Rarities Flog It: Trade Secrets


Rarities

Antiques series. There's a look at the auction of a very rare object at Adam Partridge's saleroom, and Paul Martin explores some strange structures on the south coast.


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Transcript


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In over a decade on "Flog It!" we've valued

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thousands of your antiques and collectibles,

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and we've helped you sell them

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in auction rooms all over the British Isles.

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And during that time, we've learnt a great deal about the items

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that are passed through our hands.

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-A great thing to have on "Flog It!"

-Thank you so much.

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In this series, I want to share some of that knowledge with you,

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so sit back and enjoy, as our experts divulge their trade secrets.

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There are certain things that turn up

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time and time again at our valuation days, like items of silver,

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snuff boxes, Clarice Cliff, Royal Doulton - we love them all.

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But then there are the more unusual things you bring in.

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Rarities that sometimes defy valuation.

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And they certainly create a buzz amongst the "Flog it!" Team.

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In today's programme, we'll be celebrating the rare

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and the extraordinary, and shedding some light on their mystery.

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On today's show, surprises for Charlie.

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What?

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Christina finds something unusual down a rabbit hole.

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Rare as hen's teeth.

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And I'm blown away by some astonishing sales.

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I'm not joking - listen!

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Two thousand three, anyone else?

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And Adam discovers a very rare and valuable book

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hidden in a soup packet...

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My jaw dropped.

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..which gets the international market in a bidding frenzy.

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160,000, 170,000...

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Time and time again we find that rarity can add a premium to the

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value of an object.

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Poor condition and damage can be trumped by something that is

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rarely seen, so how do we know

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when we've got something that's extremely unusual?

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And where is the best place to start looking?

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If I'm looking round an antiques fair

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and I see something I don't know, I love buying them.

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Because it's where you learn about things,

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sometimes it turns out to be quite an interesting thing.

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More often than not, of course, it turns out to be nothing at all.

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But if you get that wee sort of buzz from it,

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that feeling that it might be something,

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then it is occasionally worth having a go at it.

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You can always do your research afterwards.

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It's always worth taking a punt on something,

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because if you don't know what it is, perhaps the person who's

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selling doesn't know what it is,

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and it might well be that little secret find.

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But identifying that secret find

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- something that's unusual or even rare - isn't always easy.

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That's where our experts come in.

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Experts like Charlie Ross, who discovered that a big surprise

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awaited him in a small package.

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I'm expecting to find a carriage clock in here,

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there's a little button that releases the top.

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What you can do is leave it in here

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and still have the benefit of the clock itself,

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as it is, just by pulling that panel up there, isn't that neat?

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Very nice.

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'The size was exciting,'

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because most carriage clocks are...let's say,

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that size, and this was a miniature one, half size.

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And also, what I didn't know of course,

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until I took it out the box,

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was those wonderful pietra dura panels on it.

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Pietra dura - "hard stone",

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literally translated from the Italian,

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they are panels from Italy, and I think it's absolutely sweet.

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'Pietra dura are pieces of rock put together rather like a jigsaw

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'and glued together, so you don't see the joints, the glue,'

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so the skill is in the cutting - rather like a jigsaw puzzle -

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to make sure that one bit fits exactly into the next.

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I can see that there is a little bit of damage on the back panel here.

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That's an expensive job to do.

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Somebody doing this will need to repair that, otherwise, bit by bit,

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the pieces of stone will fall out and you'll be left with nothing.

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But the side panel is absolutely perfect. I think it's worth...

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Well, it would be worth 3-500 all day long in perfect condition,

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I really think 2-300 is the right estimate,

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and the auctioneer should work hard on this because it'll certainly be,

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even if he's got six carriage clocks in his sale,

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the best carriage clock in his auction.

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Charlie was obviously charmed by such an unusual piece,

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but would rarity outweigh damage?

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-£2-300 put on this by our expert Charles here.

-Spot on.

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It's going under the hammer now.

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Pretty little late 19th century carriage clock,

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-and significant interest...

-Ooh, good.

-Great!

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-The lowest commission bid is £500.

-What?!

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I was quite bowled over when the auctioneer opened the bidding

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and said, "I have commission bids here" and whatever he said,

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"600 - 50, 700 - 50."

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And there wasn't a bid in the room!

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£750 is what I have with me, may I say £800?

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Is there 800 in the room?

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With me and to be sold then, all happy, at £750...

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Straight in and straight out, blink and you'll miss it. £750, Richard!

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I was astonished by the price. I think the rarity was the thing.

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In hindsight, how many miniature carriage clocks have

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I seen with pietra dura panels?

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The answer is very few,

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and therefore there's an extra premium, over and above

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the extra cost of making the object is the rarity value.

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Go for something unusual!

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It seems a rare design or size can sometimes matter more than damage.

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But if you have an unusual object in pristine condition,

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you really could hit the jackpot.

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Christina came across some objects she wished she'd had

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the pocket for. A rare collection that marked the very early

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beginnings of a very well-known maker.

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You've absolutely made my day bringing these in.

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I have seen these in books before, but never in real life,

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-do you know how rare they are?

-No.

-Rare as hen's teeth.

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-Oh!

-Or should we say, as rare as a rabbit teapot.

-Great, absolutely.

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The designs were developed by a nun called Barbara Vernon.

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Now, she was the daughter of a man called Cuthbert Bailey,

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who was one of the managers at Royal Doulton.

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Her father, in 1934, decided that he wanted

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to produce a line of nurseryware for Royal Doulton,

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and his first idea for a designer was to go to his daughter,

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because her drawings were so endearing,

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she used to make her animals into caricatures.

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-This is the end result.

-How lovely.

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-These are also the precursors to the Bunnykins.

-Yes.

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So it all links together,

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and these are just a Bunnykins collector's dream.

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They really are the first Bunnykins figures, if you like,

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but in a utilitarian teapot, creamer and sugar bowl.

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The Bunnykins range are very collectable,

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they're still being made now,

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and they have crossed the 20th century,

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cos you get very early Bunnykins,

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which were taken from the original sketches of animals,

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and now you get Bunnykins which are wearing helmets and space hats,

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so they really have grown with the generations.

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So let's have a little look to confirm my suspicions,

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we'll take the cover off there, look at the bottom.

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Yes, lovely mark there,

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Royal Doulton mark with the Bunnykins either side,

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great that we've got that, collectors are going to love that.

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When the war came, 1939, production stopped,

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-and it never started again, so these are incredibly rare.

-Good grief!

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-We do have a problem with this, don't we?

-Yes.

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The sugar bowl, we've got

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a crack that runs from the rim right down through the body.

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That is going affect the value,

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collectors want them in absolutely mint condition.

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I think perhaps at auction, I still think it will fetch

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-something in the region of £5-700.

-Right.

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Damage worries me, but...

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We're going to find out, because this is our lot, here we go.

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Bunnykins three-piece tea set, somebody bid me £800 for it.

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-Oh, gosh.

-Wonderful!

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-850, 880, 900...

-They are rare.

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..980, 1,000 - and 50, any more?

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At 1,050 - 1,100.

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There's the bid at 1,100 - 1,150,

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1,200, 1,250, 1,300.

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-1,350, 1,400...

-£1,400.

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At 1,400 then, there's the bid, and I sell at £1,400, done, thank you.

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Well, £1,400, the hammer's gone down.

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-I'm shaking, I've learnt something.

-Bunnykins.

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Bunnykins, that's where the future is.

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The sugar bowl had a crack,

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which I was incredibly worried about at the time, but I think

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because it was such an early set,

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and because Bunnykins collectors do want those early pieces

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and there are so few around, in that instance it really did not

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matter hugely that there was a little bit of damage.

