Antiques series. Paul Martin presents from Wallasey Town Hall on the Wirral Peninsula, with experts Anita Manning and Nick Davies.
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Welcome to Dunham Massey,
the ancestral home of the Earls of Stanford and Warrington.
I think it's pretty safe to say the family that lived here were
complete hoarders. During their time in residence,
they amassed a staggering 25,000 different objects -
objects which tell a story of love and political intrigue.
And later on in the show, I'll be sharing some of my favourites
with you, but right now, it's those all-important valuations.
Welcome to Flog It!
One of Merseyside's most impressive buildings is today's
valuation venue, Wallasey Town Hall.
In 1940, during the Second World War,
it took a direct hit by German bombers.
George VI and Queen Elizabeth came to see
the effects of the early raids.
But worse was to follow.
Liverpool and Merseyside soon became the most heavily bombed
area in the country outside of London.
Having the largest west coast port,
Merseyside was targeted because the docks brought in food and materials
vital to Britain's survival.
But despite the death toll and destruction,
the port stayed open and visiting the area, Churchill said,
"I see damage done by enemy attacks,
"but I also see the spirit of unconquered people."
Merseyside is an area
with a powerful sense of pride in its history
and quite rightly so, and that strong connection with the past,
combined with the unflagging determination of this massive
crowd here, is sure to provide us with a lively valuation day.
Isn't that right?
And who better to match that resolve and do us proud
with their expert knowledge than the spirited Anita Manning?
-OK. You're mine! Forever!
And working alongside Anita is tip-top chap Nick Davies.
-Hi, Nick. How are you doing?
-I'm fine. How are you getting on?
It's great. The people in the queue are absolutely fabulous and
I've found a couple of marvellous items that you had bagged before me!
-Ah, got to be quick!
-Don't worry, Anita.
There's plenty to go around on this breezy day.
So, as the flags flutter outside,
it's time for a flurry of steps inside.
Whilst everybody finds a spot in the main hall
and our off-screen experts start unwrapping all manner of goods,
how about we have a quick reveal of what's coming up in today's show?
-Anita imagines the thrill of being an Edwardian woman.
Women threw away their corselettes.
They would pin these hats on to their extravagant hairdos
and it was that extra bit of flash.
Whereas Nick is butching it up as a Victorian man.
Cos if your hands got a bit hot and sweaty,
you could have a really good grip on the sword.
But who will win the battle of the sexes over at the auction?
We did stick it to them.
-Everyone having a good time? CROWD:
-Yeah! That's what it's all about.
Well, this is where it's going to happen, right here, right now. It's lights, camera, action.
It could be you going home with a lot of money. Fingers crossed.
Or you, or you. And you're all on TV right now. I'm being filmed.
There's a camera up there. Give it a wave. Look! There we are!
Well, as you can see, everybody is so excited.
They're all safely seated inside now, in the warm,
so let's get on with the valuations and hand the proceedings over to expert Nick Davies.
We were having a little bit of a chat before we sat down here
and you were telling me something about this building
and your family and a connection. Tell me about it.
My family were Rowland Owen and Son, haulage contractors.
-They actually hauled a lot of the stone on this building.
-And my Uncle Bob had a team of horses and a wagon.
And he was sitting on a great big crate and when he got off it,
a guy said to him, "Do you know what you've been sitting on?
"You'll be able to tell your family you've been
"sitting on the top of Wallasey Town Hall."
Because the box he had had the urn in it that
-goes on right on the very top!
-Right up somewhere above our heads.
-The urn was in the box. Fantastic.
-What a lovely little story.
-So, it's great.
And is that any relation to this?
-His brother was quite a showman, really.
He had a lot of things that made sound, made pictures,
made any sort of noise whatsoever, and this was Uncle Steve's.
He loved his equipment and he loved tinkering with things,
so he's probably taken this apart at some point and oiled it
-and put it back together again.
-It looks in great condition.
And we know what it is, it's a cylinder phonograph by Edison.
Obviously, Edison was very famous for his telephone work
and his telegraphy and this has come from that.
Now, it's the standard issue. They did various versions.
Another one was the Edison Gem, which was a little bit smaller.
And this is probably circa about the turn of century, 1898,
somewhere round about that sort of period.
Have you used it at all?
Well, we kept it because we've got a great big box full of recordings
and we thought we'd have a party and play it,
-but the opportunity's never come.
-You haven't had a phonograph party.
-No, we haven't.
-Bring your phonograph, bring your wax...
Let's just take this one off and have a quick look, shall we?
That's where all the music is... Recorded on to these wax cylinders.
-And have you got any more of these?
-So, you've got the top 40 and a few bonus ones as well.
-And you've got the cover as well.
-Oh, yes, we've got the cover.
And obviously, the horn. So, it's all there. Let's talk about value.
I would have thought it should fetch,
with all those cylinders, somewhere around about £200 to £300,
-reasonably conservatively, I would think.
-Is that suitable for you?
-That would be superb.
Million dollar question - does it work?
That will probably be enough.
-If I'm right, we just move that?
-We've got a hornpipe.
-A very nice hornpipe.
It's always great to see these phonographs, which
are the earliest commercial medium for recording and reproducing sound.
Their production came to an end in the 1920s,
when the competing gramophone triumphed in the marketplace.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Peter, welcome to Flog It!
And thank you very, very much for bringing this little item along.
I'm very excited.
This is the first time that I've been in the Wirral peninsula.
And this is the first time Flog It!
has been in the Wirral peninsula as well.
-Now, do you come from this area?
What sort of work did you do here?
-I don't work. I'm a pensioner.
-You're a pensioner now.
I'm 80 in 12 weeks' time.
Aw. Well, congratulations!
I have fallen in love with this little item here,
the little British bulldog.
