Antiques series. Anita Manning explores the life and legacy of Sir Walter Scott, and Charlie Ross explains how he indulged his passion for cricket.
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For well over ten years now, you've arrived in your thousands at our Flog It! valuation days
bringing all manner of items to put our experts through their paces.
-Hey presto! It's on a spring.
And we've helped you sell around £1 million worth of antiques and collectables.
-Yes! 700 quid.
In this series, I want to share some of the things we've learnt
from handling all of those items over the years.
So stand by to hear our Flog It! trade secrets.
Literature has always played a large part in British life,
from the old English classic Beowulf through to William Shakespeare,
the narrative poems of the Romantic period,
the classic novels of the 19th century - in fact,
right up to the present day, we've all enjoyed a good read.
So what, might you be thinking, has this got to do with antiques and collectables?
Well, I can tell you, because today's show is dedicated to
everything connected with writers and writing.
We've got an epic episode in store for you.
Well, I think it's a children's book collector's dream.
With more suspense than Agatha Christie.
Hopefully Sheila and Rowland will turn up? If not, it's going ahead.
-You can't stop an auction.
-No, you can't.
More drama than Jackie Collins.
-£1,025! Marion, fantastic.
And more make-believe than JK Rowling.
I still believe in fairies, don't you?
Items once owned or associated with literary giants are highly sought after.
Universities are keen to own manuscripts so scholars can study their work.
And enthusiasts want to get their hands on something that was
once touched by the hand that penned something quite amazing.
So here are our experts' tips for all you budding bibliophiles.
My tip would be, if you look for illustrated books by well-known
illustrators that worked hand-in-hand with authors they liked.
If you can find an original watercolour by Arthur Rackham,
you're looking at £10,000 or more.
The more famous the person it's associated with is,
obviously the more valuable the piece is going to be.
Probably the most popular are by er...Shakespeare, Dickens, Scott.
Our literary odyssey begins in 2012 with Christina,
and a piece of pottery inspired by one of our most famous writers.
Sheila and Rowland, but you prefer to be called Bubbles, don't you?
OK, so we'll call you Bubbles for today. All right?
You've brought in this rather wonderful Royal Doulton jug.
Where did you get it from?
-We inherited it.
It's a Royal Doulton commemorative jug,
Dickens commemorative jug, and it's what they call the Dickens Master of Smiles and Tears jug.
And it's wonderful because it's relief moulded with all these
figures from Dickens literature.
And around the top as well, we've got
these London scenes from where the stories took place.
There do seem to be an awful lot of items made to commemorate Dickens.
He was the most popular author of his time and also the most prolific,
if you think about the number of books that he actually wrote.
-It's signed Noke.
Now, Charles Noke was a modeller and designer for Royal Doulton in the early part of the 20th century.
Now, when you originally had it, did it come with a certificate?
Somewhere or other it got mislaid.
Because it did originally come with a certificate.
Collectors do like to have the certificate and the piece
for their collection obviously, it's nice to have the two together.
But I think the certificate is often a repeat of what's
on the bottom of the piece, and there was such a lovely mark.
It actually tells us all about itself.
Which says, "The Dickens Jug",
and then the title "Master of Smiles and Tears,
"with the magic of his created personality. This is Jug No.64."
So it is No.64 from an edition of 1,000.
So it's great that it's actually quite early in the production run.
Collectors like earlier pieces or earlier runs from that production,
because if you think about it - it's the same with anything -
in the moulds they're produced in, over time, when they're producing such a huge run,
the moulds don't get quite as sharp
or they're just not quite right
as they were with the first pieces they produced.
I've had a good look over it, and it doesn't look as
if there is any kind of chips or cracks or any kind of damage.
Which bearing in mind it's pre-war, is really quite impressive.
They make anywhere in the region of maybe £250 to £350.
'So would the Dickens jug measure up to Christina's "Great Expectations"?
'Well, it turned out there was more than one "Twist" to this particular tale.'
Hopefully Sheila and Rowland will turn up as we're speaking.
-If not, it's going ahead. You can't stop an auction.
-No, you can't.
Lot 360 is the Royal Doulton Charles Dickens jug. £200?
-He's bidding, he's bidding.
220, 230, 240.
It soon became crystal clear that the auctioneer wasn't going
to have a hard time selling this particular literary lot.
410 telephone bid. 420.
We're on the phone now.
Now selling then, last chance. At 420... 430 back in.
One more? 450?
-No, he's out now.
At £460 ahead then, selling at £460.
-What a fabulous result.
I just wish they were here, I really do.
It was a real shame, I think they would have loved to have seen it.
They literally arrived just after it sold.
-How much do you think?
-I don't know.
-Come on, come on, top end, or lower end?
A split decision there. Well, we actually made £460.
Oh, my word!
-Is that all right?
So it hasn't been too disappointing missing it?
Oh, you've knocked 20, 50 years off me.
Royal Doulton produced a huge series of character jugs of Dickens characters
which were just their faces.
So I think this jug was an amalgamation of so many of those different characters
and of such a great size as well, and I think that's why it was so appealing.
Two very satisfied customers there.
Now, Dickens was born in February 1812.
And the anniversary of his birth in 2012 saw
a spike in the demand for memorabilia related to him.
So if you have any item associated with an author, research the key dates,
and if you can, sell it when interest is at its peak.
