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Birmingham's famous throughout the world for its gold
and silver wares, and what better symbol than this sparkling gem
of a piece of architecture, its new library,
to put contemporary Birmingham well and truly on the international map?
It's a city rich in history, and now a first-class cultural destination.
Welcome to the show!
For the past 250 years, Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter
has been the epicentre of the country's jewellery design,
with the historic square mile itself being declared a national treasure.
This city's certainly not shy in promoting its glittering heritage.
Even the statues are gold-plated.
Our venue today is Birmingham's Museum and Art Gallery.
It's a beautiful Victorian building,
a work of art in its own right,
and it's situated right in the heart of the city's civic centre.
And the last time they saw a crowd as big as this
was just after the incredible discovery
of the Staffordshire Hoard, found by a local man,
the largest and most valuable Anglo-Saxon treasure
ever to be discovered.
But today, it's a blockbuster of a different kind.
We're looking out for treasures from the world of art and antiques,
and there's only one question on this lot's mind, which is...
ALL: What's it worth?
Stay tuned and you'll find out.
Hunting for their own treasure today are experts James Lewis
and Christina Trevanion.
-It doesn't have a mark! Does yours have a mark?
-Hang on a minute, what does yours say?
-What does yours say? Nothing.
-Doesn't say anything.
-I'll swap you.
'Later in the programme, I find out how one lucky metal detectorist
'got in touch with his inner Midas.'
-You've got a mantra, have you?
"Spirits of yesteryears, take me where the gold appears."
-That was it, really, was it?
'And I take a closer look at some of the museum's own treasures.'
That's real history.
As you can see, we've taken over the museum's Rotunda Gallery
for our valuation day tables, and our experts are hard at work.
And here in the centre is the archangel Lucifer
by modernist sculptor Jacob Epstein,
and it looks like Lucifer's just about to step off the plinth
and help out with our valuations.
We might need him later on,
but right now, James Lewis is over there,
he's at the Flog It! tables, he's spotted a real gem.
Let's catch up with him.
When I was a little boy
with my mum and dad at the weekend on a Saturday night,
I used to be given a treat.
Instead of sitting round the dining table,
we would have our tea on our knee in front the TV
and it used to be Harold Lloyd or Laurel & Hardy
and I loved Laurel & Hardy, absolutely fantastic.
-Were you a fan when you were...?
-Still a fan?
Still a fan of Laurel & Hardy, yes.
Is this something a relative of yours collected?
No, I was a delivery driver
and I used to deliver to one of the Dudley hospitals,
and the fella in the goods-in department
was talking about actors and film stars and said he had an autograph
of Laurel & Hardy. I said, in a Black Country term, "Yo ay!"
He says, "I have!"
So, he asked if I was interested in buying it.
I agreed a fee with him and I bought it off him.
-And apparently, his sister used to go with a fella named Eddie
who played the piano at the Wolverhampton Hippodrome,
so he got the autograph off of Laurel & Hardy
cos they were appearing there in Wolverhampton.
OK, let's have a look.
Here we have a page from a programme.
It appears to be signed by Laurel & Hardy.
The big question is, is it right or is it wrong?
Because the bigger the name,
and you don't get much bigger than Laurel & Hardy,
the more common the fakes.
And we see an awful lot of fake Laurel & Hardy signatures.
So one of the most important things is to have that provenance,
to have that confidence,
that we know how the person came by it.
Anybody who was a friend of Eddie, and Eddie was the piano player
and therefore worked with them,
-is a great provenance.
It's almost as good as seeing them sign it.
There are various things you look for with a Laurel & Hardy signature.
You see that Stan Laurel has signed in fountain pen...
-..and Oliver Hardy has signed in ball pen.
Well, after 1947, Oliver Hardy always used a ball pen,
but Stan Laurel continued to use a fountain pen to sign
all of the time, he never converted,
so you expect Oliver Hardy to be in a ball pen, and he is.
You expect Stan Laurel to be in a fountain pen, and he is.
The other thing they always did
was they always signed their name on the side of the image
where their image was, so here we have Stan Laurel on the left
and Oliver Hardy's signature on the right,
so another telltale sign that it's right.
And if you were going to fake something like this,
you certainly wouldn't fake it
and then put a great, big crease down it, because that devalues it.
Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy signatures
almost always have a set value,
so auction estimate - £200-£300.
And I'm confident it'll do well.
Oh, thank you.
-Is that all right?
-I'm pleased, you had me sweating for a bit.
-No, I think it's OK.
Not sweating, Will, laughing!
Along with our own favourite slapstick double act.
Here's another nice mess you've gotten me into!
Ollie, is that really you?
-Of course it's me.
-Gee, I'm glad to see you.
Well, they don't make 'em like that any more,
and here's another fine mess for Christina to untangle.
So, Mary-Ann, here we are in the Industrial Gallery
and it's stacked full of just the most beautiful things, isn't it?
Just like this little bag of tricks that you've brought in to me.
I haven't actually opened the bag yet, but it looks intriguing.
-My aunt gave it to me about 15 year ago.
And it's obviously got a good jumble of opals in it, hasn't it?
-Is this how you got it?
-Yes, it's in the same bag.
So we've got a bracelet, which is very pretty.
And we've got a necklace that is slightly worse for wear
going on here.
But nonetheless, very pretty.
So did Aunt ever wear them?
