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May 6th, 1954.
Now, that is a date to remember if you're a sports fan,
because it was here, on this very racetrack in Oxford,
that a 24-year-old medical student became
the first person in history to run one mile under four minutes.
His name, Roger Bannister.
Today, we're here in Oxford, at the Oxford Union,
which is literally just down the road from the racetrack.
Our experts are already there on the starting blocks,
ready to uncover all the antiques and treasures
to take off to auction.
Get set, this is Flog It!
Our venue today is the Oxford Union,
the famous Debating Chamber right here,
in the heart of central Oxford.
The Union was created in 1823 as the University forbade students
from discussing the political issues of the day.
This place was a haven to discuss any idea.
And over the years, the union has become a breeding ground
for great debaters.
Sport is such an important part of college life here, at Oxford,
and that's reflected in the speakers who've addressed the Oxford Union.
Great sportsmen, such as
Sir Steve Redgrave,
and even Sven Goran Eriksson,
and of course, the legendary Sir Roger Bannister,
who came here to speak about breaking the four-minute mile.
So, fingers crossed we get some wonderful sporting memorabilia
on the show today.
And our very own Flog It! experts are raring to get started.
First out is Will Axon.
God save the Queen, Victorian.
Will initially wanted to become a jockey,
but luckily enough for Flog It!, he turned to antiques instead.
I'm putting a sticker on this lady.
She's got a Ming-carved jade russet boulder.
Has somebody showed you though?
And bringing up the rear at a more laconic pace is Mark Stacey,
but his tongue's as quick as ever.
-Shall I stick...?
-What are you doing?
-I'm just catching up with what you're up to.
-I don't want anyone near me.
-He's finding the treasure, isn't he?
-You were finding all the treasure,
you were already sticking half a dozen. Every time I go up to someone,
-they say, "Oh, that little one invited me."
-Ah! Mark, I love your work.
-I love your work.
It's turning into a mutual appreciation society.
So before this goes any further,
here's what's coming up in today's show.
Mark pulls out all the stops to impress the ladies.
-I can do a seal impression.
-Would you like to see it?
HE YELPS REPEATEDLY
SHE LAUGHS Very good.
And our auctioneer, Thomas Plant,
reveals an insider tip on how to spot a diamond.
Diamonds take no, or little condensation.
THEY BREATH HARD
You see the diamond is still shining?
-That's a good little tip, that.
-It's a good little tip.
And there's more where that came from.
I think it's time to let the debate commence, don't you?
It's on your marks, get set, well...you've seen the Olympics.
You know the rest.
Zena, you've brought this
spectacular pair of goblets in to show us.
What's the family history of these?
Um, they were given to my daughter's husband.
They're just sat in the cupboard doing nothing, so...
-So she doesn't drink champagne with these then?
-No, she doesn't, no.
What a shame. I would, wouldn't you?
I think the bubbles may disappear too quickly.
I mean, basically, what we've got is a pair of silver
and silver guild goblets.
And they're hand beaten to give that sort of arts and crafts feel.
And then looking down the stem,
we've got this sort of three-headed horse stem which has been gilded.
And then, at the bottom, they're almost medieval in inspiration.
The bottoms are gem set with cabochon stones.
Now, cabochon means that they're not cut, they're polished.
I can't make out what those stones are.
In some light, they look amethyst,
-in other light, they look rubies or garnets.
And funnily, inside, there's a little sparkly stone,
-which could be a diamond or could be a piece of crystal.
Don't you just admire my knowledge?
SHE LAUGHS I'm astounded.
-We haven't tested them.
The hallmark is for London 1984.
But they're just spectacular,
and they're just what the market likes.
You know, to give us a rough indication of value,
we've weighed them,
and the scrap of the silver alone is around £300
-at this snapshot in time.
-Of course, it does fluctuate up and down.
I think they're worth a little bit more than that.
I think because they've got that arts and crafts look to them,
it'd be lovely if they were by a well-known arts and crafts designer,
-and 1908 rather than 1984.
-But I would suggest £400 to £600.
-And put a £400 reserve on them, fixed.
I think they really should make that, and I hope
that somebody buys into them like I have,
-and they make £600.
Well, pick one up. Shall we toast to our success?
Cheers. Here's hoping those goblets with the equestrian twist
come out favourite at the auction.
We'll get Thomas Plant,
our auctioneer, to test those stones later on.
Next up, it's Will, who's high up in the ladies' gallery,
and he appears to have found quite a catch.
Well, we've got a great bird's-eye view of the valuation day below us,
haven't we? Perched up here on the balcony.
And, what a great view we have
of this wonderful piece of jade
-you've brought in.
-Hannah, tell me...
-It's a big lumpy thing.
A big lumpy thing? I've seen...
Now I've heard them described as...