In 2011, literary characters of a different kind caught Elizabeth's eye.
They're a very good example of what is a very accessible and well-recognised collectable.
What a collection! There must be a story behind these?
Yeah, I think Peter Rabbit
-and Jemima Puddle-Duck were either my mum's or my nan's.
And I really liked them so my mum said I could have it.
And my nan decided she would buy me them for my birthday and Christmas.
-Right, so you added to the family...
-Added to the collection.
Do you have a favourite amongst them?
I like Hunca Munca just because I like the story of Hunca Munca.
-You're a Beatrix Potter fan?
We all have our own favourite childhood associations with
one or other of her characters, and I think we all have very secret
reasons why they are appealing and mean something to us.
-In 1933, the factory Beswick was established in Longton.
And by 1948 they had started to produce these little figures,
illustrating famous characters by Beatrix Potter.
And by 1950, within two years of having started the manufacture,
they had become an instant, collectable hit, and I don't think
they've ever not been collectable, sought after or very, very popular.
'Beatrix Potter's a very clever writer, she expresses some
'very fundamental human feelings'
or stories through these characters.
And therefore because those feelings and activities are applicable
to all generations, it's not gone out of fashion.
I think the most expensive figure ever to be sold at auction was one called Duchess.
-I think she individually made £2,000 at auction.
But obviously, being more realistic,
-can't promise you that sort of figure, I'm afraid.
Realistically at auction one should be looking at an average of about £10 each.
But to keep them as a collection, and offer them
with an estimate of £150 to £200, would you be happy with that?
Yeah, that would be lovely.
Peter Rabbit and friends made it safely to the auction -
but unfortunately without owner Julia.
-It's gone totally silent.
-Yes, tension is rising.
You can hear a pin drop.
I have interest here on the book, it starts with me at 75, 80.
90, thank you. And five? 100, and 10, 20, 30...
50, 280. £280 in the centre.
-At 280, if you're done? 300 on the telephone.
£300, it's on the telephone against you in the room, if you're all done?
-£300 on the telephone. Sold!
-I'm pleased with that.
-I bet you are.
I was reflecting what I had witnessed over the previous few
months in terms of what the market was doing for Beatrix Potter figures,
and I have to say the market had been dropping.
Well, Julia's collection certainly scampered through the top estimate
without a backward glance.
But the figurines are by no means in the bestseller's list of Beatrix Potter collectables.
An original copy of Peter Rabbit sold in 2013 for £20,000.
And in 2008, a Potter drawing sold for almost £300,000,
making it the most expensive book illustration ever sold.
Now, Philip is not a man prone to flights of fantasy,
but a pair of Shakespearean characters did manage to cast a spell on him.
This is a very, very rare figure, but it is a piece of Worcester from my home town
-and I think this is one of a set of four from the Midsummer Night's Dream.
And they're really, really nice.
The fact Shakespeare's our greatest author means that we're going
to use him as an influence to produce paintings, to produce pots,
to produce models.
My wife and I went to a sale, this one was there
and it was called Puck and Bottom and she said, "It's never Puck..."
-That's right, it's Snout.
This is produced by Kerr & Binns.
We can see on the bottom just here we've got this Kerr & Binns shield.
If you see a piece with Kerr & Binns on the bottom,
just have a real good look at it because it should smell quality to you.
And they were in action really, I suppose, in about the 20 years
before Royal Worcester became into being, which was 1862.
Everybody thinks Royal Worcester has been Royal Worcester since day one. It wasn't.
The porcelain factory was set up in 1751 and lots of little factories evolved.
And it wasn't until 1862 that the whole lot was drawn together to form
the Royal Worcester porcelain factory.
It's kept well, then.
-I wouldn't mind being as good as that, Arthur, if I was that old.
I'm getting that way, but...
It could do well. I can't see it making much more than 600,
but a 300 to 500 estimate's fair.
What a gorgeous piece of porcelain.
But would the Shakespearean figurines inspire the bidders?
Someone certainly hoped so.
If this doesn't sell, I'll be like Bottom with a donkey's head.
As per catalogue, fair interest, here. Starts us here at 500.
And 20. 540.
-Good. Well done, Arthur.
-600, at £600?
All done with it at 600, then?
Excellent, that was short and sweet, straight in. No messing around.
Well, that was a fairy-tale ending for Arthur.
There's absolutely no doubt the characters' pristine condition
helped whisk them high above the top estimate.
Once you've damaged them,
I would say almost 60-70% of the value has just gone out of the window.
And so condition is everything. And these were in top order.
When Michael went to Blackburn in 2010,
he was pleasantly surprised to be transported to Neverland.
Marion, you've, I think made my day today
by bringing in this wonderful children's book
-which we can see, is Peter Pan. Have you had this since a child?
-I've had it from childhood.
It was given to me by two very great and gracious ladies that lived across the way from us.
And, during the war, they turned their cellar into bunk beds
for a few of the local children in the area, so we could stay all night in safety.
They gave me a birthday party,
and that was the present they gave me at the party.
-What a fantastic present.
-I've... I've never had a...
I don't want to do my parents down, I never had a present like this!
There's a large market for children's books.
Either people buy them for their children
to put them away as a form of investment,
or they're just charmed by the literature, the medium.
It's rather accessible to everybody.
We've got this lovely full vellum binding.
So the most expensive way to do it.
