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One of the things I love about my job is the variety of antiques
I get to see on a daily basis.
My passion is Queen Anne and early-Georgian furniture,
but I do have a guilty pleasure
and that's antiques that I call decorator's pieces.
And later on in the show, I'll be finding out about a woman
whose passion for such things changed the look of this house forever.
Welcome to "Flog It!"
Today, we're in the city of Leicester. With a history
which spans back to the Roman period,
this should be a place with a wealth of antiques to offer.
It's also one of the most culturally diverse cities in the country,
so I'm hoping for a really eclectic mix of items to take off to auction.
And with a population of around 330,000,
we should have a good turnout here at De Montfort Hall.
In fact, I think, looking at that queue,
most of them have turned out today, don't you?
And hopefully we'll have one or two big surprises.
To help us find the best antiques and collectables,
we have our very own uber-talented "Flog It!" favourites,
Thomas Plant and Catherine Southon.
What they don't know about antiques isn't worth knowing.
If rules weren't rules, I'd be buying that.
-"Flog It!" That's the name of the programme.
-I'll "flog it".
-You all having a good time so far?
And the day hasn't even started.
It's barely 9.30, time to get the doors open.
Somebody here in this queue is going to go home with
an awful lot of money and it could be you.
-What have you got inside there?
-A bit of china.
What have you got? Some China. Oh, look at that.
Oh, lots and lots of valuables.
I think it's time to get the doors open,
get our experts at work, because we've got a lot of antiques to see.
So whilst everyone takes a seat and makes themselves comfortable,
here's what's coming up.
Decorator's pieces are all the rage in this show.
We've got African spears, an ornate French clock and candlesticks,
and the most intriguing architectural model.
But which will catch the eye of the interior designers as we take this
little lot off to auction?
But first up, it's Catherine
and she's found a classic "Flog It!" treasure.
-John, you and I are going to get on well together.
I love this little perfume bottle holder. Where did you get it from?
It belonged to my mother.
When she died, I found it in a drawer, but I didn't really know what it was.
I tried pressing the button and I had difficulty pressing it at first.
When it shot up, I was quite surprised what was inside.
Let's have a look at it, because it's a lovely elegant shape.
The outside of this case is all tortoiseshell
-and then this is a silver inlay.
These are like little laurel leaves, and then you have this little
swag detail and then you have a cartouche, here on the front.
And then on the back, and then it's got the lady's initials.
Can you imagine the sort of lady that would have had
-something like this?
-A bit posh.
-I think she probably was a bit posh.
I don't think it's an English piece. I think it's probably
continental, probably French.
My father was in the First World War and he was...
..he was in France.
Right, so he might have picked it up.
-Might well have picked it up there.
But it's a lovely piece, but it actually
dates from the late 18th century to the early 19th century.
It's got quite a bit of age to it.
But it's a shame that things like this are not used today.
The type of lady that would have had this,
she would have kept her perfume in it, had a little dabble.
-Probably belonged to my grandma, then.
-Quite possibly. Quite possibly.
So you press this little button here
and this is what you had the problem with.
Press the button...
and then we should have two perfume bottles.
Just look at the shape of these perfume bottles. Aren't they lovely?
-Really nice. Lovely tapered shape.
Such a shame we've got one missing. But you've never known the other one.
-If it had the other bottle, we'd be talking at around £300.
But without that, that does make a difference.
With that in mind, I'd probably put a presale estimate on of £80-120.
-Is that all right?
-But I think
we should protect it with an £80 reserve,
because it's a lovely piece of history.
It's been in your family a long time
and you don't want to just let it go for nothing.
Yeah, that's fine.
If it does do well, what will you do with the money?
I will most probably buy my lady friend something.
I hope that it does do very well
and I hope you can buy your lady friend something very, very special.
-I will do.
-Thank you very much. Thank you, John.
Like ivory, there are restrictions
when it comes to selling tortoiseshell, but this piece
was made well before 1947, so it's perfectly legal to sell in auction.
And now I'm going to have a rummage myself.
There's always something good to find at a valuation day.
Having a good time? Thank you so much for being patient.
Lots of happy, smiley faces.
This is what I like to see at a valuation day.
Hopefully someone will be looking at your things very shortly.
