmanship.


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