Certainly never like that before.
But tell me, how did a piece of Chinese jade come to be in Oxford?
It was given to me a long time ago, about ten years ago.
But I don't really remember by whom.
I know more or less, but...
Just a stranger, was it, who came up to you?
No, no, no, no, no, no. It was one of my patients.
-Oh, a patient. Were you in the...?
So, a grateful patient who you worked your magic on
gave you this piece of carved jade as a thank you.
-But a very long time ago.
I mean, jade has always been
very highly prized by the Chinese,
more so than even gold and silver.
In the times of antiquity,
-it was very much a ceremonial material.
There were connections with the afterlife, animals carved in jade.
People thought they brought good luck.
Occasionally, these were put in tombs
and they helped people through the afterlife as a guide,
that sort of thing.
Is this only decorative, or is it...?
Does it have any use?
Well, I think by the time we come to your piece of jade here,
-we are looking at a decorative piece.
It's really a carver showing off their skills.
-You can notice that we've got the two colours of jade.
-This is what we would call a piece of green and russet jade.
And the early Chinese carvers of jade were using
the natural formation of the stone to convey what they wanted.
You know, maybe the characteristics of the animal they were carving.
-A lot of the time you see horses and buffaloes and so on.
-Do you like it?
I definitely don't like it.
I think it's lumpy and big.
Hm. And what do you like then? Do you collect anything?
Small things. I like miniature things.
-Ah, always popular, miniature items.
-The smaller, the better.
-Well, we've got to come to value, haven't we?
It's not going to be in the same sort of league
as an ancient piece of carved jade,
which is of course highly prized
by the Chinese.
-Presently, they're buying a lot of it back.
But I think it's still going to appeal to the market
and I'd like to sort of put it in
-at a sort of slightly conservative estimate.
What do you feel like if I put it in at £100?
-Would you be happy at that?
-Yes, I would.
-You just want it away?
-I just want it away.
I tell you what, let's have a gamble.
-Let's put it in at 100 to 150 with an estimate...
..but let's not put a reserve on it.
-No, I don't want to reserve.
-You don't want to?
I want to get rid of it.
You're my ideal client. We're going to be sure of a sale on the day.
-I look forward...
-You'll sell it for £10, yes.
-No, I hope not.
The auctioneer's going to be working in your interest.
-The more you get, the more he gets. So don't worry about that.
Thank you very much.
Will's got his auctioneer's head on,
always thinking of the profit margin.
Down below, working diligently,
under the watchful eye of Michael Heseltine, Mark Stacey
is faced with a menagerie.
-You've brought in a collection of toys.
-I certainly have.
I love the little seal here with
its...balancing, the circus scene.
Oh, they're fabulous, all of them.
-And you've got a little dog and a little mouse, haven't you?
And the dog's tail goes round and the seal balances everything, so...
-Now, these weren't yours, were they?
-No, they belonged to my uncle.
And he was quite well-known long ago.
His name was HN Charles
and he designed the very first MG.
-Did he really?
-Yes, the MG car. Yeah.
-These were his childhood toys.
And they were just handed to my parents.
-And my mother handed them to me, so...
But they've been in my loft, I'm afraid, for about 15 years.
-Gosh, well, they're fascinating, aren't they?
I mean, if you think of the sort of toys kids play with these days...
-..these are quite primitive in a way, aren't they?
They are. Very primitive. But I mean, they're...
-I love the fact that...
-This one I particularly like cos you have the box for it.
Yes. Bit battered, I'm afraid.
-Bit battered, but it's there.
-That's the nice thing.
-This one is German.
-And there's a Schuco one.
-There's a Schuco, the mouse, I think.
-And there's another German...
-Another German one.
And I think, when we're selling something like this,
-it's nice to sell them as a little group lot...
-Yes, I think so.
..because there will be specialist collectors at this event...
-..you know, who would like these...
-..as an example of the toy.
I would have thought these are early 20th century - 1910, 1920...
-Yes, about that.
-Something like that.
-I can do a seal impression, you know?
-Would you like to see it?
HE YELPS REPEATEDLY
SHE LAUGHS Very good.
Now, I must stop fooling around as we need to know a price,
-Yes, we do, please.
-I think if we put £80 to £120 on the little group...
-..with an £80 reserve.
-So, we've protected it.
-And then market the Schuco and the names.
Oh, yes. They'll put the names in.
My cat quite likes the mouse, but I haven't let him play with it.
Quiet wise, quite wise. Well, that's wonderful.
I look forward to seeing you at the auction.
-Yes, I look forward to seeing you too, Mark.
It's a date.
And here's hoping Mark demonstrates his seal impersonation again.
Well, there you are.
Three wonderful items we've found so far.
Our auctioneer, Thomas Plant, is under starter's orders.