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Once again, the bidders decided to overlook

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the state of repair for the pleasure of owning a rare prototype.

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Bunnykins have bred prolifically since the 1930s,

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and there are plenty to choose from.

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But keep an eye out for rare pieces

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like Mother, Billy and Farmer Bunnykins.

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If they're in tiptop condition,

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they can change hands for around £1,500.

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Let's not pretend it's easy to find something very rare.

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After all, there's not much of it around!

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But there are things you can do to improve your chances.

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Find a traditional collection with a more unusual theme,

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like this most enchanting set I came across by Britains,

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one of the leading manufacturers of lead toys since the 19th century.

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I've not seen this particular set before. The gardening set.

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-Really?

-It's fantastic.

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The condition, I've got to say, is 100% perfect.

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It's absolutely fantastic.

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And what I love is you've even got the little glycerine bags,

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look, and it says "Geranium" on there. "15 Plants".

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And that's two pence, that little packet,

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which you could buy separately. I'm going to tip that out.

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Look at all those little geraniums in there! Isn't that brilliant?

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You can pick one up and they pop...

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..into the soil.

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I'm going to put it into auction with an estimate of £180 to £250,

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but in no way let them go any cheaper than that,

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because these are quite rare.

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It was not only delightful but rare,

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and, in a triple whammy, was in great condition.

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So I knew this would have buyer-appeal,

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and so did auctioneer Will Axon.

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Most of the time at the auction house,

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when toys are brought in, certainly lead toys, it is

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usually soldiers, cars, or vehicles, or figures, that sort of thing.

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It's not as usual to see a gardening set come through the door.

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And I've got interest here, where? At 130, 140. I'm bid 150.

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At 150, I'm bid, on commission. 150. 160. 170. 180. You're in now.

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-180 in the room. At 180. 190. Fresh blood.

-Come on.

-200.

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-220. 240...

-We've sold it.

-..280. 300.

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320. 340. I shall sell them at 340.

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All done at 340?

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Hammer's gone down, Eric. Well done.

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Some Britains sets are very collectable.

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I mean, the standard sets that you get coming through the sale, maybe

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six figures in these long boxes, can make £200, £300 regularly.

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Then if you start getting into rare figures,

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you've got a Flying Corps box set, which includes a little

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zeppelin and so on, I think one of those sold for £3,000.

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And Salvation soldiers, again, is a very rare set,

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and I think another set at auction did sell for £8,000.

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Quite astounding, isn't it? What someone will pay to buy back

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that childhood that perhaps they never had?

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This is a great example of how a classic collection

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with a twist on a theme can be hugely desirable.

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But this was nothing compared to the extraordinary collection

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Kate Bliss found in 2009.

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-Which is your favourite here? Which one do you like best?

-Gosh.

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Um, I've got to say this one, I think.

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There's just something about him. He's a proper little character.

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He is, isn't he? That's what strikes me about all of these.

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They've all got their personalities,

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their quirkiness, if you like.

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Let's look at these two quirky figures first because, if you look

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-closely, as you can see, on their hats, there's a little mark.

-Right.

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An F and an M.

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And they stand, those two initials, stand for Fernand Martin,

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who was French.

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They're never in very good condition, his characters,

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because they were made from scrap metal that was

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scavenged from the streets of Paris, literally. So those are interesting.

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Then we have three very different ones here,

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and if you go a little way across Europe from France,

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you come to Germany,

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and these three are by one of the best-known German manufacturers

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of toys at that moment, a company called Ernst Lehmann.

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And one of the characteristics of the toys produced by the firm

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were the bright colours they used, and the lithographed designs.

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We can see that, I think, beautifully,

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on the wheels of this cart here.

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So what about value? This lovely collection?

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-All in all, you've got several hundred pounds here.

-Right.

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And I think with the right collectors at the auction,

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-they could significantly surpass my estimates.

-Lovely.

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Bashed about a bit, but would that bother the collectors?

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I love these tin-plate toys. I know the condition's poor

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on some of them, but who cares, because they're early ones.

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Let's find out what this lot in the room think, shall we? Here we go.

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Lot 734. We have to open the bidding at 500...

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Oh, late bids for this.

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£680.

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-£680.

-Straight in at 680!

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Be still, my beating heart.

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'Be still, our beating hearts. These tin characters flew out the door.'

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420.

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'We could hardly believe what was happening, as the bids went up

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'and up.'

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I'm not joking. Listen.

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2,300 anywhere else? Finished?

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2,200... Do you know something?

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That's taken us to a total of £4,990.

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Just under five grand.

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Give us a hug! Come on!

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I'm totally gobsmacked. Absolutely gobsmacked.

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Nearly five grand for those clockwork tin-plate toys.

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Didn't matter about the condition. The collectors loved them.

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They were so rare.

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'We realised these were special, but not quite how special.

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'Luckily for Stephanie, the collectors knew.'

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We're always telling you on Flog It! about the importance

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of condition, but inevitably, there are exceptions.

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Those marvellously eccentric tin figures were so unusual that our

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mantra of "condition, condition, condition"

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was thrown out the window.

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for me, the fact that they were a little bit battered

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really did add to their charm.

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So what else can you do to have a better chance of finding rare

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and unusual items?

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Get to know the field you're interested in

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so you can understand the history and the story.

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And then you'll know what's ubiquitous and what's rare.

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Collectors will pay a premium for their favourite

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collectable in a rare size or colour.

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It can be challenging and very exciting to look for prototypes

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and experimental pieces by a well-known designer.

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These can be very sought-after by the aficionados.

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But you'll need to make sure you have some

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evidence of its provenance.

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So look out for marks or documentation to prove its pedigree.

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And remember that while damage can be a turn-off it may be

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overlooked if a piece is of such exceptional rarity,

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quality or historical value that a collector just has got to have it.

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So when you see something truly individual,

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keep something in mind that the wear and tear can be

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part of its charm, and might well add to its value.

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Like you, our experts are great rummagers in their pursuit

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of finding interesting antiques and collectables,

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and Caroline Hawley is no exception.

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And occasionally, her rummaging throws up something

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rather intriguing.

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I found this about 30 years ago in a box of junk,

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probably at an auction sale,

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and I had absolutely no idea what

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it was, except for the fact

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that the missing part of it was inside it.

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Now, this is made of pottery, no maker's mark on it at all.

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It is probably Staffordshire pottery. It's got a hole

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at the bottom of it. It's got a little bit of damage here.

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And if we lift it up, it has got a hinged metal lid,

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complete with holes pierced in the top,

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and you open it up...

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-And it closes like that.

-'So what is it, Caroline?'

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So, here's the answer.

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It's a toothbrush holder.

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Taylors Drug Company Ltd, The Special.

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And by golly it is. It's enormous.

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And it pops into the toothbrush holder just like that,

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keeping your toothbrush clean and healthy for another day.

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Since he joined the Flog It! team back in 2003,

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Adam Partridge has grown in stature from the rather overconfident

0:18:200:18:24

young chap of those early days...

0:18:240:18:26

Everything I touch turns to sold.

0:18:260:18:29

Yes, I remember that. The Midas touch thing.

0:18:290:18:32

..to the mature auctioneer of today.

0:18:320:18:34

And I can start the bidding at £100,000.

0:18:340:18:37

We've come to know and love Adam as a man of many parts, and

0:18:370:18:40

one of his myriad of interests is religious paraphernalia, so you can

0:18:400:18:44

imagine his delight when something extraordinary fell into his lap.

0:18:440:18:48

I have a great interest in Judaica.

0:18:540:18:56

I think this boils down to, perhaps, right back to my childhood.

