Antiques series. Paul Martin presents from Wallasey Town Hall on the River Mersey. Experts Philip Serrell and Nick Davies search for items to take to auction.
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Welcome to the Walker Art Gallery.
It's one of several museums looked after by National Museums Liverpool.
And today, I've got special permission to go behind the scenes
to see how they care for their millions
of often priceless objects that are sometimes in danger
of deterioration or, even worse, falling apart.
All that's to come, but right now,
I've got to get to the other side of the Mersey for our valuations.
Welcome to "Flog It!".
Yes, today's show covers both sides of the river,
an area known as Merseyside.
We're kicking off on the west bank, on the Wirral Peninsula,
whose history has always been shaped by the Mersey,
ever since the 14th century,
when the monks at Birkenhead Priory
started a cross-river ferry service.
The 19th century saw the birth of the area's renowned
when John Laird opened his shipyard.
Fast-forward to 1962
and the world's first commercial hovercraft service began.
Yes, on the Wirral Peninsula!
And overlooking all that history is our valuation day venue -
Wallasey Town Hall.
Today, the good folk of Merseyside
have come from both sides of the river to the town hall
on the Wirral Peninsula for our valuation day.
And judging by the size of this crowd,
I think we're going to be in for a cracking show.
They're here to have their antiques and collectables valued.
And if they're happy with that valuation, what are you going to do?
ALL: Flog it!
And already looking for potential items in the queue
is Nick Davies,
a man in need of some sunglasses.
That'll affect the shipping, that will, it's so bright!
However, antiques are like homing beacons
for our other expert, Philip Serrell.
You know, I'm really looking forward to seeing John Lennon's glasses.
I know somebody's got these... There they are!
It's him! He's got 'em.
-He's got 'em.
I'm going off to find Ringo.
Well, I don't know about A HARD DAY'S NIGHT,
but we've certainly got a good day's work in front of us.
So, let's get everybody inside.
Oh, it's a good job we British know how to queue.
No overtaking or queue-jumping here, I tell you.
But whilst everybody finds their fair place,
I'm going to cheat and jump ahead
and give you a sneak preview
of what's coming up on today's show.
Nick finds an intriguing inscription a little bit maddening.
What happened that night?
We'll never know.
We will never, ever know.
And Philip has some fun with his valuations.
Have you got a figure in mind for this?
-Well, I have.
25 online, 30 bid...
But who will have the last laugh in the saleroom
when more than one of our items
goes on to make several hundred pounds?
No, that's good.
Oh, my goodness.
So, with the hall filling up
and a lovely buzz of anticipation bouncing off the walls,
let's get straight into our first valuation
with Nick, up in the gods.
Well, hello, Phil.
Here we are in Wallasey Town Hall,
a gem of a building.
And you've brought a nice little gem for us as well, here.
Can you tell me a little bit about the bangle?
-You shouldn't use the word "junk", but I...
It was in a box of various pieces of jewellery,
which I inherited,
and I've always taken a fancy to it.
-But I didn't know any history about it...
..but I thought it was very pretty.
-But I don't wear blue very much...
-No, you're all in purple regalia there.
-I'm in purple.
Well, I can tell you it's come from where I've come from,
actually, it's come from Birmingham.
-It was made in the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter.
And it's hallmarked around the edge, so we can date it exactly to 1904.
So, Birmingham Jewellery Quarter was turning out
about a million items a week at this period.
They were, as a manufacturing hub, really prevalent.
Sapphire and sea pearls,
or river pearls, as some people like to call them,
nice graduated colour.
One little problem with it, I think.
I think the centre stone, right in the middle,
has been replaced with a paste stone.
-Yes, it's a different colour altogether.
-It's slightly different.
It's a little bit more vibrant, if the truth be told.
Why do you want to sell it?
It means nothing to me.
I just think it's a very pretty thing.
-So you never wanted to wear it yourself?
-Not at all.
So, from a valuation point of view,
-I'd probably put around about 100 to 150 on it.
So it's not really junk?
No, definitely not junk.
We can use the bottom estimate as a reserve, I think that's fair.
It may go on and do a little bit more. It's a pretty thing.
-As I said, the trouble with it is the replaced stone.
And to get that put back right will cost, either a jeweller or someone,
you know, a fair bit of money, to be fair.
But it's a really pretty thing, it should do well.
It'll look after itself on the day. Are you happy with that?
I'd be thrilled, because, obviously, the junk isn't junk.
And that's the beauty of "Flog It!",
you don't know what you could have stashed away
until you bring it along to one of our valuation days.
-Mary, how are you?
-All right, fine, Philip.
-This is a bit topical around here, isn't it?
-I know, isn't it?
-Where's it come from?
-It was an old aunt's.
You've got a great accent, you know.
-So you're a Liverpudlian?
-No, I come from Birkenhead,
Prenton, on the Wirral.
-And where has this come from, Mary?
-It's came out the loft.
-Out the loft?
-Yeah. We're just getting the loft all done
and we come across some pictures belonging to an old aunt,
and, erm, I just thought, "I'd love to go on 'Flog It!' ", so here I am.
Brilliant, here you are.
-I watch it all the time.
-This is not worth millions, OK?
But I just quite like it. I mean, it's just lovely.
And what I like about this is that
there's a sort of little story going on here,
because this was painted in 1903 by Owens -
-whoever Owens is - certainly not a recorded artist.
But this ship, if you look at it very closely,
can you see there, it says "Panama"?
-Oh, yeah. Yeah.
The Panama was commissioned in 1902, right?
And this was painted in 1903.
And in 1920, the Panama,
it was taken in as a hospital ship.
So this ship,
which was about for 40 years,
became a hospital ship.
-And I just think it's really, really interesting.
-And it's quite primitive.
But the fact that it's round here,
I just think it's got a lovely story to tell.
-So you can't shed any light on this at all?
Erm, just handed down.
Just found it in the loft with two other prints
that are not really worth looking at, but I thought this one might be,
-so that's why I'm here today.
-What were you hoping it might be worth?
-A meal out or something, really.