-I'm not sure if she ever wore them.
But my aunt, she raised us,
and I used to stay with my aunt a lot,
-and we come from a travelling community.
And she was the first one ever to put my sticky-out dress on
-and put my hair in rag curls.
And she just wanted me to have these,
but I don't think she ever wore them.
This is a perfect illustration of why people think
that opals are unlucky,
because so much of their composition is made of basically a gel,
so much of it is water,
that they dehydrate, they shrink,
and they fall out of their settings.
And that's exactly what's happened here, isn't it?
So we've got one missing off this bracelet here,
we've got a lovely row of opals
and then this beautiful fringe necklace,
-but unfortunately, it's not very fringe-y any more.
-No, it's not.
We have got some loose stones and things here,
which obviously would have been part of it here,
and we've still got some of them, so that's the main thing.
When we look at valuing jewellery
and look at valuing opals specifically,
we look at the colour and the play of colour that's in the opal,
and these do have a particularly nice play of colour.
I would say that the pieces are quite contemporary in date,
1880-1890, late Victorian in era.
They're obviously set in a yellow gold.
Have we got any marks on here?
We've got a very faint nine-carat mark there
just on that little ring there,
which is very, very faint but still there nonetheless.
If they're in good condition,
I would have suggested putting them separately,
but they're not, and I think to sell them
really we'd be looking at selling them as one lot here.
Yeah, that's fine.
I'm going to say at auction, I would hope that the two of them
-would fetch somewhere in the region of £200-£300.
Maybe with a reserve slightly lower, sort of the 160 level,
and let's just hope we've got some opal lovers in the sale room.
And I think opal is the sign for Libra,
so let's hope we've got some Librans in the sale room as well!
Librans or not, those opals are sure to brighten up the sale room.
I've got a story for you...
Now, have you ever wondered why Birmingham silver, and I've got an example here,
has the assay mark of an anchor stamped on it?
You're completely landlocked, you're in the middle of the country,
yet you have an anchor as a hallmark.
Well, there is a rather simple explanation.
Matthew Boulton, the famous silversmith and manufacturer,
was lobbying for an assay office in Birmingham,
and also in Sheffield at the same time.
Now, he went down to London to do this,
and with his colleagues, they got granted the rights for one.
So they went off to a pub called the Crown and Anchor,
and legend has it, that's where they tossed the coin,
and Birmingham got the anchor,
which you can quite clearly see here,
and Sheffield got the crown.
We can hardly move for treasures today.
Let's see what James has netted himself.
Are you a gin drinker?
-Erm, a little bit.
-Enough to empty four bottles?
-No, not really, no.
-These are classic Dutch 19th-century gin bottles...
..that we see a little bit in England,
but you see a lot more on the Continent,
very few arrive here in England.
So is there a history behind these?
There is a history. My family are from Guyana...
-..and my nan bought them in a place in Georgetown in 1980
for 200 Guyanese dollars.
-So what does that equate to?
-So that's a lot of money in those days, especially for Guyanese,
and they were found by somebody else on a beach.
You can understand the Dutch being there -
the Dutch had colonised Guyana,
the Dutch were big traders,
gin was used in huge quantities to bargain for all sorts of goods.
These are square for one very simple reason -
that they were much easier to transport and pack.
So they would have gone in the crates like that,
side by side,
and that's the way they logically fit.
Gin was traded for slaves as well in the 19th century,
so gin was always seen as the evil drink.
Even Hogarth painted a series of pictures about drinking,
and Gin Lane - if you saw the illustration of Gin Lane by Hogarth,
it's a not a great scene,
-it's not a, "Darling, shall we have a gin and tonic?" as it is today.
Gin was not a great thing to be drinking in the 19th century,
or the 18th century.
So - we've got bottles dating to about 1820, 1850.
That one is worth about £40-£60,
that one is worth another £20-£30,
and these are worth 10, 15 each, something like that.
My recommendation would be to sell them as a group
and put an auction estimate of £80-£120 on them,
-something like that.
-OK, thank you.
-How do you feel? Is that all right?
-It's better than £10, isn't it?
So 30 years ago they paid 10, they're now worth 100,
-that's not a bad investment.
-No, no, that's better than
-the Stock Exchange.
-You need to go beachcombing!
-I certainly will!
-See what else you can find.
-Thank you very much indeed, James.
MUSIC: Message In A Bottle by The Police
Christina knows how to keep it simple,
as she uncovers a very special little party piece.
So, Kath, this little box is quite intriguing.
And I saw you in the queue and I had a little look at this,
and there's coronation commemorative wares
and then there's EXCITING coronation commemoration wares.
I got quite excited about this.
Cos when you think of coronation commemoratives
you think of mugs - mass produced,
limited edition of 100,000, which isn't a very limited edition...
You don't think of little medallions like this.
Was there a relative at the coronation in 1911?
I think it's possible, yes.
I think it was probably presented to a member of the family who went
-so that's where I think it came from.
-I would agree.
It's intriguing in many respects.
Let's take it out of its little box,
which I think may have been the original box.
I think it might have had a fitted case originally,
but let's have a little look at it.
So we've got here
what I initially thought was a coin set into a mount,
but it's not, it's a little presentation medallion
and it says...
"Coronation Reception", in white enamel, "June 1911."