He's at the auction room right now.
So it's time for us to go over there.
And here's a quick recap of all the items we're taking with us.
Will it be Hannah's Japanese jade
modelled in the shape of a carp
that the bidders flock to?
-You don't want to reserve?
-I want to get rid of it.
You're my ideal client.
Or will it be the unique collection of childhood toys which
appeal to the auction?
That circus seal with the original box
will surely generate some interest.
But first to face the auction
will be Zena's silver goblets.
Today, our auction comes from Newbury, near Reading,
home to the famous Newbury Racecourse.
But it's the antiques, not the horses, we're betting on today.
Our very own thoroughbred
Thomas Plant is raring to go on the rostrum.
At 110 against you...
But first, he's taken quite a shine to those goblets as I found out
on the auction preview day.
I don't know much about the stones, but I tell you what,
-I like the architectural look of that.
-They're great, aren't they?
-They're repousse work, so they say.
-Yes, it's beautiful.
-It's good, isn't it?
They're quite modern, late 20th century,
but they are set with garnets round here, these almandine garnets.
And you can tell that by the colour of them.
They've got this...almost like a red ruby colour to them.
I can see that, yeah.
But, they've also got a mauve, a hint of mauve in there.
And they're cut on cabochon
which means domed,
but we've topped it with a diamond in the centre here.
Which you only find once you get to the bottom of your drink.
-Once you get to the bottom of the drink.
And the thing is, how do you tell that that's a diamond in there?
It's very awkward to get a loop on there, isn't it?
Yes, how do you do that, Thomas?
-A little tip...
Diamonds take no, or little condensation.
THEY BREATHE HEAVILY
-You see the diamond is still shining?
But there's condensation around the rest of the bowl.
-Cos the facets are so hot.
-That's a good little tip, that.
It's a good little tip, isn't it?
And the other thing, with these stones here, these,
they're en cabochon,
and if you don't have anything with you, they'll always be cold.
-They'll always be cold to your top lip.
-To the touch.
Add the value of the precious stones and the diamonds...
To be honest with you, I'd whip those stones out
-and make a pair of earrings.
Good idea. They are pointless in here, aren't they?
They are pointless in there.
But that's, you know, they're lovely
and you get the stones thrown in, and I love these horses.
-Yeah, so do I.
-These heads are so difficult to do.
But they're all so brilliantly done
and they look like a proper horse's head.
Have you had much interest on the books?
In the right area, Newbury Racecourse down the road...
-And The Gallops.
-Lambourn, The Gallops, just up the road there.
On the phone, on the internet, there's been enquiries.
People are quite cautious now, they don't want to show their hand.
But just by the volume of interest...
Oh, the volume of trade I've had coming in...
-They're good-looking things.
-They're going to sell.
They're a firm favourite with Thomas and myself,
but will they go the distance?
Let's find out.
I'm surprised these are being sold.
-Who've you brought along with you?
-This is my husband, David.
-David, how do you do?
-Pleased to meet you.
Have you enjoyed having a glass of wine out of these goblets?
They're not ours, they're our daughter's.
-You're selling them on her behalf?
I think this is a good trade lot.
I'd love to know why they placed the diamonds inside.
-There might have been a...
-It's an '80s' thing.
-Well, it might... Bling.
-When mobile phones were that big.
-It was bling, wasn't it?
-Maybe it was, actually.
Maybe when you're drinking your wine,
you want to see how successful you are when you reach the bottom,
before you keel over.
On that note, let's get on with selling this, shall we?
Let's find out what they are worth. Good luck, both of you. Here we go.
Next lot is the pair of fine modern silver goblets. There we are.
With the diamonds in the centre and the garnets round the outside.
Lovely-looking things. Start me off here at £200.
Somebody start me at 200.
At £200, at 200.
Is there any advance at 200?
They're sitting on their hands at the moment.
No-one wants to do the main bid, do they?
Start me here at 210.
300 and 320.
She's got a commission bid on the book, can you see it?
-He's looking down.
-20 I am at.
At 420 I have. Is there any advance at 420?
-Come on, a bit more.
-Selling them at 420...
-Well, just, just... Happy?
Will the daughter be happy? What's she called?
-You keep mentioning your daughter.
-Well, they were a good buy for someone.
-They were a good buy.
They were an excellent buy.
Wonderful to hold, that's the beauty of looking at antiques like that.
Thank you for bringing them in.
-Thanks very much.
Well, here's hoping Gillian will be happy.
And now, to a delightful piece of jade that's travelled
all the way from China.
I've just been joined by Hannah, who's come all the way from...
-From Holland, yes.
I know they get the show out in Holland.
-It's very popular.
-I get letters from people in Holland.
-It's exceptionally popular.
-People come here especially from Holland.
