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Feast your eyes on these beauties. Aren't they marvellous?
We're in a town where oysters are the local dish.
In fact, there's been an oyster festival for the last 700 years.
Today, Flog It! is in Colchester, in Essex.
This is the show where we invite you to fish out
your unwanted antiques.
We'll put a value on them and send them to auction.
These people are queuing to meet our experts, to find out exactly what it's worth.
Today, they're in the capable hands of our two experts,
Kate Bateman and David Barby.
David's an old hand at antiques and collectables, and he's always full of enthusiasm.
Right, that was exciting, wasn't it?
Kate runs an auction house with her father so knows the current values of everything
from portraits to porcelain, and even vintage booze.
Wow! I want that bottle of wine!
Just what we need on a Flog It! valuation day!
It's now 9.30, time to get the doors open and get the show on the road.
And on today's show, David Barby lets the mask slip
-and reveals himself as a fancier of Art Deco...
-This is tremendous.
I'd love it myself. One of the few pieces that come into Flog It!
that I'd really like myself.
We're all open-mouthed at the auction room as one of our items surprises us all...
-I bet you wish you had a loft full!
And there's a song and dance as this chap takes centre stage.
Well, everybody is now safely seated inside and time is ticking by.
Everyone's full of excitement and anticipation
because they don't know who will go to the auction.
Stay tuned and find out.
It looks like David Barby has made his first choice.
Let's take a closer look at what he's spotted.
Kim, when I look at masks like this,
and this is a Goldschneider mask made in Vienna,
probably roundabout the 1930s, 1935 period,
they give me an element of theatre.
And this one is the epitome,
because this beautiful female here is suddenly taking a mask away.
-Does it have any sort of theatrical connotations for you?
-It does, yes.
I used to collect theatre masks
because I used to perform when I was younger.
-Really? Do you still do that now?
-I hung up the microphone years ago!
-Did you sing or dance?
-Both. But later singing.
-On cruise ships?
I danced in theatres,
and then singing, over in Tenerife, actually.
-Oh, my word. What a wonderful life!
-Yeah, it was really good.
-So this came as a result of your interest in theatre?
It was given to me by a family friend about 16 years ago.
It's so typical of the sort of Art Deco decoration,
that you'd have a blank wall and something startling like this.
So you'd go into a room and this was the first thing that you saw.
And it's such a descriptive and exciting dramatic piece.
This is all modelled in terracotta
and then covered with this sort of opaque glaze,
but with an element of terracotta coming through.
-I also like the detail. Those luscious lips.
And these eyebrows, they're pencilled in like Joan Crawford.
They look as if you would have pencilled them in.
That's right. I think it's wonderful.
Then you've got this elegant hand supporting the mask, as though it's emerging out of the wall.
It's extraordinary. I love these pieces. I'd love it myself.
One of the few pieces that come into Flog It! that I'd really like.
It's in perfect state.
The name is there,
so anybody can identify it as Goldschneider.
Do you like the Art Deco period?
I do, yes. But this is the only piece that I have.
So why are you thinking now of selling this?
I've just had my first child. They don't come cheap, so I could do with the money!
-Little boy or girl?
-A little boy.
-And his name?
-After my great-grandad.
Let's think in terms of price on this, if it goes up for auction.
They sell quite well. There's demand for this sort of Goldschneider figure.
-And I think we're looking at between £400 - £500 on this.
There's a slight smile there. Did you expect that much?
That would be nice!
I had a look on the internet and saw different values.
But it's hard to put a figure on it. So that would be lovely.
Condition is all important. I turned it over to see the condition.
This is immaculate. Did you have it hanging on the wall at home?
My grandmother had it on the wall while I was abroad.
What have you done with it?
Kept it wrapped up in bubble wrap in the back of a cupboard.
Oh, that's terrible.
-So, you're not going to miss it?
-No, not at all.
-I think it's going to a very good cause as well.
-I think it's a fitting end to your career, don't you?
You're going to be on television!
-Fabulous, thank you.
A star is born, though this is probably not the TV role Kim imagined.
Now to Kate, who's with Tom and Petra.
You brought this fabulous vase. What can you tell me about it?
-Well, I inherited it from my family. It is over 100 years old.
And it has been in the family since I remember. I don't know much more about it.
-I know the make.
-I'm detecting an accent here, and it could be the clue to where this has come from.
-Yes, it's German.
-You're from... And it is a German pot.
Let's have a look at it. It's absolutely fantastic.
I saw this when you unpacked it earlier, across the room, and I fell in love, frankly.
It's beautiful. This is known as pate-sur-pate.
It's glass on glass, it's painting with glass.
So, it's an enamel, effectively, although it's a ceramic pot,
a porcelain pot. It's got this fabulous oval on the front
and it's just beautiful.
There are several names that sprung to mind instantly when I saw it.
There's a very famous chap called Solon, Jean Louis Solon,
and there are various other makers who make it,
but they're French and this is German.
-You know the factory?
-We've looked at the bottom - it's Heubach, is that said right?
They also made porcelain dolls' heads and they went into these
-in quite decorative ways, I suppose, a kind of different market.
But what we have is a beautiful, almost transparent lady
in classical dress and she's a fairy, she's got little wings. It's very romantic.
Date-wise, it's about turn of the century, 1890, 1900.
That's borne out by this classical shape, an Art Nouveau shape.
What you've got is... The quality of this is almost better than the rest.
-Yes, I know.
-It's quite odd.
It's kind of moulded, there's not a huge amount of decoration.
-It's fairly boring, actually, the decoration.
But this is a cracking piece in the middle.
Do you have it on show, do you like it?