-What sort of meal do you have?
-About a ton, a couple of bevvies and that, you know?
-A couple of bevvies?
-Right, a couple of bevvies and a what?
-And a meal.
-How much is that?
-Or am I just going to go to the chippy?
We might just be going and getting some sandwiches actually.
-It's going to make, my love, somewhere between £30 and £50.
This artist isn't recorded.
-And you need to put a reserve on it of, sort of, £25 firm.
And that protects you, then.
But I just think it's quite a sweet little thing.
-Not much of a meal really.
No, it'll just get me over to Liverpool to the showroom, won't it?
-Will you just do one more thing for me?
-Say "Mersey" again.
I just love that! It's brilliant, isn't it?
And speaking of that great river,
how about we pop outside for a moment
to take in the spectacular scenery?
This has to be one of the most famous rivers in the world
and, historically, that's due of course to Liverpool's Mersey Docks,
Britain's biggest port.
From the 18th century onwards,
it led the way in the transportation of Lancashire coal,
Staffordshire pottery and Welsh sheep, to name but a few.
Nowadays, of course, it's famous for the 1960s music scene,
the Mersey Beat, which gave us
Ferry Across The Mersey.
But it gives us a great excuse to play
that fabulous Mersey Beat music.
# They rush everywhere... #
-How are you?
-I'm very well indeed.
-It's a busy old day, isn't it?
Not when you've stood outside for an hour waiting to get in.
It's really cold out there.
It's true, there's thousands of folk here. It's really lovely.
And for us it's lovely when you get that volume of people through.
-And I love things like this.
-Gorgeous, isn't it?
We've got a steam engine, we've got a tender,
three carriages and a level crossing,
although I'm not quite sure that's got the gate in the right order.
We've got our buffers over there and a track, and we've got some more in
a box down here, so, for me, you know...
Bit of a start for a collection for someone, isn't it?
So, were these yours?
No, they weren't. I work for a local charity and this came
into one of our charity shops.
So this has come in for you to raise money...
It's a little bit of serendipity, yes.
Well, you can see this is Hornby, and the Hornby factory
was set up by Frank Hornby in 1901.
Their first clockwork train came about in about 1920.
But I would guess...this is around 1930, something like that.
That sounds about right.
Hornby's still going today, branded by Meccano.
I think it's interesting.
Condition is everything with these things and this,
-like all toys should be, has been well played with.
I think we've had the odd derailment here and there...
-I think loved is the word that's best used.
In good order, these things could make a couple of hundred pounds,
but in a way...you've got to sell them, haven't you?
We have indeed, and we need the money
so we can keep our charity going, yes.
Well, what I think we should do is put an estimate of £30 to £50.
That sounds fine to me.
That would be fantastic, wouldn't it?
-Absolutely fantastic, yes.
-That would be fantastic.
I just love these. I love them.
# Pardon me, boy
-# Is that the Chattanooga Choo Choo?
-Yes, yes... #
These collectables make you feel really nostalgic for times gone by.
But we've no time to linger -
let's catch up with expert Nick Davies.
Can you tell me a little bit about the medals,
how you've come about them?
Well, they don't belong to me.
But I acquired them from my mother,
who's been dead now 15 years,
and she had them from her friend before that.
Just been in the loft, my loft.
-They've been stuffed in the loft and forgotten about...
-..for all these years. It's a bit of a sad tale, really.
But one that we should all be very grateful for, as well.
They were awarded to this gentleman.
He was Albert Edward Aston -
lost in action in November 1917
in the First World War, over in France.
It was a battle in northern France which was the first major
tank battle by the Allies,
so it was an important moment in the war.
It was one of the pivotal battles that shifted strength
from one side to the other.
And he was part of the Machine Gun Corps,
Must have been pretty gruesome, in those days...
and hard work.
So, we've got a First World War medal pair here.
A typical medal pair. We've got the British War Medal
and the Victory, or Civilisation Medal nearer to me.
The nice thing about it, not only have we got the medals,
but we've got really interesting paperwork,
and this social history really puts flesh on the bones for the medals.
It says here,
"It is my painful duty to inform you
"that having no further news been received..." -
relative to his rank and name -
"..he has been missing since the 30th November 1917."
And they regretfully conclude that he is dead.
-It's a poignant thing, really.
And not only that, with his dog tag as well.
The great thing about First World War medals
is the research you can do on them.
And you can really get under the skin of the conflicts.
It's something that you can't do with the Second World War medals
because they weren't named around the rim.
So you have that real tie to the history of the moment,
which I think's really important.
From a valuation point of view,
I'd probably put them in around about £80 to £120,
and they're just a really good, clean set of medals.
-But they're great history.
I presume, if they've been stuffed in the loft for some time,
that'll be better than leaving them back in the loft, I presume?
-Well, it would, yes.
It is a sad story, but a story that must be told,
and this is a great way of connecting to the past.
So thank you very much for bringing them in
and I'm sure they'll do really well at the sale for you.
'And now for a piece of local interest.
'I daresay that a lot of people walking past
'this old Midland Railway Building in the heart of Liverpool
'don't know to what use it's put to today.'
I think they might be quite surprised to find out
that this rather unprepossessing side street
leads to a team of specialists
working in state-of-the-art facilities,
looking after countless objects of national significance -
otherwise known as the Conservation Studios.
'The inside of this building doesn't give much away either.
'It's only the signage and the lettering outside each department
'that really gives us a clue as to what goes on here.'
'So, how about we start with the Organics Department?'
-Hi, Tracey, it's Paul. Pleased to meet you.
-Nice to meet you.
So, this is Organics.
What do you do here?
I look after all of the organic materials
that belong to National Museums Liverpool.
It can include material from ancient history, or from the present time.
It includes things like wood, basketry, fur, feathers, hair.
-It's massively varied, yes.
-So, every day is quite exciting.
-Yes, every day is really different.
Well, talking about organics, I know what this is, it's a life belt.
This is from a ship called the RMS Lusitania
and we know that from...
It's actually got the name printed on one side.
