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.
Browse content similar to Eastern. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
It's been well over ten years now since "Flog It!" first set up shop.
During that time, you've come to trust us to value and sell
your unwanted antiques and collectables.
£1,100. Put it there.
Thank you. Thank you.
During that time, the variety of things you've brought in to show us has been absolutely astonishing.
It's not easy to put a price on them all.
But some things WE know are guaranteed to sell
and this is where YOU can find out more.
Welcome to Trade Secrets.
Europe has always been fascinated by the East.
We've been trading with North Africa, Turkey
and the Middle East for centuries,
but the furthest reaches of the Orient have been closed
to all but a few intrepid travellers until relatively recently.
But items from those lands regularly turn up at our valuation days.
So, today, we're exploring all things Eastern.
Coming up, we explore the wonders of the Orient,
taking in the Middle East...
Thomas and I are bowled over by the finest Indian craftsmanship.
The work in this is amazing.
One of the best items I've seen on "Flog It!" for many, many years.
We try to solve an Eastern mystery...
Would it surprise you to know that this is not a Welsh item?
-No. No, not really.
-Where on earth did you get it from?
..and we reveal the secrets of the Asian markets.
-Well done, you.
As an imperial power, Britain once ruled the waves with military might.
But it was trade that was the driving force behind our expansion
and import and export were the mainstays of our economy
and many of the items that turn up
at our valuation days are part of that legacy.
We see a huge amount of Oriental items in Great Britain.
Probably much more than Middle Eastern items,
but that's quite simply because China was a huge place
and made a huge variety of items.
The market for Chinese porcelain works of art is
booming at the moment
and every time any auctioneer conducts a sale of Oriental objects,
there are all sorts of shocks and surprises.
There's a perception at the moment that everything's Chinese, Chinese,
Chinese, Chinese and certainly the Chinese market
is really, really strong.
But you know, the Islamic world equally, in my view,
they're desperate to acquire goods as well.
The Middle East, the Persians specifically,
there's less knowledge around it,
so with a little bit of dedicated research,
you can really get one step ahead of the market.
The Middle East has its own appeal and collectability
and definitely shouldn't be overlooked.
We don't see many items from these parts at our valuation days,
but when we do, they are intriguing and unique,
as James Lewis discovered.
Tell me the history. Where did you find it?
-In a junk shop in Chingford.
-Did you really?
I bought this 60-odd years ago when I was a schoolboy.
Well, this is Arabic,
known as a janbiya,
which, basically, is Arabic for a knife.
This is from Yemen and the janbiya
was used as a fighting knife.
But today, they are used more ceremonially.
This is a hardwood handle
and then we have overlay in silver.
And the silver overlays the hardwood handle
and also this leather scabbard.
It's 19th century.
It's covered in silver.
But it's still something that has quite a good second-hand value.
The value of them depends really on their hilt.
They can be made from lapis lazuli, they can be made from wood,
they can be set with precious or semiprecious stones
and the case can be covered in gold filigree wire rather than silver.
So, the variety of coverings and styles and qualities is endless.
I think in auction an estimate of £100-£150
and I think it'll do jolly well.
And it was Flog It's own Will Axon who took to the rostrum
to sell this traditional piece of Middle Eastern culture.
There we are. Where do you start me on that?
Again, interest in this. I've got to start here. Where?
-At 80. 90. 100.
'There's a big market for Arab items'
and most Arab clients and buyers have got fairly deep pockets.
160. 180 I'm bid. And 200 I have with me.
-That was a quick jump, wasn't it, to £200?
At £200 now. Shakes the head at £200. On commission, then. At £200.
All done, then. All the bidding's here with me. All done at £200.
Hammer's up and selling at 200.
Well done. That was good.
That great result proves there's a big market for Arabic artefacts.
But what other objects are worth looking out for?
A good way to get into Middle Eastern antiques would be,
I would suggest, eastern metalwares.
Copper, brass, that sort of thing.
There are vases, ewers, plates, chargers,
some of the more elaborate with silver inlay, gold inlay.
They're produced in huge numbers
and I think as an entry-level, that's a fairly good pointer
and work your way up from there, really.
But you have to understand what you're buying.
There are so many fakes out there, so many modern tourist things.
Just be careful.
But Nick Hall threw caution to the wind and went ahead with a valuation
of these rarely-seen shields from Persia, modern-day Iran.
How on earth did these come to be in your possession?
-They were left to me by a neighbour back in 1980.
Was she a collector of sorts or a traveller?
No, her husband was a merchant.
-He was in the Merchant Navy.
-He used to travel a lot
-and brought things back.
-That explains it.
They've come a long way, all the way from what used to be called Persia.
'At the time of the valuation day,'
we didn't see a lot of Persian items.
We're starting to see a little bit more now
with the growth of the Asian market as a whole.
But Persian items,
a little bit scarce and rarer,
so it was a great pleasure to see those walk in. Wonderful things.
Date-wise, these are probably late 19th century.
Nice decoration on them as well. They're not a pair.
-They're very similar.
Same region, same date, same type of decoration.
This chasing on the metalwork we can see here,
these little bits of enamelling on the top there,
some wonderful designs. Almost too nice to be hacked to bits
with a big sword. Lovely things and quite rare to see.
We don't see a lot of Middle Eastern artefacts.