We have it on show because it's something unusual,
but it is not exactly my cup of tea, to be quite honest.
-I find it beautiful, but I don't love it.
-And you're not a big fan?
-It's a bit girly.
-It is a bit girly. It's pretty enough.
-Where it stands, it's OK, but it's not something I would...
Price-wise, you're talking sort of maybe £80 to £120,
something like that, bracketing the £100 mark,
because it's obviously not one of the major factories.
-But it's a beautifully-made piece.
-Yes, somebody might love it.
I think there'll be lost of collectors that can't afford the
more expensive Solon pate-sur-pate and might go for this.
Is that the sort of thing you'd be happy to sell it for at auction?
-What's "good luck" in German?
-Viel gluck, OK.
-Viel gluck, let's hope it sells and we'll see you at auction.
I absolutely love it when we get furniture on the show,
it makes my day, and I love talking about it
because wood is so tactile, you have to agree, don't you?
-Do you all agree?
You can caress wood, you can love wood, it tells a story.
Lovely ambiguous grains and colour and it's full of life and vitality.
Thank you so much for bringing this in, Malcolm.
Even if it's not the real thing!
It's an apprentice piece, isn't it?
It's a tiny little scaled-down version. How did you come by it?
Well, a very good friend of mine, parents was moving,
and downsizing and they asked me to clear some furniture for them
and this was one of the items that was amongst the furniture.
-But this caught your eye so you hung onto it?
-I hung onto, yes.
OK, OK, so why have you brought it in today?
To find out a bit more about it?
Well, primarily to find out how much it was worth
-and just get a bit more information on it really.
It's been made by an apprentice.
It's a scaled-down version of the real thing.
-That is a Victorian tilt-top occasional table.
-Isn't it lovely?
-I thought it was a stand.
That's exactly what you do with the table with it
when you finish using it, you just do that
and this would sit against the wall then
and save some space, and that's why it is an occasional table,
you bring it out to use it when and where you need it.
-You can take afternoon tea on it.
Just look at the grain, look at that figuring in the grain.
Can you see that? That lovely flame curl running right through it.
Isn't that beautiful?
That's cross cut so you get that lovely grain.
Now, being a woodturner, he's working on a lathe,
that's where his skills are, turning one piece of wood.
If you look at the top of this tilt-top table,
that's been turned from one piece of wood.
He's offered up his chisel into this section
to cut the flanged edge, can you see that?
There's a lot of work there.
From there to there is another section of wood.
If you look here you can see a ring turning at the top,
a balustrade turning,
coming down to another flattened cotton reel turning,
and then sitting on a little ring turning.
Also the base, that's completely turned.
Architecturally little C-scrolled feet turning upwards.
I don't want to flog it now!
It's a really, really lovely example of a man
putting his skills to use after four years of training.
These little apprentice pieces date as far back as the 17th century.
So there were little tiny workshops
with windows that were open to the public.
Because the windows were so small
they couldn't put the full-sized piece in the window,
they'd make these little models to go in the window
and say, "That's it, that's its design, that's its style,
"I can now make one for you so big to go in your house."
So these were the windows of opportunity for craftsmen.
Any idea of value?
-I thought about £20 or £30 really.
-£20 or £30.
-What do you think?
-I would say little bit higher.
A little bit higher. 100.
-A bit higher. 500?
-A bit higher.
I should say about 200.
I think you're spot on there.
I say we put this into auction with a valuation of £200 £300.
Not 20 or 30, 200 to 300.
These little apprentice models are highly sought-after.
There's collectors out there all over the world.
-I think it's time to flog it then, isn't it?
OK, let's get it into auction. £200 or £300,
a fixed reserve £170.
-Yes, that's fine, yes.
Well, I think the value surprised Malcolm
and what a lovely thing for me to come across.
Where's David Barby?
He better not be up to any monkey business.
Annette, this is such a delightful little toy. Where does it come from?
I bought it for a friend, actually. She's at work,
-so I'm selling it on her behalf.
I don't think it's complete, actually.
Because it should be seated, I think,
on something, like a little box here...
It certainly looks like it.
..resembling a cotton bale or something.
Of course, this tail is so huge
it's had additional support at the end there,
so I think it really needs to go into a box or a plinth,
so that would make the toy complete.
-What I do like about it is it still works.
Look at this. Absolutely amazing.
And we have this button, which... the eyes sort of glower away.
This is quite nice, I like this immensely.
This group of toys, Annette,
is part and parcel of immediate post-war years,
when there was little toy manufacturing taking place in England.
So Japan filled that gap in the market by producing
very cheap toys made out of tin, plastic and novelty ones
that operated with a battery, rather like this one here and then you have two controls,
so very amusing, and it was a novelty for children at that time.
-Of course, more famous ones are the robot toys, and they fetch an absolute fortune.
This one, I think, because it's not complete and we haven't got its original box?
-We have a box at home for it, so we'll bring it to the auction.
I think even in this state with the original box,
whatever condition it's in,
it will realise - for a collector - something in the region possibly
-of round about £40 to £60. That sort of price range.
I think we need to put a reserve of £40.
Why is your friend selling this?
Just having a clearout from her house.
-If it's in a drawer, there's no point having it.
-At £40, would I give £40 for it,
purely for amusement, to make people laugh? Yes, I would.
-Thank you very much for bringing it along.
-I'll put a new battery in.
Colchester has a fascinating history of clockmakers
so while I was here in the area, filming,
I decided to go and explore. Take a look at this.
This beautiful 15th century timber-framed building
is right in the heart of a very busy Colchester.
You wouldn't believe it really, would you?
It's so quiet and peaceful here, it's like a little oasis.