-Can I have a look in your bag? What's your name?
-Can have a look in there?
-You certainly can.
The gilding caught my eye.
Everything that glitters might be worth a lot of money.
-Everything that glitters isn't always gold, though.
-It's not, is it?
-Did this come off the wall this morning?
It has been on the wall at some point,
but it's been in a cupboard for a long time.
You can't beat something that goes on the wall,
an original work of art. Birket Foster, look at this.
Royal Watercolour Society.
That's a name that's up there with the great
artists in the Victorian era. A wonderful British artist.
How did you come by this?
My dad bought it for my mum shortly after they were engaged.
He bought it at an auction.
It was in their home for as long as I can remember as a child.
It was passed down to me and it was on my bedroom wall for a long
-time until I went contemporary.
There is some doubt about its authenticity.
If this is Birket Foster, English romantic scene
-just like that, we're looking at £30,000.
What are you going to do with that?
Flog it! Don't be silly, flog it.
Can I just tell you something? Birket Foster is
one of the most faked artists you will find.
For every one original, there's possibly 1,000 fakes.
He was a miniature artist, worked in great detail, very,
very fine brushstroke.
Could pick out wonderful detail in the face, the fingers,
the little leaves in the trees.
This is good but it's not by him.
I'm so sorry.
Would have been gutted if it had been bought as a genuine.
Is there a value on it?
There's always a value on it because it's a good watercolour in itself.
It's not a print. It's in a nice gilt frame.
It has a nice bit of wear to it.
In the trade, we call this a decorator's piece
and it has a value of around £300-400.
-It's a nice thing within itself, so enjoy it.
-Thank you very much.
There we are, a decorator's piece, a classic decorator's piece.
Next up, Thomas is keeping the theme going.
You've brought along a very decorative clock garniture,
as you like to call it. Tell me, how have you come to have it?
I was left it in my uncle's will, ten years ago.
-Did he leave you other things?
-This is the main thing.
So why have you brought it here?
Because I've had it for ten years in the house,
and I live in an ordinary three-bed, semidetached house,
and it just doesn't fit anywhere.
I've tried it on shelves and tables and cupboards. It just doesn't fit.
This wouldn't fit in my house
because everything has got so much smaller now.
This is for a grand palatial mansion.
It's a very beautiful 19th-century French, mantel, garniture clock,
with a spelter top.
This looks like bronze, like it's been bronzed, but it is spelter.
It's signed, "Glchter," or "Clee-cher." Somebody like... 1842.
I wouldn't say this is 1842, I'd say more like late 19th century.
-Do you have it working?
-It does work.
You wind it up and it goes for eight days,
-and it rings on the hour and the half an hour.
-Do you like it?
I do like it, but it just doesn't look right in my house.
-Looks like something out of the Ride Of The Valkyries.
-That's right, yes.
With this polished...polished slate and the beautiful white dial.
So, extremely decorative. You can imagine it with the candles.
Have you ever had candles in here?
I have had candles and I put them on the table at Christmas,
but because it's so big, you couldn't see the people opposite
when you're eating your meal. It was not practical. You need a huge table.
Yeah, absolutely. Some great big mahogany number.
-Do you have any idea of value?
-No, I have no idea.
I've always thought maybe 50-100.
Very often on "Flog It!" they say 80-120.
That's our favourite auctioneer's estimate.
-I've always, always thought maybe that.
-I think it's worth over £100.
-I would say 120, 180, as an estimate. Reserve it at £100.
-Or do you not want to reserve it?
-I don't mind if
it doesn't have a reserve. I just need it to go.
-Shall we let the auctioneers use their own discretion?
-I don't think they'll give it away.
-I'll be happy with that.
I really look forward to seeing you at the auction.
-Hopefully, I can see nowadays this being in a big hotel.
-Who's going to lift it off? It's me, isn't it?
-Yes, I think so.
Whilst Thomas was busy, I carried on my search and came across a very
pleasing precious piece.
Are you after a valuation on this,
-because you're clutching it as if it's rather precious.
Tell me a little bit about it.
How did you come by it?
-A village fete. 10p I paid for it.
-How long ago was that?
-Oh, probably about 20 years ago. More, maybe.
-You have hung on to it.