-Can you tell me - where did you get it?
Handed down from my mother-in-law.
Has it been with you for a long time?
It's been with me for over 50 years.
-For over 50 years.
Let me tell you a little bit about it
because it's a very interesting little item.
It was made by Royal Doulton, designed by Charles Noke,
a very prestigious designer.
And he was famous for designing and making character jugs,
depicting various different characters of the day.
This little bulldog was made in 1941.
Now, 1941, the middle war years, it would have been produced to
cheer people up, as a piece of perhaps propaganda.
And here we have the good old British bulldog
and he's draped by this Union Jack.
Let's take a wee look at the underneath of it.
We see the mark here for Royal Doulton
and we see this number here, which is the registration mark,
which tells us when it was registered.
-And this was in 1941.
But if we look at the item itself
and think about the time that it was made, these middle war years, it
was a time where people needed to,
I don't know, feel good about things.
I think that it's an evocative thing
-and I know that you have enjoyed it.
-Oh, I have enjoyed it.
One wee thing that I maybe should point out,
I don't know if you've noticed, our Union Jack here,
we have a little discoloration in the blue, so it's faded a wee
bit on there, so the collector will take that into consideration.
-Price-wise, what do you think?
-I have no idea.
Take a guess, Peter.
£50? Well, a wee bit more than that.
But I would say that we could estimate it perhaps 80-120.
-Now, would you be happy to...?
-I would be more than happy.
Well, I think that might even be a wee bit of a conservative estimate.
-But let's put it in
and let's let the market decide.
-Thank you very, very much for bringing it along.
Earlier on in the programme, we mentioned
some of the effects of the Liverpool Blitz during World War II.
I've got a couple of photographs that I'd like to show you.
One is of the most magnificent Willis organ,
installed here in this concert hall in the 1920s
and it would have been right down there, where the stage is now.
It was absolutely huge.
Sadly, 20 years later, during the war, in 1940,
this building took a direct hit.
And the state of the organ there - well, it's reduced to matchsticks.
Well, the hall was rebuilt, but it took a long time.
In fact, right up until 1951, and by then, times had changed.
Things had moved on.
There was no need for a big organ down the end of the room - it was
all about the big stage, with a live band on it and wonderful dances.
Yes, this hall has been the scene of many a formal do.
You can almost hear the swish of the ball gowns.
Not normally one to stand on ceremony himself,
Nick Davies is, however, lording it over us on the balcony.
-Hello, Jean. You've brought a rather nice ink stand for us here.
Can you tell me a little bit about it?
-I can't tell you much about it, except that it's been in my loft for quite a long time.
It's beautiful. It just reeks elegance of its day, doesn't it?
It's by a gentleman called William Atkins.
He was a silversmith in Birmingham at that period who made this
type of desk furniture and it's been presented to someone.
-It's got a presentation engraving to the front.
-So you've no idea who Mrs Wyard is?
Well, neither do I, but it's come from Llandudno, apparently,
cos it was gifted to her by the church over there.
But it's hallmarked in Birmingham in 1907,
so actually predates this building by about seven years.
And as it says on the presentation, it was presented in 1910.
It's got a lovely pen rest, but no pen. Often they go missing.
In the days of tablets and laptops and computers,
this seems a little bit obsolete, doesn't it, really?
-And it's a shame because it's so elegant.
It's beautifully made, with all the intricate work, the reeded
borders, the twin inkwells that all match, it's raised on four bun feet.
It's hardly been used.
It seems like it's been in your loft for donkey's years.
Yes, probably has.
What kind of a house would this have been in in that era?
Well, I think if you can imagine a typical Edwardian gentleman,
at his partner's desk, with his stationery box on top and his
big ink blotter by his side, and his desk set, right in front of him.
So, let's talk about the money side of things, the valuation.
I'd see this at about 100 to £150.
We'll put a reserve on it around about 90,
just to make sure that everything's covered.
-I'm sure we'll be fine with that. So are you happy with that?
-I'm happy with that.
-Going to go to the auction and see it fly?
-Of course, yes.
-Yes? Excellent! I'll look forward to seeing you then there.
Ethel, welcome to Flog It!
And thank you very much for bringing me
along this lovely little Victorian gentleman's pocket watch.
Now, tell me, where did you get it?
Well, it was part of a collection of my husband's.
He was an avid collector from when he was a boy.
And he was a professional gardener and he was looking after a garden
for an elderly lady and when she died, the housekeeper gave him
a box with various things in and I think this was in the box.
Because she used to chat to him about his collections.
So, it was a gift from someone who really appreciated the work
-that your husband did.
-But you say that he was a bit of a collector.
That's putting it mildly.
We were at a place where we had quite a bit of room in the garden
and when he filled one shed, he just put another one up and filled that.
And it was anything from little tinplate badges to
Did your husband's collection drive you nuts?
It drove me batty!
Because I couldn't control it at all.
He used to go out early morning and he'd come back with bags and try to
hide them coming in, scurry past the windows, hoping I wouldn't see him.
And then find a place in the shed!
Well, this is quite a valuable little item.
It's in nine-carat gold, it dates from about the 1860s, 1880s,
so it's a Victorian one. It has this lovely white porcelain face.
Now, it's very important that the face isn't damaged
because it's difficult to repair, but it's all there,
and the numbers are in Roman numerals.
But one of the things that I find most
interesting about it is that it was a Liverpool maker.
-So, we're going to a Liverpool saleroom
to sell a Liverpool watch,
so it's getting the best chance that it possibly can.
I also like the decoration.
We've got a wee bit of added detail here in this little embossed...
It's almost like leaf and foliage decoration,
so that makes it that much more pretty.
-So, a sweet little thing.
I would estimate it at 100 to 150,
put a little reserve on it, maybe £90.