'It's always difficult to value things that you don't'
see that often. You've got to have a bit of market knowledge, of course.
You've got to constantly read up on the subject, study the subject,
you've got to go through trade journals
and follow other international sales,
so that you are ready and prepared that when you do see them,
you've got all that knowledge ready.
Not easy. It's hard work and dedication,
but worth it when something like that walks in.
So, we need to put a sensible price on them.
I think each shield is worth in the region of
-150-250, there or thereabouts...
-OK. That's good.
As they weren't a matching pair,
-Nick decided they should be sold separately.
100 then to start. 100 I'm bid. Got you. 100.
110. 120. 130. 140.
-This is good.
170. 180. 180 on my right.
Selling at 180. Are we all done at 180?
Got you at £180 now. Selling at 180.
Hammer's going down.
Let's see if we can get 180 for the next one.
120. 130. 140.
150. 160. 170.
180. 180 on my right.
Selling at 180.
-Not bad at all.
-Very pleased with that.
-Not bad at all.
-That's a result, isn't it?
They would have sold better if they'd been a true pair,
rather than two very similar objects.
Pairs always make more. Not just twice the price of a single one,
but often three or four times.
So, yes, if they'd been a true pair,
they would have made considerably more.
I suspect there would have been even more collectors on them
because you just don't see them.
What you are more likely to see in Britain are these - rugs.
The Persian tradition of carpet-making
goes back thousands of years.
Britain began importing them in the 1880s
and some experts say today there are possibly more of them
in Europe than there are in Iran itself.
If you want to collect them, here are a few tips.
I think the best thing to look for in Persian rugs are old rugs
and it's quite easy, luckily, to distinguish
an old rug from a new rug based on the fact that
most old rugs are dyed using natural dyes
which fade over time.
So when you see variations in colour in a rug,
you know that it's old.
The first rug is a rug probably made for the European market.
The flowers are very European.
Look at the variations in the reds, for example.
That's the indication of a natural dye. The rug is not very fine.
It's more exuberant than it is a fine work of art,
so it's not going to be of great value.
The second rug, the design is much finer
and there's a lot of attention to the colour
and all the little details.
But with fine rugs,
you tend to cut the pile, which is the furry bit, closer
so that you can see the design better
and as a result, they tend to survive less well over time.
I think it's better to spend one's money on a rug in good condition
than a beautiful fine rug
which was much nicer 100 years ago than it is today.
You can buy a good-quality antique rug for around £150,
but the record for a Persian one at auction is for over £20 million.
Carpets not your thing?
Well, then Persian miniatures are also highly collectable
and once again there's a lot to learn.
This is a Persian one
and if you look at the faces, they're usually not in profile.
They're more rounded faces with more Asian eyes.
And this one, there's a little Persian inscription on the side.
It says "Khosrow and Shirin". They're two lovers.
They're kind of the Persian version of Romeo and Juliet.
But with values ranging from tens of pounds to millions,
you need to be careful not to get caught out.
This is a Mogul miniature from India and these are more common.
The Mogul faces which are almost always in profile
and usually the background is quite plain
and the whole emphasis is on the figure that you're depicting.
It's easy to confuse Persian with Indian
as the Persian influence was strong in India 300 years ago.
It's quite easy to tell if something's a fake
if there's a lot of writing in the miniature.
One of the most common things with miniatures that you buy today
is that they're actually an old piece of paper with a new painting.
What they do is they get some old notebook
and just paint an elaborate scene in the centre of the page.
Those are the things to watch out for.
Also, these are very delicate objects
and they will show some signs of wear if they're original.
Bear that in mind.
The next country on our eastern voyage is India -
jewel in the crown of the British Empire for over 300 years...
..and a country that adopted some of our most treasured traditions.
-Sophia, what a wonderful tea set.
-Where did you find this?
-Well, my grandfather has given it to my mother..
-..as a wedding gift.
-As a wedding gift?
-When was that?
-Handed down from family.
-I was going to say, this is not 1950s.
-Do you know how old it is?
-I think it's '20s or '30s.
Very much. We've got pure Art Deco lines.
-The Indians were very influenced by the Art Deco period.
'A huge amount of very, very poor'
quality items have come out of India,
as indeed the Far East. So, if you're thinking
of starting, go for quality.
There are two things, really, that set it aside
and make it absolutely obvious
-that it's not an English tea set.
One is this very intricate Indian chase decoration in the panels
and also this extraordinary, very Indian-looking spout.
You just wouldn't have a spout like that finishing off
-an English teapot.
-Oh, I see.
-Of course, if it had a hallmark,
we would be able to tell you exactly where it was made
and we would be able to tell you the date and who made it.
None of that information is available here.
Other than, of course, the bottom where it says "made in Kashmir".
-It is a Kashmiri design.
-It is a Kashmiri design, is it?
The hallmark tells us a great deal about a piece,
but a lot of Indian silver isn't hallmarked
making it difficult to know exactly what you've got,
but there are a few exceptions to the rule.
A lot of really good English silversmiths went to India
and a nice piece of Indian silver made by an English silversmith,
you will find marks on it that would enable you to date it.
Now, I suppose of all the pieces of silver that are least saleable
-it's tea services, simply because people don't use them any more.
So, you're really looking at a value of...