0:18:560:18:59

I'm half Polish, so I think there's a slight connection there,

0:18:590:19:03

and I grew up in a very musical background,

0:19:030:19:05

so I met lots of Jewish violinists

0:19:050:19:07

and I was in Jewish houses, and I felt part of the whole culture,

0:19:070:19:11

and it all evolved that we started doing a Judaica sale.

0:19:110:19:15

So we've got a very big auction tomorrow with a very

0:19:150:19:18

good representation of Judaica in it.

0:19:180:19:21

Judaica refers to the ceremonial art that Jewish people use

0:19:210:19:25

in their rituals in synagogue or in the home, and Adam's brought

0:19:250:19:29

in for sale a wide variety of pieces relating to various festivals.

0:19:290:19:34

One of the most important of these is Passover, where Jews

0:19:340:19:37

retell the story of Moses from the book called Hagadah.

0:19:370:19:41

They also sample symbolic food from a special dish,

0:19:410:19:44

and Adam had a fine example.

0:19:440:19:46

Oof! Solid silver. I'm not faking this.

0:19:460:19:49

It's extremely heavy, about 200 ounces of silver.

0:19:490:19:53

It depicts Moses, here, parting the Red Sea, which is

0:19:530:19:58

very symbolic for the Passover festival anyway.

0:19:580:20:01

And these alcoves or recesses are where the various items of foods

0:20:010:20:05

would have been placed.

0:20:050:20:07

It's designed by a very famous

0:20:070:20:10

sculptor, really, George Weil. 1979.

0:20:100:20:15

So, not antique, as such, but George Weil is major name in the art world.

0:20:150:20:20

Comes also with a matching cup, the Cup of Elijah, here,

0:20:200:20:23

and our estimate's only £1,000-£1,500.

0:20:230:20:26

I actually drove about 200 miles to go and get these from a customer.

0:20:260:20:29

I think they are going to make towards £3,000,

0:20:290:20:32

but we'll see what happens when they come under the hammer.

0:20:320:20:36

Apart from all these wonderfully-interesting things here,

0:20:360:20:39

we've got extra special. Something that was found in really, really,

0:20:390:20:42

unusual circumstances and is going to be extremely

0:20:420:20:45

valuable and important.

0:20:450:20:47

I don't take much time off work.

0:20:510:20:53

I'm a real workaholic. I'll do all hours.

0:20:530:20:56

I get home late at night and I took a week holiday. One week!

0:20:560:21:01

And these clients of ours phoned up and Bill went out.

0:21:010:21:05

-Normally, it would have been me.

-He was sunning himself

0:21:050:21:09

and I found myself up in north Manchester.

0:21:090:21:13

I was being toured around the house.

0:21:130:21:15

The lady just kicked along this box,

0:21:150:21:18

along the floor, and said, "Well, there's a box of Jewish books there.

0:21:180:21:22

"Is there anything in there?" And this was the box, itself.

0:21:220:21:25

A chicken soup box. Rummaging around in it,

0:21:250:21:29

perhaps the most modest-looking is this little manuscript.

0:21:290:21:32

But on leafing through it, I opened it up, and it is quite apparent

0:21:320:21:38

that someone with a very skilled hand has created this.

0:21:380:21:42

When Adam returned from his holiday, the first question he asked was...

0:21:420:21:46

"Anything good come in while I was away?" He presented me with this.

0:21:460:21:50

And my jaw dropped. Neither of us knew exactly what it was.

0:21:510:21:55

I'm not pretending that we would be experts straight away, but we both

0:21:550:21:59

had the instinct, I suppose, the gut feeling, to know that it was

0:21:590:22:02

something very important and worth investigating further.

0:22:020:22:06

Bill and Adam's hunch was right. This wasn't any old manuscript,

0:22:100:22:13

but a rare Passover Haggadah, by Aaron Wolf, the chief Jewish scribe

0:22:130:22:17

of the Imperial Library, working in Vienna in the early 18th century.

0:22:170:22:22

It was an incredible find.

0:22:220:22:24

At that point,

0:22:260:22:27

I took it out to certain Jewish colleagues of mine,

0:22:270:22:32

mainly in north Manchester and that is how I came up also

0:22:320:22:36

seeking Dr Wise's advice about it.

0:22:360:22:38

Dr Yaakov Wise, an historian at the Centre for Jewish Studies

0:22:420:22:46

at the University of Manchester, examined the book.

0:22:460:22:48

This is a very rare survivor. It's a hand-illuminated

0:22:510:22:56

and illustrated Haggadah from the middle of the 18th century.

0:22:560:23:01

It was written in Pressburg, which is now called Bratislava,

0:23:010:23:05

and it is an example of the finest-quality Haggadah that has been

0:23:050:23:10

made in the last two or three hundred years.

0:23:100:23:12

Jewish families value their simple Haggadahs,

0:23:130:23:17

much like people might have a family Bible.

0:23:170:23:20

But most have no financial value, which makes this hand-written

0:23:200:23:23

and hand-painted work, created in 1727, quite extraordinary.

0:23:230:23:29

So this was always a, sort of, premium example, I suppose?

0:23:290:23:32

One that was just for the very wealthy?

0:23:320:23:34

It would have been very, very expensive when it was made.

0:23:340:23:39

If you think about it,

0:23:390:23:40

the text has got to be hand-written, the illustrations have got to be

0:23:400:23:44

hand-drawn and hand-illuminated and, if we look at one of the...

0:23:440:23:49

-The illustrations are wonderful, aren't they?

-Yes.

0:23:490:23:52

Here, we have got the story

0:23:520:23:54

-of the baby Moses, about to be put in the river.

-Do you think that

0:23:540:23:58

Aaron Wolf did both the calligraphy and the drawings?

0:23:580:24:01

Well, we don't know, actually. It was quite common on those days

0:24:010:24:04

to have a partnership between a Jewish scribe and a Christian artist.

0:24:040:24:07

-Ah.

-Because there were very few, if any, trained Jewish fine artists

0:24:070:24:12

of that period.

0:24:120:24:14

-So, if you look at this page, which is Moses...

-Wonderfully detailed.

0:24:140:24:18

..petitioning Pharaoh. This is medieval costume and the scenery,

0:24:180:24:22

the buildings, are all medieval - some, possibly, Christian artist's

0:24:220:24:28

-idea of what Jews would look like, but using medieval costume.

-Right.

0:24:280:24:33

Could you tell me a bit more about Aaron Wolf,

0:24:330:24:35

-the scribe and calligrapher here?

-He was one of the top scribes

0:24:350:24:40

in 18th-Century Europe.

0:24:400:24:42

He was employed by the best families, the most wealthy families,

0:24:420:24:46

-such as the Oppenheimers, for whom this Haggadah was written.

-Right.

0:24:460:24:50

The Oppenheimers married into the Rothschild family,

0:24:500:24:53

because, as we say in Yiddish,

0:24:530:24:55

-money goes to money.

-And in a very famous name, of course.

-Yes.

0:24:550:24:59

And I suspect that it moved across Europe with the Rothschilds.

0:24:590:25:03

Having survived the Napoleonic Wars, the upheavals in Germany

0:25:030:25:06

in the 19th century, the First World War,

0:25:060:25:09

apparently, it arrived in Belgium just before the outbreak of

0:25:090:25:13

-the Second World War.

-It's amazing to think what events this has survived,

0:25:130:25:17

-what its seen over almost 300 years of its existence.

-Yes.

0:25:170:25:21

So, Belgium at the beginning of the Second World War?

0:25:210:25:24

And it, apparently, came to England in 1940.

0:25:240:25:28

Over 100,000 Jews fled Germany

0:25:280:25:30

and Austria in the two years before the outbreak of World War II,

0:25:300:25:34

heading for safety across Europe, America and the former Palestine

0:25:340:25:38

- and taking only their most treasured possessions.