So it's the coronation of George V,
and inevitably you would have had a reception for heads of state,
for important dignitaries,
and I think that this was possibly given out
to somebody who went to that.
-And the reason I say that is because it screams quality.
The fact that it has all this enamelling work to it
and these wonderful armorials here,
which unfortunately we haven't been able to trace,
but I think we could, given some more time.
And also this wonderful little coronet surmount
which is set with these stones.
-It's really, really beautifully made.
-Yes, it is.
And it doesn't surprise me that when I turn it over
and look at the back...there we go, we've got a wonderful mark there
for the company Goldsmiths and Silversmiths Company Ltd.
Now, they were brilliant makers
-and they had a royal warrant to obviously the King and Queen.
So this sort of quality I would expect to find of those makers.
So a really, really beautiful thing.
Although it looks gold...
-unfortunately it isn't!
-It isn't. Never mind.
And we've got a nice silver hallmark here, and we know it's silver
because it's got the standard sterling silver mark
-which is the lion passant.
-Was it London?
It is, yes, London, which was where Goldsmiths and Silversmiths were based.
And of course a contemporary hallmark for 1911
which you would expect.
And if only it could talk, it could tell us a few things.
-Can you imagine the gossip from that reception?
-I wonder what it could tell us.
-All the amazing things that went on.
-What everyone wore!
-Yes, the costumes and outfits.
Absolutely, and if you think of the reception itself,
this piece was potentially quite an important part of that history.
Yes, it is, isn't it?
Value-wise, at auction,
-I've not seen one of these sell in recent years.
We've seen them sell about 10 or 15 years ago for sort of £30-£40,
-and I would hope obviously that we can improve on that.
-I would like to put a conservative estimate maybe of £60-£80.
I think it would definitely appeal to
-a royal memorabilia collector...
..and I it's quite an interesting piece.
-It's quite unusual.
-It is quite unusual.
So I think £60-£80,
with a reserve of £50,
and I think hopefully
it will fly away for you.
-Thanks so much for bringing it in.
-Thank you very much.
Before we head off to auction, there is something I would like to show you.
The 18th century was the age of invention,
discovery and expansion
on a level that had never been seen before.
So it's no wonder that it became known as the Age of Enlightenment.
In Birmingham, one of the leading lights of the British Enlightenment
lived here at Soho House in Handsworth.
When Matthew Boulton moved to Soho House in 1766,
it was at the centre of a vast 200-acre estate
overlooking his famous Soho Manufactory,
the most complete manufacturer of metals in England.
It was just the first of a long line of visionary
accomplishments that he achieved,
giving him international fame during his lifetime
and lasting fame in the history books
as one of the founding fathers of the Industrial Revolution.
Boulton inherited his father's buckle and button business in 1759.
And within a year, he had started building his great,
one-stop Soho Manufactory
that was to revolutionise production methods.
Within a few years, it was turning out jewellery, coins, medals,
decorative objects, fashionable ormolu
and of course silver tableware -
not to mention Sheffield plate -
and exporting them all over the world.
And here is a wonderful marble bust of Matthew Boulton himself.
But this is a Boulton masterpiece.
Boulton's greatest skill was as an entrepreneur.
He could spot talent and an opportunity at distance.
He didn't need to think twice, he struck when the iron was hot.
And his greatest partnership was with James Watt,
the Scottish engineer and inventor.
Recognising the potential in Watt's early designs,
Boulton brought him to Birmingham,
and the resulting Boulton and Watt steam engines
became the driving force for much of the emerging
Boulton's wide-ranging and prodigious talents
attracted fellow enquiring minds.
And amongst them, they managed to:
harness the power of steam...
..pioneer the theory of evolution...
..and revolutionise the British pottery trade.
In 1766, this elite group of friends
founded the Lunar Society,
with the intention of meeting each month
by the light of the full moon.
Alongside Boulton were some of the leading thinkers of the day -
and Josiah Wedgwood.
To tell me more about this extraordinary group
is Professor Jennifer Tann.
So how and why did the Lunar Society start?
The Lunar Society was a group of friends.
It started with just three or four people
who were local to Matthew Boulton, in this place.
They were all hugely intelligent
in different trades and so on,
and they liked being sociable.
The 18th century was a coffee house society.
And it was a society where their business papers
were full of personal reminiscences as well.
Much more fun to work on than later times.
So, apart from their obvious intelligence and curiosity,
what sort of people were they? What sort of chaps were they?
Remembering that some of them were Nonconformists,
so they didn't belong to the established Church of England,
so they couldn't have gone to university,
to Oxford and Cambridge.
Er, others were sons of tradespeople,
like Matthew Boulton himself.
But it was a time when people could be very upwardly mobile socially.
And Boulton opened this house
to visitors from overseas
and, er, the nobility from here.
He courted them for his own business.
-Sure. They were clients?
But he also loved it.
They played, they had fun.
Sure. And bounced ideas, as you say, off of each other.
-Indeed, I think they BUILT on the ideas of each other.
There was a little bit of teasing about competition
between Josiah Wedgwood, the potter, and Matthew Boulton,
because Boulton wanted to make cameo brooches.
And he said something like,
"Well, I think I might become a potter, too."
And Wedgwood sort of said, "What?!"
But this didn't happen, and they remained the best of friends.
Sure. All very successful men.
So, set the scene, OK? Let's say the Lunar Society are meeting -
it's not quite the full moon today,
but paint the picture of supper time here.