This beautiful house was once home to William Gilberd,
or Gilbert as he was sometimes known.
He was a physician and a scientist.
William Gilberd was the son of a recorder of Colchester
and became the most eminent English man of science of his day.
He made the important discovery of electromagnetics
and he's also credited as one of the originators of the term electricity.
From his experiments he concluded that the Earth was itself magnetic
and that this was the reason compasses point north.
And he was the first to argue correctly
that the centre of the Earth was iron.
Gilberd was also a physician to the court of Queen Elizabeth I
and he tended to her personally.
Well, enough of Gilberd, I want to take you inside this
rather historic building and show you a very special collection.
In the first half of the 18th century
watch and clock making was something of a boom industry in Colchester,
with at least eight clock making businesses churning out a variety of timepieces.
The reputation of Colchester clocks spread throughout the land.
To some extent this clock making industry
had offset the declining weaving trade in the town.
This beautiful building now houses
a unique and comprehensive collection of clocks
and the great thing is they all were made here in Colchester.
This collection of clocks, 217 in all,
was put together by Bernard Mason, a local industrialist
who was born in Ipswich,
but who lived for most of his life here in Colchester.
Looking for a hobby,
Mason bought his first Colchester clock in 1927,
and over the years his collection and knowledge of local clockmakers grow.
He was helped in his research by his wife, Evelyn,
who would examine parish registers, old newspapers
and borough records for references and information.
He renovated this house and lived here from 1957 to 1979, and when
he died he bequeathed the house and the clock collection to the town.
This is now one of the largest collections of clocks in Britain.
All were made here in Colchester between 1640 and 1840
and give a fascinating insight into this specialist trade.
It's a magnificent collection
and yet the interesting thing about it is all the clocks here were
made for ordinary working people that hadn't owned a clock before.
During the first part of the 18th century
Colchester clockmakers were working on the scale of a small factory,
turning out hundreds of them, keeping up with the demand,
yet the attention to the detail in the mechanism,
the movement and the materials weren't compromised.
All over this museum there are wonderful classic examples
of figured walnut, burr elms, oaks, flame mahogany,
inlaid marquetry work, and also keeping up with
the fashion of the day, late 18th century, Chinoiserie lacquer.
Probably the family to make the greatest contribution
to the fame of Colchester clocks was the Hedge family.
Four generations of Hedges made clocks here in the town,
spanning a period well over 100 years.
You could say that's a well-run family business.
Nathaniel Hedge was born in 1710.
He left the weaving industry to become an apprentice clockmaker to John Smorthwaite.
He showed great promise as a clockmaker.
He had the skill, he had the talent and the patience.
All was going well until he fell in love with Smorthwaite's daughter Sarah.
They got married, they were happy,
but Smorthwaite was absolutely furious.
He was a proud father
and I guess he thought Hedge wasn't good enough for his daughter.
He kicked them out of the house.
He cut Sarah out of his will and he terminated Hedge's apprenticeship.
However, Hedge managed to find a business partner
and started up his own clock making firm. It began to flourish.
He was later joined by his three sons, Nathaniel, Thomas and John,
and this is an example of Thomas's work, slightly later in period.
The introduction of a subsidiary dial here, showing a second-hand.
Out go the spelter spandrels in the corner,
in come some painted figures,
obviously influenced from the Grand Tour.
You see, keeping up with the trends, keeping the business alive.
The Hedges were a force to be reckoned with,
and they owned numerous properties around Colchester.
Well, the clocks here in the collection may not be
the finest or the most valuable examples in the world
but they do represent a fascinating bit of Colchester's social history.
The Colchester clockmakers supplied clocks to people throughout
the land, from the 17th century right through to the 19th century.
I guess we have to thank Bernard Mason,
the man who had the vision and passion to put this collection
together for future generations to appreciate.
Now it's time I was going.
Today we're filming in the Town Hall in Colchester,
a wonderful old Victorian building. This is where the journey starts for our owners.
If you'd like to take part in the show, we would love to see you.
You can pick up details of dates and venues on our BBC website.
Just log on to...
There's lots of information, plus what goes on behind the scenes.
It's well worth a look.
If you don't have a computer, check your local press,
because we're coming to an area very near you soon.
As I said, today we're in the Town Hall. All the action is taking place down there.
Speaking of action, it's time we went to the auction room to put those valuations to the test.
I've got my favourites, you've probably got yours.
But more importantly, what does the auctioneer think - and the bidders? Let's find out in the auction room.
And this is what we're taking.
Of course you can never tell what's going to happen at the auction,
let's hope the bidders will want to snap them up.
And now it's time for my favourite part of the show. It's auction time,
and anything can happen - this is where we put our valuations to the test.
We're doing it here at Reeman Dansie auction rooms in Colchester.
As you can see, we have a full house and the auction has already started.
Yesterday I talked to James Grintner, the man with local knowledge, the man on the rostrum.
Here's what he said about one of our items.
We've had these on the show before,
Goldschneider masks, 1930s.
The good thing about these is they have a serial number,
so you know when and where they were made,
-and provenance is key, isn't it?
-It is indeed.
-Kim loved theatre, so there's a connection there.
She did a lot of singing and dancing. It's not my cup of tea.
-Is it yours - could you live with this on your wall?
-Perhaps in the downstairs loo!
That's a no, isn't it? That's a no, come on! That's a no.
Anyway, look, we've got £400-£500 on this.
Goldschneider is a very collectable factory pool.
I personally think it might be a little bit heavy, the estimate.
But it does stand a chance of selling. Fingers crossed.
-It is a bit borderline.