-a few hundred pounds, £200 or £300.
Charlie's valuation of the Indian tea set was on the cautious side
and reflected its scrap value.
All hallmarked silver in the UK has a minimum 92.5% silver content.
But without a hallmark to prove its purity,
this tea set may contain a lot less.
You just can't tell without having it tested.
It's worth probably £500 in weight of silver
-if it was English sterling silver.
You've cottoned onto this, haven't you? You rang James up.
I had a quick chat with the auctioneer
just before the sale started. Sophia has now upped the valuation.
We've got a fixed reserve of £450.
So, it just... It just might struggle, but you don't know
-because you can't tell the quality, can you, of Indian silver?
You don't know if it's equal amount or slightly less.
But in the end, it's all down to the bidders.
I have two commissions on the book and I start the bidding
with me at £450.
Yes! Worry over.
500. 520. 540.
-What do I know?
600. At £600.
With me on the book at £600.
Are you all done?
The hammer's gone down. £600.
-Thank you. Thank you. I'm really pleased.
The tea set's fine quality and exquisite Kashmir design
definitely set it apart in the saleroom.
But my advice is unless you've absolutely fallen in love
with a piece of silver, be cautious.
If you're unsure of the silver content
don't pay more than you have to.
If it's not by a particularly well-known maker, yes,
it comes down to the scrap value
and you can follow the scrap value very, very easily online
and it goes up and down like a yo-yo.
As I sit here, it is at £11 an ounce.
A few weeks ago, it was £16 an ounce.
Two, three years ago, it was £4 an ounce.
Quite extraordinary fluctuations.
When Indian craftsmen are working at their best,
the quality and the use of materials are beyond compare.
One example is among the finest things
I've ever seen on "Flog It!" -
Thomas was impressed too.
This piece of Anglo-Indian art
would be the kind of thing you would find in a house like behind me.
-It's that sort of quality.
-Do you like it?
-Fantastic. I do, yes. I do.
'The Anglo-Indian chessboard and chess pieces'
I called Anglo-Indian because of the work and the style of the piece.
Anglo-Indian furniture or colonial furniture
has its influence in us Britons going to India
and asking craftsmen to create pieces of furniture,
decorative items, in our taste.
Where did it come from?
It came from my late husband's family
and he inherited it from his grandparents.
It's got the use here of bone, ivory and tortoiseshell.
The ivory in this was used and this was made well before 1947.
Anything later than 1947, we cannot sell, we cannot touch,
it's illegal to handle.
But ivory made pre-then is OK.
To top it all off, not only have you got the chessboard,
you've got the pieces as well. White and red stained.
Again, these are ivory. It's amazing that it's all complete.
There's one or two nicks out of the rooks.
We've got a bit of fret missing.
Yes, this work needs to be restored and they can be restored.
But it's not the end of the world.
'When looking at antiques,'
I have a sort of thing in my head,
"Keep on going. Don't compromise on quality.
"Don't compromise on quality."
And when you see something of quality, you're thinking,
"Is this really good? Is this something I've not seen before?
"Should I compromise on it? Do I pick holes in it?"
-The work in this is amazing, isn't it?
-It is. It's beautiful.
You've got this tortoiseshell base
and then this beautiful fretwork
with this amazing engraved and painted design
around the octagonal
on this beautiful turned-horn stem
with ivory roundels
and again on a similar tortoiseshell
and fretwork carved base on these poor feet.
-These feet are bone.
-Are they bone, not ivory?
-They're not ivory.
-They're bone. Because you see little black flecks in there?
Those are little blood vessels.
'When looking at this Anglo-Indian chessboard,
'you can see the quality and the design. Also...'
it did have that naive charm of being Anglo-Indian.
But that gave it a certain je ne sais quoi
which was delightful.
You've got people who collect Anglo-Indian works of art
and you've got people who collect chess pieces.
But also you've got the emerging economies.
The emerging economy of India are collecting back
-some of the items.
-Really, are they?
Therefore, that will command a good valuation.
I think an estimate should be £500-£700.
-I think that's pretty good.
Personally, I thought the estimate was a bit conservative.
I'd like to thank you for bringing possibly one of the best items
I've seen on Flog It! for many, many years.
That little Anglo-Indian chess set,
which Thomas had the pleasure of valuing.
Lots of interest. It's quality - quality always tells.
The damage won't put anybody off.
This is going to be exciting
because it's going under the hammer right now.
Fingers crossed. Hope it flies, I really do.
Shall we say 450? 550?
850. 900 we're bid.
950 I'm bid for it.
1,000. I have 1,000. And 50.
1,100. I've got 1,100. Thank you.
At £1,100 then.
I sell for £1,100...
-That's good, isn't it?
That Anglo-Indian chessboard and chess pieces was complete.
I don't think you'd find another one complete.
That's the reason why it made £1,100.
Now, we don't get that many Indian pieces in our Flog It!
valuation days, but if Barbara's spectacular chess set
was anything to go by, they are definitely worth looking out for.
Fine quality in craftsmanship will always draw in the bidders.
So if you're interested in collecting such artefacts,
keep this check list in mind.
The Arabic market is growing. Don't overlook it.
Indian silver is unlikely to be hallmarked, so always be aware
that its silver content may be less than that of sterling silver.