And I'm sure it will go well with that
and I really do think that Liverpool is the place to sell this watch.
Before we head off to auction, there is
something I would like to show you.
As we know with our own homes, if you've got a cupboard underneath the
stairs, or a small spare bedroom, you just stuff things in it,
you let it pile up, rather than sort it out and sell it or throw it away.
It just gets sky high.
But if your home is Dunham Massey, then space really isn't an issue.
In fact, it turned the family that lived here into unwitting
hoarders, and thank goodness it did because each of those objects
tells a fascinating story of 300 years of family history and drama.
Dunham Massey was actually home to two great families -
the Booths, otherwise known as the Earls of Warrington,
and then the Greys, the Earls of Stanford.
Marriage brought them together and the money they made from coal
and farming was carefully managed.
They bought quality items, made to last,
and looked after what they owned, never throwing anything away.
Now, the first treasure I want to show you is also Dunham's
largest - the exquisite state bed
and here it is, filling this magnificent Queen Anne room.
It was inherited by the 2nd Earl in 1680 and then passed
down through the family, treated as a precious family heirloom,
right up until the 9th Earl sent it off for restoration.
But sadly and suddenly, the 9th Earl passed away
and the bed was sent back to the house.
Work hadn't even begun.
The bed was still left in its packing cases
and that's where it remained for the next 100 years,
until the National Trust took over the house
and looked inside these packing cases and discovered this bed.
Can you imagine that when they opened it up?
Anyway, they took the brave decision back then to conserve and restore
the bed, a project which took eight years, with a price tag of £200,000.
I like the playful use of design here with the four supporting
posts because they're modelled on palm trees,
which would have been all the rage, something exotic.
Look at the foliage at the top.
That's created with ostrich and egret feathers,
sort of hanging down rather dandily,
but if you look closely at the feet, where it terminates to the
floor, gilt, but that's copying the roots of the palm tree.
It's quite whimsical, isn't it?
But I have to stress the word conservation
and not restoration here because not a great deal has been done,
it's kept as honest as possible and for me, my favourite thing of
the whole bed has to be - you're not
going to believe it - the wear marks.
I love that bruised fabric.
That's centuries of wear, where the hands have grabbed it,
they've drawn those curtains closed and they've drawn them back open.
That is a massive visual link to our past,
an incredible bit of our heritage.
But of course, it's not all about big statement pieces.
Some of the most intriguing stories come in small packages.
Now, in this room there's some fascinating objects that
have been collected by the family over the years.
And this portrait here - well, that's Lady Henrietta,
who got married in 1763 to George, who later became the 5th Earl.
Now, what you have to bear in mind at this particular
time in our history, marriage in aristocratic circles was
more of a business arrangement, really.
Let's face it, it was a way of acquiring land or a title.
But this was a marriage that had something else.
Now, here is a handwritten letter by George's father to his mother,
who was away sorting out the marriage plans with
Henrietta's parents and it quite clearly shows that their son
was desperately in love and I'll read you the last three lines -
"If proper, you may tell the duchess,"
that's Henrietta's mother, "she has made me
"the happiest man in the world, by making G," that's George, "happy."
And it certainly was a match made in heaven.
They really did love each other, producing no less than ten children.
And here are some little miniatures, painted on ivory,
showing the couple. The detail is absolutely exquisite.
This little, tiny locket was designed to be
carried around on your person and here,
they're still exchanging love tokens some 20 years after their marriage.
I think they're exquisite. They're the best I have ever, ever seen.
While this couple were playing happy families,
other valued items in the house show a family in turmoil.
This ribbon is thought to have been a garter ribbon of Charles I,
the oldest and most prestigious Order of Chivalry in the UK.
Charles I placed great importance on the Order of the Garter
and portraits like this one show him proudly wearing his blue ribbon.
A few years later, however, thanks to the English Civil War, Charles I
was imprisoned on the Isle of Wight by Parliamentary forces.
A member of the family tried to rescue him.
Although he failed, he was rewarded with this ribbon for his chivalry.
But when Charles I was finally executed in 1649,
it put this family at loggerheads.
At Dunham, young Sir George Booth opposed the King's execution,
even leading a failed uprising.
But his brother-in-law, the Puritan Lord Thomas Grey, did not.
In fact, here we have a copy of Charles I's death warrant.
Now, on it, you can quite clearly see the signature of Thomas Grey.
And it's just above Oliver Cromwell.
As the only peer to sign, as befitting his status,
he was allowed to go first, so what you have here is the same
family that fought with Charles I also helped him lose his head.
A fascinating insight into turbulent times in England.
But let me take you now from a king's death to restoration,
as our next piece concerns Charles' son, the restored
King Charles II, and in my opinion, I've saved the best till last.
The library is almost the same as it was
when it was first created by the 2nd Earl in the early 1700s.
What dominates the room, though, is that fabulous carving.
It really is astonishing!
It's by Grinling Gibbons, my favourite wood carver.
He is the Michelangelo of wood carving.
Now, this execution of the Crucifixion
is his earliest known work.
He did this in 1671 and I know that Charles II wanted to buy this,
but somehow, it managed to end up here as a purchase by the 2nd Earl,
and what a purchase for Dunham Massey.
To really appreciate this, you have to get up close,
to take a better look, and I've been given permission to climb
these library steps to do just that.
So, here we go.
And the higher you get, well, the more it takes your breath away.
This is phenomenal. He is a virtuoso woodworker.
Look at all these undercuts. He's got in there with chisels
and gouges. It must have taken hours and hours and hours, by candlelight
and by natural daylight.
I couldn't even draw that, let alone carve it.
The inner frame itself,
that really is still life at life-size proportions,
when you look at the wonderful, wonderful wheat sheafs
and the little flowers and buds and the petals, it's exquisite.