She was torpedoed in 1915,
sunk by a German U-boat,
with the loss of about 1,200 men, women and children.
We think this is the only existing example of the life jacket
from the Lusitania.
So, what are you going to do to this?
Well, it needs cleaning,
but there's a limit to how much cleaning I can do...
Without stripping it all of its social history and what it means?
Yeah, and also without causing more damage,
because if this was immersed in water, it would probably
-get more stained from the cork blocks that are inside it.
So, I can only really do a surface dry clean.
So, while you're working on this,
obviously you're working on other things?
Yeah, there's usually a lot going on, yeah. In fact,
we've got an object next door that you might be interested to see.
-OK, surprise me.
-If you'd like to come through?
-Come on, then.
Oh, man, it's a mummy! How fascinating!
-Can I have a look in there?
-This is one of the earliest objects
that came into World Museum's collection.
It's about 3,000 to 3,500 years old.
So, what will you exactly do today?
Well, today I'm continuing with the cleaning using this sponge,
which is quite a gentle way of getting
a little bit more dirt off the surface.
And you might be able to tell that I've cleaned this part of the face.
-It's a little bit cleaner than the other half.
-Yes, I can see that.
The gilding is coming through.
Yes, and this decoration is a bit more visible here.
What will you do about the face?
Well, if I can find any loose fragments inside, I'll fix them
back in position.
And to do that, I'll use some tissue,
which I'll fix to the underside of the face, to make a little support.
-Make a little bridge?
And it's interesting that you can actually see the mummy
-through that gap.
-I think so. I think that's quite nice.
It's a shame that it's damaged, but it does give us a bit more information.
-There's a fragment down there but it looks like...
Yeah, shall we try and get it out, do you think?
-Will you help me?
-Well, I'll hold the light, shall I? I'm quite clumsy...
Yeah, if you position that light...
I think I've got that piece...
-Yeah, very good. OK? Got it.
-You've got it?
-Coming to you...
-Have you got it?
-I hope I'm not going to be cursed!
-There we go, we've got it!
So, I think this has come from the inside of the face somewhere.
Wow, it's quite amazing.
In fact, it's overwhelming to think, you know,
it's 3,000 years old. And it's all in a day's work.
-All in a day's work!
-Tracey, thanks so much for showing me around.
-It's a pleasure.
-I feel very privileged to be part of this.
'Yes, it's all happening here. And next door, in Paper Conservation, they're responsible
'for anything from 16th-century books to photographs and watercolours.'
'Today, they're washing an 18th-century print
'in de-ionised water, to remove acidity
'in the paper and discolouration, so that they can put it on display.'
'Downstairs, there's another department I'd like to show you,
'which deals in some really heavyweight antiquities.'
-Great to meet you.
You've got the right lifting gear.
Yes, it's really handy in this kind of work.
-I see you're working on a bust, which is in several parts.
It has really been in the wars, this one, unfortunately.
-It's like putting a jigsaw puzzle back together again.
-But I bet there's some missing pieces.
-There are, and we've got
bags and bags of where the marble has just crumbled
away to nothing and there is really very little we can do with that.
Erm, when it became fashionable in the late 18th and 19th century
to collect these Roman and Greek pieces,
they were often already in bits and restorers were using iron pins and
ancient resins to stick them back together and make whole sculptures.
I'm using this as an advantage to take these out,
so that they can be replaced with stainless steel or Perspex pins,
which won't corrode and cause any damage.
And that's what's happened there. They've rusted now.
-Yes, you can see how deformed and rusted they can become.
There is a lot going on in here.
Missing heads, missing limbs, it's proper surgery!
You're halfway through cleaning something, aren't you?
-I noticed that.
-Yes. This is another piece from the Ince Blundell collection, and here,
I'm using steam to clean it.
And you can see that this side has been cleaned
and this side is still filthy.
STEAM CLEANER HISSES
-It's pretty quick!
-It's very quick. Well, I envy you lot here.
-It's a great studio, so I'll leave you to get on with that.
-Thank you very much.
-Nice to meet you.
-Good luck with it!
'The range of specialist skills and knowledge of materials put to use here really is amazing.'
'In the Ceramics Department, Janet is using her chemistry training
'to repair an 18th-century Wedgewood bowl.'
'Whereas, in the Ship And Historic Models Department, Chris is
'working on a model of a Liverpool liner, the Letitia.
'This has been in storage since the Second World War
'but now it's destined for display at the Maritime Museum.'
'But for me, there's just time to visit one last department
'and it's one I'm particularly keen to look at.'
-It's Paul. I recognise that as a Constable.
-This is indeed.
-I can see you've taken an X-ray of it.
-What are you doing to this anyway?
-Well, this is Constable's cottage
at East Bergholt from the Lady Lever Art Gallery collections.
We think Constable made additions to the canvas.
We spend a lot of our time looking at the paintings in great detail,
by X-ray, microscope examination, so that we can find out as much as
we possibly can technically about the paintings, to see how they were made.
I've got the prints of the X-ray here.
We can see that there is, erm, a female figure here.
There's drapery and lines of flowing material here, and another figure,
carrying what looks like a water jar, which is highly interesting
because it's nothing to do with the current composition.
-No, it's not, is it?
-And it may not be anything to do with Constable either.
We're not quite sure whether he has reused this existing canvas...
-And old canvas that he's stumbled across?
Erm, so, that's fascinating.
Tell me about this piece.
I can see it's yellowing up through varnish, look.
Well, this is my current cleaning project.
This is by the Master Of Frankfurt,
Holy Family With Music-Making Angels.
At the moment, the priority is to remove discoloured varnish
and over-paint and address some problems with flaking paint
-underneath the varnish.
-It's a beautiful picture.
-It's got some fantastic fine detail in it.
-(Oh, it's incredible!)
So, I'll be revealing that, hopefully, when I remove all
the discoloured varnish and some of the over-paint from it.
Well, shall I show you how I do this?
This is, we're just using a combination of organic solvent.
I will just work on this area, gently rolling this cotton wool swab.
-And the solvent will gradually dissolve the varnish.