But it's been up in the loft, sort of thrown in a corner.
-I was about to say you've had your 10p worth.
I don't know what it is. I don't know if it's worth anything.
Do you know what it's made of? Looking at that...
-I'm assuming plastic or something.
-It is in fact turtle shell. OK.
It's the shell which has been finely polished.
This is made for the tourist market. This is Victorian, this little box.
-Around about 1880. From the Far East.
-And you see this little decorative picture on the front?
That's what's known as taki-maki.
It's a technique which is raised and this picture is drawn on
with layers and layers of lacquer.
-Run your finger across that. You can see it is all raised.
-I thought it was like a gold leaf.
-It's been gold leafed afterwards.
But what we call it, we call it "gilded," because it's not using real gold.
But the lacquer, basically, when you look at early lacquer,
especially in the Victorian period, lacquer is squashed stag beetle juice.
It's very, very sticky and very, very thick.
And it's what was used to make early varnish.
-Do you want to sell it?
-Can we put it into auction?
Of course. Yeah.
What would you say if I said it's worth £300-500?
Would you say I was daft?
I wouldn't believe it because people have looked at that
-and said, "Throw it in the bin."
-I'll throw it in the bin, don't worry.
No, no. Seriously.
-I think we put a reserve on of £200, if you're happy?
Get everybody excited.
-They'll all want to own it and it should do £300-400.
-I'll look forward to seeing you at the auction.
-Lovely, thank you very much.
There you are. Our first three items found, valued and packaged up,
ready for the auction room.
Hopefully, one or two surprises as they go...under the hammer.
And here's a quick recap of what we're taking with us.
I hope John's perfume-holder has the sweet smell of success
so he can splash out on his lady friend.
The clock weighs an absolute tonne, so fingers crossed it sells.
I'm sure Julie doesn't want to take it home.
And the tortoiseshell box is gorgeous.
I'd be hanging onto this if it were mine.
For hundreds of years, Market Harborough has been
at the centre of trade, and the market is still thriving today.
They even have a regular antique and collectors' fair here.
Now, the man in this area with the local antique knowledge, is
auctioneer Mark Gilding, and hopefully, fingers crossed,
when he gets on the rostrum later on, trade will be good for us.
Seller's commission here at Gildings is 15%, plus VAT.
And first to go under the hammer is John's pretty little perfume-holder.
-Quality, quality, quality. Isn't it lovely?
-Has it been in the family a long time?
-I don't know.
-We found it quite a few years ago, so I don't really know.
The only thing is, it's only got one bottle, which is a shame.
-It's a shame.
-Nevertheless, it's really fantastic.
The George III silver inlaid horn scent bottle case,
fitted with one of two bottles.
And bidding opens here with me at 45. £55.
£55, I'm bid at 55. 60, 65.
-It's 65 against you all. At 70. 75. 75, I bid.
£80. I'm bid online at 80.
On the internet and selling away now at £80.
Well, we did it, £80.
-I think because it had losses, it struggled.
-That was the problem.
-John's happy. Lovely to have met you.
-Thank you very much indeed.
It just goes to show condition is of the utmost importance.
If you're looking for a centrepiece, something showy,
you need to be right here, right now, to get this next lot.
This massive, great big French mantel clock, with a spelter
figure on the top, accompanied by a pair of candlesticks.
It has the "wow" factor, and there's no reserve.
-It's got to go, hasn't it?
-I want it to go.
You do not want to take this home.
I really don't want to go home with it, no.
We are erring on the side of caution.
Julie has a pushchair in the car because it's so heavy,
she can't carry it. Push it along. Big, isn't it?
-Massive. But it deserves...
-A grand mantelpiece.
A hotel lobby, I was thinking.
Something where they can get lost but still be very useful.
And there's plenty of big hotels around here that could do
with this, so without further ado,
let's try and find it a new home, shall we?
It's going under the hammer right now.
A French patinated marble mantel clock
and a pair of matched five-light candelabra.
Bidding starts with me at £100.
110. 120. 120 bid, now.
-It's gone, hasn't it?
-It's gone. There's no reserve.
140. 150 online. 160.
Selling away at £160.
It's gone. £160. That is a lot of kit for £160.
-A showy item...