Often you'll just have the spine done, and the corners.
It was that expensive. But they've tooled, in gilt,
"Peter Pan", and there he is on the back of a...
of a fairly ferocious looking goat!
But that's the name we look for, "illustrated by Arthur Rackham".
Arthur Rackham was one of the leading
late-Victorian, early-Edwardian illustrators.
He did these most detailed and complicated illustrations
with fairies and pixies and grotesques.
And they're rather charming.
I've not met anyone yet
who doesn't find a Rackham drawing ravishing, I think is the word.
And we've got Arthur Rackham's signature there.
I think people are beginning to
regard his work less as children's illustrations and more as...
It was good skilful draughtsmanship. It's exquisite.
-Carried away by the winds.
-Is that with the balloons? Yes.
-With the balloon. The balloon seller being taken away.
-Yes, that's it.
No-one would be buying it to break out the illustrations from it.
It's the complete package that is appealing to a collector.
And that's wonderful. "This edition is limited to 500 copies,
"numbered and signed by the artist, of which this is No.111."
So it's even quite an low number.
There's an element of a stamp collector in all of us,
and I'm afraid, if two collectors were to have a copy of the same book,
if you had an earlier number
you would consider yours possibly a better edition.
Well, I think it's a children's book collector's dream...
-I would think so.
-Really. I mean, it is the luxury edition.
There are a few faults,
there's a little bit of wear to the gilt edging and the covers
have started to bow slightly.
I think we would be sensible to put it into auction
-with an attractive estimate of say, £400 to £600.
Who knows? We might be touching the four figures, but...
-That would be nice.
-That would be if Peter was flying overhead...
-Yes, yes, yes.
-..wishing us luck.
A beautiful copy of the ultimate children's classic.
Surely someone would be hooked?
The Peter Pan In Kensington Gardens with drawings by Arthur Rackham.
-It's a signed limited edition.
-£200. £200. 225. 250. 250. 275. I've 300 here.
325. 350. 350.
-He's got a commission bid on the book, he's looking down.
425. 450. 475. 500.
And 25. 550. 575.
At 575. And 600, madam. £600. 625.
-They've travelled up specially, haven't they, today?
And 25. 750. 75.
800. And 25.
-Oh, dear, oh, dear!
And 25. 950. 975. 1,000.
And 25. 1,025.
This is exciting!
Are you all done at 1,025 for Peter Pan?
-What a lot of money!
-That was exciting!
-It was worth every penny.
-Oh, it was very nice, wasn't it?
There's a tear in your eye now.
Marion's copy of that wonderful children's classic certainly flew away in the auction room.
That's because it had everything going for it.
Now, if you come across a book of such quality,
take my advice, snap it up immediately.
But what else should eager bookworms consider
when starting a writing-themed collection?
Well, first off, when you buy antique books,
keep in mind that earlier copies in a print run are more valuable.
This rule of thumb also applies to memorabilia related to writers and writing.
The lower the production number, the better.
These days, spin-offs for many popular books are de rigueur.
But that's not to say merchandising wasn't around in the past.
Beatrix Potter, for example, actively encouraged merchandising.
So keep your eyes peeled for vintage memorabilia.
If a collectable is part of a set, it's obvious
that having the entire set is going to be more profitable.
But if you have a collection of individual items,
you may actually make more money by splitting them up in the auction.
Try and resist the temptation to leaf through your treasured tomes.
If you want to make a packet at the auction room,
they have simply got to be in tiptop condition.
We saw earlier how Arthur's beautiful 19th-century porcelain figurines flew away at auction.
Inspired, as they were, by Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream,
they give a clue to a particular quirk of Victorian society.
The Victorians were absolutely obsessed with fairies.
All those elements the Victorians liked. A bit of nature, cheekiness.
If you're a Victorian, it was Bob's your uncle.
Both Tennyson and Walter Scott wrote poems about fairies.
And even Dickens couldn't resist a wry description
of smoking chimney stacks as "fairy palaces".
But the Victorian fascination with fairies was by no means confined to the written word.
The period from 1840 to 1870 was the golden age of Victorian fairy painting.
It was a way that Victorian artists could get away
with portraying the nude female form.
If they put wings on it, and called it either a fairy or a cherub,
it became art.
The Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke by Richard Dadd
is one of the most famous works in the genre.
In the painting, King Oberon and Queen Titania
from A Midsummer Night's Dream take centre stage,
making its Shakespearean influences clear for all to see.
Dadd was brilliant, but unstable.
He ended his days in Broadmoor, having murdered his father.
By 1917, interest in fairies had waned
when two girls from Cottingley, Bradford,
claimed to have taken five photographs of fairies.
The story captured the public imagination
and found an unlikely champion
in the novelist and committed spiritualist Arthur Conan Doyle -
himself the son of a Victorian fairy painter.
There were, of course, no fairies in Bradford,
but they HAD begun to appear in Staffordshire around that time.
The most wonderful fairies
are those depicted in Wedgwood Fairyland Lustre.
Very, very collectable.
I mean, a decent-sized Wedgwood Fairyland Lustre bowl,
a good sized punchbowl, is going to be into the thousands.
£3,000, £4,000, £5,000 for a good one.
A top tip, though, if you are buying Fairyland Lustre,
be wary of wear to the gilt
and the decoration on the enamel.
If you're going to buy a piece, invest in a perfect one.