And you're revealing the colour of the blue underneath.
Clearly, it's making such a huge difference...
-And you keep looking at that cotton wool, making sure nothing else is coming off.
We treat this layer by layer, stage by stage.
So, we're working very carefully
and also going back to things like X-rays, which I have of this picture.
It's quite rewarding to know that you're all
so passionate about your work and that our fine art
and antiques are in safe hands for many more generations to come.
So, look, good luck with that.
Thank you. Well, that's what we do. That's what we're here for.
Well, I've got my favourite and you've probably got yours.
So, let's put those valuations to the test, shall we?
Let's head over to the auction room for the very first time today.
And here's a quick recap -
just to jog your memory - of the items we're taking with us.
We've got the Edwardian sapphire and sea pearl bracelet.
Phil doesn't wear it, but will somebody else want to?
She's hoping for a memorable night out
with the proceeds from this picture.
Let's see if Mary's study in gouache
raises enough to show her a good time.
The Hornby train set.
It's been well played with, but I'm sure all proceeds will be
welcomed by the Wirral charity Mark works for.
And then there's Jean's First World War medals.
The attached paperwork really brings the story
of this lost soldier into relief.
We're sailing across the choppy waters of the Mersey
for today's auction, heading into the vibrant city of Liverpool.
We'll be in the capable hands of "Flog It!" veteran, Adam Partridge.
40 now, 5, 50, 5, 60, 5...
Remember, if you are buying or selling in an auction room
there is commission to pay. It varies from saleroom to saleroom.
All the details are printed in the catalogue, or ask a member of staff.
Here, today, at Adam Partridge's saleroom in Liverpool,
it's %20 inclusive of VAT, so factor that in to the hammer price
because that is always added on or, if you're selling, it's deducted.
Well, there are plenty of browsers, but will this translate into bids?
As everyone takes their seats, the auction gets under way.
It's not long before our first lot comes round the bend.
We all love our boys' toys on this show, don't we?
You brought it to the right expert.
I did indeed, yes. We came down and met Phil outside.
And the rest is history.
And the rest is history. Every penny goes to charity,
-so it's a great cause.
-It does indeed, yeah.
Let's find out what it makes.
Small collection of Hornby Dublo. Tin plate accessories. £30 the lot.
Start me there, £30.
Oh, come on. Come on.
£20, then. 20 bid. A bid at 20. Is there 5 now? At 25 online.
At £25... Any advance then on £25? That's it... 30 here.
30 in the room now. At £30...
-It's a great name, though, Hornby.
-It is, it's local, isn't it?
£30 over here. 5 online, 35.
40, sir. For the hospice. Thank you, sir.
-Pulling teeth, aren't we?
We're selling in the room then at £40...
Yes! Steaming ahead at 40 quid.
That was great.
And every penny will go to the charity.
It certainly will. That's right.
Thank you for bringing that and carry on to do all the good work.
I will do. Thank you both very much indeed. Thanks for your help.
A good, solid, mid-estimate sale there. I'm pleased for Mark.
Going under the hammer right now, two First World War medals
belonging to Jean, but with no family connection, am I right?
-That's right, yes.
-So, how did you come by them?
Well, I found them in my loft,
but originally they came from my mother's loft.
With the First World War, you've got the names.
All the research is easy to do, because it's all around the rim.
They're all named, they're a matching pair.
-They should be fine. They should sell.
-Yes, fingers crossed.
-We're going to find out right now, Jean.
Ready for this? Here we go. This is it.
A nice little lot of World War I medals there.
What about £80 for them?
80? Is that bid straight in at 80?
-I think we're straight in.
£80, straight in at 80.
I'll take five, anywhere? At £80.
5, and 90,
and 5, 100, 110, 120...
Oh, my goodness.
No, 130 this side.
Any advance now on £130?
The bid's on my right-hand side here at 130.
That's a good sold sound.
-So, well done, you. Thanks for bringing those in.
-Well done, Nick, as well.
Just above the top estimate, fantastic.
Next up, is Mary's small study of the vessel Panama.
Mary, I think we've hit trumps here with the right sale,
because half of the sale here today at Adam's saleroom
is a maritime sale.
The walls are adorned with maritime images
and that's exactly what you've got.
-So, good luck.
-It's a wonderful gouache.
-Why are you selling it?
Well, it's just no interest to me, you know what I mean?
-It wasn't mine anyway, it was an old auntie's, so I just thought...
Had you enjoyed it on the wall?
I haven't ever had it on the wall!
-Oh, that's why you're selling it, girl!
-It was in the loft.
-So, good luck. We get top money right now.
-Oh, thanks very much.
Yeah, here we go.
JS Owen, the gouache small study
of a single funnelled vessel, Panama, there were are.
That's rather nice, isn't it?
£30 for it?
£20, this little gouache,
there it is, held up for you.
£20 for this?
Online, £20 is bid.
We're starting off at 20, is there 5 anywhere?
Oh, we've got a bid online.
At £25. Online again at £25.
Is that it? At £25.
At £25, at 25.
Saving your money for the bigger pictures, are you? At £25.
We'll sell then online at £25.
Sold it. He sold it to a bidder online for £25, on the reserve.
Yeah, bang on the reserve.
I mean, honestly, I thought it might have made a little bit more.
-I think the only sandwich you're going to get
out of that is a chip butty.
-Yeah, treat yourself.
-It was worth it.
It was worth coming just to see you both anyway.
-Have you enjoyed it?
-I've had a lovely day.
Well, it's nice to meet up with you, too, Mary.
And next up, it's Phil's pretty sapphire and sea pearl bracelet.
Now, did you ever wear it?
-No, I don't wear blue.
-You don't wear...
Oh. Strictly a red girl.
As I got older, I realised it was very draining.
You'll find that!
Really? Tell me more.
Lilac's very good
and any plum colour's very good for your complexion.
Well, there you go.
It was worth coming for this, wasn't it? Just for this.
Right, OK, we have to monitor gold prices because it does vary,
but fingers crossed that they're steady
and we're going to get the top end.