Well, they'd start about two o'clock in the afternoon.
So they'd arrive in daylight in their carriages,
and would travel really some distance -
Erasmus Darwin came from Lichfield,
which would have taken a while to get here.
But they rolled up about that time.
Dinner was a sort of three o'clock in the afternoon onwards kind of meal.
Lasting right through to the early hours...
I think the "onwards" was the operative word.
-Lots of fine wine.
Boulton had a wonderful cellar.
But they'd sit round here and share ideas,
building on, "Have you heard about this? What about the other?"
For instance, when the Montgolfiers in France sent up the balloon,
Erasmus Darwin tried to send Matthew Boulton a balloon from Lichfield
but it got blown some distance to Hagley Hall instead.
Fabulous, really, isn't it, to think that, you know,
some of the discussions and inventions that took place
from here have really shaped Britain's history in some way.
Yes, it has. It's made a huge contribution.
There were lots of other coffee clubs,
but nothing quite like the Lunar Society,
which was deliberately kept informal,
no membership list,
Just a network of friends who had fun,
who sparked off each other intellectually.
And had huge, huge curiosity
about life and the external environment.
They were really extraordinary people.
And when Boulton died and it had really fizzled out,
and some of them had died already and left the area and so on,
it just got left as a sort of...
-..episode in time.
-Which is lovely, isn't it?
-It really is.
Since those heady days nearly 250 years ago,
Soho House has been a vicarage,
a girls' school, a hotel and a police hostel.
But thankfully, it's now been returned to its former glory,
when it entertained a group of friends
who would help shape our future.
And Josiah Wedgwood summed up the Lunar Society by saying,
"We were living in the age of miracles,
"in which anything could be achieved."
This gallery is a perfect example of industry and art
working together in harmony.
All the elements are here creating a dynamic,
and when you put them together, it really is something special -
the wonderful vaulted iron girders here,
natural daylight flooding through the ceiling,
lighting up all the objects,
and of course the original gaslights and this wonderful balcony,
so you can see everything going on below.
And talking of visual treats,
it's now time for our first visit to the auction room.
Well, it's another fine mix of items we're taking with us,
starting with William's Laurel & Hardy signatures
and their airtight provenance.
Someone in Kath's family
was a guest at King George V's coronation reception.
If only we knew who - but all royal memorabilia IS highly collectable.
Mary-Ann's dazzling jewels from down under...
and will Raymond's bottles,
with their mysterious stories of far-flung oceans
and shipwrecks bewitch the bidders?
We've travelled to the market town of Stourbridge
and Fieldings Auctioneers,
where we're always assured of a warm welcome from the proprietor,
our very own Nick Davies.
The great thing about the antiques market is
it's all about fads and trends -
getting in at the right time, and making that profit.
What's hot right now? What does everyone want around Birmingham?
Well, the word everyone's using at the moment is "vintage".
So '50s, '60s, that type of thing's very popular,
especially with young professionals.
We have a couple of design sales a year to incorporate that.
That's what you're doing.
So you're encouraging the younger buyers in?
Absolutely, yeah - got to have fresh blood, keep it going.
Course you have. Cos they grew up with that,
-so they're going to want a piece of it back.
-Nostalgia always sells.
Well, talking about nostalgia, great comedy double acts,
Laurel & Hardy - that's proper nostalgia, isn't it?
Proper nostalgia, proper slapstick.
One of the best. Two of the best!
-Now, this belongs to William. He paid £120 for this.
We've got it valued at 200-300.
I think that's about right. I don't see there's a problem with it.
-Will we get 200-300?
-I've sold them before,
I've got another couple actually in this sale.
And are these better than your other examples
-because they're on a little programme card?
The others are on little bits of paper, so that always helps.
Good, good. Because we don't want someone buying the other lots first
and then running out of money to get to this one.
Does this one come up first?
-This one does come up first, actually.
For how much, we don't know.
Whatever you do, don't go away - this could get quite exciting.
And don't forget, there's the auctioneer's commission to consider.
Here at Fieldings, the seller's commission is 18%.
Did you know, there were two other lots in the sale room
-both with Laurel & Hardy signatures?
Yeah, so there are three lots of signatures here.
Now, I had a chat to Nick at the preview day yesterday
and he said your lot is the best.
-It really is, yes. The others are on scraps of paper.
Yours is on something quite official.
Can I ask why you're selling?
I've got a few jobs on my car to be done.
-A few jobs on the garden?
-On the car.
-On the car?
Make it last another 12 months.
-Oh, yeah. You need your wheels, don't you?
-You do, yeah.
We'll make sure that happens.
The signatures are going under the hammer right now. Let's see how they do.
284, the Laurel & Hardy programme.
This is nice, from the Wolverhampton Hippodrome.
£230 takes the underbidders out, just above bottom estimate, 230.
Couple of people interested. Do I see 240 anywhere else in the room?
We're at 240. 250?
You're out and done with 240 in the room now. 250 anywhere else?
At £240 for the Laurel & Hardy,
at 240 all done...
-£240. You're happy with that.
-I'm happy, yeah.
-I'm happy with that.
-Thank you so much for bringing that in.
It's put a smile on everyone's face - the greatest comedy duo ever.
William doubled his money, and he's very happy with that.
Is this the beginning of a winning streak?
..620, all done?