Flog It! favourite Mabel Lucie Attwell
also produced fairy illustrations around that time,
including her famous Boo Boo Elf.
And at JM Barrie's request, she also illustrated editions
of Peter Pan, which were reissued many times.
It's clear that today, little folk of the right vintage
can still work their magic in the auction room.
-That's a sold sound! £2,300!
Even if many of us have stopped believing in them!
I still believe in fairies, don't you?
For those of us who admire the great themes in history,
the Romantic novels of the 19th century are a good place to start.
And some of the best books penned were written in the early 1800s
by Sir Walter Scott, a man who's come to epitomise the Romantic novel -
and a man whose legacy Anita Manning greatly admires.
Abbotsford. One of the most famous houses in the world.
It was designed and built by Sir Walter Scott in his beloved Borders.
Scott was one of the most important literary figures in the 19th century,
and the first English-language author
to have a truly international career.
But he is perhaps best known as the inventor of the historical novel.
After suffering polio as a child,
he was sent to stay with relatives in the Borders
and it was here that he fell in love with that region, its history,
its tales and its folklore.
At Abbotsford, Scott played host to the great and the good of the day.
He called it "the Delilah" of his imagination.
And it's still a place of pilgrimage to his many thousands of admirers.
Today, I'm here on a pilgrimage to uncover the treasures of that fantastic house.
It's filled with his own collection of antiquities
thought to inspire his writings.
It shows the preoccupations, the passions
and the life of the man himself.
This is Scott's library,
and for me, it's the jewel in the crown at Abbotsford.
This collection consists of over 7,000 volumes
on every conceivable subject
and in 17 different languages.
These were Scott's working tools,
and many of these books have been annotated by him.
The scope of the library is immense
and many of these printed works are unique.
But what is fascinating about this collection
is that it is EXACTLY as it was in Scott's day.
And this is rare, because often a collection is broken up
or added to after the owner dies.
First editions are usually what collectors look for.
But in Scott's day,
when books were printed in editions of tens or hundreds,
Scott's editions were coming out in runs of thousands -
and in some cases, 25,000. So his first additions are not rare,
but what the collector should be looking for are those books
which are signed by the author,
and those lovely early calf-bound volumes.
But books weren't the only thing that Scott collected.
This is the armoury. Scott used this as his sitting room.
He called it his "little boudoir".
And there are some weapons on this wall which belonged to a character
from one of my favourite Scott books, Rob Roy.
Rob Roy was a real person.
He was a Highland chieftain, a Scottish folk hero
and outlaw of the 18th century.
Here, we see his sporran, his broadsword,
his dirk and his gun.
And Scott would often use objects to inspire him in his writings.
It was as if handling these objects
seemed to breathe life into the character on the page.
And finally, this is Scott's study.
The very soul of Abbotsford.
His later novels including
the magisterial nine volumes of Napoleon's biography
and the delightful Tales Of A Grandfather were written at this desk.
We see his paper knife, his spectacles, his quill,
and, rather sadly, a chequebook.
And this tells us the story of the latter part of Scott's life.
In 1826, the publishing company that he was a partner in
crashed during the recession. and led him into debt of £126,000.
Rather than going bankrupt,
he determined to write himself out of debt.
And here we have this little chequebook
and we can imagine him here,
scoring off his debts one by one.
But the legacy that Scott left behind is amazing.
Not only do we have his astonishing body of work,
but we have Abbotsford,
which provides inspiration for the thousands of enthusiasts
who make a literary pilgrimage here every year.
By now, you know Charlie Ross is a man
of endless enthusiasm and passion.
He needs no prompting talking about his favourite subject.
Cricket! I've never been a very good cricketer myself,
but I love going to cricket matches. I love reading about cricket.
I've got a book entitled "Cricket" by WG Grace,
the father of English cricket.
This enormous, enormous man with a huge beard.
Quite a portly gentlemen,
regarded, really, as the father of English cricket.
People used to travel the length and breadth of the country
to watch the great man bat.
And he wrote this book.
It's simply called "Cricket".
What is particularly exciting about this, and I bought this at auction,
is that here we have...
..WG Grace's original signature.
It's a little faded, but that makes it really pretty rare.
This is a man that died very nearly 100 years ago.
We weren't in an era, then,
where, as he came out, having batted,
there would be lots of children looking for signatures,
which there would be today, with the great players of today.
There wouldn't have been so many signatures,
so this makes it even more rare.
It's a great tome,
we have illustrations of these splendid people.
You think nowadays of sportsmen of being lithe, lissom, ultra-fit.
There's Alfred Mynn here.
A picture of Alfred Mynn, what an extraordinary gentlemen he is!
Can you imagine him running up and down the wicket?
Surely he must've had to hit sixes and fours
because after a couple of singles, he'd have been completely knackered!
Great, great illustrations.
Lovely tome. Had to pay for it.
It cost about £650, I think.
Which some people would think I'm bonkers
spending that sort of money on a tome like this, but I will keep it.
I'm sure it will turn out to be a good investment, my son is as keen on cricket as I am.
He, no doubt, will keep it
and it will be admired by the family for years to come, I hope!
I've never seen one of these on Flog It!
I'd love to see one on Flog It!
And I'd love to see how much it made.
'The next chapter of our story features eye-popping surprises...'
The little police helmet really caught me with my trousers down.