0:25:380:25:42

Dr Wise thinks the owners of this precious Haggadah

0:25:420:25:45

may have kept it concealed on the way to Britain.

0:25:450:25:48

Once here, it remained with a distant relative,

0:25:480:25:52

who apparently had no idea of its significance.

0:25:520:25:55

How do you feel having this so close?

0:25:560:25:59

It's exciting, because, you know, you never come across...

0:25:590:26:04

People have loved their whole lifetimes and never come across

0:26:040:26:08

a Haggadah of this quality and this age and this significance.

0:26:080:26:14

In terms of value, we've put

0:26:140:26:15

an estimate on it of £100,000-£150,000 -

0:26:150:26:19

an awful lot of money. What really makes it so valuable

0:26:190:26:21

and how many people do you think would be actually interested in it

0:26:210:26:25

at that, sort of, level of price?

0:26:250:26:27

Well, it's extremely rare, it's probably one of the five or six

0:26:270:26:33

-oldest Haggadot in Europe.

-Gosh.

0:26:330:26:36

-I would like to see it go to a museum.

-I agree with you.

0:26:360:26:41

I think it would be lovely for it to end up in a museum.

0:26:410:26:44

I'd quite like to go and visit it again one day.

0:26:440:26:47

We have, encouragingly, had some interest from the Jewish Museum

0:26:470:26:52

in Vienna, which I think would be particularly appropriate.

0:26:520:26:55

Exactly. That is where first used, in Vienna. That is a very good idea.

0:26:550:26:59

There is a lot riding on it and a lot of pressure on us all, as well.

0:27:040:27:08

But with a sale like this,

0:27:080:27:09

we have to trust our research and, ultimately, trust in the object.

0:27:090:27:13

It is a wonderful, wonderful, thing to be offering for auction.

0:27:130:27:17

I ma quite sure it will achieve a superb price.

0:27:170:27:20

Just what price exactly? We'll find out a little later.

0:27:210:27:26

Coming up, Philip plays the guessing game over a mystery object...

0:27:310:27:36

-What is it?

-I brought it along for someone to tell me what it was.

0:27:360:27:39

Our experts do some detective work...

0:27:390:27:42

-So, smuggling.

-It's so intriguing.

0:27:420:27:45

And the sale of that rare Jewish manuscript leaves Adam overcome.

0:27:450:27:49

What I love about Flog It! is that, much as we love them,

0:27:510:27:54

it's not all about antiques! Sometimes the buzz can come from

0:27:540:27:58

the mysteries that surround the things and places all around us

0:27:580:28:02

and are even in the very landscape.

0:28:020:28:04

I've brought you here to Greatstone, near Dungeness, to show you these -

0:28:090:28:12

the strange-looking concrete structures

0:28:120:28:15

that lie abandoned at the edge of a waterlogged gravel pit.

0:28:150:28:18

They look like early forms of abstract art, but they are not.

0:28:180:28:22

They played a significant part in the history

0:28:220:28:25

of Britain's defence system.

0:28:250:28:27

After the First World War, the biggest threat to Britain's security

0:28:280:28:32

was from the air. What the country needed was an operational edge -

0:28:320:28:36

a way of pin-pointing incoming enemy bombers before they reached

0:28:360:28:40

the English coast. The old system relied on sight, using spotters

0:28:400:28:43

with binoculars.

0:28:430:28:45

30 enemy aircraft over the Channel, flying due west.

0:28:490:28:52

But it wasn't effective at night or in bad weather conditions.

0:28:520:28:56

The solution lay with one man, Lieutenant William Tucker.

0:28:560:29:01

Tucker had spent much of the First World War in trenches,

0:29:010:29:04

using listening devices to search out enemy locations.

0:29:040:29:08

By the 1920s, he decided to apply the same listening techniques

0:29:080:29:11

to the skies. The result was a series of concrete structures,

0:29:110:29:15

like these, along the South Coast. They reflected the sound waves

0:29:150:29:20

of incoming aircraft onto carefully-placed microphones.

0:29:200:29:24

And various sound mirrors survive, dotted along the South Coast,

0:29:250:29:29

but this is the only place you can see all three designs side by side.

0:29:290:29:33

To explain how the work, I've come to meet Owen Leyshon,

0:29:350:29:38

who is warden for the Dungeness National Nature Reserve.

0:29:380:29:43

-Owen, hiya.

-Hello.

-Pleased to meet you and thanks for meeting today.

0:29:430:29:47

-These are absolutely fabulous.

-Brilliant, these sound mirrors.

0:29:470:29:50

-How does the technology work?

-Well, it's pointing

0:29:500:29:53

out into the English Channel, it's collecting soundwaves from

0:29:530:29:57

-the enemy aircraft or potential enemy aircraft.

-Yep.

-So you had a guy

0:29:570:30:01

standing where I am, with a sound trumpet, pointing back

0:30:010:30:04

in to the 20-foot dish, so he has got his back to the sea.

0:30:040:30:08

He would have a stethoscope on

0:30:080:30:10

and he's moving that trumpet around, trying to get a bearing

0:30:100:30:13

of where the aircraft is. And, remember, with this one,

0:30:130:30:17

-it is very, very...

-It's very vertical.

-It's vertical, indeed.

0:30:170:30:20

-So...

-It's almost picking things up that are low. not way up there?

0:30:200:30:24

So, if the planes were coming in very high, they were in trouble.

0:30:240:30:27

What they did then was designed the 30-foot mirror.

0:30:270:30:32

They tilted the dish higher up into the sky, to get the higher aircraft

0:30:320:30:37

as they were coming in.

0:30:370:30:39

-Can I go and look at the big one?

-Let's go and have a look.

0:30:390:30:42

-It's amazing, isn't it? How big is that?

-That's 200 foot.

0:30:420:30:45

Incredible size when you get up to it, isn't it?

0:30:480:30:51

-Very impressive.

-200 feet.

-Indeed, yes.

0:30:510:30:54

Concave lengthways, but also vertically, as well.

0:30:540:30:57

I can see that when you look at the edges.

0:30:570:31:00

How does this one work?

0:31:000:31:02

You have got a set of microphones in a big arc around the forecourt

0:31:020:31:05

of this 200-foot mirror. And you would have had a guy in the office,

0:31:050:31:09

-out this window up here.

-I'm so pleased they are still here.

0:31:090:31:12

This is a real eye-opener for me.

0:31:120:31:14

-What was the down side?

-Radar came along in the late 1930s,

0:31:140:31:20

so, quickly, the range they could pick up the aircraft

0:31:200:31:23

was much better than these sound mirrors and they became obsolete

0:31:230:31:27

-quite quickly. Impressive structures.

-They are, aren't they? Yeah.

0:31:270:31:30

I'm pleased they are here today. I really am.

0:31:300:31:33

These structures do stand as a monument to a man whose work

0:31:350:31:38

was to have a profound effect on the outcome of World War II.

0:31:380:31:42

The communications systems that Tucker developed between his mirrors

0:31:420:31:46

and HQ were so effective that it was copied by the radar team

0:31:460:31:50

and led directly to their success.

0:31:500:31:52

The world of antiques and collectables

0:32:020:32:04

is full of rare and limited editions and stories of lost works

0:32:040:32:08

by famous painters. And it is not unusual for you to bring in to one

0:32:080:32:12

of our valuation days, something that we have not seen before,

0:32:120:32:17

yet we know all about it. But every now and then, you present us

0:32:170:32:20

with something shrouded in mystery.

0:32:200:32:22

An item with a bit of mystery is always appealing.

0:32:250:32:29

If it is something that we don't know about

0:32:290:32:31

or something that we can't quite see or something that we can't quite

0:32:310:32:37

-understand.

-You do get the odd mystery item,

0:32:370:32:40

I suppose, when you just don't know what it is.