Mary-Ann, you inherited these, what, 15 years ago?
-Yeah, I did.
-Never worn them.
Never even tried them on? Did the girls dress up and try them on?
Look, hopefully somebody will today. Someone's going to buy them.
Let's put them to the test -
they're going under the hammer.
£200, starts the underbidders at £200. Do I see 210? 220, 230,
260, says no.
250 in the room, 260 anywhere else?
-Right, we're in...
-£250, in the room at 250.
260 anywhere else? At £250, seated in the room...
-What did you think of that, girls?
-Was that good?
-It's quick, isn't it?
-Job well done.
I'm sure that'll pay for a wonderful family event.
Going under the hammer right now -
four Dutch gin bottles belonging to Raymond, and the gin has gone
and there wasn't even a message in the bottle, was there?
-No, there wasn't.
-Nevertheless, nice-looking bottles.
I like the square ones - quite rare to this country.
Why are you selling these?
Well, we had them in our family since 1980
and we bought them in Guyana, in Georgetown,
and we just wanted a little clearout.
I just thought, as a sort of a prop, you're a chef...
-..have them on the kitchen shelf somewhere, looks good.
-Well, we've got a few more bottles.
-Put some olive oil in there?
-There you go.
-I don't like food.
You can tell!
Here we go, we're putting it to the test. This is it.
£80, we're off and running at £80. 85 anywhere else in the room?
£80 on commission, 85, 90, 5.
You sure? £90 on commission. 95 anywhere else?
-Well, they've gone, Raymond.
-95 anywhere else?
On £90 on commission, the four bottles are going to sell at 90...
95, he's back.
You're out now.
95, he's back. You're out at 100.
Does anybody else want to jump in at £100?
We're £95. All sure and finished at £95 for the bottles...?
-Yes, £95. Well done. Put it there.
-Thank you very much.
-Job done as well.
-Thank you very much.
Now, that proves there's a buyer for everything.
I'm sure there'll be a good reception for our next item.
Kath's coronation reception brooch
is just about to go under the hammer.
It's seen the light of day! We've rescued it.
Now, why has it been in that cupboard?
It's not something I'd wear.
No. I know how easy it is to put things in the cupboard
when you don't really want them
and you forget about them over the years, don't you?
Yes, I just felt it would be nice to see
if I could find a good buyer for it, somebody might want to buy it
-and add it to their collection of royal commemoration things.
-And there are collectors out there for that.
-Oh, hugely, yeah.
Coronation and royal memorabilia is a huge collectors' field
It's been on the internet so hopefully it's been viewed
by a good wide audience as well so hopefully it'll sell well.
-We're just about to find out. Are you ready for this?
It's going under the hammer now.
A silver gilt enamel George V and Queen Mary coronation pendant.
Really sweet little brooch there, bids with me at 40 and 45
and 50 I look for in the room. 45 with me and the lady's bid at 50.
-50, 55 anywhere else? At £50, 55 anywhere?
Come on, come on!
She'll take it with her at £50 if we're all sure and done...
-There we go. Somebody wanted it.
-You've done it!
It's not going back in the cupboard, that's a good thing.
-And thanks for bringing it in.
Yes, it was a really interesting thing.
At £200 all done.
We all dream of finding something in an auction,
buying it for next to nothing and selling for an absolute fortune,
that sleeper, or finding something in a car-boot sale,
the garden shed, or digging something up in the garden.
For most of us, that is a dream,
but for the lucky few, that dream has come true. Take a look at this.
Let's face it -
people that use metal detectors get a tough time from the rest of us,
and I know this for fact because my dad had one of these in the '70s
and we all took the mickey out of him.
But for the lucky few, the last laugh is on us,
because back in 2009, in a muddy field in Staffordshire,
Terry Herbert struck gold,
and I mean he literally struck gold. Not one piece, not ten pieces,
but hundreds of pieces!
Terry had lifted the lid on a treasure that had lain undisturbed
for over 1,300 years.
Within days, a professional archaeological dig had been set up.
Soon, Terry's 300 pieces of gold
had turned into a staggering 3,000 individual pieces.
It was the largest haul and the most valuable haul
of Anglo-Saxon treasure ever discovered.
Dating from the sixth century,
these glittering Anglo-Saxon jewels were from the Dark Ages,
when Britain was made up of several warring kingdoms,
a brutal and bloodthirsty epoch.
STEEL CLANGS AND MEN SHOUT
The Staffordshire Hoard, as it became known,
made headlines around the world.
The biggest haul ever found of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver,
shedding new light on one of most mysterious times in British history.
..treasure that's been lost for more than 1,000 years.
There's so much gold, it'll be worth millions.
When the treasure went on show at the museum,
a record-breaking 40,000 people came to see it.
Absolutely fantastic. It hasn't disappointed one little bit.
-It's been brilliant.
-I'm a jeweller,
so it's quite a thrill to have a look at it, to be honest.
The treasure was valued at £3.3 million,
which was shared between the owner of the land on which it was found
and a delighted Terry.
Talk me through exactly what went on that day.
I got out into the field about quarter past 11.
I did a bit of metal detecting.
Nothing was coming up so I had my little saying...
You're got a mantra, have you? What is it?
"Spirit of yesteryears, take me where the coins appears."
-But why on this day I changed it, I still don't know.
-Changed it to what?
"Spirits of yesteryears, take me where the gold appears."