-But it's gone.
-The relief on your face.
-I thought I was going to have to take it home.
Another very satisfied customer.
Well, it's my turn to be the expert right now.
Going under the hammer, we've got a Victorian tortoiseshell box,
belonging to Beverly, who's with me. £200-300.
That's what we want. Just remind us why do you want to sell this.
-Go towards my daughter's uni fees.
-Every penny helps, doesn't it?
Good luck with that.
And good luck with her studies and let's find out what it's worth.
It's going under the hammer right now.
Gilt-painted tortoiseshell box, telephone bid starts us at £200.
Straight in, sold.
220, 230, 240. 250. 260.
270, 280. 290. 300.
340, new bidder.
-(Yes. That's what I wanted.)
-Every penny helps.
420. You're out on the internet. Fair warning. 440, back in.
460 with the telephone. It is your last warning, internet.
Fair warning at £460.
£460. Well, I'm very, very happy.
-That's satisfying, actually, isn't it?
-Yeah. It really is.
£460 is a pretty impressive return on 10p.
We'd all love to find something like that.
I am surrounded by fine art and antiques every day of my life,
and I'm always on the lookout for that one special item that
could change the look of a room.
Back in the early part of the 20th century, one woman put this
ethos into motion. Creating that look and that style was her passion.
Nancy Lancaster had a profound and lasting effect on interior design.
She was a tastemaker. A flamboyant,
feisty American woman, who, ironically, with her passion and
natural flair for interior design, pioneered a style which we now know as the
English country house look, which is
clearly evident here at her beloved Kelmarsh Hall.
Having married not one, but three very wealthy men,
Nancy led a rich and extravagant lifestyle,
and every year Nancy and her second husband, Ronald Tree, would travel
from America to Leicestershire, to take part in the hunt.
Travelling by ocean-going liner,
they would bring everything with them from horses to servants,
cars to the very best table linen, and in 1926, Ronnie was
invited to become joint master of the hunt here in Northamptonshire,
a chance that he jumped at, so they both moved over to England.
Nancy and Ronnie took out a ten-year repairing lease on Kelmarsh Hall,
which is situated just outside of Market Harborough.
This architectural gem was built in 1728
and it's said to be the favourite of all of Nancy's homes,
and as she put it herself, she loved it for its good bones
and relished the chance of having free rein to
stamp her mark on the interior of this grand house.
'Betty West, a volunteer at Kelmarsh Hall,
'grew up just down the road, and her mother knew Nancy Lancaster.'
Hi, Betty. So where do we start? With the lady herself?
Well, she was very knowledgeable on history and art, and politics.
She was very lively. She was a good raconteur and she had a wry smile.
If something was amiss, her eyebrow raised,
so you knew that something had been said that was not quite correct.
She was really a superb lady.
When Nancy came here to the house, she found it very cold.
We are talking now, 1927, '28.
And this room we are standing in was a dreadful green.
She wanted to have this sort of pinkish wash on the wall.
This is a lovely colour, isn't it? It embraces you.
I feel quite at home already.
And I've only just got into the entrance hall.
She loved furniture and she acquired a lot of her
thoughts on furniture from her mother and her grandmother.
They were at one stage quite poor,
and her mother had to make do and mend.
Mixing and matching.
Mixing and matching was very evident,
and she used different types of materials as well.
She clearly had a passion for antiques.
Yes, but she did adapt them to her own use as well.
For example, we have some celadon vases that are now lamps.
They're very beautiful as lamps,
but perhaps they were also beautiful as celadon vases.
-And she certainly liked to paint her antique furniture.
-And many an antique dealer has said...
-"Oh, you've ruined it.
"You've gilded up the legs and you've changed this, and you've done that."
But I guess that's what a decorator does, though.
She saw that these things have a different dynamic,
if she could alter them slightly.
I guess there's nothing wrong with that as long as you're
not buying purist pieces which shouldn't be touched.
That's true, that's very true.
And if a chair looked very new,
-she had been known to put it out in the rain.
It horrified me when I first heard of it,
but certainly it had the effect that she desired.
Well, it had a personality, rather than being contrived
and just plonked there by a curator of a big stately home.
She was able to mix the grandeur with the modest look as well.
-Should we have a quick tour?