Got it for nothing, had it for a day, and it made a thousand pounds!
'..and an awe-inspiring book collector.'
If you've got millions of pounds to spend of disposable cash,
you spend it on your passion.
Sandy's passion is women's literature.
These days, many of us do much of our writing on a keyboard
and a computer or a smartphone is our page.
But it wasn't always that way.
The paraphernalia of writing
is of enduring interest to the collector
whether it be blotting pads, pen trays, inkwells,
even desks, we see the lot at our valuation days.
Do you want to find out more? Well, go and grab and pen and paper
because this is what you need to know.
Collect fountain pens!
Namiki cases, which are Japanese lacquer done for Dunhill.
I think they are amongst the most expensive pens in the world.
So, if you see one of those, certainly go for it.
Always try and stand back from the crowd.
Don't buy what everybody else has got. Try and buy something rare.
Things like very ornate, grand blotters.
If you think of the 19th century French ormolu-mounted blotters
and desk sets - very decorative, very collectable.
And probably a bit underpriced at the moment, so have a look at those.
Good advice from our experts.
On the ground, they come across
all manner of weird and wonderful things,
including one little thriller that Philip found in Stockport.
The little police helmet really caught me with my trousers down.
-How old do you think it is?
-I've no idea.
I know it came from my grandfather.
I think that that dates back end of the 19th century.
And I love it cos it's pure novelty.
You just press that there, and lo and behold, there's our little inkwell.
-And it's just such a cool thing.
Writing was an art form, and they would produce this little stand
that big, with brushes on it that you wiped your nib on,
nib wipes, and sometimes, they would be in the form of a helmet
or a dog or whatever, or a whatever.
So, the whole thing,
they took to an art form.
And these were designed almost to be travelling inkwells,
because, once you press that down like that, it becomes self-sealing.
So, there are people who collect inkwells.
They come in all sorts of different forms.
They can come in little bags,
they can come in the shapes of rugby balls,
they can come in the shape of footballs, cricket balls,
little dog's heads. They can come in 101 different things,
and I guess the bottom line is,
the rarer they are, the more money they make.
I saw a little Gladstone bag inkwell, about that about that big,
just the same period as this in an antique shop, priced at £150.
Now, that was mint condition.
This has seen the life, hasn't it?
-It certainly has.
-But it's just a fun thing.
And I think it's quite honest for what it is.
I think, in auction, I would put a 30 to 50 estimate on it.
If you have the joy of the internet,
-someone's just got to sit at home and click that mouse...
..and £60 could very quickly become £130.
But think 30 to 50.
The bobby's hat was auctioned by Flog It!'s Adam Partridge.
And he was most definitely intrigued.
A few years ago,
I had a collection to handle, a house contents,
where he collected inkwells,
and he had well over 1,000 different types of inkwell.
I don't recall there being one like this.
Start me in the room - £30?
30 online. Five. 40. Five. 50. Five.
60. Five. 70. Five. 80. Five. 90.
How quick is that? It's on fire!
Five. 100. 110. 110, I'm bid.
140, 150, I'm bid.
Keep going, online.
-160, 170, I'm bid.
-Lovely, isn't it?
This is the beauty of an auction.
If two people want something, the sky's the limit.
At 210. At 210.
Is it time for the sleeper bell?
-220 bid. 230, I have. At 230.
230. Still going.
selling on my books here at 230.
You're out, online.
Absolutely lovely - yes!
THEY CHAT EXCITEDLY
Hats off to you two!
A fantastic return for mum and daughter.
The success of the inkwell shows that novelty items
can certainly prove lucrative.
If the collectors have never seen a policeman's helmet before,
it's going to make whatever the collectors
are prepared to pay for it.
And I guess that's what happened on that day.
It's safe to say that James had never seen anything
quite like the quirky little page-turner brought by Joy
to our valuation day at Coventry Transport Museum.
I have always been a book lover -
not normal books, but this type of book.
What a fantastic object.
I can just imagine somebody sitting back in their study
in late Victorian or Edwardian England, pretending to work.
The wife is saying,
"Now then, George, you're not having my whisky again, are you?"
And he says, "No, no, no. I don't have any whisky in here,
"apart from...in there."
What a wonderful way of hiding a bit of tipple in your study.
I absolutely love it.
It has the novelty factor, the fun factor,
-it's useful and it's an antique that looks the part as well.
They're just such fun,
because they appeal to that naughty element
of "Hee-hee! I've got something here
"that I'm hiding."
Is it something that you've drunk from in your...?
-I don't think I'd fancy drinking out of it!
Smells a bit musty.
Wouldn't smell musty by the time you've got a good old malt in there
or something like that.
Let's have a look at it.
The whole thing is bound
in what would originally have been a royal blue Morocco leather,
and then it's detailed and stamped in gold.
And the thing that I love about it is the author is James Dixon.
And James Dixon was a silversmith working in Sheffield
throughout the 19th century.
James Dixon was one of these makers who was just prolific,
a great businessman,
and this was something he was clearly very proud of making,
because he put his name on the spine.
And if we turn there, that gives it away.
We've got James Dixon & Sons of Sheffield,
and I should think that would've been made in England about 1910,
something like that?
The fact that it says Made In England would indicate it's slightly later.
But the overall look is very much Edwardian.
The Victorians were really the people that loved the novelty item
and the Edwardians followed on from that.