-And within half an hour I suddenly found this piece.
I thought it was off a jewellery box or something. But when I looked
at it with my magnifying glass I thought, "Could be a piece of gold."
So that went in my pocket and I carried on.
-The next thing to come off was a pommel off a sword.
On that day I found 25-50 items.
But I didn't realise how much was on that field.
That was the big shock, that was.
Does this bring back lots of memories coming in here today?
-It's been a few years for you.
-It has, yeah.
But it's nice to see what I'd actually found.
Terry wasn't the only one excited by the find.
For the museum's archaeology department and its curator,
David Symonds, it was as if all their Christmases had come at once.
It's absolutely astonishing.
I never, ever in my career thought I'd be holding this kind of treasure.
To think that these are 1,300 years old is unbelievable.
What was it like when you realised the true extent of the hoard?
I think the only word is unbelievable.
I mean literally unbelievable.
Because nothing like this had been found before
and you just looked at it and more and more of the most incredible
items appeared and you could not believe what you were looking at.
When you look at Anglo-Saxon Britain you think of the Dark Ages and a
sort of brutal feudal society but you don't necessarily think of
exquisite craftsmanship and I have been blown away by looking at this.
Especially the filigree work.
They must have had wonderful workshops back then in order
to twist these fine threads of gold, weave them together and plait them.
The workmanship is incredible but I think the thing about
dark ages is they're only dark
because we don't have the written history.
It doesn't mean the people weren't capable of producing the most
incredible things like this.
But, yes, the workmanship is literally astounding.
And just talk me through the bulk of the hoard.
Was it weapons or things to be worn?
That was one of the shocks with the hoard
because it's overwhelmingly what we recognise as military kit.
But it's not straight pieces of military equipment.
For example, a lot of the things we see here.
This is a reproduction Anglo-Saxon sword.
If you look at the handle you'll find we've got a pommel cap
and these pieces here are pommel caps.
You can see they've all been torn off the sword.
We don't have the sword blades. That's the really interesting thing.
The good quality Anglo-Saxon sword blade was probably
worth as much as the gold on the handle.
So it's very interesting they're not there.
-So it was just the gold ripped off?
That's what makes me thing it's a treasure find.
It's actually the gold and silver they're interested in.
-And I think this lot was destined for the melting pot.
I don't think anybody cared how lovely it was.
Talk me through some of the pieces anyway.
I'll start you with one pommel cap over here.
This is the gold and garnet work complete with the gold pins
-that fixed it on.
-Gosh. I'm surprised they're still intact.
We're very lucky with this bit.
-If I just move this in the light.
-It does catch the light beautifully.
When you see that shine you think
they must have looked magnificent with this kind of kit on.
It's very intriguing because if you notice in this piece,
-you see that stamped gold foil in the middle?
-Yes, it's cross-hatched.
That's what's making these other little garnets shine so much.
It's very much as if you're making a bicycle reflector.
You have to have something shiny behind the red glass
so the light goes through and then shines back again.
One suggestion is it's meant to look like an eye and the shape is right.
It could be, couldn't it?
This is another really intriguing piece.
If you look carefully you'll see at one end that it's meant
to have a little snake head.
Oh, yes. I can see that.
So the whole thing is the interlaced body of a snake.
-We've seen nothing like these before.
I'm not an expert but I'd say the people that owned this
sort of thing were the upper echelon of society?
You're absolutely looking at elite warriors.
If I'm the king of one of the local Anglo-Saxon kingdoms
I want really good warriors around me
because they are the men who will help me keep power and basically
beat up my neighbours until they give me treasure to go away.
The best description I've heard of one of these type of people
are that they're the psychopathic peacocks around the throne.
And you have to imagine them
decked out in all this finery going into battle looking like this.
People sometimes say, "Is this parade armour or parade weaponry?" No.
This is deliberately there to show how important you are
and how dangerous you are.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime find for Terry but for you
-and many other academics this is the rest of your life, isn't it?
It's fair to say it changed my life in the past five years
and I know that long after I'm gone from the museum
people will be arguing about this find.
30, 40 years down the line those arguments will be going on
and it's wonderful to know you've been part of that story.
What does it feel like to be the person
responsible for all of the experts all over the world
in Anglo-Saxon artefacts to come here
and pit their wits against each other and look at this in awe?
It feels fantastic.
To find something like this... Cos it's gone on display
-so everybody in the world now can see it.
-Do you think there's a lot more out there still?
Around the UK there's got to be another one of these somewhere.
There's got to be.
-Are you still actively looking?
-I'm still looking. Still looking.
# Like finding a needle in a haystack
# Like finding a needle in a haystack
# Yeah, yeah, shadoop. #
Welcome back to Birmingham's Museum and Art Gallery,
where our valuation day is in full swing.
Hundreds of people are turning up throughout the day.
We've taken over the Industrial Gallery,
which is housing our queue.
Hundreds of people waiting to be filmed.
-You having a good time, everyone?
-Good luck later on.
Anyway, it's lights, camera, action
in the Rotunda Gallery through there.
Let's catch up with our experts
and see what else we can take off to auction.
# Like finding a needle in a haystack. #
And after all that dazzling gold it's a relief to see some silver.
When I came here this morning I really wanted to see a nice
couple of bits of Birmingham silver.
It's such a great historical assay office.