-Good luck, this is it.
Late Victorian/Edwardian nine carat gold snap bangle.
-I like it, actually. I like it a lot.
-It's very nice.
£100. Where's 10 now?
140, 150, 160, 170?
No, 160 here.
SHE GASPS Oh, great, great!
At 160, all done then?
Anyone else, then? We're selling at 160...
-Late bid online, 170.
Online and selling now at 170.
-That hammer's gone down. That's a good old sound, isn't it?
Great, that's absolutely wonderful. Really pleased.
-Thank you so much.
-Cos I liked it.
I'm pleased we could help.
Well, there have been some highs and some lows, but that happy result
completes our first visit to the saleroom.
Now, when the outbreak of the First World War was announced in 1914,
crowds of people gathered outside Buckingham Palace
and they all stood there cheering.
What they didn't realise was the slaughter that was to follow,
and quickly, casualties started arriving back in this country.
It became quite apparent that hospitals couldn't cater
for the beds required,
so many private buildings became auxiliary hospitals.
One of those wasn't far away - Dunham Massey.
And while we were up here filming, I went to investigate.
For around 300 years, Dunham Massey was the family home
of the Earls of Stamford and Warrington.
But by the outbreak of the First World War,
the 9th Earl of Stamford had passed away
and the estate was being run by his widow, Lady Stamford.
She was living at Dunham with her daughter, Lady Jane.
In 1916, Lady Stamford wrote a letter to her son telling him
that she was thinking of turning the house over
to a hospital for officers, because it wouldn't do for Tommies.
But something must have changed her mind
because in April 1917, Dunham Massey was full of rank and file Tommies.
Have a look at these pictures.
Any recent visitors to Dunham Massey would recognise this as the saloon.
But during the First World War, it looked much more like this...
The transformation of the original hospital took months to achieve.
As you could imagine, this house was brimming full of treasures.
First, the carpets and the chandeliers had to be removed
and then heavy, precious pieces of furniture, works of art
from the walls had to be put into storage and, finally,
these faux marble columns - a technique known as scagliola,
because they are hollow inside - had to be shuttered up
and boxed in, exactly like they are today.
And then, rows and rows of beds neatly put into position
to create the ward, exactly as it is here.
Later on, further wards were created by adding more beds.
Over the next two years,
nearly 300 patients were treated at Stamford Hospital.
They came from all over Britain and abroad.
their journeys from the battlefields would have been torturous.
Recreating this world was made possible by two key documents.
One here, I have in front of me, it's a beautiful handwritten journal.
It is the details of every single patient that's passed through the doors.
Sister Bennett handwrote this.
She was the nursing sister in charge of the whole hospital.
It records the name of the person, their rank, their regiment,
their injury, their treatment and their discharge dates.
It's beautifully written as well.
But what brings it to life is this recent discovery,
this scrapbook also belonging to Sister Bennett.
She put this together and really,
what you can do now, is you can actually put names to faces.
Here, look, we've got a Private Hodson.
He was admitted on 18th October 1917,
discharged around ten months later on 3rd June 1918.
If you look at this photograph, the chap on the end...
Look, there he is, Hodson. It's beautiful.
I mean, despite appalling injuries,
all of these guys in this photograph are smiling.
There's a happy atmosphere, there's a positiveness about it.
Volunteers working for the National Trust here at Dunham
then used Sister Bennett's information to find out what happened
to the soldiers who were treated here.
They found many of the men went back to the front line.
Like Corporal Arthur Topham, treated for shrapnel wounds.
Discharged to duty in 1917.
He was tragically killed in action just a few months later.
Others were lucky.
Gunner Carl Brodie was sent back to France after recovering
from a shell wound but he survived the war and made it home to Canada.
For some, this was just a brief respite from the horrors of war.
But whatever their fate, while they were here,
they received the best possible medical attention.
Ground-breaking techniques were put into practice here,
in this very room.
Wounds were kept open, washed repeatedly
to stop gangrene from setting in, that was pioneered here.
This was an age before antibiotics,
antibiotics weren't developed until 1928.
Now, this puts a smile on your face. Look at this.
This is a copy of the hospital rules.
"Patients are asked not to smoke in the ward before 8am or after 9pm."
But it seems the 13 hours in between is perfectly fine.
I think the term "best care" has to be taken into context, don't you?
Lady Stamford's daughter, Lady Jane, was only 15 when the war broke out.
She trained as a Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse
and soon came to work here to look after the soldiers.
In 1991, Lady Jane sadly passed away.
But in the 1980s, the National Trust recorded two short interviews with her.
She recalled the area at the bottom of this grand staircase
being turned into an operating theatre.
Despite it being the darkest place in the house
and rather prone to cobwebs, it was suitable because just through there
there's a toilet and a hand basin, which was absolutely essential.
Her most vivid memory is assisting in an operation
with Private William Johnstone, who underwent brain surgery.
He had a bullet in his brain, you see, and this had to be got out.
Once they'd made the hole in the brain,
I was given the job of shining a torch right into it and I saw
the brain sort of pulsating and so I held the torch in front
and saw the bullet being extracted by the surgeon.
It was very interesting.
You always wonder whether you're going to be a bit squeamish and
sort of faint, but having being given the job to do,
one forgets oneself.
Next door, the great hall became a recreation room for patients.
Here, soldiers could relax,
play the piano or in the case of the hospital's longest resident,
Percy Chaplain, find time to woo Mabel,
one of the housemates whom he married after the war.
The soldiers spent a lot of time outside,
here, in the inner courtyard.
Sister Bennett was a great advocate
of the restorative qualities of clean, fresh air
and some bath treatments.
On a day like today, that's perfectly acceptable.
As well as relaxing in the courtyard,
soldiers were encouraged to make the most of the outside space.
They could play croquet on the lawns or go boating on the moat.
It's about as far as it's possible to get from the brutality
of the front line and the contrast must have been dreamlike.
When peace was eventually declared in 1918,
the bells rang out again and again.
There was singing and dancing in the wards
and a feast was held here in the great hall.