Yes. Your jade is exquisite.
I really like this little carved carp on there,
-through the reeds.
Why are you selling this?
I hardly dare say it, I don't like it.
You don't like it.
-You do, I do.
-That's what the market wants.
You don't like something, someone else does, that keeps the thing moving.
That's what art's all about.
-It's an arbitrary concept, really.
-It's quite subjective.
I have miniature things, so...
-I think this is flavour of the month right now.
So let's put it to the test, shall we?
I have a Chinese jade carving.
Models the carp amongst leaves. There we are.
Good condition, this piece here. I have bids here with me.
Straight in at £80.
Is there any advance at 80?
85 and I'm out. Straight out at 85.
Any advance at 85 that's in the audience?
At £85. Make no mistake, and I sell...
Blink and you'll miss that. That was so quick.
A bid came in at 80, we got £85.
-You're happy with that, aren't you?
-I would be with anything.
We were worried about the reserve.
It had no reserve, but we didn't need to in the end, did we?
And thank you very much.
I think Hannah would have taken £2.50 and a packet of crisps.
She really did not like that jade.
And hopefully, the new owner will appreciate it a little bit more.
Next, it's those 20th-century toys,
but it looks like Mark's been stood up.
Unfortunately, we do not have the owner - Hilary.
But we do have the items,
so let's play.
Hilary's not here, she's ill, is she?
-No, she can't make it today.
But I tell you something, there's always a buyer
for quality wind-up toys.
-And I like the seal.
-Oh, the seal's wonderful, actually.
-And it's got its original box with it, actually...
-Yes, it has.
-A bit tatty, but it...
-But it's nice though,
-it's nice to have that sort of thing.
-I totally agree with the 80-120.
-So we're confident?
Let's put it to the test, shall we? Let's hand things over to Thomas.
NEB Template clockwork circus seal
with a 1930s' Template clockwork terrier.
Circus seal's got the box. Lovely little lot, this one.
Start the bidding with me at £40.
60, 65. Go on.
-Come on, come on.
-Go on, one more.
75. One more and it's yours.
You can take it home today.
Just one more.
Oh, peer pressure. We've done well.
We've done... Poor woman.
At £80, clockwork toys. Is there any advance at 80?
At 80 it is, and I sell to the lady at 80.
That's good, the hand's gone down.
Hilary will be pleased.
We just got it away,
thanks to us heckling
that lady over there.
-We made her pay an extra £5 for it.
-But she's still smiling.
Then it sealed the bid. There was a reserve at £80.
Oh, I see what you did there. 'Sealed' the bid.
Nothing like a bit of mild arm-twisting,
especially as Hilary isn't well.
And now, it's time to leave the auction
but then head back to Oxford.
I'm a bit of a rowing fan and I couldn't come here
and not spend a day with the Oxford boat crew.
After all, the University boat race is the oldest amateur rowing event
in the world.
The Oxford boat crew are already preparing to get on the water.
I'm here at a chilly Westminster pier, on the Thames,
to meet the hardcore chosen few.
Those students who are competing for the chance to row in the most
prestigious boat race in the world.
HE TALKS THROUGH MEGAPHONE
I watch the University boat race every year, so this is quite special
for me to get a peek behind the scenes at the training.
My father was a keen rower as a college student,
and that's where he met my mother, when she was a cox.
And throughout my father's
professional teaching days in the sciences,
he always helped out in his spare time on the weekends
and in the evenings with the Twickenham Rowing Club.
He absolutely loved this sport and he taught me to row.
So this is wonderful for me, revisiting the River Thames.
Gosh, they look fit, don't they?
There's not an ounce of fat on those guys.
The boat race is still proudly an amateur event,
but what constitutes an amateur these days?
None of the rowers are paid, but sponsorship is lucrative.
They are at the top of their game,
and even boast an Olympian in their ranks.
Constantine Louloudis is competing to be part of the Oxford squad,
but rowing in the men's eights in the London Olympics.
You got a bronze, and what an emotional experience.
Were there tears crossing the line?
Ah, there were, there were. I mean, they were sort of...
-For different reasons?
-Yeah, physical pain, and then,
you know, the emotion of it.
Um, you know, we'd all invested so much,
-there was a lot of emotion running high.
A lot of time and effort.
You know, you're studying, what are you studying at the moment?
-I'm studying Classics.
-So not only are you dedicated to the sport,
but you've got to be dedicated to, obviously,
getting the grades and putting in the time.
Yeah, yeah, when I came back to Oxford,
a lot of people said, "Oh, well, life must be a lot easier now."
But, actually, the lifestyle of being a student athlete's a lot
more stressful, trying to balance the two.
Is the training on an international level
more physically and mentally demanding?