So, anyway, it's a great object. I love it,
and it's the sort of thing that you would like to see
in a gentleman's library sale, something like that.
-Value - £100 to £150? Something like that?
-Is that all right by you?
-Yes, that's fine.
# 'Scuse me, baby, but I'm drunk... #
James liked it, but would the Little Book of Booze
leave anyone else intoxicated?
Why are you selling it?
Well, I decided I wanted to come to Flog It!
I've been once before and thoroughly enjoyed myself
and enjoyed myself this time.
It belonged to my dad, you see.
-He would have so enjoyed being here.
-Here we go.
-The James Dixon & Sons EPNS spirit flask.
It's all in the form of a book
and it's got "A Pleasant Surprise" on it.
There we are, the registration marks, etc.
I've got an opening bid on the book, commission bid, of £85.
At 85. 90, do I hear?
90, 90, 90 - 100.
100, 100. 110, 110...
Good to be getting the top end...
135. 140. 145. 150.
150 in the front row, at 150.
Do you want 160, up there?
That's a good, good thing.
-£150, gentleman's bid - are we done?
There you go - well done, you. Well done, James.
So the book turned out to be a pleasant surprise by name
and a pleasant surprise by nature.
It will appeal to a librarian,
somebody with a good 18th-century library of books,
somebody who might just belong to a rugby club
and take it along with the lads as a bit of fun
to try and sneak into a match here and there.
The fundamental tool of the writing trade is, of course, the pen
and in 2007, Michael was lucky enough
to have a rare example land on his valuation table.
The ivory pen was one of the most beautiful things
I've ever seen on a Flog It!
It belonged to a dear friend of mine who died back in the last century.
-Which wasn't as long ago as it sounds
and I believe it would have belonged to her father.
-Right - she was an elderly lady.
-She was an elderly lady, yeah.
Well, the box is always a good place to start.
If we have a look in the cover, it says "To His Majesty The King."
So we know it's after Victoria's death.
But more importantly, we've got the name Plante,
and he was the retailer of extremely fine Japanese
and Japanese-inspired works of art at the turn of the 20th century
and this pen, far from being a fountain pen,
is really a little miniature work of art.
It is, isn't it?
I mean, the sleeves, top and base
are all carved out of ivory, extremely finely.
'It required a huge amount of skill to carve that case
'because it was very thin ivory -'
you've not got a lot of depth to it
and it was just skilled, beautiful Japanese art at its best.
I'm pretty sure that this black infill
is layers of Japanese lacquer.
It took an age to do this - the only trouble, of course,
because it's ivory,
is we've got a split coming in it there
and there's also a split in the cover.
'The cracks made a huge difference to the value'
because there's very little you can do with them.
You can re-glue them, but the actual material has shrunk and moved
and maybe you'd have to fill them and file them down
and it would never be perfect.
As far as the maker goes, the giveaway is actually on the nib.
It says "Kokusai",
who must have been the maker.
It's not an English pen?
It's not an English pen. It's American.
-It's an American pen with a Japanese case
sold by an Englishman.
'A pen like this,'
you would expect to have been made for a very wealthy Westerner.
It's very much a Western object, made for export.
The value of it is going to be...let's say,
between £200 and £300.
Let's put a fixed reserve of £200 on it.
If you're happy to put it into auction,
we'll go ahead and do that for you and hope it makes a fortune.
Pauline's pen was undoubtedly beautiful,
but would its condition make it a write-off?
Had a chat with the auctioneer earlier.
He said if it didn't have that little crack in it, the damage,
it'd be worth £1,000 to £2,000.
And our very own Nick Hall was the auctioneer in question.
The fine quality, early 20th century Kokusai black lacquered
and chased ivory pen...
Wonderful, a rare thing -
but the quality...it was the like I've never seen before in a pen.
May I say...150, start me.
150, I'm bid, thank you, at the desk at 150.
I'm looking for five, now.
155, coming in. 160. Five. 170.
170, I'm bid. New bidder, 175.
-180. Five. 190...
-They like it.
190, I'm bid. 195, thank you. 200.
£200. And five. 210.
£210 at the desk, any new bidders?
All done at 210 with you, sir...
215. You're out at the desk.
New bidder at 215. Any further bid? All done?
Japanese works of art. They are the pickiest collectors in the world.
It's perfectly legal to buy or sell ivory dated before 1947,
and the pen clearly fell into that category.
But it's the case that great age
increases the possibility of damage to anything,
especially something as delicate as ivory.
The crack that was in it, the split, it just kills it for a collector,
which I think was reflected heavily in the price we achieved.
Now, we don't often get large items into our valuation days
but Richard from Great Yarmouth bucked the trend
when he brought along a blockbusting piece of furniture.
-Have you got a big car?
-No, I've got a Fiesta.
-A Ford Fiesta.
We actually used a trailer -
my wife's sister's husband drove us here.
How long have you had it?
-Approximately 24 hours.
-Yeah, 24 hours.
-We've tried it in our house and it doesn't seem to fit.
-Not our sort of style, really.
-Not your style.
-No, it's very ornate and flamboyant, isn't it?
What we had here was a very ornate French desk
in the Directoire period, so late 19th-century French.
But it's modelled on an earlier example -
a Louis XIV-style desk.
Tortoiseshell and brass inlay,
which we call Boulle work.