Then, you look at the narrative of the work itself
and you see the horses and you see the horsemen.
There's a chap here with his hand on his hip
and the wonderful beard and facial expression.
Can you imagine how long that would have taken him?
Months and months and months. Possibly years.
Well, I really am tingling and you'll have to forgive me
because I want to stay up here for, well, a long time,
to take it all in, so you go on and I'll catch you up.
Gosh! What a busy day it's been so far.
Hundreds of people, which means thousands of antiques to look at.
We really are spoilt for choice,
but that's what this show is all about - fine art and antiques.
We found some gems,
we're going to put those valuations to the test in the auction room
and here's a quick recap of what our experts have found.
There's Phil's phonograph that she inherited from her Uncle Steve.
With all those extra cylinders, it should attract interest.
And Peter rose early to be one of the first in the queue.
Let's hope his enthusiasm pays off with a good result in the saleroom.
Nick was impressed by this silver ink stand, rescued from the loft.
I'm sure its auction will give Jean something to write home about.
And finally, there's Ethel's Victorian pocket watch,
saved from her late husband's secret stash in a garden shed.
Let's hope we can do him proud.
We're heading across the Mersey,
into the busy city of Liverpool for today's auction
and regular viewers will no doubt recognise
Flog It! favourite Adam Partridge on the rostrum.
Remember, if you are buying or selling in an auction room,
there's also commission to pay. It does vary from saleroom to saleroom.
Here, at Adam Partridge's in Liverpool, it's 20%,
inclusive of VAT.
Our first item up for grabs is Jean's Edwardian silver ink stand.
It's got everything going for it. I love the rectangular form.
I think it's good. I think it's quality
-and it's been liberated from the...
-What was it doing up there?!
-Well, I don't know.
Just went up to have a look when I saw you were coming to Wallasey.
Is all the family silver up in the loft?
-Well, it might be.
-It might be!
This will look great on the writing table.
The only thing going against it, it's got a presentation engraving
-on it. That's the only thing.
-Can that be polished out?
I think it could be, yeah. It's just a nice, pretty example. It's just that engraving.
-So we'll see whether that makes a difference or not.
Let's find out what it's worth. It's going under the hammer now.
210 is an Edwardian silver ink stand.
-I've got 80 already.
-We've got one hand going up.
90. 5. 100. And 10.
110, over my right. At 110. Worth a bit more, is it?
At 110 on my right-hand side.
£110. Any further at 110?
We'll sell now at £110.
-It's gone, Jean. £110.
-Yes, that was good.
Well done, Nick.
And right now, we're flying the Union Jack for Britain,
with this wonderful little bulldog, and it belongs to Peter.
Anita is our expert. We've seen these on the show before.
I think since that James Bond movie came out,
they're all coming out of the woodwork.
Why are you selling this?
-It's just sitting there and I don't even look at it.
-Oh, you've fallen out of love with the little bulldog.
Confident, Anita, top end?
The blue colour in the Union Jack is slightly faded. But hopefully.
He's all there. Apart from that, he's in good condition.
-Those collectors are a fussy bunch!
No, he's in very good nick actually. I think we'll get this away.
-Oh, here we are.
-Oh, look at him. Isn't that cute?
-Straight in at £80 online.
-There you go.
-80 is bid.
£80, internet at 80.
That's good, because my commission bids were 40. At £80 only.
At £80, is online at 80.
At 80. Are you all done at 80?
We'll sell at 80 then. Anyone else on this at £80?
All finished at £80. In and out, short and sweet, at £80.
Well, there you go. It's gone for £80. The collectors loved it.
-You're happy, Peter, aren't you?
-I am happy.
As they say, the cheque will be in the post
in about three weeks' time, less their commission.
-Thank you very much.
I'm glad we're sending Peter home happy.
Right now, time is up. No, it's not the end of the show.
Don't disappear and make a cup of tea.
Time is up for Ethel's watch.
Going under the hammer right now, that gorgeous open-face
Victorian gold pocket watch. I like this.
It's by a Liverpool maker and it's hallmarked in Chester.
So, it doesn't get better for local interest, does it, Ethel?
Perhaps not, no.
-I think we'll find a local buyer for it as well.
-Why are you selling it?
-Well, I've no-one to pass it on to.
They're not interested. And it's just been in a drawer for ages.
-Does it work?
-It does work? Oh, brilliant!
Well, that's half the problem with a lot of these pocket watches.
-It's gold and it's working.
-And I think it's wonderful
in this digital age that we can still get a marvellous
timepiece that has been working for 100 years
and will probably work for another 100 years.
Good luck, OK? This is it.
It's the early 20th century nine-carat gold
crown wind open-face pocket watch. Thomas Russell of Liverpool.
With a seven jewelled movement and a Chester hallmark. There we go.
Bid me 100.
-Start me at 100. Bid.
-100, straight in.
At 100. Down 10. 120. 130. 140. 150.
160. 170. 180. 190. 180 bid.
At 190. 200. No? 190's at the back.
At 190, Mr S.
-At 190. And we sell this then at £190.
-All done at 190.
-Yes! What a lovely sound.
It is good actually, isn't it? It's a solid sound.
-Happy with that, aren't you?
There is commission to pay, it's 20%. Everyone has to swallow that.
That's the auctioneers, that's the way they earn their money.
But look, great for bringing that in and also evoking
-a bit of Liverpool's past.
-A bit of history.
Going under the hammer right now,
we have an item which pioneered the home sound system.
Yes, it's the Edison phonograph and it belongs to Phil,
who is right next to me, in lovely bright red. Look at that.
-Is that Liverpool or what?
You couldn't come to Liverpool without wearing red.
Ooh! Or blue!