Yeah, it's... There's...
there's more mileage, you've got to complete it at a higher intensity,
you're trying to keep up with the top guys, and they set the pace.
And, you know, they really are world-class.
You get home at three or four, even on a full day,
then you've got nothing else to do, whereas when you're at
university, you get home and you're working, you know, into the night.
Sure, making the time up from studies.
Yeah, you don't get a moment's rest during termtime.
Um, so I suppose there are two sides to it.
On the whole, the student athlete lifestyle is
-'Attracts 250,000 people
'to the banks of the Thames each meeting.'
It's a far cry from when the boat race started in 1829,
when Oxford challenged Cambridge
to an impromptu rowing race in Henley.
'The premier event in boat racing.'
It soon became an annual event, attracting international coverage.
'Hundreds of thousands braved the drizzle to see the shells
'battle it out over a choppy 4.25-mile course.
'Oxford pulls close to Cambridge at Hammersmith Bridge,
'but that's as close as the Old Blue gets to victory.
'The Cambridge crew, boasting an ex-Yale Man, Harold Barn,
'at number six position, has never had it,
'as they battle stiff winds and the rough water.'
The race has become ferociously competitive.
Overall, Cambridge currently lead Oxford by 81 to 76,
with one dead heat.
Over the years, there's been mutinies, sinkings,
and in 2012, a protest swimmer disrupted the proceedings
halfway through the race. It had to be restarted.
What has changed though is the training regime.
Olympic techniques have been adopted to push these guys
to their absolute limits.
The tipping point came in the 1960s, which heralded a new approach
Before then, professional sportsmen often smoked, drank heavily
and ate bad food.
But the '60s ushered in a new era.
rowed in the 1967 and the 1968 boat race for Oxford,
and went on to pioneer professional coaching techniques
for his amateur squad.
Rowing was very much, in this country,
was very much in the doldrums.
You know, the Germans were way ahead of us, and almost every other nation
was ahead of us in terms of the physical preparation of a crew.
Not having sort of, eight pints of Guinness the night beforehand.
Stuff like that, bag of chips.
Look at footballers, you know, when the
-foreign managers came into football.
You know, the training started becoming much, much more intense,
the diet became much more thoughtful.
It all changed, really.
And the change was sort of gradual, but much more scientific.
We made things much, much more competitive within the group.
That moved everything along into a much more...I suppose,
a more professional approach.
-But it was still amateur.
So, I was making sort of changes on my sense of what it was like.
So I had to be nutritionist, I had to be psychologist,
I had to be all of those things.
Now, we've got specialists in all those fields.
It takes seven months of training to whittle down the final eight
who eventually wear the dark blue
of Oxford on the day.
Seven months of hardcore training for one race.
Question is, how much do these students put themselves through,
mentally and physically, for what is essentially, still, an amateur race?
The man in charge of training and selection today is Sean Bowden,
the Oxford coach since 1998.
He was poached from Cambridge after their successful
run of winnings in the early '90s.
Can you talk me through some of the training you go through here?
Yes, well, the boat race is a 17, 18-minute race,
so there's a huge endurance component to that,
so a lot of our training is working on that sort of physical
capacity, that aerobic engine.
You know, people would just work off heart rates
-and say, "Well, we work at 75% of our maximum heart rate."
And that's a very crude way of doing this.
And by going through a sort of blood analysis and
a whole series of tests, we are able to hone that much more accurately.
Sure. And there's only one race, isn't there? Let's face it.
There's a lot of training for this one race. What about nerves
that day beforehand?
If you weren't nervous before a big race,
you're probably doing it wrong.
And the trick is to make sure you've rehearsed these things.
We go through a number of, I suppose you'd loosely call psychological
ploys or tactics to bring the team together as strong as we can.
Dealing with the nerves and going, "Look, we're ready for this."
-"And we want it."
-Well, there's no doubt they want it. That's the easy bit.
The races in the last few years have all been
decided in the last 60 seconds.
That's a testament to how fit these boys are.
If you've got the right mental determination,
when your body is screaming, "I cannot give any more,"
your brain kicks in and takes over and makes you do it.
And there's no better example than looking at the finish line.
The victorious team look like they can walk on water,
they can do it all over again.
The defeated team are slumped in the boat,
their bodies are lifeless and mentally, they're destroyed.
It's clear that it's not just about the physical
when it comes to training these days, even at amateur level.
The mental approach is just as important.
The adoption of these state-of-the-art training techniques
means that the line between Olympic, professional and amateur
is a blurred one.
But by their own admission, the crew are striving for perfection.
How many times do you do this?
-I don't know.
-Twice a day.
Is he looking at each one of you individually
and looking at your stroke and...?
-Easiest way to explain it is - rowing is never perfect.
You're always trying to get that perfection.
And each day, you're just honing it that little bit.