-Yes, do follow me.
'Most of Nancy's decoration
'and styling still remains here at Kelmarsh.'
This is the Chinese room that I'd like to show you.
Nancy used this room for cocktails before dinner.
And then perhaps after dinner, people might like to come and play bridge in here.
Gosh, this is beautiful. All hand-painted wallpaper.
Nancy had seen it advertised, and she realised that with
a bit of tweaking, it would fit this room.
And it's on hessian, and on batons.
-So it's been backed and panelled back on.
It fits perfectly, doesn't it?
-Apart from over the chimney breast, where it's had...
-I can see. Has that been overpainted?
-A rock formation or something.
Obviously, the furniture's mixed and matched.
-We haven't gone down the whole chinoiserie thing.
And this sort of thing she loved.
-Well-worn, the furniture.
-"Shabby chic" is the correct word.
But this is her furniture.
And this is, quintessentially, the English country house look.
Where you had the sort of elegant furniture mixed with the more
modest, and where you had a mixture of patterns and design.
And periods of furniture as well. Things from the late 17th century,
the 18th, right through to some 19th-century pieces.
So, mix and match is the order of the day.
In its day, this was very pioneering, wasn't it?
Oh, yes, it was.
In 1938, the Trees' lease on Kelmarsh Hall had expired.
And pretty much most of the furniture that they acquired was sold off in auction.
Fortunately, the owner of the hall acquired most of it
and much of it is still here today.
The Trees turn their attention to their new home.
But Nancy's love affair with Kelmarsh was far from over.
In 1944, Nancy's passion for interior design was taken to a new level
when she became the co-owner of Colefax and Fowler,
an influential British decorating firm.
Her work with the company was so profound that the English
country house look was recognised, and inspired many, although
Nancy always believed that a room should never look decorated.
She created a list of rules to follow to make a room comfortable.
In restoring a house, one must first realise its period,
feel its personality and try to bring out its good points.
Understatement is extremely important and crossing too many t's
and dotting too many i's makes a room look overdone and tiresome.
One needs light and shade,
because if every piece is perfect, the room becomes a museum and lifeless.
But it must be a delicious mixture that flows and mixes well.
It's a bit like mixing a salad. I'm better at mixing rooms than salads.
In 1947, Nancy and Ronald's marriage came to an end
and just over a year later, she married her third husband,
Colonel Lancaster, who happened to be the owner of Kelmarsh Hall.
Nancy was back in her precious home, but it transpired that she
was far more in love with the Hall than her husband.
It was a short-lived and turbulent relationship.
Nancy clung onto the house but was finally forced to leave
when Colonel Lancaster turned off the electricity.
Her relationship with Kelmarsh was finally over.
But Nancy's passion for interior design lives on in the way
we decorate houses today,
from grand country estates to the eclectic mix of furniture
we find in our own homes.
Nancy's spirit is clearly still here at Kelmarsh Hall.
Her touch was an absolute delight.
This is, and always will be, Nancy Lancaster's home.
And back at De Montfort Hall, it's just as busy as ever.
There really is a hive of activity going on down there.
It's wonderful to watch.
It's such an articulated, well-oiled machine.
Everybody knows exactly what they're doing.
We're in our 12th year now. There's six camera crews down there,
capturing every single little piece of action
and those wonderful treasures.
And talking about treasures, let's catch up with our experts
and see what else they can find.
Thomas has hunted out some very intriguing tribal artefacts.
Let's see what owner John can tell us about them.
-These were the property of my father's youngest brother.
-He was in Kenya for...I don't know how many years.
-In the British Army?
-No. On a tea plantation.
And he brought them home with him
and they used to be in the old house that I lived in.
Always in the hall, standing up there.
And so I'd see these in the corner and think, "Wow,
-"I wonder who used these?"
-And have you got any information on what they are?
-No, I haven't.
We think they're Masai. We've been having a chat here... Masai.
They're for hunting, aren't they?
I think certainly that would do some damage.
This one looks like it's more sophisticated, somehow.
A little bit more sophisticated with a blood drain, with these grooves here.
Because the blood would drain off this one quite quickly, wouldn't it?
Which is quite useful.
And this lovely, lovely bits of hickory, whatever they are, shafts.