0:32:400:32:43

It's lovely, actually, when that goes into the saleroom,

0:32:430:32:46

because the key thing is somebody might know what it is

0:32:460:32:49

and they could be incredibly rare.

0:32:490:32:50

When Philip Serrell came across a mystery item,

0:32:500:32:53

he thought it was time to play his own form of parlour game.

0:32:530:32:57

What's in there, then?

0:32:570:32:59

I brought it along for someone to tell me what it was.

0:32:590:33:02

It came from my father, presumably came down to him from somebody else

0:33:020:33:07

-in the family, but it's always been a mystery.

-It might still be!

0:33:070:33:11

'When I first opened that box,'

0:33:110:33:13

you didn't know what was in there and those strange little objects.

0:33:130:33:16

And it's really, in a way, a process of elimination.

0:33:160:33:20

Your first thought is, perhaps it's a game.

0:33:200:33:22

It can't be that. Then you look at the way it's formed.

0:33:220:33:27

It's quite clear that they were darners.

0:33:270:33:31

-It's almost like a child's, or a miniature, sewing accessory set.

-OK.

0:33:310:33:37

Some of these are like sock darners or darners for the end of gloves

0:33:370:33:40

and that sort of thing. These different shapes - eggs and ovoids -

0:33:400:33:46

they are all different darning tools, I think.

0:33:460:33:49

'It was just a really'

0:33:490:33:50

fun thing and I love things that are just a bit different

0:33:500:33:54

and a bit of fun and just a talking point, really.

0:33:540:33:57

They are in different... Box wood, possibly bits

0:33:570:34:00

of mahogany. I think it's really, really cute.

0:34:000:34:04

You've got marquetry and parquetry. Both of them are inlaid woods.

0:34:040:34:07

Marquetry is basically a picture and parquetry is a geometric design.

0:34:070:34:13

The best way to remember it is, if you think of a parquet floor,

0:34:130:34:16

it's just wood blocks that are geometrically laid down.

0:34:160:34:20

So, parquetry is a geometric inlay of wood.

0:34:200:34:23

-I think it's probably about 1900-1910.

-Mm-hm.

0:34:230:34:26

Yes, I think you can estimate this at auction at, sort of, £30-£50.

0:34:260:34:31

I'd put a £20 reserve on it and it will sell all day long,

0:34:310:34:34

-cos it's a really sweet little thing. Happy to put that in?

-Yes.

0:34:340:34:38

Thanks for bringing it.

0:34:380:34:39

19th-Century Continental beach parquetry box, containing a set

0:34:410:34:45

of miniature parquetry balls and implements. £20.

0:34:450:34:47

20, at the back. Straight in at 20.

0:34:470:34:50

25. 30.

0:34:500:34:52

-35, fresh bidder.

-That's good. Someone new in the room now.

0:34:520:34:55

At £38, at the back. At £38 bid. Are we all done and finished?

0:34:550:34:58

Buyer at the back has it, at £38.

0:34:580:35:02

For me, the buyer of that is probably someone who collects

0:35:020:35:06

sewing accessories. But, you know, it falls into that treen category.

0:35:060:35:11

And treen is turned wood or small wooden items,

0:35:110:35:14

so it could fall into that category.

0:35:140:35:16

Or just someone who likes a bit of fun.

0:35:160:35:18

It just goes to show that it that it only takes a small investment

0:35:180:35:21

to realise the biggest entertainment value.

0:35:210:35:23

I've never seen one of those before and I've never seen once since...

0:35:230:35:26

and I'll probably never see one again. But it's fun, isn't it?

0:35:260:35:29

Some items, like that rare Haggadah,

0:35:300:35:33

come with wonderful stories attached.

0:35:330:35:36

Occasionally, the story itself can be the reason for its appeal

0:35:360:35:39

to collectors.

0:35:390:35:40

It can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary...

0:35:400:35:44

as Charlie Ross found.

0:35:440:35:45

Generally speaking, you wouldn't take a bayonet as being

0:35:450:35:48

a particularly fascinating object...

0:35:480:35:51

to do on "Flog It!" because we see a lot of them

0:35:510:35:54

and they are of a standard price.

0:35:540:35:56

But this man wasn't particularly interested in his bayonet.

0:35:560:35:59

It's the fact that he worked at Butlins

0:35:590:36:02

and his act was to balance this damn thing on his nose.

0:36:020:36:06

-Were you called Johnny Pearce?

-Yes.

0:36:060:36:08

-Is that your real name?

-Yes, yeah.

-Oh, it is?

-Yeah.

0:36:080:36:11

But, tell me, you're not English, are you?

0:36:110:36:14

-Well, I changed it by deed pole.

-Oh, did you?

0:36:140:36:17

-I've been over here...70 years.

-Good Lord.

0:36:170:36:20

I'm one of the...

0:36:200:36:22

fortunate people who escapes the Nazis,

0:36:220:36:24

and I came from Berlin in 1938.

0:36:240:36:27

-My father sent me to England...

-Just in the nick of time.

0:36:270:36:30

He saved my life, yes.

0:36:300:36:32

Out of that story came this amazing ring.

0:36:320:36:37

What have we got in here?

0:36:370:36:38

-Er... Well, after the war...

-Yes.

0:36:380:36:41

..we were living in Tooting,

0:36:410:36:43

and a photo album arrived out of the blue...

0:36:430:36:48

with photographs of my grandmother.

0:36:480:36:51

And this was inside, slotted in, the book.

0:36:510:36:54

-Stuck in there and it came through...

-So smuggled in?

0:36:550:36:58

Well, whether it was smuggled, I don't know,

0:36:580:37:00

but this came in my possession.

0:37:000:37:03

We had this wonderful 1910/1920 belle epoque era diamond ring.

0:37:030:37:08

Let's have a look at it. It's a very pretty ring,

0:37:080:37:12

set with three good-sized diamonds in the middle.

0:37:120:37:16

'I loved the ring.'

0:37:160:37:17

I loved the format of it, the quality of it, the shape of it,

0:37:170:37:23

the fact that it had larger stones and smaller stones.

0:37:230:37:28

'I thought it was charming.'

0:37:280:37:29

It's, I have to say, I think extremely beautiful,

0:37:290:37:34

but not the most commercial, in terms of design, these days.

0:37:340:37:38

-Hmm-hmm.

-People tend to go for plainer rings,

0:37:380:37:41

single stone, three-stone,

0:37:410:37:42

diamond rings rather than such intricacies.

0:37:420:37:46

I'd like to put a valuation of 300-400 on it...

0:37:460:37:49

That would be very nice.

0:37:490:37:51

..with a fixed reserve, below which thou shalt not go, of £250.

0:37:510:37:56

Yes, fine.

0:37:560:37:57

-Are you happy with that?

-I would be and my wife would be happy,

0:37:570:38:00

and the kids would be happy, too.

0:38:000:38:02

Well, we'll put that into the sale,

0:38:020:38:04

and you take your balancing act home with you to practise.

0:38:040:38:08

HE LAUGHS

0:38:080:38:10

This ring has had an amazing journey and it's come back to the family.

0:38:100:38:14

-Yes.

-Posted to you.

0:38:140:38:16

Yes, inside a photo album.

0:38:160:38:19

-Cut out and smuggled into the country.

-Incredible, isn't it?

0:38:190:38:24

It's going under the hammer now. The diamond ring is up for grabs.

0:38:250:38:29

Diamond ring. Start at 200, 210,

0:38:290:38:31

220, 230, 240, 250,

0:38:310:38:35

260, 270

0:38:350:38:37

280, 290...

0:38:370:38:39

In a way...