As one nurse recalled, "It was a festive scene as 72 of us
"sat down to the most sumptuous repast.
"The staff, the patients
"and the household were all here together to celebrate peace as one."
Welcome back to Wallasey Town Hall on the Wirral Peninsula,
where there's still a hive of activity.
Hundreds of people have turned up.
The queue actually ends at the front door, look.
And here we have this staircase, lined with enthusiastic people.
If you go that way, I'll go this way. How are you, everyone?
-Having a good time?
-And what are you going to do?
-He-he-hey! That is what it's all about.
And as we go into this room, a little holding bay, look,
-more people. Hi, everyone!
Thank you for turning up today!
It could be you, you or you, going home with lots of money,
so stay with us.
And as we go into the main hall now,
there are literally 300 or 400 people sitting down. Look at this.
This really is lights, camera, action. What a spectacular setting!
So, let's join up with our experts and get on with our valuation.
And charging ahead is Philip, even if he is a bit back to front!
-D-R and that ship, that's JUST what we want to see.
-Why is that, Helga?
-Because it comes from Della Robbia, in Birkenhead.
So, Della Robbia, factory, ceramics factory,
set up in 1894 in Birkenhead and...
-It was short-lived, wasn't it?
-But it was very popular at the time.
-About 15 years, something like that?
Yes, 15, 20 years.
-And this is a Della Robbia charger...
..made round about 1900, 1904,
-something like that, I would guess.
So, where would this have come from?
My husband's grandfather bought Della Robbia,
possibly from the factory, possibly from new. I don't know.
Oh, that's fantastic, isn't it?
So, he would have really been a patron of the arts.
This could possibly have been bought from the factory
-and have been in your family from day one.
I think that's fantastic. I REALLY do.
"Flog It!" has come to Wallasey...
-..and you want to sell your local pot.
Why's today the day to sell it?
-Because...of "Flog It!".
It's nice to see all the different faces that you
-feel you know from television.
-Ah, well, it's lovely to be here.
And you know what? This is what the market wants.
Real flavour of the moment. You've got a few issues with it.
The glaze is flaking around the rim. I can sort of live with that.
But here, look, you've got a bit of a crack. A slight crack just there.
It's bizarre, this world.
You can live with flaking but these fire cracks...
I think they're going to reduce the value a little bit.
-Have you got a figure in mind for this?
-Well, I have.
-Will it be as much as £100?
-A little more than that.
Would it be as much as £500?
-A little more than that...
-You've done your homework, you, haven't you?
I think this is a lovely thing. I think it's a lovely, lovely thing.
And I think the market will really clamour for it.
I think there will be a lot of interest in it.
I think it could make anywhere between
£800 and £1,000.
£700, £900, that sort of region.
In an ideal world, I would like to see an estimate of £700 to £900
and a reserve, say, of £650. That would be MY ideal.
-What were you hoping to get for it?
-I don't think I'd like to go below £700, probably.
-So, if we put £700 to £900 as an estimate...
-..and we put £700 as a fixed reserve...
-No discretion, that's it, minimum.
Well, I think that's absolutely lovely.
And why are you selling this particular piece then?
It's difficult to store. I... I worry about it.
It's the side of a wardrobe at the moment
-and it's hardly the best place for it.
I think Della Robbia deserves better than the side of a wardrobe, really.
-Yes, I think so.
-Keep our fingers crossed!
Eagle-eyed viewers will recognise this highly collectable pottery
because back in 2005, we took a look at the Della Robbia
collection at the Williamson Art Gallery.
Because it's so rare, we've only had two previous examples on "Flog It!".
'Helga's piece is by far the largest,
'so it'll be interesting to see how it fares at auction.'
Yes, the hammer's gone down!
'But first, it's time for some more gems up on the balcony with Nick.'
Well, Cath, where do we start? Oh, what a night!
Oh, what a night!
People are going, "What on earth are they going on about?!"
Engraved on the top of this fantastic desk snuffbox,
Victorian one, is inscribed, "Oh, what a night!"
-What have you been up to?
-The mind boggles.
-The mind boggles.
-I wonder what this night was about. Any ideas?
-I shudder to think.
Tell me where they've come from. How are they in your possession?
They were my late father-in-law's and he used to have them
in his glass cabinet and he lived in Bisley and he was in the forces.
-Did he see much action?
-He was a prisoner of war, Japanese.
Well, let's tell you a little bit about the box itself, shall I?
It's Victorian, it's hallmarked in Birmingham, 1872.
It's lovely quality. It's a real bruiser. Heavy as well.
Often, these are quite thin.
It's a table snuffbox, what we call,
so slightly larger than your pocket one, obviously.
-I thought it was a card box.
-No. I think it's snuff, I really do.
I think with the engraving round it, and with, "Oh, what a night!"...
I'm still intrigued with that. I can't get over that!
If we take a closer look at this one, it's absolutely fantastic and
you can always spot quality because underneath is as good as the top.
It's absolutely beautiful.
All this foliate engraving, and it's a really good,
heavy depth of gauge of engraving as well.
And open it up, and it's pin clean inside.
Absolutely pin clean. And a cracking hallmark in there.
It looks like it was stamped yesterday, doesn't it? I mean...
It's hardly been used.
But, you know, it's back to the same question - what happened that night?
We'll never know. We will never ever know.
With it, we've got a little trinket box as well, silver again.
A little problem with one of the legs. It's legless.
With the sort of Dutch-inspired relief moulded figures on the top.
-A little bit of a contrast to the other one.
But for different things as well, little trinkets, rings,
bits and pieces on a lady's dressing table.
-Fashion-wise, even now, this is a little bit...
-Terribly difficult to clean, as my mum would have said.
If we're going to talk about the money side of things...
-probably put them together as a lot. OK?
If that was perfect, I'd probably keep them separate,
but I just think it might put some of the buyers off, OK?
I think that one's probably worth £200 to £300 on its own
and that one's...probably around about 100.
-So, I think if we put them in at 300 to 500 for the two...
..we can put a reserve on them. I'd put a reserve at £300.
-I think they're worth that every day of the week.