You've got this cut brass inlaid there
against a tortoiseshell ground or a turtle shell.
Here - now, it's in very poor condition,
because it hasn't been cleaned, but I like that.
You've got these great ormolu mounts on here.
'Ormolu mounts are'
the highest form of gilding -
they're bronze mounts cast
and then gilded in a gold leaf.
Tapered, square legs - can you see the way they taper down?
And they've still got inlay and ormolu mounts -
so sharp and so untouched.
Throughout the valuation, I was sort of fiddling on, opening things -
I had the key in my hand, opening...
And you do find labels, and you can be a bit of a detective - an antique detective.
"A Boulle and tortoiseshell writing table
"in the style of Louis XIV, inlaid on solid ebony
-"and mounted in fine ormolu."
'It would have been bought by an industrialist -
'someone who'd made a lot of money'
would've bought this desk to show off their wealth.
-We can see the cracks on the top.
And the inlay here has gone.
Ten years ago, I could quite happily put 3,000 to 4,000 on it.
Ten years ago.
The market has dropped.
In this condition, you can only put 1,000 to 1,500 on it.
-That's what it's worth at auction.
That's quite a lot of money for...
-For a knackered old desk!
So, despite the damage, a hefty estimate from Thomas.
The auction was destined to be a cliffhanger.
Number 155 is this wonderful desk here,
the tortoiseshell Boulle desk here.
£1,000 to start.
£800, if you like.
It wasn't a sea of hands to begin with, when he opened up.
600. 620. 650.
Getting stuck in.
not red - if it was red tortoiseshell,
it would have been selling really, really well.
Downstairs, the fresh bid is 820.
'The auctioneer seemed determined to push the bids to four figures.'
It's £1,000, gallery bid, now. £50 wouldn't hurt.
At £1,000, now, it sells on the 1,000...
-I'm happy with that.
-You must be thrilled.
-Yeah, definitely, yeah.
-Got it for nothing, had it for a day,
and made £1,000!
You really can't complain about a result like that!
It just goes to show that auctions don't always go by the book.
Sometimes, despite the vagaries of fashion and the ravages of time,
quality will win out.
£1,000 is still a very good price,
because there was a bit of work to be done.
As we've seen, items related to the written word
can come in all shapes and sizes.
But there are some rules of thumb that apply to collectables,
no matter what their size.
When it comes to writing paraphernalia,
quirkiness sells -
the more unusual a collectable is,
the more valuable it's likely to be.
Novelty items also have the added benefit
of appealing to collectors beyond those who are solely interested
in items of a literary nature.
If you've got something at home that was connected to a writer
or a great world event,
you could be sitting on a gold mine.
And your item needn't be directly connected to writing.
The collar worn by Charles Dickens' dog sold in 2010 for over £7,000.
And look out for the maker's mark or certificate -
if you've got one, you're more likely
to make good money at auction.
In the world of antiques and collectables,
personal stories always add extra appeal
and for Claire Rawle, reading a family memoir
is like hearing a voice from the past.
What I have here is some copy of typed notes
that my grandfather, my mother's father, typed up
about his experiences on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
He was a great letter writer,
because he was basically an Edwardian,
and in those days, they wrote.
He kept diaries, and I love that,
because by reading something, you're in touch with that person.
It's a voice from that person.
So I just thought I'd read a bit here.
July 1st, 1916, there was this massive push.
The officers were the chaps that, sort of,
got all the fellows out of the trenches
and stood...like a decoy, really, just waiting to be killed.
And an awful lot of them were...scythed down.
He says here, "I was standing on the parapet of Bund trench,
"spacing the waves out as we moved to assault Pommiers trench,
"when Meaker ran across to me,
"'For God's sake, sir'", he gasped,
"'don't expose yourself so much.
"'Don't you realise that I have got to carry on if you are potted?!'
"It struck me as being a funny way of putting it,
"especially as, by standing there,
"he was exposing himself to the same risk."
And it's just the thought that there are these chaps,
standing having this altercation, both of them in direct enemy fire -
and then it just goes on,
and it's an account of how he pushed through
and cleared the trenches and ended up,
him and...literally, a couple of others,
cos nearly everybody else had been wiped out.
And he just sounds so brave.
I think the written word by the ordinary person
will give you a greater grasp on what was really happening in history.
There is quite a high value on original documents,
so whilst, obviously, these to me are more than money -
this is very, very precious -
there are things that come on the market
and they do make a lot of money.
OK, here's a question for you -
what connects one of Britain's most famous authors, Jane Austen,
from about 200 years ago, to the modern-day present phenomena
of the internet, e-mails, computers, laptops...?
Well, I can tell you.
It's this place, Chawton House, once her brother's home,
now owned by a Silicon Valley millionairess.
You probably haven't heard of her,
but American computer expert and entrepreneur Sandy Lerner
bought Chawton House in Hampshire in 1992.
Although she's never lived here, she spent eight years
and £10 million turning this run-down shell...
..into this restored architectural delight.
Looking at the house today, it's a labour of love
and love is how it started.
The legend is that Sandy Lerner made her money
by inventing a new computer system
so she could send her boyfriend romantic messages.
Now, that story was just clever PR, really.
But the work was a huge leap forward in computer development
and it made Sandy Lerner a multimillionaire.
So what's that got to do with Jane Austen?