-They're so nice.
-These would be the little branches, would they?
And it's got a real strength, but a real bend to it,
-so it would sail through the air.
And spin and probably do some real damage,
if you were hunting something to eat,
a wildebeest or something. African tribal works of art, weapons,
clubs, fertility things, are so widely collected.
People want to know where they're from,
-and these are probably ones which were used.
-I should say so.
The provenance you have from your father's brother...
-Working in Kenya.
-In the tea plantation.
That would have been in the '40s?
I think he went out either very late '20s or early '30s...
-..and then came back around about 1940.
I think they're worth a good couple of hundred pounds.
-What do you think?
-I'd like to think they were worth a good
couple of hundred pounds each.
-I wouldn't want to put them in at £200 each.
I think maybe 150 each. 150-200 each.
-And a reserve?
-They've got a good chance, haven't they?
Cos they are beautiful things. And I like them very much.
-Thank you for bringing them along.
-Not at all.
I'm glad I've made my point.
'Before we see our next valuation,
'I want to show you a truly mysterious item.
'Let's see if one of our littlest fans can work out what it is.'
-And what's your name?
-I love what you're wearing.
-Are you going to give us a dance or something?
-No, you're just dressing up?
-Yes. Mum told me to dress up.
Well, I've got a little test here, right?
Somebody has brought this along...
..it's rather unusual.
And she wanted me to tell her what it was.
These join together like this. Any ideas yet?
-Is it for unblocking something?
-For unblocking a drain. No, nearly.
Not quite, though. This dates back to around 1900, 1920.
It was used by surveyors and valuers. Any ideas yet?
-It's got a hook on the end.
-Look at the end of that. Come on.
-For grasping, holding some string or something fine.
I like your logic of thinking there and it's nearly right.
I'll tell you what it was used for. It was used by a surveyor on a farm.
When bales of hay were baled up and they were being sold,
you'd stick this into the bale, turn it, and pull it out.
It would pull out a piece of straw that was in the middle
and you could test if it had gone mouldy or damp or rotten.
So, it's testing the quality of a bale of straw.
How about that for a bit of agricultural interest?
You don't see many of these on the market.
And if that little leather case was in good condition,
this would be worth around £150-200.
This is a great bit of our agricultural heritage and I love it.
-And you've all learnt something.
And Thomas has set his sights on those lovely little cufflinks
he spotted earlier in the queue.
-These are delightful.
-Aren't they gorgeous?
If I wasn't on "Flog It!" -
if these were in an auction, I would be after these.
It's something to wear.
-They are cufflinks but they are actually gold dollars.
And they're early gold dollars, aren't they?
-I believe they're the first.
-I mean, they would have minted quite a few.
-Coins become really rare when the mint is really small.
But when they first started minting a coin, they go a bit mad,
-they mint quite a few million.
Tell me, how did you come by these?
Well, they were donated to one of our shops,
that's Dove Cottage Day Hospice.
So, for the hospice, is that a local hospice?
It's out in the Vale of Belvoir, not far from Leicester,
-and these were in a box with other cufflinks for £1 a pair.
And you saw these, and thought, "Hang on a minute, they look gold."
I always check the jewellery before it goes out into the shop.
I'll just turn one over so you can see...
..that lovely figure of eight on the back there.
-They're beautifully made.
-It is quite nicely made, isn't it?
A nice fixed bar, the figure of eight,
and they probably hang very nicely on the cuff.
I mean, cufflinks are very widely collected.
If you wear cufflinks, I wear cufflinks every day,
these are ones you like to wear because they're not ostentatious,
they've got that little sense of quality
-and a class about them.
They're not too blingy cos they're nice, small, gold roundels.
-And they've got a bit of history to them.
And, of course, you're appealing to the American market as well.
-I think they're worth 150, 200.
-They're lovely things cos they're so nice.
-All the money would be going to the charity, wouldn't it?
-So, I think we'd fix a reserve on these, for sure...
-..at £100. Would you be happy with that?
And just think, they could've been bought for a pound
and your charity would only have got a pound but now,
we'll be getting you over 100, I hope.
-Well, that's wonderful.
-I hope so. They're lovely.
And Catherine has found a very quirky item which would make
the perfect decorator's piece in a swanky, modern home.