If you can, get it tested and then you'll know its true scrap value.
But quality will always out,
be it beautifully decorated silver or the finest carved ivory.
Ivory was once widely used in European art works.
It's now illegal to buy or sell pieces created after 1947.
Older items tend to be more yellow, but seek advice,
and if in doubt, stay clear.
Still to come, our travels take us even further east,
into the heart of the Orient.
And Mark gets these sisters all aflutter in the saleroom.
-Isn't that good news?
-Big smiles all round.
-Wasn't that worth the wait?
-Yes, it was.
We find out how to avoid buying fake Chinese ceramics.
I have to be honest, I looked at it and I thought, "That's a fake."
All the scratches and all the marks are telltale signs of wear.
But it is a minefield.
And Michael explores the wonders of Japanese antiques.
It's a true passion project.
I love inros.
On Flog It! we're used to seeing Japanese ivory and ceramics, but you
may be surprised by this Japanese export of a very different kind.
It's Taiko drumming, which I tried my hand at in 2011.
The drums used for Taiko are traditional instruments
in Japan, and they've been heard for centuries.
It's believed they were first used by the military.
Modern Taiko drumming like this
was developed in the 1950s by Japanese musician Daihachi Oguchi.
Many of you may know that at one stage of my life
I was a professional drummer many moons ago,
so I'm absolutely delighted to come here today to the Barnfield Theatre
in Exeter, to pick up the sticks once again,
albeit with a difference.
I'm here to meet Jonathan Kirby,
one of the first people to bring Taiko drumming to the UK.
I know a little bit about drumming, but nothing about Taiko.
So explain a little bit further.
We talk about four principles when we play Taiko - attitude -
the way you approach it.
Your kata, which is a martial arts term.
That means your stance, the way you stand,
the way you project in performance art.
Technique - about doing simple things well.
And then we move on to ki, which is the energy.
That's what makes it so exciting. That's what you need to...
Get the breathing right, get focused.
So how do you go about converting a kit drummer?
Aha! We introduce you to one of our group members.
My son Oliver is a member of the main performing group.
Thanks for helping us out, Oliver. Where do we start?
We can show you the ropes, introduce you to some of our fundamentals.
-And have a little go.
-Come on, then.
I'm quite excited about this.
First of all, take your left leg and plant it behind the left
corner of the drum, the right leg going behind.
This is to get your body weight down.
Yes, and you've got a nice foundation to work off.
The arms go out in front.
-There's space under the armpits.
-And open your diaphragm.
-Open your body out.
-So you can breathe.
And even a group of people doing this is a performance in itself.
-It's quite ceremonial, isn't it?
It's a very powerful feeling just standing here
knowing that you're going to hit this in a moment.
-It's going to be really loud!
And that feeling of tension goes to the audience as well.
OK, so the first beat we're going to play is called the dongo.
It's a swung-based rhythm and it sounds... Dong-dong-dong...
There you go! Exactly!
I wonder if you're up to the challenge of playing a little piece with me and Jonathan.
OK, get Dad on. Here he is.
What are we doing?
-Is this a traditional song or one of your songs?
-It's one of mine.
We'll play a piece called Congruenza, an extract from it.
It'll feature Oliver playing a couple of melodies, as we call them,
on that side.
I'll play a couple this side and we'll have a little bit at the end
and you'll play the same as Oliver or me throughout.
OK. Here we go.
Japan came late to the worldwide antiques trade.
In fact, it wasn't until the mid-19th century that it
opened its ports to foreigners, and what treasures poured out!
You've brought in this really exquisite item. What a lovely find.
Karen, you've really made my day today,
bringing this little collection along.
Because of the interest in the Chinese market,
it's pulling the Japanese items up as well.
-Got to be happy with that.
-I'm very happy with that.
With the wealth that the Chinese are creating,
they are buying up Japanese works because they look so similar.
And a lot of
the symbolism you see in the Japanese
means something to the Chinese, anyway.
£1,100! Put it there!
There's a great dissemination between Japanese and Chinese taste.
The Japanese will copy the Chinese, the Chinese will copy the Japanese.
So you just have to look at the individual items
and sometimes get it right and sometimes get it wrong.
And getting it wrong could prove expensive.
Just take a close look at these two cheeky chaps.
Two sumo wrestlers in a mid-match clinch.
For many years these were used as a doorstop here at Burghley.
Now, considering these have been battered over the years,
the condition is remarkable.
I don't know how they survived, I really don't,
but thank goodness they have,
because they turned out to be
17th-century Arita Japanese porcelain worth a small fortune!
The lesson here is make sure you know what you've got.
Today there's a wealth of Japanese treasures to choose from,
like the one Mark discovered in Cardiff in 2012,
brought along by sisters Olwen and Lynne.
Where on earth did you get it?
Well, my husband inherited it in the year 2000.
And it was from an uncle of his, and his wife,
-when she was alive, was in the antique business.
This was made during the Meiji period, so between 1868 and 1912.
It was so humorous,
the little crushed figure underneath the barrel,
and these little Japanese characters.
It just screams the Meiji period in Japan. And beautiful quality.
To me, it looks like this tradesman is being attacked by these
-I think he's throwing salt or something at them.
Down here, we've got somebody rubbing their eyes,
so maybe some salt has gone into their eyes.