And you haven't brought me Birmingham silver,
you brought me Sheffield silver.
Not to worry. I'm not disappointed.
But we can tell, we've got the hallmark
and the maker's name, which is George Howson.
"GH" for George Howson.
We've then got a crown, which is the symbol of the assay office
We've got a lion passant mark, which is the standard for sterling silver.
And then we've got a little letter which is the letter Y,
which in this case is for 1916.
-So a lovely pair of silver candlesticks.
Tell me how you've come by them. How have they come into your possession?
When my mum passed away I inherited a few things
myself and my brother sort of split between us.
I particularly liked the look of these so that's why I chose them.
OK, so what is it that drew you to them?
I think it's the shape. They're quite simple.
They're not too elaborate.
They're just very stylish and I just like the look of them.
They're very elegant, and I think that's...
so typical of that time.
If you think about that First World War era
this is very much what we call the Adam revival style.
Adam was really an 18th-century furniture designer
and we often think of Adam interiors which were very classical.
He often used harebell and swag details in his design.
And these are hugely in that style. Very restrained yet elegant
on this wonderful plinth base.
You can almost see statues standing on it, can't you?
It's quite monumental in a way.
-Timeless, really, aren't they?
-Yeah, I'd say so.
The only thing really that's a bit of a downside about them is...
-A bit skew-whiff.
-A bit skew-whiff, sadly.
So we've got one that's doing a bit that way
and one that's doing a bit that way.
They look like they're having a bit of a dance.
Have they been damaged in your possession?
They've been packed away for a few years now.
-So it may have just happened at a wild dinner party?
A bit of a while ago possibly.
If we look at the construction
we can see why this has happened, as well.
When you look at silver candlesticks we turn them
upside down to see whether they're solid silver or filled.
We can tell by looking at the bottom, we can see that
this metal plate is actually holding in the fill.
Either plaster or wax or a composite.
If they'd been solid silver they would have been worth
an awful lot more.
-But we're looking somewhere in the region of £200-300.
With a reserve possibly at 180.
-How would you feel about that?
-I think I'd be quite pleased with that.
-That would tie in more or less with what I was thinking.
And we'll hope that between now
and the auction silver price starts going up a little bit.
-Definitely. Thanks a lot.
Mm, a very nice pair.
But James can double that with a quad.
Andrew, when I saw these in the lines outside,
you'd been queueing up nice and early.
And I just fell in love with them.
A lot of this business that we're in is all about value
and really there's far more to it than that.
It's personal attraction really and I just love them.
It reminds me of times in Africa and the animals I love to watch.
For me, I did a basic animal tracking course when I was out there.
It just brought back happy memories. So, what memories are they for you?
Where did they come from?
I purchased them about 15 years ago at a car boot.
And I just liked them, like you said.
Other people have looked at them and seem attracted to them as a group.
-And they're so well modelled.
-The casting is brilliant.
-The great thing is that these are cast in solid bronze.
-And they weigh a ton, don't they?
When I first saw that
and picked it up I was shocked at how heavy it was.
Most of the modern things like this that we see today are a bronze
-and resin mix.
-Yeah. Some are lead-filled, as well.
Some are lead-filled but that's as heavy as anything you'll find.
Really, you've got a lot of scrap bronze there
if anyone wants to melt it down, which would be horrific.
But there we go. They're modern. There's not a lot of age to them.
-They're probably, 20, 30, 40 years old. Something like that.
They could have been made in Africa
but they're not traditional African works of art.
We turn one over, we've got a mark underneath.
Which is a very modern looking mark, as well.
But basically, they're post-war.
-So why are they here?
-We're selling the house at the moment
and downsizing, like a lot of people.
And we don't really know what to do with them now.
Well, I think they should make £60-100 at auction.
I would hope they'll make the top end.
-Around £100 or so. What did you pay at the car boot?
-You've done all right.
-We liked them for 15 years so £30 over 15 years...
Not bad, is it?
I look at him and I think, "What would I give?" £30 for him.
So you think 30, 60, 90 and a little one an extra tenner. Should be £100.
-Shall we say £60 on the lot as a reserve?
-Yep, that sounds fine.
Take your little pod of hippos to the auction.
Lovely to see you. Thanks so much for bringing them. You made my day.
-I love them.
# Am I a toy or am I a treasure? #
Our experts really do have their work cut out today.
Hundreds of people are here.
It looks like all of Birmingham and the surrounding areas have
turned up, laden with their unwanted treasures. That's caught my eye.
-What's your name?
-Karen, are you a local lady?
-No, I'm from Coventry.
-Have you come for the day?
Can I have a look at this?
Because just down the road in Stourbridge, that was really
the centre of glass-making in this country back in the 18th century,
second to Bohemia,
when they made things like this.
And I love these little canes bursting full of colour.
-Can you tell me much about this?
-We think it's a Paul Ysart.
-That's all I know.
-And whose was it?
-And it's been in the family all that time?
It's a shame it's been dropped. Can you see that?
I think if this hadn't been dropped
and badly damaged, you're looking at £80-120.
-But in its present condition, maybe £20-30.
-Is that all?
That's what an auctioneer would put on it.
And then he'd hope people would fall in love with
the decorative quality of it.
Personally, I'd hang on to it.
-It's nice to know something about it, really.
-Thank you for coming in.
And that brings us to our final valuation.