It's been well publicised, so we'll have to wait and see.
-They always look good in catalogues, in the photo.
It's a stylish bit of Art Deco pottery at the end of the day.
-But it's fingers crossed.
But first up, it's Annette with the toy monkey.
Who's a cheeky monkey, then? Well, it's Mr Barbie, of course.
£40-£60. I love this little monkey.
-Annette, you brought this in for a friend?
-I know David put £40-£60 on this.
Since valuation day, you've put the valuation up?
Your friend just rung the auction room and said she wants £100-£150.
-With a reserve at £90. Hopefully it will still sell.
It's 1960s, it's battery, it's Japanese, and it's still working.
The lights go ding, ding, ding in the eyes.
It's disappointing. I was hoping it was going to sell at just over the £60.
I think £90 will be difficult.
We're going to find out what the bidders think now. Let's hope it ends in a crescendo.
Number 941 is the 1960s Japanese plastic toy monkey.
£80 to start me? 80? £80 to start me somewhere?
£80 for it? 60? £60 for it somewhere?
£60 for it? 40 then? £40 to start me. 40 I have. A £40 bid now, at 40.
At £40 only. Do we have 42?
This lot is not going to sell, ladies and gentlemen. No?
-It's going home.
-It was in my margin originally.
Well, instead of going to the Ritz, we'll be having chips!
-Aye! That rhymes!
We don't need to go to the Ritz, but we do need to sell our antiques.
Let's hope Tom and Petra's 1890s porcelain vase does better.
-You won't be sad to see this go. It's a family piece, but you don't like it?
But I kind of like this. It's got a lot of class.
I like the blue and the gold gilt on it. The blue grounds and the female figure. It's quality.
-A bit of German quality.
-I hope somebody likes it more than I do!
-How long have you had it, then?
-A couple of years.
-Not too long.
At least you've kept it in mint condition.
We all agree with £80 to £120, it's an auctioneer's classic.
It's really pretty. Lovely quality. I think that's cheap.
I do as well. I was just going to say to you, it looks exceptionally expensive.
-It does, doesn't it? It's got the look. It's got the look.
It really does have. Quality and class.
Much like myself. Exceptionally expensive.
Is that high-maintenance?
Read what you like into that!
Well, let's find out what the bidders think. Good luck. Here we go.
Number 260 is the early 20th century German porcelain vase,
with the pate-sur-pate decoration.
To start me £50. £50 to start me. 50 I've down here now. 55. 60.
Five, 70, £70 bid now.
75. £70 is bid. All done now at £70. All done?
On the reserve. It's gone. It's gone. You didn't like it, did you?
I still think that's good value for money. Don't you?
This is the thing to buy at the moment for an investment. I think that's great.
Yeah, top tip there.
And now it's time for my favourite piece.
Remember that little tilt-top table?
Little tiny apprentice piece.
Well, it's just about to go under the hammer.
-It belongs to Malcolm, hopefully for not much longer.
-How have you been since we last saw you?
-Looking forward to it.
-Enjoying yourself? Enjoying this moment?
-Very much so, yes.
Have you seen anything else you'd like to buy?
There's a little concertina in the auction a bit later on.
I saw that over there! That's on display near your table.
-That's right, yes.
-And that comes up a little bit later,
so hopefully if we sell your table, you might be buying that?
I might be playing that myself all the way home, mightn't I?
That's what I like to see, people reinvesting in antiques,
especially here in the auction on the day.
It's a day out, make the most of it! Sell something, buy something.
-That's what it's all about, isn't it?
-It's a nice auction, yes.
Let's find out what the bidders think, shall we?
Number 891 is the Victorian miniature walnut tilt-top
wine table. Nice quality little table here.
We have two commissions and I start the bidding with me at £240.
-That will do.
-Straight in, mid-estimate.
At £240 bid now, at 250? 250. 260.
260 bid, 270. 280.
At 280 still with me, at £280.
Brilliant, brilliant. A chap down the front after it.
340. 340 still with me.
On the book at £340.
All done at £340.
You know, you are spot on there, aren't you?
Yes, that was good, wasn't it? See, it's quality.
-Quality always sells.
-Thank you very much.
And you don't need a van to take that home in, do you?
-And I brought the van today!
-You brought your van!
A brilliant result.
I've been looking forward to this because I bumped into Kim back at valuation day
with a Goldschneider mask, but we didn't meet Harry.
Harry is her six-month-old little boy. Look at this.
Give us a wave, Harry.
-Daddy was looking after him at the valuation day, wasn't he?
-He stayed at home.
-You brought the mask in yourself.
-I did, yeah.
-Isn't he cute?
-He's lovely! But then I'm biased.
Oh, look at him. Look at him. Isn't he lovely?
-What do you think, David?
-What of, the mask?
No, we're talking about young Harrison here.
Oh, Harry's very nice. Yeah. My father's name was Harry.
Let's talk about the mask, OK?
-It's your mask. Do you like it still?
I never liked it. I only grew fond of it recently, but I'm happy to see the back of it.
It's a classic piece of 1930s. The Goldschneider.
-I think it's superb.
-I think a few bidders will like this as well.
Good luck. Let's hope we get the top end of David's estimate.
Let's find out what it's worth.
Number 290 is the 1930s gold Schneider glazed pottery mask.
-Stylish one here.
-I love the lipstick.
-Let's start me.
£300 start me. 300 I have. 320? 320.
340. 360. 360 I have. At 380.
All done? At... 380 I have.
-£380 at the far end now. 380.
At 380, I'll sell it. All done at 380?
-Hammer's down. We're happy, aren't we?
-You didn't like it.
-No, got rid of it.