-We had a laugh at the valuation day, didn't we?
-And it's all about good working condition.
Lots of spare cylinders. And the horn is there.
Here we go, we're putting it under the hammer right now.
270 is the Edison standard model phonograph there. £200 start?
120. 130 bid already. At 130.
Any advance on 130 for the phonograph? 140. 150. 160. 170.
-180 is this side. At 180.
At 180, 190 online.
-200, the room.
-£200 in the room.
-And there's interest.
-It's a great party machine.
280, the phonograph now. 290.
-300. In the room, still. Selling.
-The hammer's gone down. £300.
I have to say, Phil said just before Adam started auctioneering
this off, I can't wait to see the back of these damn things!
You did, didn't you?
-Look, they've gone.
-Oh, brilliant! Absolutely fantastic!
They're going to a good home and they are a great collectible.
-Yeah, they are.
-Wonderful. It's a great party machine.
# Any time is party time! #
Let's hope somebody really enjoys playing that phonograph
and showing it off to the family and friends.
Well, that concludes our first visit to the auction room today.
We are coming back later on, so please don't go away because I think
we might have one big surprise for you, so don't you miss it.
Now, Liverpool, back in the 19th century,
like many great cities in this country, was dominated by rows
and rows of back-to-back houses, where dirt and poverty lived
side-by-side. One Victorian chap decided enough was enough.
He wanted to put things right. He created a unique model village.
His name was William Hesketh Lever and I went to
investigate his village across the other side of the Mersey
and it's called Port Sunlight.
William Lever was the son of a Lancashire wholesale grocer
who decided to specialise in selling household soap.
He came up with the brand name Sunlight
and when extremely successful sales called for expansion,
the company bought land south of the River Mersey.
Here, in 1888, William Lever built his soap works.
A year later, he started building a village to house his employees,
which became known as Port Sunlight.
He believed that good housing would ensure a happy and loyal workforce.
William Lever wanted clean,
healthy living conditions for his workers
and he was determined that Port Sunlight would be the perfect
location to bring up a family and to this end,
he personally oversaw all the planning of the village.
He was something of a frustrated architect.
He had a keen passion for building design
and that, coupled with a rising fortune at his disposal,
led to some rather astonishing architecture.
Lever employed and worked in collaboration with
nearly 30 different leading architects of his day.
The result is that each block of houses has a different style
and design approach.
Some have an Old English or Elizabethan feel,
with much use of black and white half timbering.
Others were built in the Flemish style,
with bricks imported from Belgium.
But you can also spot classical elements intermingling with
All in all, between 1889 and 1914,
800 houses were built in an intoxicating mixture of styles.
William Lever's concern for the welfare of his employees, however,
wasn't just restricted to where his workers lived, but how they lived.
Lever believed in strict Victorian principles
and he wished to raise the moral sensibilities of his workers.
At the soap factory, the female workers finished at different
times to the men, so they didn't leave the factory together.
And this sense of Victorian propriety in keeping
the sexes apart also applied to meal times.
This is the Gladstone Theatre.
this was a restaurant for the male employees of the factory.
The ladies? Well, they were separate.
They had their own restaurant just a few streets away.
But first thing in the morning, on the way to work,
the chaps would bring in their food here,
so come lunchtime, when they arrived, it could be preheated
and warmed up by the staff and if they didn't want hot food,
they could always bring in their own cold packed lunch,
so it was all about choices - keeping the workers happy.
And here hey are, opening up their picnic hampers
and billy cans of stew.
And you can just make out that the walls are lined with artwork.
The artwork that graced the walls
were from William Lever's own personal art collection,
probably put there to educate and civilise the men.
And it seemed to work because it was remarked upon in 1909
that proceedings were remarkably orderly.
The caterer and his assistants had no
difficulty in keeping down the horseplay and the spitting.
The hall was also used for stage plays,
in which guise it still continues to this day,
but there was also music and dancing for the villagers -
the women being told not to spend more than two
shillings on a dress, so nobody could outdo each other.
Not all aspects of social engineering in the village
were a success, though.
The Bridge Inn opened in 1900 as a non-alcoholic temperance house.
But the villagers felt it should have a licence
and although William Lever had serious misgivings, by 1903,
a vote was held and it was carried by an overwhelming majority.
William Lever's vision, though,
was about creating a better life for his workers
and providing things which would make life a lot more pleasant,
so he built schools, cottage hospital,
swimming pool, concert halls, art galleries.
The thing is - keep the workers happy
and they'll do a much better job for you.
It is the right philosophy.
What I've got here is a fascinating photo album.
It's a wonderful document of social history of what took place
here in this village.
Organised events and trips out for the workers.
And here's a photograph
of the Science and Literary Society on a trip out to the Loggerheads.
It's the most wonderful scene,
sitting on the side of the hill, look, having a cup of tea.
All rather genteel.
And on the other hand, you have something rather physical -
water polo. Now, you have to be really strong to play that sport,
but there's a lovely photograph of it.
Lever encouraged groups that promoted science, art,
literature, and sport to come here.
Because he was the son of a wholesale grocer,
he believed in the power of self-improvement.
And one person who knows all about the benefits
of growing up in Port Sunlight is John Spilletts.
Pleased to meet you. Come and have a seat.
I find this fascinating. You must have seen this hundreds of times.
I've seen that and many other photographs
of the history of the village, yes.
It's a brilliant window into the golden age of this village,
-Mind you, there still is a golden age here.
Now, your family has a connection to this place that goes back
-Can you tell me about that?
-Yes, my grandfather volunteered in 1914 to
fight in the First World War.
He was one of the 700 volunteers from the soap factory who
volunteered on the same day and you can see from the war memorial
back there that many of them didn't make it back.
-What happened to your grandfather?