-This one is protecting himself with a bowl of eels for something.
And they are all carved ivory.
Japanese carvers, of course, use many materials - wood,
Ivory, I think, lent itself to carving these types of figures
because it was in plentiful supply, and they have that lovely
creamy, soapy feel that age has added to the ivory.
It's wonderful, isn't it? Where does that live at home?
-Have you had it on display?
-No, I haven't.
It's been wrapped in tissue paper
and then bubble-wrapped in a box in the bottom of the wardrobe.
-Well, that's not very nice, is it?
-No, it's not.
But I'm not fond of it at all, to be honest with you.
The thing with something like this, the auction house will love it
because it's fresh to the market, it's quality
and there's a big collector market for it, I'm sure.
So if we put it in 500 to 700 with a 500 fixed reserve, I think
they'll come out of the woodwork, if you excuse the pun.
If you're a collector or a dealer,
what you're looking for are pieces that haven't been seen for a while.
This has obviously been in private hands for many years,
so when it came to the market,
it really excited the collectors and the dealers.
Lot 608 is the Japanese carved ivory and hardwood figure group.
500, I have, and 20. I'll take 500.
At 20. 550. 580. 600.
620, 650, 680, 700.
720, 750, 780, 800.
-He's very good, isn't he?
'It flew past the top estimate and just kept going.'
1,200. And 50.
1,300. And 50.
-Is it exciting enough?
Very much so.
With me at £1,500.
1,550 on the net.
Are we all out on the telephones and in the room?
-Isn't that good news? Big smiles all round.
There was a lot going on there.
You had... 3, 4, 5, 6 figures or so.
And the whole humorous nature of it.
And to collectors and dealers that just would've floated their boat.
In fact, it did float their boat.
There is a huge collector market for Japanese items.
But you do have to go for quality.
So, how do you spot a quality piece of Japanese carving?
Well, I know just the man to ask.
Auctioneer Nick Hall is a regular on Flog It! and his auction room
has been the scene of some high drama over the years.
He's a man who knows quality when he sees it.
So who better to let you in on some trade secrets?
One of the questions I'm asked an awful lot
is what makes an object valuable?
Is it the rarity, the material it's made from, the quality,
or the author of the object?
Well, in this instance, and here we're talking about
Oriental works of art, it is the quality, the craftsmanship.
Now, on the face of it, they're very similar objects.
They are both Japanese, both date from the late Meiji period,
1900 to 1910.
They're both carved from ivory,
and they're both what we call okimono -
which are freestanding decorative ornaments that serve no purpose.
So, on the face of it, they should have very similar values.
But you need to look closely.
Come in close and see what I mean.
If you take this little group at the front here,
you've got this nice little seated group of fishermen.
A nice little tableau group.
Behind it you've got a single figure of a fruit picker.
But look at the detail.
The little group of fishermen at the front,
when you get very close, the carving is actually quite bland.
If you look at the features on the hands and the face, the feet,
there's not a lot of detail there.
But you get closer, closer still,
and you look at the fruit picker behind
you can see the veins in the leaf hanging at the front here.
You can even see the feathers on the quail,
perched on the top there.
And the features on the elderly chap's face -
the lines from all that toil and labour.
It's little touches and detail like that that
that collectors of Japanese carvings go wild for.
And that's what pushes the price up.
So, what are they worth?
Nice little group at the front, 100 years old, plainly carved -
you could buy that for probably £100.
Whereas the fruit picker with all that fine quality detailing,
that is going to be nearer £1,000.
So look closely and then you will know exactly
the value of the object you are dealing with.
The Japanese are world renowned for their superior carving.
Another area in which they excel is lacquer work -
an intricate and elaborate technique.
Claire Rawle found a typical example in Hertfordshire.
You've brought such a pretty item.
Japanese lacquer. But tell me a bit about it. How did you come by it?
It was tucked away in one of the boxes at home.
We got a whole collection of items from my dad
who was an avid collector of antiques, Japanese items, especially.
So we've got, in essence, a lacquered box.
In actual fact, it's a card case, isn't it?
To put visiting cards in.
And it was made in the latter part of 19th century for export,
to be sold in this country,
to be used as a European item.
-They made the most beautiful lacquer work.
'It's a varnish.'
The Chinese discovered it and used it to protect items, initially.
So it's a varnish built up in layers
and then they're very often carved back through the layers
to decorate it.
Or just build up the decoration and then guild it finely.
It's very intricate art.
And you've got this wonderful eagle.
A very typical Japanese emblem.
Then, on the back, we have -
which is always a giveaway if it's Japanese - Mount Fuji!
The most traditional emblem you'll see on Japanese works of art
is Mount Fuji.
The summit was always believed to be - and still is - sacred.
And, in fact, ladies were not allowed up on the summit
until the Meiji period, which is the late 19th century.
And then again, pagodas - very, very typical.
It's lovely. You've got a bit of general wear, which you'd expect.
The eagle's a bit rubbed.
It's been used, you hold it in your hand, that's fine.
It's actually in very nice condition.
There are some items that you will accept damage on.
The trouble sometimes with a lacquered items, for instance,
it's very difficult to repair because it's difficult to restore it
without making it look brand-new again.
-I think an estimate of 150 to 200.