-You'd rather have the money for Harry, wouldn't you?
-Give him a good start.
-Thank you very much.
-Is he your first?
-Are you going to have any more?
-I will, but not just yet.
I'll have a bit of a break first.
At least it's not going on his nursery wall to frighten him.
No. And it would, as well. Give him nightmares! Bless him.
Great news for Kim and Harry.
Thatched cottages can be found dotted throughout rural Essex,
and that straw roof over there on that house is a clue
to a long-lost craft that lifted the people from these villages
out of poverty some 200 years ago.
It was a craft that linked poor rural women, men and children
to the courts of the aristocracy
simply by the hats that they all wore.
Because in the early 1800s, every strand of straw in these hats had to be plaited by hand.
It was tricky and it was labour-intensive,
so I've come here to the Great Bardfield Cottage Museum to find out exactly how it's done.
This cottage industry was introduced to Essex in 1790
to provide much-needed income for impoverished villagers.
In just a few years, straw plaiting really caught on in this county.
The raw material was cheap and available
and the hats were a must-have fashion accessory for wealthy city people.
Veronica Main is curator of costumes and textiles for Luton Museums.
She's an expert on straw-plaiting history.
She's brought some examples of the work and finished products with her.
This wonderful rural art form was commonplace here in Essex throughout the 19th century.
How many people do it today?
-Just about me. I'm about the only person!
People have a go, but I'm busy in my museum role,
teaching other people how to straw-plait so we can keep it alive.
-So you're passing this heritage on?
Is it difficult to do?
No, it's not difficult, but you've got to understand
that straw plait for a hat is made in a specific way.
The process is over one, under two, pull it tight and that'll do.
Over one, under two, pull it tight and that'll do.
-That's the mantra you sing all day long.
And you can see that I've run out of straw on this one
so I'm taking a new straw and putting it over the top of the old straw
and you have to hold the two together,
so it's squashing it really tight.
Now, it's quite funny, because...
-Oh, that doesn't want to go.
-I feel I've spoiled it, haven't I?
Yes! It never works perfectly when you're being watched.
As I'm working it, I'm looking at the back of the straw plait,
so that's the front side of the straw plait,
then all these ends would be clipped off.
-Behind, so you don't see them?
-Yes. They disappear.
I was thinking, how do they disappear but there's a reverse side and a face side.
And if that wasn't fiddly enough,
the really skilled would split the straw into thinner strands
to make really delicate plaits.
You've got different numbers of fins. So let's go for a six.
-Push that on to the pin.
-And force it down.
It comes out into split sections.
Yeah. I tell you what,
you've got to have tiny, thin nimble fingers to plait that.
-No wonder the kids were good, their hands were so small.
and if you look at the size of straw on some of these plaits.
That is whole straw, but even so, you can see how tiny it is.
It's like grass.
And you realise then the skill that went into the plaiting.
-To keep them damp, they'd pass them through their mouth.
-Would that cut your lips?
-It cut your lips.
It also wore down your teeth as you chewed them across,
so not good practice.
-So you could really identify...
-..the plaiters from a distance!
There was this saying that the girls in the plait villages had big mouths
and the boys said it was like kissing the backside of a cow.
But the lace girls didn't get off any better.
The lace girls sitting at their pillows for so long making lace, they had big bottoms.
So the boys in the plait villages made fun of the lace girls.
Because children made such good plaiters,
they were sent to special plait schools
at a very early age, to learn the different skills.
A child as young as four or five in about the 1860s
could be earning, depending on the time of year,
depending on the type of plait that they were making,
could be earning between thruppence and a shilling a week.
-Which was a lot of money, isn't it?
-That's a lot of money!
And how many yards of that could you do in a day,
-were you expected to do?
-Of this simple plait, 20 yards in a day.
-60 feet of plait. I mean, it's a huge amount of plait.
-Have you tried that?
-Yes, I have.
-Does it hurt your fingers?
Why was it so popular in this area and not other areas?
Well, you had a local...a really important plait dealer in the area, Lindsell,
so he would go round to all the small villages in the area and he would
actually buy up all the plait,
exchange them either for tokens or for money.
He'd take it off to Luton where the hat manufacturing industry...
-Where the hat industry was.
And they'd all get made up in Luton.
So the hats you are seeing here are hats that were probably
made up in Luton throughout the 1800s.
-They catch the light well.
-I know. There was one plait in particular.
I've got to pick this up very, very carefully because it's very old.
This is a little doll's hat that was made by the last plaiter in Essex.
Who was the last plaiter, do you know?
Hannah Freeman. She lived in the village of Finchingfield,
which is very close to here.
That's a fantastic example of this wonderful rural art form.
-That's good as it gets, don't you think?
-Years of experience?
It is. Because this actually is a plait called "brilliant"
and you can see how it just catches the light.
It's like a faceted diamond.
-This first came into popularity in the 1850s.
-Is that difficult to do?
It is. It is probably the most difficult of all the plaits.
Straw plaiting in Essex reached its peak in 1851
and still provided work for thousands at the turn of the century.
By the start of the First World War, it had almost disappeared,
and the craft was quickly relegated to a few museum exhibits.
Why did it stop virtually instantly?
Well, it's a really familiar story.
There were imports from China in the 1870s.
The Chinese plait came in, it was a lot less expensive.
It really did the plaiters out of work,
and within 20 or 30 years they couldn't compete.
It was costing them as much to buy the straw as it was that they earned for the straw plait
that they made with that straw. There's no point in carrying on.
-Well, now it's down to you, really, to carry the mantle, isn't it?
-Which is a bit worrying!
-Hopefully rejuvenate this lost art form.