-He got killed in 1918 in France.
-I'm sorry to hear that.
-Brave young men.
-His name's on that monument.
-His name's on the war memorial, yes.
What was so brilliant for me
was that I'd never actually seen a photograph of my grandfather
and through the Port Sunlight Museum, I now have a
-photograph of him, so that means a great deal to me.
-It must have done.
Tell me a bit about your father. He worked at the factory, didn't he?
My dad worked at the factory from 1936 to 1979.
-What did he do?
-He was in the stores department.
And I've actually got his long-service watch there.
Look at that! Oh, yeah. I can read that.
It says, "Presented by Lever Brothers, Port Sunlight Ltd to
"WH Spilletts for good service, 1936-1961."
-'51, I think. It's gone a bit tarnished.
-It has, hasn't it?
It's got a scratch.
-So, to get a good service after 15 years...
-That is brilliant!
-You don't get that today, I bet.
-Not many do it now.
So as a nipper, you used these facilities?
Used all of them and there was a boys' club,
an open air swimming pool where the garden centre is now,
and we all learned to swim there.
It was very cold. A local dance hall for us.
-Concert halls, things like that.
-Concert halls, everything, yes.
-Art galleries. Fantastic!
-Yes. It was just amazing.
We felt as though we lived in some sort of special little bubble.
It is like Utopia, isn't it?
When you arrive here, all of a sudden,
it kind of makes you feel happy.
-It really does.
-This is home. Port Sunlight is home.
Yeah, and a great place to live back then
and I'm sure a great place to live today.
-John, thank you very much.
-Thank you, Paul.
Welcome back to Wallasey Town Hall on the Wirral peninsula.
Our off-screen experts are being kept very busy, with the queue still
snaking its way out of the main door, through the grand staircase.
It's also where Nick Davies has made a surprising discovery.
Well, Amy. What's a nice girl like you doing with two swords like this?
-My grandad gave them to me.
They've been passed down, like, through the family.
Been passed down through the family. Fantastic.
Good family provenance, that's what we like.
Honestly? We can discount this one more or less straightaway.
Doesn't have any great value. Poorly made. Not great quality.
This chap, however, is really nice. It's in really good condition.
On here, on the hilt here, you've got VR.
-Do you know what that would stand for?
-Queen Victoria. VR.
So we can date this quite easily to her reign.
-And do you know what this is made of?
This is shark skin, with this wire binding in it as well.
And the reason why they used this was if your hands got a bit hot
and sweaty, you could have a really good grip on the sword.
The leather scabbard's in great condition.
Often, these are bent or twisted or split, bits missing.
And also the tip here, it's a
nice brass tip to protect the tip of the sword.
And talking about the sword itself, let's have a look inside.
We'll be very careful. A lot of people around.
Don't want any accidents!
There's the blade.
And it's marked on the bottom - Henry Wilkinson, Pall Mall, London.
Henry Wilkinson ring any bells with you?
If you were a lad and you were shaving, it probably will -
Wilkinson Sword, you've seen the adverts with the slashed swords,
just like this.
It's what's known as an 1854 patent officer's sword.
And it's engraved down the hilt.
You've got the Prince of Wales plumes engraved there as well.
And it's in really good condition.
There is a little bit of pitting,
a little bit of greying to the blade.
Can you see that grey colour coming through?
It's a really good example.
And dates wise, it's Victorian, it's going to be about 1850, 1860,
somewhere around about there.
If you're happy for us to put it for sale,
we can put it through the auction,
and I think we'd probably estimate it around about £100 to £120.
We'll put this one with it, shall we?
-You don't want to keep that, do you?
No, very wise. What would you do with the money?
It's not long since my grandad passed away
and I'm putting the money away, so I can take his ashes to Spain,
-where he liked to go, so I can spread them.
-And you used to go there with him?
Well, hopefully, we'll do a little bit better and good old
Henry Wilkinson will give a bit of support to your grandad.
Thanks ever so much for bringing them along
and I look forward to seeing you at the auction. Thanks, Amy.
Back in the main hall,
Anita's found two lovely examples of Art Nouveau decadence.
Barbara, welcome to Flog It!
And thank you for bringing along these wonderful, wonderful hat pins.
It's my pleasure.
Can you tell me first of all a wee bit about where you got them?
Well, we used to live in New Zealand
and I used to work in a second-hand
shop and one day, in amongst all everything,
the hat pins came in and I just took a fancy to them and asked
my boss how much he wanted for them and he said, "Oh, have them."
He used to call me Barbie. "Have them, Barbie, for 20 cents."
20 cents! Well, I think that was a bargain.
I think so, yes.
I love this type of thing.
These are hat pins that would have been made in the beginning of
the 20th century.
They were made by a very prestigious silversmith, Charles Horner.
He was based in Halifax and made this type of item.
Now, these were made in 1912.
Now, let's think of the fashion at that time.
Just a wee bit after the Edwardian time,
when women threw away their corselettes.
They had dresses that were looser and more flowing
and they had these enormous, wonderful hats.
Now, they would pin these hats on to their extravagant hairdos
with something like that and it was that extra bit of flash,
the Art Nouveau styles of that time, where we
had these lovely carved motif here,
and we have a little amethyst coloured glass, thistle shape.
-So, it appeals to the Scottish in me.
And it appeals to me as a lover of Art Nouveau items.
So I think they're absolutely gorgeous.
Now, tell me, have you ever worn a fabulous big hat at a wedding
and worn one of them?
Well, they were certainly a good buy for 20 cents.
They are not rare but they're in very good condition.
I would estimate them probably £45-£60.
Would you be happy for me to put them into sale at that price?
I'm sure they'll do much better than that,
but I think that is an estimate which will attract the biddings.
Will you be sorry to see them go?