0:38:390:38:41

I felt slightly concerned that he was selling it

0:38:410:38:47

because this had this story,

0:38:470:38:48

and the story was not going to be as important ever again...

0:38:480:38:53

once the ring had changed hands.

0:38:530:38:55

550, 570...

0:38:550:38:57

600...

0:38:570:39:00

At £600. At 600.

0:39:000:39:02

£600. selling upstairs at £600.

0:39:030:39:05

£600. Great, great result.

0:39:070:39:11

You've got to be so happy.

0:39:110:39:12

I'm very happy. My wife sitting over there, she's happy.

0:39:120:39:15

She must have obviously fainted already.

0:39:150:39:17

I've got to give her the kiss of life.

0:39:170:39:20

I think, in this particular instance, the object sold itself.

0:39:200:39:24

I think, had the object been related to horrible things that were

0:39:240:39:32

going pre-war and post-war, it might have added value.

0:39:320:39:35

The fact that that ring had come in this extraordinary

0:39:350:39:39

way into the country was a fascinating story,

0:39:390:39:42

but I don't think it affected the value of the ring at all.

0:39:420:39:45

While John was obviously happy,

0:39:470:39:49

the joy of that ring, for me, was not in its value at all,

0:39:490:39:52

but in the tale of its odyssey from Nazi Germany.

0:39:520:39:56

We love your fascinating stories, so please keep them coming.

0:39:560:39:59

Our experts often have to turn detective to winkle out

0:40:010:40:04

the provenance or history of an object.

0:40:040:40:08

And when this mysteriously shaped box

0:40:080:40:10

appeared before Michal Baggott, he was keen to do some digging.

0:40:100:40:14

I love boxes like this, shaped boxes,

0:40:140:40:16

cos it took a lot of work, believe me, to make that box.

0:40:160:40:19

A specialist did it, and usually for a very good reason.

0:40:190:40:23

So you know what's in it already. Let's open it up and reveal...

0:40:230:40:27

-that fabulous pendant.

-Yeah.

0:40:270:40:30

But being a bit of an anorak, what I also think is fabulous...

0:40:300:40:35

is the retailer's name on the top of the box. Henry Tessier.

0:40:350:40:39

Tessier, one of the most important firms in the 19th century.

0:40:390:40:44

So this is your mother's. Do you know where she got it from?

0:40:440:40:48

It's been passed down from various generations.

0:40:480:40:52

I'm not sure who owned it originally.

0:40:520:40:54

-It's just come down through the family.

-Yeah.

0:40:540:40:56

Right. Now let's have a look.

0:40:560:40:58

Now what we've got is the most fantastic

0:40:580:41:01

garnet with a little fly...

0:41:010:41:04

..but picked out with diamonds and little ruby eyes,

0:41:050:41:10

so it was a lot of work in this.

0:41:100:41:11

You get a lot of garnet and gold jewellery,

0:41:110:41:15

especially with insect motifs on it, in the Victorian period.

0:41:150:41:19

The Victorians lovely their symbolism,

0:41:200:41:22

and you can see that in the use of images in their jewellery.

0:41:220:41:25

The dragonfly meant courage,

0:41:260:41:28

the spider prudence.

0:41:280:41:30

And in the case of this pendant, the fly represented humility

0:41:300:41:34

and a hidden secret. Intriguing.

0:41:340:41:37

What's interesting is we've also got an engraved date, which is

0:41:370:41:42

LL, 1st of August, 1882.

0:41:420:41:45

12th of October, 1882.

0:41:460:41:50

That's a very odd dated inscriptions cos it's the same year

0:41:500:41:55

and it's different months.

0:41:550:41:57

Normally, with a piece that is a mourning jewel,

0:41:570:42:00

you would associate it with the colour black,

0:42:000:42:03

and you would see two quite distant dates,

0:42:030:42:05

hopefully, at least 20, 30, 40, 50 years.

0:42:050:42:09

The fact that it was two dates within the same year might

0:42:090:42:12

have meant that it was for an infant,

0:42:120:42:15

or it may have commemorated some other event.

0:42:150:42:18

I wasn't sure, at the time, of the iconography of the jewel.

0:42:180:42:22

It is a fairly stunning little pendant.

0:42:220:42:24

I think we've got to put an estimate of £200-£300

0:42:240:42:27

-and a fixed reserve of £200.

-OK.

0:42:270:42:32

And it's really worth that all day long.

0:42:320:42:35

How mysterious. I'd love to know the story behind the pendant.

0:42:350:42:39

What did the bidders make of it?

0:42:390:42:41

Good luck to Ed, who can't be with us.

0:42:410:42:43

It's going under the hammer right now.

0:42:430:42:45

I can start you here at 150 on the book.

0:42:460:42:49

At 150. 160...

0:42:490:42:51

170, 180, 190...

0:42:510:42:53

200. The book's out at 200. 220 now.

0:42:530:42:56

220 on the phone.

0:42:560:42:58

220. Thank you, madam.

0:42:580:43:00

240, 260...

0:43:000:43:02

280...

0:43:020:43:03

-This is good. It's going to get the top end of the estimate.

-300...

0:43:030:43:06

It deserves to. It's a really finely worked piece.

0:43:060:43:09

340, 360, 380, 400.

0:43:090:43:13

-Oh, fantastic.

-This is very good.

0:43:130:43:16

..440, 460, 480, 500... 500.

0:43:160:43:21

-What do we say? Quality always sells.

-At 500...

0:43:210:43:25

I wish Ed could have been here, that's all I can say.

0:43:250:43:27

He'd be doing cartwheels now, wouldn't he?

0:43:270:43:30

The beauty of that jewel clearly appealed to the bidders.

0:43:300:43:33

Sometimes inscriptions add to an item's value,

0:43:330:43:36

and the pendant's mysterious reference to dates two months

0:43:360:43:40

apart might have boosted interest and the sale price.

0:43:400:43:44

We may never know, but it's that mystery which can be

0:43:440:43:47

so alluring to collectors.

0:43:470:43:48

There is one area of collectables where symbolism

0:43:510:43:53

is key to its function.

0:43:530:43:56

Jennifer brought in a piece belonging to one of the most

0:43:560:43:58

secretive societies.

0:43:580:44:00

It was so covered in enigmatic symbols.

0:44:000:44:03

It was down to David Barnaby to decipher what they meant.

0:44:030:44:06

It's so intriguing

0:44:070:44:09

because this is quite a valuable item of Masonic regalia...

0:44:090:44:15

in the fact that it's...

0:44:150:44:16

It's not one of the tokens or the medals they would wear,

0:44:160:44:19

but it is a watch in a triangular section,

0:44:190:44:23

which in itself is a Masonic symbol.

0:44:230:44:25

Philip Serrell can shed some light on this secret society as he's

0:44:260:44:30

come across a fair few pieces in his time.

0:44:300:44:34

What makes something Masonic?

0:44:340:44:35

Well, there are all sorts of varying degrees of being a Mason, you know?

0:44:350:44:39

And the thing that you're looking for is perhaps the symbols and the

0:44:390:44:42

ciphers, and there's the square, the level, the compass,

0:44:420:44:46

the pillars, the all seeing eye.

0:44:460:44:49

You know, these things are emblematical of the Masonic culture.

0:44:490:44:54

It's in silver and, inside,

0:44:540:44:56

you've got details concerning where it was made.

0:44:560:44:59

It's a Swiss movement, a Swiss case.

0:44:590:45:03

On this enamel dial,

0:45:030:45:04

you have all these symbols from the Masonic order.

0:45:040:45:07

'Masonic memorabilia is hugely collectable.'

0:45:070:45:11

If you find a glass vase that's got nothing on it, it might be worth X.