Keep promoting it, won't you?
Because it's part of our heritage, people like you are making it survive for future generations.
I am teaching other people.
Great. Are they any good?
Yes, some are absolutely brilliant.
I'm really mean. I get them on to split-straw plaits as well.
-Thanks a lot.
-It's been lovely to meet you, thank you.
Welcome back to Colchester Town Hall.
As you can see, it's still very busy down there, a hive of activity.
It's time to join up with our experts to find some more antiques to take off to auction.
Let's see what David Barby's spotted.
Right, where did you get this from?
I inherited it from my dad's mother.
Is there any sort of central European ancestry within the family?
Not that I'm aware of.
OK, because this came from Bohemia originally
-and it was produced by a company called Pallme-Konig.
They specialised in glass way back in the late 18th century.
But towards the sort of end of the 19th and into the 20th century
they specialised, rather like Loetz glass,
in this sort of iridescence that we have on this particular piece.
The feature of their work, which is why we can identify it as their work,
is this lacework, almost like a spider's web,
of trail glass all the way around,
with this greenish inclusion as the rim.
Now, as a piece in its original state,
-this would have been worth a considerable amount of money.
Because, when we look at it,
it has got all the attributes of being hand produced
by having the white pontil, so when this was blown
and finished on the end of a long pole...
..jagged glass where it had been broken off was then smoothed out
on the wheel so we call that a white pontil.
So, you can see how all of this glass was trailed over,
but what has happened is we've got sections of this trail glass missing,
as though keys had been thrown at it.
Yes, it's lived at the bottom of the stairs for the past
five or six years, full of glass pebbles and the house keys go in it.
I didn't think it was worth anything at all.
-Did you never look at it as a work of art?
-No, I love it,
-I do love it, I always have.
-That is why I got it.
Why are you contemplating selling it now?
I brought it here because I didn't know anything about it at all.
But it does just sit and get house keys put in it so...
-..if it's going to be more loved...
It deserves something better.
I'm sure there will be restorers of glass where
they might be able to trail more opaque glass on those sections
-that are missing, but there is rather a lot.
Instead of the sort of £200-£300,
with those defects we'll be looking at something in the region of £60-£80
and I think the auctioneers will want to put a reserve
-in the region of about 45 or 50.
But for anybody collecting glass that can't afford to buy the original,
this is a lovely piece. At the end of the day
it's not a lot of money for such a beautiful object.
-Are you still wanting to sell it?
-Yes. Yes, I think so.
And what are you going to do with that money?
Are you going to buy an actual key box?
No, I've got a nice little wooden bowl for the keys, that's better.
If only you'd used it earlier!
Sharon, you brought in these toys.
These are brilliant. Where did they all come from?
Well, they all belong to my husband.
They were bought mainly by his father who worked in a toy shop,
and occasionally he brought one home for him.
That's how the collection started.
Some of them have been played with a lot, some haven't.
They were put in the loft and last year they were rediscovered.
There's so many to look at I don't know where to start.
This is like a kid's dream. You've got really early ones.
You've got Dinky, Tri-ang, Hornby, Corgi, loads of different makes.
These were all played with.
The two that captured my eye are these two here.
We go on about boxes, but this is great to have boxes.
You've got James Bond 007 Special Agent Aston Martin here,
and this one, Lady Penelope from Thunderbirds.
That's absolutely brilliant.
I mean, also, you've got on this one the insert which makes a difference.
They all do things. This one I love.
Do you know what this one does?
Yes, I think it's got an ejector seat.
He's got all sorts. These come out the front.
Yep, I can't remember what we do. Press something.
There should be a little man in there that gets thrown out.
Yes. Unfortunately that was ejected in the loft some years ago.
He is embedded in the fibreglass wall.
-The little man?
-He could be found.
-That would be useful. The more complete it is,
for a sale, it would help to sell it. It's nice you've got the box.
This one's even better. It's great.
I daren't do this because these rockets at the end,
if we push it down, will fire out and will probably get lost.
But this is Lady Penelope and Parker in the back there,
her chauffeur driver.
This is really good and the condition's excellent.
Are you sure your husband wants to sell? Your kids don't want them?
No, they're at an age now that if it's not interactive
and if you can't watch a film on it or play with it,
they're not interested in things like this so, yes, we are looking forward
to a trip to Thailand for our anniversary in March.
-So I think, yes, definitely.
-This is going to the proceeds of it, is it?
OK. Well, I think there's almost too much really to put into one lot.
I would tend to split it up into a couple of lots, really.
You've got unboxed-but-played-with Dinky, Corgi, Matchbox.
That would probably be one lot.
And then probably these two together on their own as a separate lot.
-Any idea price-wise? Do you have any clue?
-No, not at all.
I think for these two together,
you could put at least a reserve of £100 and probably £100-£200
-and there's an estimate on it for the catalogue.
The rest of the stuff, there's all sorts of things in here.
There's old Dinky here, you've got farm machinery, other ones,
like Batman and The Man From Uncle, TV and film stuff,
collectable in their own right. As a mixed group,
-you should put a £40 reserve and £50 to £80 on the loose ones.
-We'll get a few cocktails for that.
-Out in Thailand that would get quite a lot.
I think we'll put them as two lots, if you're happy with that.
-And see how they do at the sale.
-They are FAB!
Thunderbirds are go,
and hopefully Batman, James Bond and The Man From Uncle will all be gone too.
While David and Kate are working the tables, I'm on my feet and I've spotted something special.
Gill, this is a wonderful book, a leather-bound volume,
obviously owned by a skilled carpenter or joiner.