-You know, making those mistakes just that little bit smaller.
Well, I'm excited.
And I'm exhausted as well, I'm not doing anything.
We won't find out who makes the final eight until the day.
It's hard to think that half of those chaps won't make the cut.
Some of them here will be making history in the next
University boat race.
What a privilege.
Back at the Oxford Union,
our experts are putting in some hard training to get some unique items
which can compete with the best of the best at auction.
And Mark's spotted some big boys' toys.
Chris, what a fabulous pair of
tin and clay cars you've brought in.
-They're lovely, aren't they?
-Where on earth did you get them from?
They came from my grandmother's.
I don't know why they were there,
because my grandmother had two girls.
And when we were children, we never saw them.
I never saw this until it came out of the house and they were
going to send it to a jumble sale and I thought, no, that's too...
You know, it just appealed to me.
-I think it's charming.
-And I was teaching at the time when I thought,
well, I can use it for storytelling...
-Oh, of course.
-..or something like that.
So, I took it back with me.
I'm so pleased you did,
cos I wouldn't have had the chance of looking at them...
-..if you'd let them go to the
-They're great fun. They're very nostalgic.
-People of a certain age will certainly remember these.
-This one, I think is the earlier one.
Um, this one, feels instinctively to me as if it might be a 1930s' one.
-Yes, that was what I was thinking, yes.
-With the colours.
And the little boot opens up in the back, there.
-This one, I think is much more 1950s.
-Yes, I agree.
That sort of awful, grey colour that cars used to be after the war.
Yes, it was black or grey, wasn't it?
Yes. It's no wonder this car is in such fabulous condition,
because, look, it's with its box.
-And even that's in great condition.
-So, you've been very good keeping it like that.
Have you ever thought of the value?
I have no idea what the value was.
You haven't been on that t'internet...
-No, no, I haven't.
-..searched around and thought, "Oh."?
In terms of value, I've sort of pondered over this.
Cos I don't like to be thought of as cliche.
-But I am going for the auctioneer's cliche on this, I'm afraid.
You know what's coming, don't you? 80 to 120.
-We'll put a reserve, of course, of £80.
-I think they might make a bit more than that.
-I hope so.
I think they will.
I'd like to see them making maybe 150 or so on the day.
-That'll be great.
-But I think we've got to tease those bidders in.
-Would you be happy with that, Chris?
-Yes, that'll be fine.
I'd rather they go to somebody that's
going to really appreciate them than just sit around in my loft.
Well, that's very sensible, actually.
-And I think whoever does buy them is going to enjoy them.
Fingers crossed there are a few petrol heads in the auction room.
Now, from a pair of old bangers to something slightly more dangerous...
I have on my lap,
the most exciting pair of duelling pistols
I've ever seen in my life.
They belong to Peter.
And he's kindly brought them in to show me.
-Sadly, these aren't going through to auction.
But if I open the box, take a look at this.
By Le Page, a wonderful French maker.
And these are early percussion cap, aren't they?
That's correct, they were about 1840.
The craftsmanship is exquisite.
Do you mind me asking how much you paid for them?
An awful lot of money at the time.
-Have you ever fired them?
-Yes, very nice indeed.
The recoil is quite low and soft, it always is.
-So it's not a big impact on it?
-..Black powder. No, no, no.
-Was it accurate?
Well, I was a pistol shooter. I used to shoot pistol for England.
-Wow, did you really?!
But not these.
Well, I think this is so exciting. It really is.
Show us a couple of lids. The shot's there, isn't it? Show us the shot.
It is complete. There are the two pistols, the powder flask,
all the accessories for dismantling and opening them.
You've got a box containing shot.
I would actually hesitate to put a value on these right now.
-My gut feeling is around about £15,000, but they're so unique.
The condition is so good,
-it's museum quality.
The quality and craftsmanship, that's the real appeal.
Thank you so much for bringing these in.
Not at all, it's my pleasure.
Those pistols have now been decommissioned.
But imagine shooting for your country?
What an achievement and what a gentleman.
Our roving expert, Will Axon,
has our final valuation of the day.
He's discovered some light refreshment in the billiard room.
Well, Maggie, if these walls could talk,
I'm sure they would tell us
some stories of perhaps a bit of gambling, a bit of drinking,
and whatever else goes on at the Oxford Union.
-And these are great.
These fit in perfectly with the billiard room.
Tell me, where are these from?
I actually bought them from a jumble sale.
-Very good. Did you have to pay a lot for them?
Oh, I like a bargain. And how long ago was that?
-About 25 years.
-Oh, so you've had them some time?
Oh, yes, I've had them some time.
And what drew you to them originally?
-I was just fascinated by them.
-They're great fun, aren't they?
I really like them. You've got these stoneware flagons,
and each one is stamped with gin, Scotch whiskey, brandy
and Irish whiskey.