-It's such a pretty item
that somebody out there is going to love it.
What about that Meiji period box?
There it is.
With the gold decoration.
£150 for a fine little box. Yes or no? 80, OK. Are you 90 for the box?
100 for the box?
Oh, come on, a bit more.
120 and 30 and 40 and 50.
-He wants it.
-£150 for the box, then.
150 I have it.
At £150 I'm going to sell. Thank you.
It wasn't a bad price for what it was.
But I think maybe if it had been Chinese,
it would have been quite a different price, yeah.
Michael Baggott has a particular passion for
precious metals and gems.
And you can quite often see him at our valuation days with a loop,
a small magnifying glass to his eye.
He's also fascinated by the Orient
and everything from the Far East, so when he was invited to view
a new collection of Japanese antiques he jumped at the chance.
When I left Birmingham to go to college and study antiques,
I suddenly found a love or an excitement of all things Chinese
and Japanese, and from that point on I've been hooked.
Out of the whole scope of Japanese art and design, the ceramics,
the prints, I think my favourite has to be the little inro
which is so collectable in so many different designs.
And hopefully here at the Oriental Museum in Durham we can see some.
So, Rachel, thank you for liberating these from the cases momentarily.
It's a wonderful display.
Obviously, you're very familiar with Chinese and Japanese art
and the fact that they share quite a lot of techniques and iconography.
What hints have you got for telling the difference between Chinese
and Japanese objects?
-That's the million dollar question.
-It's not easy.
Really what it comes down to is just looking at as many things
as you possibly can.
Japan has always been heavily influenced by China
and by Chinese art, so a lot of Japanese art looks very similar,
uses the same motifs, the same colours.
But we've got a selection of ceramics here
that are more uniquely Japanese in design.
Can you tell us about them?
This one in the front is the kind of piece that people
most readily think of as being very Japanese.
This lovely porcelain with these beautiful bright colours on it
is the kind of thing that was made specifically in Japan
for export to Europe,
so it's the kind of thing collectors are most likely to see here.
This piece here dates to the 18th century.
And by great contrast, some people might have a five-year-old
that's come back with something very similar to this,
but this is not the case. Tells us about his bowl.
This is an example of perhaps the most typically Japanese of wares.
This tea bowl dates to about 1,600.
And it's in a style that's specifically designed to look simple
and rustic and very rough.
But actually has taken a huge amount of skill,
a huge amount of thought has gone into it.
This is really if we've got a chance of finding something out there
that's undervalued, it's going to be this class of Japanese tea wares.
-And this is a stark contrast to what we have in the West.
We're buying the brightly coloured, fancy wares.
But moving on from that,
they were also masters of metalwork as well, weren't they?
-Yes, they were.
-Those aren't real, are they?
They are wonderful fun.
These kind of pieces were made by Japanese swordsmiths and armouries.
During the Edo period, so from 1615 onwards,
when you've got peace in Japan,
swordsmiths and armouries are not so much in demand.
So they are making these kind of pieces to show
the quality of their workmanship, so these are fully articulated,
the snake moves, the legs on the crab all move.
-It's an immediate effect, isn't it?
When they're not doing that, they are making swords
and they're make sword fittings.
They are. We've got a collection of them here. These are tsuba.
This is the piece that fits at the base of your sword blade
and protects your hand when you're holding the hilt.
The more solid ones are the sort of thing you think of
as earlier, more practical pieces.
During the Edo period, your sword can become much more decorative,
it's much more about showing off your status.
And these sword fittings again become more decorative.
And obviously when Japan opens up to the West,
people were bringing back swords, but swords are rather bulky to carry,
so something like a tsuba makes an ideal souvenir,
and so these things came back to the West in large numbers.
Now, we move on from those to my favourites...cos I love inros,
and you've picked out four super ones.
I have. The inro is the compartment.
These were created first of all to carry medicines, herbs and seals
and they hung from your belt of your kimono
and the netsuke is the toggle that secures it in place
and makes sure that you don't lose all your precious things
hanging from your belt.
And I've tried to get a range of materials.
People tend to think of the lacquer ones,
Japanese lacquer is, of course, wonderful,
but I also wanted to get a couple of different ones out.
So, I got this lovely wooden one with these very playful monkeys.
So, really, in terms of what's attainable in collectables today,
I think, certainly, if you look at the tsuba,
they're easily accessible at the very bottom level.
You can buy a really simple example for what?
£50, £100, going up to, for the decorated ones, two, three,
maybe even £10,000 for the very best examples.
I mean, my love of the inros,
you can buy a very nice inro for £300 or £400.
When you get into the very better ones,
you're talking multiples of 10,000.
But it just shows you that if you want to collect Japanese art,
it's accessible at every level, isn't it?
I've had a wonderful day at the Oriental Museum.
I've seen lots of wonderful objects beautifully made.
I think if this has inspired you to collect Japanese art,
just beware of the huge diversity of objects you can find
but if you're on a budget, don't go for the obvious.
Maybe go and choose an obscure area of ceramics to collect.
That would be my advice.
I mean, after seeing that wonderful tea ceremony bowl,
I'm going to go off now and look for some wonky pots. Who knows?
One of them might be by a 16th-century master.
And now for the last port of call on our eastern travels.
When it comes to the oriental antiques and collectables,
China is the emperor.