0:45:110:45:17

But if you find a glass vase that's got the square, the level

0:45:170:45:20

and the compass on it,

0:45:200:45:22

then it might be worth ten times X. It adds value.

0:45:220:45:25

-The only defect, as far as I can see, is this cracked glass...

-Yes.

0:45:250:45:30

..which you shouldn't have too much difficulty, the purchaser,

0:45:300:45:33

-in replacing.

-No.

0:45:330:45:34

I think it's a fascinating jewel and there are members out

0:45:340:45:38

there of The Order and also collectors of Mason memorabilia.

0:45:380:45:44

And I think, at auction, it could realise anything between 120

0:45:440:45:46

-and 150.

-Oh, right.

0:45:460:45:48

-But the auctioneer may say, "I want it tucked under 100."

-Fine.

0:45:480:45:52

Who's going to buy a watch like that? Well, there's three areas.

0:45:520:45:56

There's a museum...that collects Masonic items,

0:45:560:45:58

there's an individual that collects Masonic items,

0:45:580:46:01

or there's a horologist, someone who collects watches,

0:46:010:46:05

who perhaps hasn't just got that example.

0:46:050:46:07

And I suppose the other area is someone might just take a shine to it.

0:46:070:46:11

I have one, two, three, four telephone bids...

0:46:110:46:14

-Four telephone bids!

-..three commission bids,

0:46:140:46:16

and I've no doubt a certain amount of interest in the room.

0:46:160:46:18

I bid on the book £400 only.

0:46:180:46:21

400, 400, 400.

0:46:210:46:23

420, 450, 480,

0:46:230:46:25

500, 520, 580...

0:46:250:46:28

600? Any more in the room?

0:46:280:46:30

-At 620, 650...

-Oh, Jennifer.

0:46:300:46:33

..700, 720, 750...

0:46:330:46:36

-780, 800...

-They love it!

0:46:360:46:39

-This is a huge learning curve.

-For you.

-Me.

0:46:390:46:42

At 800.

0:46:440:46:46

At £800. Any more at all?

0:46:460:46:48

At £800. And I sell then at 800 and done.

0:46:480:46:53

-Brilliant!

-What a wonderful moment!

-I'll come again next week!

0:46:530:46:56

Everyone loves a mystery, as this auction proved.

0:46:580:47:02

The reason why it made the money that it did was

0:47:020:47:04

because it was Masonic.

0:47:040:47:05

An in fact I'd brokered a deal for one to a museum about three

0:47:050:47:10

months before this and it was between £600 and £900,

0:47:100:47:12

so it was always going to make that sort of money.

0:47:120:47:14

If you want to enter the secret world of Masonic memorabilia,

0:47:160:47:20

look out for the famous square and compass images,

0:47:200:47:23

and for items linked to famous Masons and lodges.

0:47:230:47:26

But they can be copied or faked, so make sure of provenance

0:47:270:47:30

and try to get that authentication document.

0:47:300:47:34

So how can you get to the bottom of the mysteries that surround

0:47:340:47:37

some objects?

0:47:370:47:38

For a mysterious or amazing story to add to an object's value,

0:47:380:47:42

it must have a tangible connection.

0:47:420:47:45

Ideally, ensure you have some strong provenance - a photo,

0:47:450:47:49

a letter or a receipt.

0:47:490:47:51

An object's original purpose can sometimes remain

0:47:520:47:55

hidden in the mists of time - that's part of the appeal.

0:47:550:47:59

So look out for objects which provide a fascinating talking point.

0:47:590:48:02

Examine clues like symbols, designs and marks.

0:48:040:48:08

Doing your own detective work to unlock

0:48:080:48:10

the story behind an item can be half the fun.

0:48:100:48:13

But sometimes a mysterious object's worth may not

0:48:130:48:16

be in its monetary value at all...

0:48:160:48:19

but in the story attached to it.

0:48:190:48:22

By hanging on to it, you'll be keeping that story alive,

0:48:220:48:25

so get sleuthing.

0:48:250:48:26

Most of the items you bring along to our valuation day is

0:48:320:48:35

dated from the 19th and 20th century.

0:48:350:48:38

It's very unusual for us to see items

0:48:380:48:40

that have survived from an earlier period,

0:48:400:48:42

so you can imagine my delight when I met up with Joe at a valuation

0:48:420:48:46

day in Melksham, Wiltshire.

0:48:460:48:49

We've got the oldest things here today in the room.

0:48:490:48:51

-Really?

-Yes.

-Oh, I'm surprised.

0:48:510:48:53

-Something for the purists.

-Yeah.

0:48:530:48:55

So tell me, how did you come across all of these?

0:48:550:48:58

Well, they are part of my late husband's collection

0:48:580:49:00

and it was started by a friend of his called Bob G...

0:49:000:49:03

And then your husband started collection from there on.

0:49:030:49:07

'He collected all kinds of different things,

0:49:070:49:09

'including oil lamps and old flat irons...'

0:49:090:49:13

Bits of animal skull. He just liked collecting.

0:49:130:49:17

I love them. I love the onion glass shape - typical -

0:49:170:49:20

that's why they're called onion glass.

0:49:200:49:22

I love the fact the it's lopsided.

0:49:220:49:24

You could never make these so even

0:49:240:49:26

because they're all individually handmade.

0:49:260:49:30

This one is of bell form.

0:49:300:49:31

That's a nice, interesting shape as well. And this one...

0:49:310:49:34

Again, this is early 18th century.

0:49:340:49:37

And this one has its own seal.

0:49:370:49:39

Now that's something to look out for...

0:49:390:49:41

on any onion glass wine bottle...

0:49:410:49:44

because the seal will put more value on it.

0:49:440:49:46

OK, let's put a fixed reserve on them at £300.

0:49:470:49:51

-Yeah.

-OK? And hopefully they will do £100 more than that.

0:49:510:49:54

-Well, that would be nice.

-That would be nice.

0:49:540:49:57

So off to auction for those rare onion-shaped bottles.

0:49:570:50:01

-400 I'm in.

-That's good.

-400. 450. 500.

0:50:010:50:05

550. 600.

0:50:050:50:07

650. 700. 750.

0:50:070:50:10

800.

0:50:100:50:11

And the bids just kept on coming!

0:50:110:50:14

1600. 1700.

0:50:140:50:17

1800. At 1700 on that phone...

0:50:170:50:20

Ladies and gentlemen in the room...

0:50:200:50:23

Anywhere else at 1800? Am I going?

0:50:230:50:25

Gosh! That's fantastic! I'm ever so pleased for you.

0:50:260:50:29

We were all rather surprised that it was £1,700.

0:50:310:50:35

But I think that was because on the day there were people

0:50:350:50:38

telephone bidding,

0:50:380:50:39

and I believe they were sold to people from the United States.

0:50:390:50:43

-My husband Peter would be delighted.

-He had a great eye.

-Right.

0:50:430:50:47

What are you going to put the money towards?

0:50:470:50:49

It's going to Portland Bird Observatory,

0:50:490:50:52

where he was secretary for 20 years.

0:50:520:50:54

As well as being an avid collector of anything and everything,

0:50:540:50:58

Jo's late husband Peter was passionate about birds.

0:50:580:51:01

He dedicated 20 years of his life to the Portland Bird Observatory,

0:51:010:51:05

where he served as secretary.

0:51:050:51:08

The history of the bird observatory is that in the 1950s

0:51:080:51:13

there were a group of bird enthusiasts

0:51:130:51:15

who realised that this was an important place

0:51:150:51:18

because of its geography.

0:51:180:51:20

Springtime,

0:51:200:51:21

when the birds that have spent the winter in Africa are arriving

0:51:210:51:24

in this country, we are really the first land fall,

0:51:240:51:27

the first place they spot and so things tend to home in on us.