In one way, I will, because I do think they're pretty.
But they're of no use.
Maybe the next time you go for a wedding,
-you're wearing a big hat, you'll think...
-I should have kept them.
I should have kept those! Anyway, thank you for bringing them along.
There are lovely.
Well, look at this.
I've just found, I think, the oldest thing in the room so far today.
Dated 1717, it's a Bible box and I zoomed in on it
-because I love my treen. Hello, who am I talking to?
Cath, can I have a look at this? Oh, oh. Do you know something?
When I first saw this, because of its paint finish,
I thought it was painted pine.
But it's not. I've just felt the weight and it's heavy, it is oak.
Isn't that lovely? A Bible box from the reign of George I.
I love that naive tulip as well.
Tell me a little bit about its history.
I don't know much about it, other than I inherited it from my grandma.
She always had it sat in her bedroom with a pile of paper bags in it.
Oh, did she? Well, you've got to use it for something.
If you don't have a massive great big Bible to put in it,
use it for storage because obviously it's a great thing.
That's why I assume it survived, because it was a Bible box
that things got handed down.
It's got handed down through the family, yes, exactly.
Original hinges, look.
Handcrafted and forged and beaten out by a blacksmith on an anvil.
Really, really nice.
Two little drawers on the inside.
They've been added at a later date. OK?
My gut feeling is,
the carving on the front has been added later by the Victorians.
Can you see, it just doesn't sit well with what's on the lid.
And feel that. It's just wrong.
-It's totally wrong.
-It's deeper, isn't it?
And the lock plate on the front is completely wrong as well.
So, there's a few things wrong with it,
but there's a lot of things that are right with it.
It's not been put together by a craftsman,
it's been put together by somebody that understands woodwork.
It's more folk-arty because it's been painted
and I like its crudeness.
I like the fact that it's got a personality and it's got a charm.
And this date is so right.
You can see that is carved in the period.
I can give you an idea of value.
Because it's got things that are slightly wrong with it,
I think this will sell for around £150, hopefully £250.
But there's your ballpark figure.
Yes, I think so,
because I don't think my sons are going to be interested in it.
Well, look, can we put it into Adam's sale,
but put a reserve on at £150?
Is that OK? That really gets people tempted
because I'm pretty sure it will sell at £150. It has a character.
Fingers crossed, you know, it might fly.
While evaluations continue apace in the main hall,
making the most of the afternoon sun,
Nick Davies has headed outside with John.
-Magnificent big building.
-And some miniatures.
Tell me how you came about them.
My father, a Yorkshireman, his job was to clear houses
when they were left vacant. These are couple of things he came across.
-So, houses locally, did he clear?
-In Bridlington in Yorkshire.
I've had them about nearly 20 years now.
-Do you know who these chaps are?
-Neither do I.
-No, I don't.
-They're typical miniatures of their period.
They will be painted on ivory.
They're circa around 1850, 1860, somewhere in that region.
Very elegant gentlemen.
The artist is obviously a very good portrait painter
and the faces are particularly good.
The lower one is better painted than the one above.
The hair is absolutely fantastic.
When you look closely, the detail in it is quite remarkable.
Single hair brushes to paint them. Patience of a saint.
It would be no good with me. I can't paint a door.
Which one of these two is your favourite?
-I like the first one, the one at the bottom.
-This one here?
I suspect it's a gold mount although I haven't tested it
and it isn't marked.
But a gut feeling, it's probably gold.
We'll just turn it over there and on the back, we've got a fantastic
plaited hair panel with some guilt initials in the bottom corner.
I think it's SM.
The hair memorial locket, so it's obviously when someone has died
and in this period, memorial hair lockets were very, very fashionable.
So, it's been plaited in with quite some skill, hasn't it?
That's in great condition.
We jump up to the chap on the top.
Flip it over and we have hair again.
But it looks a little bit hastily put together, shall we say?
Or maybe over the years it has just come apart.
Just flipping them back over again.
I still think the bottom one is painted...
I agree with you, I think that's the better example.
Do you like them?
Yes, but I think there are collectors
who would probably appreciate them more than myself.
-Excellent. You're happy for us to sell them?
OK. So, we'll put them through to the sale.
This chap at the bottom, he's probably worth around £80-£100.
Depending on the mount of this one,
I'd probably put him in at around £60-£80.
So, that's where I'll leave it. Is that happy with you?
I'm happy, yes, thank you.
What would you like to do with the money?
-I'm going to buy a new fishing rod.
-A new fishing rod?
Yes, I broke one the other day.
So, the money from these will go towards those.
You can step over how many feet over there and do a bit of fishing.
Fantastic. Excellent. Well, let's hope we catch a big one.
-See you at the sale.
Well, that's it.
As you just seen, we've now found our final items to take to auction.
We've had a marvellous day here. Everybody has enjoyed themselves.
A big thank you to all the people of Wallasey
and the surrounding areas - you've really done us proud.
And of course, to our host location,
steeped in heritage and history.
Right now, we're going to make a bit of history of our very own
as we go to the auction room for the last time.
Here's a quick cap of the items we're taking with us.
It's all about doubling up for our last visit to the saleroom today.
First, we've got the two Victorian swords.
Let's hope we can help Amy-Leigh raise some funds
for the memorial trip to her late grandfather's
favourite holiday spot.
There's those gorgeous little hat pins,
sure to attract bids with the name Charles Horner attached.
There's Cath's Bible box from 1717,
used to store paper bags by her grandmother.
Let's see if we can bag a sale in the auction.
And finally, it's the two miniatures
of those mysterious, elegant gentleman.
Will a lady bidder take a shine to them?
I think John might be pleasantly surprised.
As we return to the noise and commotion of the saleroom,
it's all eyes on Adam Partridge,
as the auction continues relentlessly forward.