Alison, this is a terribly futuristic sculpture.
It's a wonderful shape and it is actually of the Skylon Tower...
-..from the Festival of Great Britain in 1951.
Now, how did you get this in your hands?
My late husband was a carpenter-builder
and he would often renovate houses and so on.
And the owners would say,
-"Can you clear out all this stuff before you start work?"
-And he would bring things home.
And this was one of the things that he brought home, it's probably
one of the most interesting things that he brought home.
So, what sort of things was he bringing home?
All sorts of things, I mean, some of it was useful.
He brought home an American fridge.
You know the big double fridge kind of thing?
Well, that was quite handy. Wonderful.
But this was...quite unique.
So, what happened was he used to come home,
"Hello, darling, I'm home from work," and then used to reveal.
-Yes, things would come out of the van.
-Here's what I've got today.
-We do have a lot of clutter, however.
Well, I wouldn't call this clutter
because I think it's really stylish and a really nice futuristic piece.
-Did you have it on display?
-I had it on display, mainly in my dining room.
It isn't really in my decorative style but it was so unique,
I had to have it.
When you think of some of the science-fiction movies
and things, it's the sort of thing you might see in science-fiction
films where they're flying their cars above the city and things.
I just think it's wonderful
and I can see how somebody could have this in their home today,
you know, going along with the whole minimal look,
the interior design, and then having something like this. Fabulous.
Yeah, clean lines.
This is Perspex and then just the metal Perspex base.
It was very simple but a really nice piece of design.
-And very well made, I think.
-Very well made.
I think it deserves to be in a home with someone that really loves it.
-I mean, I like it but it's...
-It doesn't go with the decor.
It isn't my style particularly.
Estimate - my feeling is it's probably one of a number that
were produced of that sort of period,
like a sort of commemorative thing, if you like.
I mean, I have seen other examples that were produced.
I think Biro made little desk models at the time for gentlemen to
put on their desks and they're... In original boxes, I think
-they're worth sort of 100, 150.
-Shall we say 100-150?
-With an £80 reserve?
-Erm, I don't actually mind the reserve.
I'm quite happy for it to go to someone that really loves it.
-So, that's the main thing for you?
-I mean, if it makes a lot of money, that's great.
That's wonderful. But if it doesn't,
if somebody's bought it that really loves it, then...
-Then that's more important to you?
Well, I think that's a really nice ethos.
-Shall we say £60 reserve, then?
-And a £100-150 estimate?
Oh, well, I hope people love it and admire it just as much as we do
and let's hope it does extremely well at the auction.
The Festival of Britain was an exhibition held in 1951.
It was organised by the government to give the country
a feeling of recovery and positivity in the aftermath of World War II.
An abiding symbol of the festival, the Skylon stood
almost 300 feet high and dominated London's South Bank.
We've had a wonderful time here today
at Leicester's De Montfort Hall but before we head off to auction,
here's a quick recap of what we're taking with us.
John's spears are so beautiful,
I'm sure they'll have more than a fighting chance of selling.
The cufflinks are so unusual and Thomas is
so disappointed he can't place a bid.
And the Skylon model is a love-it-or-hate-it type of thing.
I really hope there's a bidder out there for it.
So, it's back to Gildings and before the sale starts,
auctioneer Mark Gilding is casting his eye over the Skylon.
I like this as a piece of unusual sculpture. Who knows?
It could get that top end of £150.
But then again, it just might struggle.
We do have a reserve of £60.
Well, I think that this is not from the 1950s.
I think it's more like a 1980 student piece which, for me,
-means that we'll be doing well to sell it at £60.
-If it was from the Festival...
-Of the period.
..then I think we would be pushing 150, maybe even 200.
So, now, it's really down to people interested in the Festival
of Britain and hopefully finding those two people that think
-they can't live without it.
-It's an interesting model, it's quirky.
-And if you've got the right environment,
as a decorator's piece, I think this would work quite well.
But before we see how it does, we've got a couple of other items
going under the hammer first.
Oh, Sophie, what a special lot, eh?
Going under the hammer right now, we've got some cufflinks,
gold cufflinks and they are top dollar.
-Literally top dollar, aren't they?