It just shows you how to construct all the angles,
intersecting angles, degrees of roofing, moulding, architectural detail.
Books like this don't exist any more. It's wonderful.
How did you come by this?
-It belonged to my late husband.
-Carpenter, joiner, yes.
He worked on a lot of the old buildings in Dedham Vale. Did he?
-And possibly a few round here in Colchester?
I bet he was a wonderful craftsman.
He possibly sorted your house out and made it look wonderful?
No, he's like a cobbler, the children always go barefooted.
That's always the same, isn't it? When he's working for other people, never has time to do anything else.
-Not strictly true, but you know.
-I bet he did...
-Ours came last.
-I bet it's wonderful.
-This is a wonderful reference book for a skilled man to have.
That's why I think it should go to someone who'd look after it and enjoy it.
Well, look, if the condition was a little better, there's a lot of foxing,
so you've had this in a cellar or up in the attic somewhere?
-In the bottom of a cupboard.
-It's been a bit damp.
-If this was in perfect condition...
It's all here, the line drawings and plates are here,
something like this in great condition would fetch about £60 to £80.
But I think if you put this one into auction,
because of its condition, it's going to realise around £20 to £30.
-It should do the £20 mark.
-It's not about the money.
It's about somebody using it.
I'm not going to take up carpentry!
What we need is two carpenters that will join us there,
or half a dozen that like this and go, "I'm going to bid against you, you and you,"
and they push it up to around 45 quid.
-Then you're laughing, aren't you?
-I'll be laughing anyway.
-We'll put it into auction for you.
I love Gill's attitude, enjoy the sale and any cash will be a bonus.
To David Barby, and something shiny has caught his eye.
He's with Nicola.
Why at this particular moment in time
are you contemplating selling this silver-plate tea service?
Because we've recently bought a bassoon for my son,
which is very expensive and it's an item that has no sentimental value,
and if we could raise some money towards a bassoon, that would be good.
It so interests me because this reflects so many social changes.
When it was first produced in the silver plate,
-it was made to imitate silver.
And at that time there was a very affluent market,
I'm talking the late 19th, early 20th century,
and the middle classes wished to emulate the upper classes
or the aristocracy, so they were able to buy this.
It gave the impression that they were used to silver service.
They have their teapot,
the sugar basin, for whacking great lumps of sugar.
When you think of what a small milk jug there is there.
So that is a set for three.
There's no dents, scuffing, no wearing through of the plate,
so it has been almost kept in an immaculate state.
-Have you ever used it?
-No, never used it.
My parents never used it.
-So I don't know if it's ever been used.
-When did they have it from?
They had it as a wedding present gift, so in 1963.
-So you could say it's an unwanted family heirloom?
All the social implications of where it was produced and you think of tea-making today,
there's little demand for a tea service like this,
and you did show me a valuation that you had on this particular piece,
close on £900, which was its replacement value.
What concerns me somewhat is when this comes up for sale,
the value might be as little as £80 to £100.
How are you going to react to this?
Well, I was a bit dubious about the valuation because it's silver plate.
And so having done a little bit of research, I thought
it would sell for a lot less than that, so I'm not going to be hugely disappointed.
-So you've got no regrets in selling this?
-No, not at all.
I've got a silver-plated tea set from my great aunt,
which has sentimental value and I'm keeping hold of that.
That comes out on Sunday afternoons?
It doesn't, it sits in the lounge in a cabinet!
Like so many others.
-But you're quite content in letting this go up for auction?
And probably it selling under £100?
I think so, because at the moment it's just sitting in a box up in the attic.
It would be a shame if it makes that sort of money because I think this is lovely.
-But it just reflects the sort of change of fashions.
-Thank you. We shall do our best.
And hopefully it makes a reasonable sum.
Guess what? Our experts have found their final items to take off to the auction room.
I, for one, am feeling rather excited because as you know, anything can happen in the saleroom.
Now it's time to say farewell to the Town Hall in Colchester. We've had a wonderful time filming here.
Everybody has been in such great spirits, we've all enjoyed it.
There was one person who wasn't amused and I'll leave you with her.
And if Her Majesty will permit,
here's a recap of what we're taking to auction.
Of course, you can never tell what's going to happen at the auction,
and even the best valuations are in the fate of the bidders on the day.
We'll find out soon.
Remember if you're buying or selling at auction,
there is commission to pay, that's how they pay the wages here.
It varies from room to room,
so check the small print in the catalogue or ask the auctioneer.
Today, here at Reeman Dansie, for our sellers, it's 15% plus VAT.
Before the sale starts there's always time for prospective buyers
to get hands-on with the lots.
That includes me!
Unfortunately it's not one of our owners' items.
It is a hardwood model of a hawk.
Look at this wonderful tail feather which helps it to balance.
This is quite steady but see the little key here? Original key.
There's a lock there. Look at this.
That's a lovely little box.
And another compartment just here.
It's got the wear and it has got the age consistent with something
from the early 1800s, possibly late 1700s.
It's just fabulous. I've never seen anything like it.
I've seen a lot of furniture like this, inlaid with bone and ivory,
from this particular region of India but nothing as sculptural as this.
This is folk art at its very best.
Now it is time for Jaq's damaged bowl.
Jaq told me that she had no inclination of selling this, did you?
Well, I brought along to get a valuation.
She brought along for a valuation.
And he's there, look. Naughty boy!
-I am indeed.
You talked Jacqui into putting this into the sale, didn't you?
I thought it was a good example, actually,
of the glass itself and what not to do with glass!
Because it has got chipped.
Obviously you threw the keys in, you missed once or twice
because it's chipped some of the trail work off. OK!