0:51:270:51:31

One of the people who was involved was a lady called Helen Brotherton.

0:51:320:51:37

She bought the lighthouse in 1960

0:51:370:51:40

and it was opened in 1961 by Sir Peter Scott.

0:51:400:51:45

And from then on it's flourished as a bird observatory.

0:51:450:51:48

The real bit of science we get into is the bird ringing.

0:51:520:51:55

Catching and marking birds with little individual metal rings.

0:51:550:52:00

That enables us to really pinpoint individual birds and find out,

0:52:000:52:04

the ones we catch as they arrive in the spring,

0:52:040:52:08

we're able to find out where they go to later in the year.

0:52:080:52:10

When I sold Peter's bottles it seems like the obvious thing that I

0:52:140:52:17

should donate the money to the observatory

0:52:170:52:19

which was the love of his life.

0:52:190:52:20

I enjoy coming down here very much

0:52:240:52:26

and I enjoyed spending time here with Peter.

0:52:260:52:29

We used to go off and walk round the island visit the quarries

0:52:290:52:32

and walk along the coastal path looking for flowers and birds,

0:52:320:52:36

and it was just some of the happiest memories of my life.

0:52:360:52:40

Rare finds don't get much more exciting than the wonderful Haggadah

0:52:520:52:56

that Adam and his colleague Bill found in an old box in Manchester.

0:52:560:53:00

It attracted international attention.

0:53:030:53:06

But on auction day would it also attract international bidders?

0:53:060:53:09

I don't feel very well, actually.

0:53:110:53:13

I'm full of cold, congested, but nothing is done to stop me

0:53:130:53:16

getting up there in a minute and selling this manuscript.

0:53:160:53:18

It's really encouraging, a room full of people.

0:53:180:53:20

I haven't seen an auction this busy for quite a long time.

0:53:200:53:23

I'm ready excited. You're going to have to stop me talking

0:53:230:53:26

because I'm going to just go on and on and on.

0:53:260:53:28

I can't wait to get up there.

0:53:280:53:30

Adam was as excited as a schoolboy!

0:53:300:53:31

But finally it was the moment of truth.

0:53:310:53:34

He'd estimated the book at £100,000 to £150,000,

0:53:350:53:39

but could it match his expectations?

0:53:390:53:42

Lot 100. The 18th-century Passover Haggadah.

0:53:430:53:47

And I can start the building at £100,000.

0:53:470:53:50

I'll ask for 105,000 next, please. It's £100,000 to start.

0:53:500:53:55

105 on the phone. 110.

0:53:550:53:57

115. 120. 125.

0:53:570:54:01

£125,000 on this phone now.

0:54:020:54:05

130. 135.

0:54:050:54:07

135. 140.

0:54:090:54:10

135 with James. 10,000, Bill?

0:54:110:54:15

140,000. 145.

0:54:150:54:17

150.

0:54:170:54:20

155.

0:54:220:54:23

160. 165.

0:54:230:54:26

At 160,000...

0:54:260:54:29

170,000.

0:54:290:54:30

170. I'll take 5 if you want. 170,000 here.

0:54:300:54:34

This was exceeding Adam's wildest dreams!

0:54:340:54:36

175. 180.

0:54:360:54:38

I'll take 180. 180 to this phone.

0:54:380:54:41

A new bidder joined the fray and it looked like there was

0:54:410:54:44

fierce competition to win this incredibly rare prize.

0:54:440:54:48

Quite appropriate. 185,000.

0:54:480:54:52

190. At 190,000 now.

0:54:520:54:55

I've got all day, I don't mind. 190,000. 195 now.

0:54:550:54:59

195 on this phone. Round it up, then.

0:54:590:55:01

Are there any decisions on the other phone? At 195,000...

0:55:040:55:08

At 195,000...

0:55:080:55:09

For the first time, then, at 195,000. Are we bidding?

0:55:120:55:15

We're bidding 200.

0:55:150:55:16

-200,000.

-AUDIENCE GASPS

0:55:160:55:19

at 200,000. Oohs and aaahs all round!

0:55:190:55:21

210.

0:55:210:55:22

210 on Bill's phone now.

0:55:220:55:25

Whatever you want to bid me. I'll take 215 if you want.

0:55:250:55:27

-Or 220 would be better. At 210.

-220?

0:55:270:55:31

210,000 is on the phone here.

0:55:310:55:34

The hammer is up, then, for the first time. At 210,000.

0:55:340:55:37

Second time at 210,000. Have you finished bidding?

0:55:390:55:42

-He's asking his client on the phone.

-Right.

0:55:420:55:44

-No, sir.

-At £210,000, it's the final call.

0:55:450:55:50

No extra than 210?

0:55:500:55:51

-No, sir.

-They are completely done. We are selling, then.

0:55:510:55:54

Final chance, then. At £210,000,

0:55:540:55:57

if you're all sure and done...

0:55:570:55:59

Thank you very much.

0:56:000:56:02

APPLAUSE

0:56:020:56:03

Well done, Bill.

0:56:100:56:11

That's very good. It's gone to where I wanted it to go as well.

0:56:150:56:18

It's going back to Vienna, ladies and gentlemen, which is where it originated.

0:56:180:56:22

Which is a very romantic story. Thank you very much.

0:56:220:56:26

APPLAUSE

0:56:260:56:27

A result which - for once - threatened to leave Adam speechless!

0:56:300:56:34

Gosh!

0:56:340:56:36

I feel very emotional, actually.

0:56:360:56:38

And I'm really, really, really pleased that it's made such a strong price.

0:56:380:56:41

210,000 is basically really what I thought it was worth.

0:56:410:56:46

Delighted. Delighted.

0:56:480:56:49

It made a wonderful price, a very strong price,

0:56:490:56:53

and nice to do a good job on a wonderful thing.

0:56:530:56:56

I will miss it very much.

0:56:560:56:58

It's now going back to where it belongs, to Vienna.

0:57:010:57:05

And... Yeah, I'm just extremely emotional.

0:57:050:57:08

I've never felt like this before.

0:57:080:57:10

Oh, dear. Thank you very much.

0:57:110:57:13

What an emotional journey for Adam, and that incredible Haggadah.

0:57:140:57:18

There are, of course, items of religious interest to look

0:57:210:57:24

out for across many faiths but what should you keep in mind?

0:57:240:57:28

Religion, as a general rule, doesn't sell very well.

0:57:290:57:32

The amount of times we have a valuation day

0:57:320:57:34

and people bring in family Bibles or portraits and things like that.

0:57:340:57:40

But there are certain areas that are still collectable.

0:57:400:57:44

For an example, church furniture.

0:57:440:57:46

Gothic church furniture is quite popular

0:57:460:57:48

and perhaps things like rosary beads you'll see.

0:57:480:57:51

So there are other collectables in religious terms,

0:57:510:57:53

but I would be careful and would advise you against thinking

0:57:530:57:57

that everything religious is therefore collectable or valuable,

0:57:570:58:00

because that is quite far from the case.

0:58:000:58:01

So, from the tantalisingly secret to the exceedingly rare,

0:58:040:58:08

there's a world of unusual treasures

0:58:080:58:10

and mysteries out there for you all to uncover.

0:58:100:58:12

Well, that brings us to the end of today's show.

0:58:170:58:20

I hope you've enjoyed it.

0:58:200:58:21

Do join us again soon for some more inside information on Trade Secrets.

0:58:210:58:25

This episode is dedicated to all things rare and mysterious, investigating the more unusual antiques and collectables.

There's a behind-the-scenes look at the auction of a very rare object at Adam Partridge's saleroom, and Caroline Hawley invites us to guess the use of a mysterious Victorian object.

Presenter Paul Martin explores the story behind some strange structures lining parts of the south coast.


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