20 years ago, Japanese pieces were far more valuable,
far more saleable than Chinese.
Today, it has reversed so much.
-That is a good result, isn't it?
I think mainly because the Chinese themselves are buying them back.
There's great wealth out there and for a long time,
they were denied their culture,
they were denied owning items that showed history.
-That is wonderful.
What a lovely surprise. I'm tingling.
Chairman Mao put forward a law to say that
if you were caught with items from the Imperial past,
you were seen as being disloyal to the communist doctrine
so people buried things in their back garden,
they destroyed them, they were burnt, they were smashed
and now, of course, China is the economic superpower.
Hammer's up, we're selling at £3,300.
Much of China's surviving artistic heritage is here in Europe
but it isn't all fine antiques.
There are items that reflect the country's social history too.
Angela, I have never, ever seen shoes like this before
and I think they are absolutely incredible.
These are Chinese women's shoes.
-Not doll's shoes, women's shoes.
I must admit I don't think I've ever seen Chinese shoes before,
coming into a "Flog It!" valuation day.
They are a bit unusual,
a bit of a curio,
and something that I don't know if I'd like to handle again.
Young girls when they were about four years of age,
their mothers, they used to bind back their toes with cotton
so that they had small feet because they were considered to be pretty.
And those are minute.
The standard size of foot was considered to be three inches.
Where on earth did you get these from?
Well, my in-laws had lived out east from the mid-'30s.
They certainly date from the 20th century.
I mean this idea of binding feet, binding children's feet,
was actually outlawed in 1911 but it still went on a lot longer
I think something like that, something like these shoes,
are a bit of a curio
and it's something that you either like or you don't like.
These as objects, aside from that, whether it's right or wrong,
these are absolutely beautiful.
I think they are silk with this wonderful embroidery.
It's really hard to value something that you've never seen before,
something that you've never had any experience with.
A lot of it comes down to whether we've seen similar items
like that sell at auction, how much they have gone for before.
I would suggest probably putting a reserve on of £50 cos
I certainly don't think they should go for anything less than that.
And probably an estimate on for about £80-£120.
When you don't quite know whether it's going to make it into the
100s or whether it's going to go for under £100 so you put £80-120 on it.
That's my secret.
A little tiny pair of shoes, something like I've never, ever
seen before and that's the beauty of doing "Flog It!", isn't it?
We come across all sorts of curios when we're out there on the road.
Right. Lot 386. Can I see £80? £50? £30, our bid.
At £30, I'll take five. 35. At 35, 40 now. At 35, 40? 40.
This is interesting.
50. At £50. At £50's on the phone.
I'll take five now. Are we all done?
Yes, they've gone, only just, though.
-It went right on the reserve.
It's one of those things that you either like or you don't like
so I just think the right people weren't there on the day.
But one area that's ever-popular and breaking all records is
something the Chinese have been producing for centuries
and the clue's in the name - China.
Annette and Caroline.
When I was a boy, I had all my goldfish in the pond.
Some people have them in little bowls.
But if you're in 18th-century China, this is what you would have used.
A fish bowl.
-It's a fish bowl?
-A fish bowl.
-I had no idea that's what it was.
I thought it was a bidet.
Well, you can wash your bottom in it
if you like but I really don't think the fish would approve.
I have to be honest, when I first saw this,
I looked at it and thought, "Don't want to look at that,
"that's a fake." And I dismissed it completely.
The more valuable a subject area becomes...
..the more attention is spent on trying to fake those items.
The world record for a piece of art other than a painting was
a Chinese porcelain vase selling for £53 million.
So, when you get something making that,
imagine how many people there are trying to fake it and the
biggest difficulty we have today is telling whether it's right or wrong.
So, how could you tell that it was?
The first clue was when you said, "I've had it for 40 years."
I thought, "Hmmm.
"They've only been making these fakes in the last 20 or 30,"
so let's have another look.
And then there are signs when you start to look - the scratching
in the glaze, the chips around the edge here and I think it's right.
All the scratches and all the marks are telltale signs of wear but it is
a minefield and the fakers can make things we can only dream about.
They will take something and put keys in the bottom of the bowl
and put it on a thing that just shakes keys
so it makes little scratch marks.
They have these pushers and rubbers to actually wear the piece out.
It lived outside and I took a pottery class and they gave me some
pottery magazines to just inspire me and that's when I saw this bowl.
I went, "Well, Lord, it's got the same pattern around it."
-That's when I brought it inside the house.
-So, pottery classes have saved it.
-It saved it, yes.
Estimate - let's put £800-£1,200.
Reserve - £800.
But you know, if it doesn't sell, you're not having it back.
But the biggest question was not whether it was a fake,
but what was it actually used for?
Vanessa and Caroline, good luck.
I know we're just about to go under the hammer
with that Chinese porcelain foot bowl -
-because it IS a foot bowl.
-I thought it might be a foot bowl...
James has done a bit more research, but I had a chat to Will
earlier yesterday, as well, and he said it was definitely a foot bowl.
This I thought was a foot bath, because of the relatively low sides.
Fish bowls tend to be a lot higher, sort of bowl-shaped.
A lot of the time they were also decorated with fish,
either on the inside or the outside.
And also the telltale sign, in my view,
was the plug, the drainage hole in the bowl itself.