But what I think really sort of tops them off
are these little stoppers here
in silver plate.
They've got to be the original stoppers because again,
we've got gin, 'S' whiskey, and 'I' whiskey, and brandy.
So, I think these have always been together.
And in this little wicker basket, I mean,
-perfect for a picnic, aren't they?
There's no marks on them, we've had a look.
-What we do have is a little registration lozenge.
Now, the interesting point about that is, it gives us the date
at which this design was registered rather than when they were made.
And you've got various codes in these lozenge, and from that,
I can deduce that this design was registered in October 1877.
-Did you think they were as old as that?
I thought they were of an age but I didn't think that they were that old.
Hm. I think there's a little bit of solder
on one of these where perhaps it's just got knocked off after
perhaps the Irish whiskey was drained by someone.
-But the actual...
-Yeah, wasn't you.
The stoneware flagons themselves are in good order.
Why are you selling them if you like them?
Well, they sit in the cupboard.
-We hear that all the time.
-And I moved, so it's time.
I took too many things with me,
-so it's time to get rid of some of them.
-It's a good time, isn't it?
-To consolidate what you have and what you actually need.
-Yes, that's right.
-When you're downsizing.
Well, I think your loss is going to be someone else's gain.
You know, £100, that sounds like a sort of sensible figure.
-Maybe I'd like to straddle that with the old classic 80 to 120.
How do you feel?
-That would be fine.
-We'll put them in, estimate of 80 to 120.
Or are you happy for them to find their level?
-Reserve them at 80.
-Yeah, OK. We'll put a reserve at £80.
And now you can go home
and tell your kids who's got the last laugh now?
Yes, thank you.
Youngsters these days have no understanding of the value
Maggie's kids thought those spirit bottles were worthless.
Our next item has a history which dates back to ancient Greece.
This item became a must for any Victorian fireplace.
-You've brought a lovely pair of firedogs in to show us.
Do you have a grand fireplace at home that these are displayed on?
No, we used to.
The relatives that they belonged to had, but not nowadays.
We've got a modern fireplace, so...
-..they just don't look right.
-Cos they are very grand, aren't they?
-I love them.
-They're very heavy.
But if we have a look at them, we've got these lovely,
classical designs, or neoclassical designs of the Greek key pattern.
The stylised anthemion here,
and the leaves, very much
in the style of Robert Adam or somebody like that.
Which would make them sort of late 18th century,
but I think these might be just pushing into the 19th century.
These days, people are moving away from the traditional fireplace,
you know, with all the brass and the clockwork.
But I think if we were putting them into a sale today,
we'd be looking at sort of £100 to £200.
Now, would that be OK for you?
-Yes, cos I don't use them.
-I mean, we'll put a reserve on them.
Yes, a bit more, but...
-Well, we all hope for a bit more, don't we?
We all want a bit more.
-But I think we need to encourage the bidders in.
So, if we put a fixed reserve at £100 and we won't sell them
And hopefully, on the day, we'll push up to 200.
Is that OK?
Well, I hope they light up the auction,
set the auction ablaze with excitement.
-Hm, that would be lovely.
-It would, wouldn't it?
From firedogs to firing pistols -
a unique mixture of items, I'm sure you'll agree.
It definitely has been a bit of a marathon here today
for Mark and Will.
They've now made their final choices of items to
take off to the saleroom.
So it's time to say goodbye to the Oxford Union, here in Oxford,
as we head over to the auction room where Thomas Plant
awaits us on the rostrum.
And here's a quick recap of what's going under his hammer.
Will it be those amazing motorcars that fire the enthusiasm
of our auction room?
Or will it be those Victorian spirit flasks
they fancy taking a swig out of?
What tops them off are these little stoppers here, in silver plate,
and they've got to be the original stoppers...
And don't forget, those neoclassical firedogs.
Which one will be first-past-the-post?
At 25, and 30 it is.
Back at our auction room in Newbury, we're in full swing
and it's time to wheel out those motorcars.
Will they set the pulses racing in the auction room?
These are boys' toys, but girls can play with them too, can't they?
Yes, we used to, I think.
And we've got a classic 80 to 120 on.
It's an auctioneer's classic.
80, you've heard that many times since you've come here.
Yes, I've heard that before.
But in fact, it's the right estimate.
-You know, it covers you at both ends.
-Yes, it does, it does.
-I mean, these are great fun, actually.
-They really are.
And not so much play things today, but as collector's items.
-Yes, it's a nice thing to be able to pass onto somebody that's
going to, you know, appreciate them.
-And look after them.
Anyway, talking about cost and what's it worth,
let's put it to the test, shall we?
Let's get the top end of that 80 to 120.
-You and your top end.
-I'd like that.