How'd you put a price on those?
Well, you've obviously got the gold and a coin collector's not going to
like them cos they have solder marks on them but they're so stylish.
-They're still very rare.
-Let's put these to the test, shall we?
They're going under the hammer right now.
Slightly unusual, these, a pair of metal coin cufflinks,
straight in at £100.
£100, I'm bid. 110, 120.
You're on the book here at 160, you're all out of the room at £160.
Well done, Sophie, because you fished those out, didn't you,
out of a box of pound coins?
Well, the pound cufflinks in the shop.
-Incredible. Eagle eyes here.
-I liked those.
I mean, you have to be quite sharp, don't you,
cos you see an awful lot of items coming in on a daily basis.
-We do, yes.
-It must be like one of our valuation days.
Do you fancy a job at one of our tables?
Well, you certainly wouldn't want to be on the pointed
end of one of these.
We've got two spears going under the hammer belonging to John,
-courtesy of your uncle...
-..living out in Kenya.
I particularly like one of them,
we're splitting these into two lots and the first lot is my
favourite, but I think both of them would look stunning on the wall.
-You can imagine it sailing through the air.
-No, I couldn't.
No, I want to see it fixed to the wall quite safe somewhere,
out of harm's way.
Why are you selling these now?
Well, it's because I had my loft insulated and all kinds
of things came down and I thought it's about time I got rid of them.
Ah, so they were tucked up in the loft...
Well, they were on my bedroom wall at one time and then I put them
in the loft and now they've come down.
Oh, that's a shame, I'm pleased they're back out.
OK, so, 291 is the next lot. The tribal fishing spear.
What do we say for this? Bids on the book. I'll open at 45.
-Come on, come on.
65, do I see 70? 65, thought this would make more than this.
So did I.
£65 I'm bid. Here with me, then, at 65.
Didn't sell. OK. Spear number two.
Not quite as big, this one.
I'm going to start again and stand on here at £65.
Standing on at 65, at 65 bid.
No bidders here today, nobody online, nobody on the phone.
I mean, that is auctions for you,
sometimes these things get geared up and they race away -
two or three people bidding against each other takes it to
a different level but here, nobody wanted it on the day.
-Didn't even reach the reserve. I'm ever so sorry.
-No, it's OK.
Such a shame but maybe John will put them back on his bedroom wall.
Alison, I love this little model of the Skylon, the little, tiny rocket.
I love it.
And it sums up the Festival of Britain, doesn't it, 1951?
-We don't know if it's of the period.
That's the problem, it could be 1970s, it could be '80s.
-Even so, it's really futuristic, isn't it?
-It is, isn't it?
-And quite unique.
-And I think it's worth every penny
so we had a chat to the auctioneer, he said, "Yes, definitely
"the lower end of the estimate." If we get the top end, we're all happy.
And onto lot number 508L,
the Perspex-metal model of the Skylon Tower.
45, 50. 55? 60.
65 online, 70 in the room.
75 online, 80 in the room.
Well, we're in.
-I'm very pleased with that, I'm really pleased, that's fantastic.
-This is brilliant.
-It's very good.
-Oh, we're loving this now.
280 in the room now.
Fair warning then, internet, and selling, make no mistake, at £280.
£280, yes, the hammer's gone down. What a result.
You see that's the power of the internet, you know, it's a great way
of advertising these things online to find those collectors out there.
-You've got to be happy with that.
-I'm thrilled, yeah.
-That's higher than I thought it would go.
-I know, me too. Well done.
I wondered if it would sell. I just didn't know.
-Oh, look, thanks for bringing that in.
-It was great.
It just goes to show sometimes the most peculiar things can sell well.
You just never know.
And I think the Skylon will give the perfect look to a very
stylish room somewhere.
Well, there you are, it's all over for our owners.
Another day in another saleroom.
At least everyone's gone home happy and I hope you've enjoyed the show.
-From all of us here, it's goodbye.
In Leicester's De Montfort Hall, a venue with a 100-year history of entertaining the city's masses, experts Thomas Plant and Catherine Southon search the queue for the best antiques and collectables to take to auction.
Paul Martin discovers the story of one women's flamboyant life, her passion for interior design and her love for the stunning Kelmarsh Hall.