You know, not really wise to have a drainage hole in a fish tank,
because that could lead to a nasty accident.
Is it a foot bath? Is it a fish bowl? What is it?
I don't know, it could be a washing bowl!
It's one of those things
that because it's so foreign to our culture,
it's quite difficult to pin it down.
But whatever it was, it was in demand.
And I've got to start this at...
1,200, 1,400, 1,600, 1,800,
2,000, 2,200, 2,400, 2,600
2,800, 3,000, I'm bid on commission.
At 3,200, at 3,200 in the room. All three bidders are out at 3,200 bid.
At 3,200, I have you at 3,200.
Do carry on!
At 3,200, all done at 3,200...
3,400 on the telephone. At 3,400.
3,400. At 3,600.
At 3,600 here. 3,600 now bid.
At 3,600, the hammer's up.
At £3,600 now.
All done. You're out at the back?
At £3,600 - quick if you do.
Yes! Well done.
-Well done, you!
We always knew it was going to make above what James had suggested
as a printed estimate, but I think he probably had an inkling as well.
I just felt a bit of an idiot!
But that's nothing new! I know that feeling quite readily.
But to be fair to James, at the time of the sale,
it was a fast-moving market.
It was a time when...
..in January it would have made £1,000.
In June it would have made £3,000.
If we'd sold it six months later, it might have made £6,000.
You know, who knows?
The market has now stabilised.
I think if you're thinking of Japanese or Chinese,
it's quite a dangerous area.
We're all caught out all the time,
and I think if you're going to venture into that field,
unless you really know your stuff, take advice.
The low-end collectors in China are millionaires.
The top-end collectors are billionaires.
So within that, there's tremendous scope for all sorts of nonsense
and skulduggery to go on.
So, there we go!
It's a minefield,
but it's one that I would be very careful about entering.
One thing that I would not be collecting at the moment
is Chinese porcelain.
So, here are a few things to think about
if you're buying antiques from the Far East.
Japan is a safer bet than China right now, as prices are lower,
there are fewer fakes and the quality
and range of items is extraordinary.
Digress from the obvious and collect sword hilt guards - tsubas -
instead of the more popular netsukes.
But more than anything, watch out for fakes.
Provenance is everything - it provides proof of age and history.
If Chinese ceramics scare the life out of you,
honest curios like the shoes can be bought at a snip,
and are a great starting point for a budding collector.
At our valuation days, we see thousands of people,
many with fascinating stories to tell.
And we got to hear Sandra's
when she brought along some ivory pieces
she'd inherited from her father, who lived in Hong Kong.
-We have two ivory plaques...
-..and we have an ivory scent bottle.
And these were made around 1880 to 1900.
And what makes them unusual is the colouring.
My father was fascinated by what we called curios.
He would go down the little alleyways in Hong Kong,
and he loved finding bargains and buying exquisite craftsmanship.
But when, in 1941, during the Second World War,
Hong Kong was invaded by the Japanese,
Sandra's father was taken prisoner.
ARCHIVE NEWS: In this battle, 11,000 British soldiers are taken prisoner.
When Hong Kong fell,
my father was in a prisoner of war camp with the troops,
so my mother and father and my sister were separated.
After three years, the Americans liberated the POWs,
but in the ensuing chaos
it was another four months before the family was reunited.
Sandra's father's journey took him home via Canada.
And Sandra hoped selling the ivory pieces she inherited from him
would enable her to retrace his steps.
-400-600 for the pair here.
-The bottle - 1,000-1,500.
I think you've timed it to perfection,
and I think we're going to have a surprise amount.
It was a great impetus to do what I've always wanted to do,
which was part of the journey that my father did after his release,
and that was from Vancouver, through the Rockies.
Because he kept a diary, and he'd said when they travelled
through the Rockies, how beautiful the snow-capped mountains were.
The lovely autumn colours.
It always made me want to go and see it for myself, and that was it -
I could feel my father saying, "Yes, go," you know.
"Go for it, do it."
Carved and stained ivory plaques...
For the auction, Sandra was joined by her sister,
and first under the hammer were the ivory plaques.
We'll bypass the estimate and start these at 1,000.
-1,200, 1,400, 1,600...
James had said that it might fly.
At 3,600 the bids here. And selling, then, at 3,600. ALl done?
And the hammer's going down. Wow!
I told you to come to "Flog It!"
And you've got the scent bottle, now.
1,200. 1,300, 1,400, 1,500,
I think it became rather unreal.
At 2,400, it's in the room, then, and selling.
I just remember my heart
going bang, bang, bang!
Have you just added that up in your head?
-No, I haven't.
-Well, I have.
And it is a whopping £6,000.
The money was more than enough to enable Sandra
and her husband to make the journey to Canada.
We actually took a boat ride to Vancouver Island.
And it was when we were on the boat and actually in the harbour
I really felt, "Wow, this is similar to what my father would have felt
"coming in on a big liner."
So, that was very special,
to be able to go to where my father had been.
Well, I'm so glad the sale of those lovely things
meant that Sandra could retrace some of her father's footsteps.
Now, if you've got anything you want to sell,
bring it along to one of our valuation days.
Well, that's it for today. I hope you have enjoyed the show.
Join us again soon for more Trade Secrets.
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.