Well, if you've got millions of pounds to spend,
disposable cash, you spend it on your passion.
Sandy's passion is women's literature -
just look at this incredible collection.
Many of them are first editions or early ones,
and the condition is incredible.
Such a sense of history in this room.
Sandy Lerner donated her personal collection
and built an international study centre
for women's literature from the 1600s to the 19th century.
And now, it numbers 9,000 books.
Jane Austen lived nearby in a cottage in the village,
but she often visited Chawton House
because this was her brother Edward's home.
While she was living in the village, she finished Sense And Sensibility and Pride And Prejudice
and started Emma.
And here is a wonderful edition, printed in Philadelphia in 1833.
It just goes to show the worldwide appeal of her work,
and what an accolade for an author, even by today's standards,
to have your work published all around the globe
but back then, in 1833...
Emma has descriptions which reflect Chawton House,
and the landscape here is said to have inspired some of the passages.
Some of the characters may even have been based
on the owners of the house.
We've all heard of Jane Austen, but even before her,
there were many women making their mark
in a male-dominated world through their writing.
This beautiful portrait is of Mary Robinson.
She was an actress who became the mistress to the Prince Regent
in 1779 - he later went on to become George IV.
And Mary Robinson later went on
to champion the cause of women's rights.
She led somewhat of a scandalous life,
yet wrote romantic poetry.
Here in the collection, there's a wonderful first edition,
first printed in 1791, of her works.
Now, even earlier than that,
Aphra Behn was one of the first professional female writers.
This one's titled "Love-Letters Between A Nobleman And His Sister."
It was an incestuous story,
a love story between a brother and a sister.
So it was incredibly scandalous in its day.
Aphra Behn was born in 1640 and, like most women of her day,
she had no formal education.
She travelled the globe -
basically, she enjoyed life to the full.
She did what she wanted to do.
Sandy Lerner still comes here regularly.
She's a chairman of the trustees.
She's still passionate and dedicated about the place -
she's hands-on, very enthusiastic.
And it's thanks to her dedication and passion
that members of the public can come here,
look at the general collection,
read the books and learn more about early women's literature,
and...well, if I had loads of money,
this would be something I would love to do as well.
It's well worth a visit, so please do check it out.
We're always pleased to see collectors on the show
so Thomas was delighted to meet up with Sue,
who brought along something rather special to a valuation day
in a very appropriate setting.
# Mama's taking us to the zoo tomorrow
# Zoo tomorrow, zoo tomorrow
# Mama's taking us to the zoo tomorrow
# We can stay all day
# We're going to the zoo. #
Sue - you've brought along a bear.
-You didn't think there were enough animals in London Zoo?
-So you brought your own with you.
Tell me about your bear. How did you come by him?
I bought him in a charity shop, about 20 years ago.
I have got another bear, a much smaller one,
which is how I knew what sort of bear it was.
It was a Royal Copenhagen bear.
Everything produced by Copenhagen, in my opinion, is wonderful,
But I would date him from about, um...
-the '50s, I think?
-Yes, that's fine.
-£100 to £150 would be the estimate.
Let's see what he makes.
Where shall we start this? £50 to go.
£50 to start me. 50, I'm bid.
£65, I'm bid. £70 in the corner.
£70 - anybody else want to come in? £70 it is, then.
-There we go.
-And you're happy.
-Yes, I am.
I quite miss the bear,
but he took up a lot of space on the shelf.
And shelf space is a precious commodity for Sue,
because she's an avid collector of books.
My main area is really second-hand children's books,
old children's books, from about the 1920s to the 1960s and '70s.
They're mostly the ones I remembered reading as a child
but they weren't my copies - they were library copies.
But when I discovered you could buy second-hand books,
which were a lot cheaper than new books,
and you could buy them anywhere -
markets, jumble sales, bazaars, charity shops...
once I discovered that, I haven't stopped
and I'm always adding better copies to my collection.
This one's one of my favourite books - Mystery At Witchend.
And I only paid 10 pence for it, it's quite amazing.
It's the first edition and quite hard to find,
especially with its dust wrapper.
The easiest way to start collecting books
is to look around where you are -
look at charity shops, jumble sales, car boot sales.
There's more people looking for fewer books, now,
and it's always the ones
that they didn't print so many copies of,
they're the ones everybody wants.
Certainly, the Harry Potter ones,
the first edition of the first title,
there was quite a small print run for the first title,
because the publishers weren't sure it was going to be popular.
And a friend of mine had a first edition,
but she'd read it and it wasn't in very good condition.
I think she even read it in the bath.
And she sold it for a few thousand pounds and then bought a paperback.
The only thing with children's books is that children read them,
so they're not always in good condition.
And if you're collecting first editions,
you want it in good condition, with a dust wrapper,
and that's often the first bit that gets worn and gets discarded.
It's best to collect books that you like, rather than just buy them
because you think they might be worth something.
Well, there you are - some great advice from Sue there,
someone who definitely knows her books.
If you want some more inside information
on antiques and collectables,
then join us next time for more trade secrets.
This episode is dedicated to all things relating to writers and writing - from pens to Peter Pan.
Flog It! favourite Anita Manning explores the life and legacy of Sir Walter Scott, and Charlie Ross explains how he indulged his passion for cricket with a rare tome.
Presenter Paul Martin reveals the story behind an awe-inspiring collection of women's literature.