OK. But it's also not wise to sell your family heirlooms, is it?
-Well, I have got other things.
-Well, that's OK.
Let's find out what the bidders think, shall we?
Happy? Ready? Here we go.
Number 305, a late 19th-century Loetz style iridescent glass bowl.
What shall we say to start me? 40 to start me?
40? 40 I have down here now. 40. £40 bid.
42. 42. 44.
-Let us hope we get around £60 or £70 for this.
£60 down here now, at 60.
£60 is bid. All done at £60.
-65 in another place.
70. £70. Still down with me.
-70, all done.
Yours, sir, that's 307.
Spot on valuation.
There was one bid just coming up late, he missed it.
The hammer down at 70.
Now Gill's carpentry book. Since the valuation day,
she's dug out three others from home and added them to the lot.
Let's hope this sells, your late husband's books. Wonderful, detailed books.
It would make a great asset to anybody that wants to be practical and you can't buy them any more.
-We've only got 20 to £40. No reserve, so they're going to sell.
-Let's hope they sell at the top end.
Number 859, the three volumes, The New Carpenter And Joiner.
-Two commissions with me, I'll start at £20.
At £20 bid.
At 22, 24? 26,
28, 30. £30 down here now at 30.
£30 bid. Any advance? All done at £30?
-That's OK, isn't it?
It's better than you throwing them away.
I wouldn't have done that. Really pleased.
Somebody's got them and will enjoy them.
Thanks for bringing them in, I enjoyed leafing through them.
-I could spend hours looking at those.
-I thought you would.
Four historical books off to a new home.
And from one family heirloom to another -
a three-piece tea service going under the hammer.
Silver plate, unfortunately, and it's not silver, Nicola.
We'd be in the money. You would be, wouldn't you? That's for sure.
We've got a value of around £80 to £100.
It's Edwardian but it's still got the look.
-Why are you getting rid of it?
-It's got no sentimental value,
and I could do with a bit of money for my son's bassoon we've purchased.
That's an unusual instrument. What made him take that up? I'm curious.
He's always had unusual tastes.
He wanted to play the bagpipes,
-so we're quite pleased he progressed to the bassoon.
-I'd say so, yes.
Good luck. Let's hope we get the top end.
Number 438 now, the three piece Edwardian silver-plated tea service.
£60 for it? 60?
-We're in at 60.
-£60 bid. 65?
At £60 bid. 65 anywhere?
-All done at £60?
-Yes. But only just, on that reserve, £50 reserve.
-At least it's gone and you don't have to polish it.
-Did you polish it?
-I have never polished it.
-Oh, what have I said?
Nicola's pleased with that
but we really need to shine with our next item
and get those high bids in.
We've got boys' toys, brought along by Sharon, but they're not yours, are they?
-They're your husband's. His father bought them for him but you've recently found them?
-Where did he find them?
-In the loft.
-Where everything else gets stashed.
At least they're out of the way out there, earning money, not getting damaged.
-There are quite a lot of cars, Kate split them into two lots.
-The first of the lots, we've got the best of the cars,
the Aston Martin DB5 belonging to 007
and Lady Penelope's big pink car.
-That fires a rocket.
What every girl needs, a rocket-firing Rolls-Royce.
Good luck with that and the next lot,
-we've got the rest of them and we're looking for about £80?
Let's hope there's lots of toy collectors in the saleroom right now
because the first lot is going under the hammer.
Number 961 is the Dinky toy here,
Lady Penelope's FAB 1 and the James Bond Aston Martin.
I have two commissions with me
-and I start the bidding at £110 with me.
110 I'm bid now, at 110.
120, 130, 140, 150,
160, 170, 180. One more?
£200 bid, standing now at 200.
All done? £200.
A nice round figure, £200, well done.
-Short and sweet.
-All because the boxes were there.
-That's right, yes.
Thank goodness you kept hold of the boxes. I had both those cars.
-And played them to death?
-Played them to death, chucked the boxes, lost all the figures as well.
I've still got them but no boxes, no figures.
-No sale, then?
-No, no sale!
That's the first lot. The second lot we're looking for about 50 to £80. Good luck with this one.
Number 991. The collection of Corgi, Dinky, Tri-ang and other cars.
I have two commissions with me and I start the bidding at £200.
Interesting. Straight in! Well over estimate.
230, with me now at 230.
With me, 240, 250, 260,
290, 300, 320,
-That's the man just in the back of the room.
360 on the internet. 400. At £400.
-It's so surprising, isn't it?
420 the bid, in this room. 400, 440.
460 is bid, on there now at 460, 480
£500, in the room, against you on the internet, 520.
£540, 560 on the internet.
On the internet, against you all,
all done at £560?
Hammer's gone down. Wow.
-That's fantastic, yes.
Incredible. Little toy cars.
Where's your husband, is he over there?
He must have been watching this with a big smile on his face.
There he is, give him a wave.
-It pays to look after your toys, doesn't it?
-There was a lot in that lot,
so someone had their eye on a few bits, that was great.
-Brilliant. Really pleased.
-Enjoy it, won't you?
It's all over for our owners. Another day in another auction room.
I hope you've enjoyed the show, plenty of surprises,
but do join me again, there's more surprises to come.
But for now, from Colchester, until the next time, goodbye.
It's time to put my feet up and have a rest!
Paul Martin takes the Flog It! team to Colchester in Essex and is joined by experts Kate Bateman and David Barby.
Kate gets a surprise when several boxes of old toy cars attract attention at the auction, and David falls in love with an art deco item that he hopes is worth hundreds. Paul tracks down the only person in the UK still practising an ancient craft which once lifted local villagers out of poverty.