Next lot is a Victory Austin,
a 4050 Cambridge saloon car
with the box and the template Citroen. There we are.
I can start the bidding with me here straight in at £65.
With me, with me at 65.
-Come on, come on.
£65. Is there any advance? 70. 75.
75 with me. Madam, if you want it, it's 80.
£80 and I am out.
At £80 on the reserve, at 80 we sell.
-Are we there?
-We've got the reserve.
-Oh, it's going up.
85 new place.
Gentleman's bid at £85. Against you all at 85.
Last chance at 85.
-It was touch and go to start with.
-It was, but that's very good.
-It found its level.
-We just got above the lower end.
Yeah, we didn't race away, but we got there. We got there in the end.
-Are you happy?
Next up on the rostrum will be Mary's firedogs.
It'll be interesting to see
if there's still a market for a piece like these today.
-You've enjoyed these over the years, haven't you?
-You've had an open fire basket with them.
Until we had a new fireplace and they didn't look right,
so I thought, "Oh, I'll just get rid of them."
They're a very pretty polish.
Brass and cast iron, nice combination, typical Victorian.
Absolutely. And got a good Georgian look about them.
And if you've got a nice period home,
they dress the fireplace beautifully.
They do, they do. Yep, yeah.
Come on, let's enjoy the moment.
They're going under the hammer, look.
It's all over to Thomas, who's with his gavel.
Brass and cast iron fire dogs in the neoclassical style.
And I can start the bidding with me here straight in at £65.
-We need a bit more than that.
At £65. Is there any advance at £65?
70, 75, 80.
-Commission bid, Mary.
95, 100 and I'm out.
At £100 I have.
Is there any advance at £100?
We've just got it away.
And I sell then at 100.
-I should feel sorry they've gone.
-Oh, a bit disappointed.
Well, it's auctions for you.
Sign of the times at the moment. I'm sorry, Mary.
It's a realistic market right now. It's a tough market.
-Not many people nowadays with open fireplaces.
-No, they don't.
At least Mary's philosophical about it.
Before the next lot, I think
Thomas is quite keen to have a wee dram from those spirit bottles.
I love this.
-It is a proper lot.
-It's a proper rural lot.
-Yes, yes, real country.
Imagine the farmer, the country house farmer...
-..who's got this.
You know. And is he taking this to the fields?
-For his men?
-Bit of gin, bit of brandy?
-It's dead sweet.
-It is, isn't it?
There's no damage to the glaze, no damage to the vessel itself,
cork stoppers are good.
This was picked up in a boot fair for £1.50.
-Yes, quite a long time ago though.
-I'd keep it.
-Yes, so would I for that sort of money.
-At what are we selling it?
We've got 80 to 120 on them. It's got to sell for that.
They're going to sell, definitely.
And if I had them, I'd fill them up.
It might taste a bit strange,
a bit stony.
So let's see who in the auction room, apart from Thomas,
fancies taking these 1870s' bottles on a picnic.
Margaret, I'm surprised you're selling these.
I know they cost you next to nothing.
Why do you want to part with them?
-Well, I moved house.
-Yeah, and they don't suit the house?
Spent the time in the loft.
Now, they're in the bottom of the wardrobe, so time for them to go.
I can see these on a windowsill in a country kitchen, catching the light.
It's great, isn't it? In these sort of general sales...
At my sale anyway, there's always someone who phones up for stoneware bottles.
There are people who collect stamped stoneware bottles.
I think they're good. Good luck.
We've got to prove your family run, haven't we?
They took the mick when she bought them for next to nothing so...
-"What's Mum going to buy next?"
Let's hope we have a little surprise.
That's what auctions are about.
You never know what's going to happen. Let's hand things over
to Thomas Plant.
Next lot is a set of four unusual Victorian stoneware spirit flasks.
Scotch, Irish whiskey, gin and brandy.
Plenty of interest in this lot.
I have to start straight in at £110 with me.
-Straight in at 110.
-I'm glad about that.
-At £110 against your 120.
And I'm out, it's in the room.
At 120, 120.
140 we have. It's in the room at 140.
Selling at 140 against you all.
-140. Just over the top end. Good results.
Yeah, I'm pleased.
-Yeah, they've... They're going to a good home.
-That's for sure.
-Somebody will love them.
-Oh, they will.
And you can go home and say, "I told you so."
That's a healthy profit, cheers.
It's definitely been an eventful day here, at Oxford Union.
Just like our sportsmen and women, we've experienced the full range
of emotions - from disappointment to surprise.
If you'd like to take part in the show
and you've got some unwanted antiques and collectables
you'd like to sell, bring them along to one of our valuation days.
Details, you can pick up on our BBC website.
If you don't have a computer, check the details in your local press
and maybe we can help you to Flog it!