I can be a hard valuer. I think they'll do a little bit more.
-What do you think about that? Are you happy?
-Yes. Very nice.
-Do you like them?
-I like them, yes.
-Which is your favourite of the two?
-It's cos of the night out again, isn't it?
I'm with you, Cath.
What a great inscription to spark the imagination!
Austin, how are you? Lovely to see you. Do you know what?
I've seen so many good things today.
Out of everything I've seen, I'd take these home.
-I think they're fantastic.
How have they come into your possession?
My sister lived in a flat in London a while back,
and she moved into a larger place.
These were her kitchen/dining room chairs, and I've always thought
they were a bit stylish, so I...had them off her.
-You've got a good eye. What did you pay her?
These are made out of oak and I would say that they dated from that
I think they're so stylish, with this horseshoe seat,
and they're just such cool chairs. They really are.
Now, I think I know who they're by.
Really? Right, let's just have a look.
Oh, dear me!
There we are, look - Heal's.
Tottenham Court Road, London.
This is a registration mark on here, and you can date that
to within the year. I would suggest it's probably...
Well, it's got 33 on the end of it,
so there's a fair chance it might be 1933.
Um... Have you ever given any thought
as to what they might be worth?
Well, I was offered £100 by a dealer for them a couple of years ago,
which I thought was a little bit on the low side.
So, maybe, I don't know... 150, 200 quid?
150, 200 quid. OK, fine.
I would put...probably £300 to £500 on them as an estimate.
And I would put a reserve on them of £250, give the auctioneer...
You're looking surprised.
Very nice surprise.
We'll put a reserve of 250, but we'll give him £25 discretion.
-OK, that's fair.
Of all the shows that I've done, I'm going to remember these,
because I think they're lovely. They're a real thing of
-the moment and they're really stylish, so thanks for bringing them, really.
-It's a pleasure.
I'm not surprised Philip's taken with these chairs.
Heal's is a British name to be reckoned with.
Starting out as bed makers in 1810,
they advertised in Charles Dickens' novels...
..later embracing the ideals of the Arts and Crafts movement
with their furniture.
They have a long history
of promoting design innovation in Britain.
It'll be interesting to see how these gems fare at auction.
-Judith, how are you?
-I'm very well.
-Have you come far?
-No, I'm from the Wirral.
-From the Wirral.
-I think this is lovely.
-I do, yeah. And do you know what?
When I started, sort of suitcases and vintage luggage, well,
there wasn't such a term. They were just old things that no-one wanted.
-This is a crocodile skin case.
-I thought it might be.
And it's just absolutely lovely. Is there anything inside?
-There's a silver-topped box...
What's all that, there?
And this was presented to my great aunt, I think,
on her retirement from that particular company.
I have a feeling that she was a rep and it might have been a tea company.
-She was Esther.
-So she was Great Aunt Esther.
-Great Aunt Esther, or Auntie Sis.
They must have thought something of her
because they bought her a crocodile skin case and here...
These are actually hallmarked silver.
Hallmarked silver and monogrammed with her initials.
This would have been a very expensive gift.
Now, the sad thing is that there are various bits and bobs missing.
Don't think we'd have had this ring in there originally.
And it's nice that we've got the retailer, Finnigans here,
of Manchester. But I think this is a really, really lovely thing.
When it gets sold, if we sell it, what do you think will happen to it?
I don't know if it'd be a prop or something cos
-I can't see anybody using it.
-Can you not?
-Well, I'll tell you what I think's going to happen to it -
I think sadly, we're going to lose Aunt Esther's plaque
and I think these little bottles here...
I think they're either going to get sold separately, or they might even
-go in the melting pot...
..and then I think someone will take all this out
and they'll re-line it and then they'll have a really
-fantastic crocodile little attache case.
And I think that's really cool.
I'd like to own it. I think it's a lovely thing.
The estimate really ought to be £80 to £120
and I think we need a fixed reserve of £60 on it
and that's going to give the auctioneer something to work with.
And the thing I love about it, this is the ultimate recycling, isn't it?
-I think so, yes.
Cos someone's going to really love this and use it.
I'd love to own this.
Well, that's it.
Our final items have now just been found by our experts
and what crackers they really are.
I think we could have one or two surprises, so don't go away.
But what a day we've had here in Wallasey and the town hall,
but sadly, it's time to say, "Goodbye, everybody," isn't it?
As we head over to the auction room for the very last time today.
So, coming across the water with us
is this impressive Della Robbia plate.
It has a bit of damage, but it's still highly collectible.
And then there's Cath's Victorian silver boxes,
with that fabulous sentiment on the snuffbox.
This lot is sure to appeal to the bidders.
And then there's Austin's set of Heal's chairs.
Phil's recognised their stylish kudos, but will the bidders?
And finally, it's Judith's travelling case.
Exotic animal skins are not to everyone's taste, but I'm
sure this will go on to have a new lease of life on the high street.
It's as busy as ever at the auction house in Liverpool,
but before the sale got under way, on the preview day,
I caught up with Adam to get his opinion on one of my favourite lots.
These belong to Cath. They've been in a cabinet for a long time.
-Hopefully, we can get, you know, £300, £400.
-Oh, I'm sure we will.
-I just love this one.
-So do I.
This is a table snuffbox with a presentation inscription.
-So it's meant to be shared around.
-Yeah, absolutely right.
But, also, normally the inscription -
what do they say on the occasion of your wedding?
"Oh, what a night!"
-Do you think that's been given by a lady
to her male admirer, do you think?
-Could be, couldn't it?
Or could it be, all the chaps were out and they had a great night
and they thought, "We'll give this to old Charlie boy...
"Oh, what a night!"
I just love the potential...
-Yeah, the social history behind it.
-..imaginative stories that could be conjured up from that.
-And you're not going to split them up?
-No. But I think they'll easily sell.
-That's what we like to hear.
-Yeah, and I think it's a great lot.
-For me, that is one of the nicest ones.
-But you have to sell that
-to get that one away.
-I think so.
-I think you're right.