-Amy-Leigh, good luck with grandad's swords.
I've got to say, this is the cutting edge in the saleroom might now.
So, tell me all about grandad.
-Every year we used to go away on holiday.
-To Spain. In Salou.
He used to go every year and in December he passed away.
-So, you've inherited the swords?
-What are you planning to do?
We're selling the swords to get enough money together for you
-to go out to Spain?
-And spread my grandad's ashes.
Do you know what, he would love that, wouldn't he?
He would, and he's put a smile on your face.
-I know it means a lot to you. Did you ever go there with him?
Ah, it's going to mean an awful lot to you and your mum and dad.
So, what a trip! What a trip!
We'll have to hope the swords work for them then.
Yes. You've got me nervous now.
-We'll have to wait and see.
-Right, fingers crossed. Ready for this?
-Here we go, it's going under the hammer.
Sword, two in the lot there. Lot 180 is the number and I'm bid 110.
At 110, the bid at 110. Any advance on 110?
-120, 130, 140.
There you go. Sold already, straight in.
I've got 150, my bidder. At £150.
At 150. At 150, all done now.
-Short and sweet. £150. Well done.
-Really pleased for you.
And we wish you all the best, Amy-Leigh, on your trip to Spain.
Barbara, Anita, good luck, let's stick it to them.
Going under the hammer right now, two silver hat pins. I love these.
They're kind of Art Nouveau, and they're very, very fashionable.
Ready for this? Let's put the value to the test. Here we go.
I've got 40. And five bid.
We've sold. We've sold straightaway.
We did stick it to them.
70 at the back of the room. 75 online. At 75.
80 bid. 80 is at the back. £80 on the hat pins at 80.
Any more now at £80? Plus 5, 85. 90? No. 85 Internet.
£85 on these and we sell then.
He hasn't finished yet.
All done at £90.
Fantastic. £90. I thought we might get one more bid then, didn't you?
And now it's my turn in the hot seat.
Right, it's time for me to say a quick little prayer,
which is quite fitting, because up next
is the oak Bible box
and it's my valuation and it belongs to Cath.
Hopefully we're going to sell that today. Fingers crossed.
It's had some love, hasn't it?
But alas, no one in the family wants it any more, I gather?
You've had a chat to your sons, haven't you?
Yeah. They're not...
They don't particularly want it,
and so I thought it was better to sell it to somebody that does.
Yeah, and look at this, a room packed full of bidders.
Hopefully someone here today will go home with that.
That's what it's all about.
Let's find out what they think, shall we?
Let's hand the proceedings over to our auctioneer, Adam Partridge.
Next is 15, whish is an 18th-century and later carved oak Bible box,
there. Carved with the date 1770, and a pleasant thing, now.
80 and 5 is bid. At 80... 90, 5, 110. 120. At £120.
Any advance on £120?
At 120. Any more on this now? £120 at 120. Any more at £120?
Can't sell it, I'm afraid.
Quiet, so that tumbleweed is rolling through the saleroom.
Didn't sell, but you're happy. You're happy. It's going home.
It's going to be loved, still, so that's the main thing.
I'll have somewhere to put me passport again.
Well, I'm glad it's being put to good use.
Now, can we do twice as well with our last lot?
Right now, we really do need to reel in the bidders,
because all the proceeds of the next sale are going towards
a new fly-fishing rod for John, who's right next to me.
-A keen fisherman.
-Yeah? Trout? Salmon?
Trout, and sea fishing.
Right now, we're talking about antiques.
We've got two wonderful miniatures, painted on ivory,
going under the hammer.
We got a valuation put on by Nick, of 140 to 180,
-somewhere round there.
-Yeah, somewhere round there.
We'd be happy with £150.
-They are quality, but good decorator's pieces.
And Adam hasn't split them up, so selling as a pair.
-I think one's a lot stronger than the other, so do you.
-Yeah, that's the one to get, isn't it?
-But look, let's put it to the test, shall we?
Let's find out what the bidders think.
At 135 is this 19th-century English school oval portrait miniature.
It's gone quiet.
It's that tumbleweed moment, the tension's building!
-Interest ticking over online...
-And we're up to £200.
-Yeah, straight in.
At £210, they're still going. At 220.
-It won't stop now.
-230, 40. 240 bid. At 250. At 260.
-Nice lot, this, at £260.
-John's shaking his head.
280 bid. At £280. At 280, any more?
290. At 290, 300. £300 now.
At £300 now, any more at 300? The hammer's up online at 300, any more?
-At 300. 20.
-320, yes. Late legs.
-Somebody coming in.
At 340, any advance again? At £340, are you all done?
340, last chance to bid, in the room or online.
Yes! That's what auctions are all about.
That rollercoaster ride of highs and lows. £340.
-That's a lot more than what we originally said.
-That's good, thank you.
-Well done, and thank you for bringing them in.
And I'm sure John will be out
shopping for his fishing rod in no time.
Well, there you are, that's it, it's all over,
and I hope you've enjoyed today's show.
If you've got anything you want to sell,
we would love to do it for you.
Bring our items along to one of our valuation days.
Details of up-and-coming dates and venues, you can find on our website.
Follow the links - all the information will be there,
and we would love to see you. Dust 'em down and bring 'em in.
But, right now, it's goodbye from Liverpool.
Paul Martin presents from Wallasey Town Hall on the Wirral Peninsula. People have travelled from both sides of the River Mersey to meet antiques experts Anita Manning and Nick Davies, hoping that their antiques and collectables make it to auction.
Paul explores the ancestral home of the Earls of Stamford and Warrington, Dunham Massey. A family of hoarders, Paul Martin picks out some of his favourite pieces from a collection that now numbers 25,000 objects.