Well, we'll have to wait and see how they fare
because, with the auction getting under way,
Adam's taking his place on the rostrum,
and our first lot up for grabs is Helga's impressive charger.
I've got the pleasure in saying, going under the hammer right now,
we've got some Della Robbia from just up the road.
We've got a fixed reserve of £700.
This arms - sort of modelled as an arms dish, isn't it?
-It's a wonderful charger, Helga.
-Yes, it's beautiful.
-I've got to say how fabulous you look.
This is quality and I think you're a lady of quality,
so why are you selling this?
It's big, it's awkward to display,
and it's pushed at the side of a wardrobe.
-It's a thing of the moment, it really is.
Ready for this? Here we go. Fingers crossed.
It's going under the hammer now.
Late 19th-century Della Robbia charger. Models an arms dish.
What a lovely lot that is.
520, 540 I'm bid.
At 540. Any advance on 560?
580. 580 bid.
At 580. 600.
And 20. It's £600 only bid.
20. 620 bid.
640. 640 bid and 60.
660 on the phone now. At £660.
Any advance, then, on £660? Any more? 80.
It's gone, well done!
At £700 alone...
At 700. It's going to be sold at 700. Are you all done on this?
At £700. A lovely piece,
Brilliant result. Just through on the reserve. Well done!
-And you're pleased with that, aren't you?
-Yes, I'm pleased, yes.
-And, hopefully, the new owner will be pleased.
Well, it just got there and I'm pleased for Helga.
Next up is Judith's travelling case.
We've got some real style and quality going under the hammer
right now, just like its owner, Judith. Good to see you.
-This is lovely.
And Philip zoomed in on this, didn't you?
I mean, it is just superb quality,
and quality always sells.
-I believe so. And I'm hoping so.
-Why are you selling this?
We've got no use for it in our home, and I've got a couple of sons
getting married in the next year or so,
so I thought I would put the money towards the brides' flowers.
-Yes, that's about...
-That's nice, isn't it?
-From my mum.
-Aww. That's nice, isn't it?
-Good luck, both of you.
Here we go. Let's put it to the test.
Lovely lot, this one. The lady's crocodile toilet case.
It's worth that. 80's bid online.
-At £80, 5. In the room, 85.
£95. In the room now, 95.
To the phone, then - 100. 110. 120.
-A phone bid's always comforting, isn't it?
200 bid. 10. 210 in the room.
At 210 over here now.
At 210. 220 bid.
At 220 on the phone now...
-Phone line - 220, he's asking for.
On the phone at £220.
They've snapped up the crocodile case.
£220, we'll sell this then.
On the phone at £220.
Philip, well done. Yes. And you've got to be over the moon with that.
I am. Indeed, I am. It's lovely.
Well, sold for almost four times the reserve!
Now, let's hope Phil's prediction on the next lot is as accurate.
Going under the hammer now we've got a set of four
Heal's chairs. It's a retailer synonymous with quality.
It comes from the Tottenham Court Road in London and I love these.
It's style and I don't know why you're selling them, actually.
Well, they're surplus to requirements.
Philip, good luck with this.
I would really love to own these, I think they're such a cool lot,
and if they don't make the top end of £500, there's no justice at all.
Let's find out what this lot think.
Let's hand the proceedings over to Adam.
Interest here straight in at £200. At £200, the Heal's chairs.
We've got a reserve at 250.
At 200... £200. Is there 10 anywhere? At 200...
-At 200 it is, then. At £200.
We'll have to see about those.
-My advice to you would be put them in a 20th-century modern sale.
-£50 a chair for those is a nonsense, in my view.
-Yes, it is, really.
It needs to go with things that are surrounded from that period
because people will buy into that.
I wish Austin all the best with those chairs
and I'm sure they will attract the interest they deserve.
Finally, it's time for our last lot of the day,
and you'll have to forgive me if I break into song.
# Oh, what a night Late December... #
That's the song, wasn't it?
I've forgotten who sang it but it is Oh, What A Night,
because it's on that snuffbox.
Cath, good luck with this.
I had a chat to Adam on the preview day, yesterday.
-The snuffbox - we've got two items of silver in your lot.
Adam's not separated them because the snuffbox is going to get
-the trinket box away.
-That's kind of how it works
-in the auction business, isn't it?
-Bit of damage to the trinket box as well.
-Yeah, but, oh, what a night. Oh, what a day!
And it's going under the hammer right now
and, hopefully, it's going to hit the roof. Here we go.
It comes with another Victorian box
with the engraving of, "Oh, what a night!"
I've never seen anything like it. Great thing. £300, please.
Bid, at £300. I'll take 20.
At 300. 20. 340. 360.
380. 400. And 20.
440. 440's in front, here.
At 440. You're out, Desmond. It's 440 down here.
At 440. A lovely lot. Is there any more on this then?
At 440. We shall sell, then, in the row,
-Spot-on there, weren't you, really?
-Brilliant. Yeah, good.
-Thank you very much.
-You're happy as well, aren't you?
-Yeah, there is commission to pay, but it's a lot of money.
-So you're going to pamper yourself.
-Can have your own, "Oh, what a night!" now, can't you?
Don't tell me husband! LAUGHTER
I think the cat might be out the bag now, Cath,
but I'm sure you'll have a great night out, anyway.
It's all over for our owners. As you can see,
the auction is still going on, but what a day we've had here.
Lots of highs and lots of lows, and some maybes,
but that's auctions for you - you never know what's going to happen,
so join us again next time for more surprises.
But, until then, from Liverpool, it's goodbye.
Paul Martin presents from Wallasey Town Hall on the banks of the River Mersey. Antiques experts Philip Serrell and Nick Davies get to meet people from all over Merseyside who have brought in their antiques and collectibles to receive a valuation.
Paul gets special permission to go behind the scenes with National Museums Liverpool to find out how they preserve the millions of often priceless objects that are in their care at the Conservation Studios in the city centre.
Paul also heads to the stately grandeur of Dunham Massey, which was a military hospital during the First World War. He explores an ambitious project which brings that significant time back to life.