These little guys are from a skip, hop
and a jump down the road in Worcester.
So we've got three pieces of Royal Worcester Porcelain.
Can you tell me where you got them from?
They were initially from my grandmother who left them
to my mother and we had them from my mother as from last year.
-So two generations.
The dates on them, I've had a little look at the dates,
and I would say a pair but having had a look at the dates,
the dates are 1904 and 1910.
And I would say the bodies were made earlier
and painted later at the same time.
-They're just so similar, aren't they?
-Yes, they are.
But obviously we can't call them a pair
because they're different dates.
And then we've also got the rose-painted potpourri.
-I do like that one.
-It's really sweet, isn't it?
Can you imagine picking the rose petals off your rose bushes
-to put in your potpourri from your garden?
-Those were the days.
Those were the days. Absolutely. If only. This one dates to 1909.
So all of them in the Edwardian period.
They're not signed, which is a shame but not surprising.
Often we find signatures just to one side, but no signature.
We do know that a lot of Worcester artists were
specialists at different types of painting.
So you had your rose painting which is often by an artist called Hunt.
You had other artists, for example
Kitty Blake, who specialised in autumnal berries and leaves.
You had Stinton, who specialised in cattle and game birds.
So I think we can say they're by Hunt, they're Edwardian.
They've got these beautiful, big, blousy English roses.
Quintessentially of their time.
All together, a really nice little group of Royal Worcester.
And the fact that they're in good condition is a real bonus
because so often you find these are so delicately made you often
find a finial has been knocked off.
So the fact they're in good condition is a real bonus.
For the group we're going to be looking at 100-150.
For the three. And I would put a reserve of 100 with discretion.
-How would you feel about that?
-Um, yes. That would be fine.
Let's hope, fingers crossed, that it's a really good sale for you
and that they sail away.
-Thank you very much.
But is James as confident about our next item?
Harry, anyone who knows me knows I gravitate towards anything African.
You've brought a really interesting mass of Masai artefacts.
Now, what are they doing here in Birmingham?
How did you come to have them? What's the story?
Well, the story is I was brought up in Kenya.
I came back when Jomo Kenyatta became president.
He basically booted us all out in '62
and my father was in the government service,
he worked for the Kenya government, British Home Office.
Some Masai tribesmen lost some cattle.
They were stolen overnight and my father rounded up some askaris,
we called them, they were soldiers, basically.
He got the cattle back to the Masai, the Masai said,
"Thank you very much, have a shield and some spears."
-Because they hadn't got any currency,
-this was all they'd got.
-And what sort of timing was this?
So we're talking about things that were collected over 60 years ago.
-So people automatically think that these things
are tourist objects that are post-war
but it's not long before these actually become true antiques.
-There were no tourists in Kenya in the 1950s.
-No, not many.
We've got first of all the shield
and the spears which are the classic warrior pieces.
The shield made of cattle skin or vellum
and then of course the dyes - the white is made from clay
-and the red, I'm sure you know...
-I'd say, probably, some blood.
-Blood, exactly, cattle blood.
Mixed with, again, a bit of soil, a bit of earth and then smeared on.
And then we've got the two spears, both with a point at the bottom
and for a Masai boy to become a warrior, one of his biggest tasks,
the most important thing that he can do, at least it used to be,
is to kill a lion.
Originally, the idea would be the spear would be jammed in the ground
and as the lion charges, it leaps just before it makes its kill
and the shield hides the spear
and then as the lion is about to kill the Masai warrior,
away goes the shield, the lion falls on his spear.
Absolutely right, yes.
Traditionally, these are known as leaf spears
but traditional Masai spears, lovely.
But then we got a whole mass of other things - we've got the comb.
-I've never seen these before - they're like pine cones.
-Seed pods, but I don't know what.
-They're wonderful, aren't they? Very tactile.
A couple of knives, a fly whisk, necklace and a zebra-skin drum.
Together, I think the best thing to do with these
is to put them as one lot.
The shield is going to be worth 40 or 50, £60.
The spears are worth about £30 each.
We're talking about £100 there, 120, about £150.
I would put 150 to 200 or something around there as an estimate.
OK, what would you say as a reserve?
I think 150 as a reserve - if they don't make that,
hold them back and try them again another day.
-Happy to go with that.
And now a quick reminder of what's going off to auction.
Debbie's pair of Sheffield silver candlesticks
are approaching their 100th birthday with a new owner, hopefully.
Four bronze hippos. They make a change from three flying ducks.
Harry's Masai collection with his dad's story
gives a fascinating glimpse into a recent colonial history.
And finally, Linda's Royal Worcester collection.
That should have no difficulty attracting the bidders.
170 seated there.
180 anywhere else?
We're heading back to the auction one last time
with our final batch of lots.
All done and finished?
Going under the hammer right now we've got four modern bronze hippos
-which James absolutely loved.
-They've just got a shape about them.
They're modern, OK, but they're still lovely. Really like them.
Unfortunately we don't have their owner, Andrew.
We do have sort of a co-owner,
because we've got Andrew's wife, Sue.
-Pleased to meet you.
-Pleased to meet you too.
-He's poorly, is he?
Get well soon, Andrew,
and hopefully we'll send you home with a bit of money.
We'll send the wife home with a bit of money.
Lot 632, which is the study of the hippopotamus.
Bit of interest, we open at £130. £130.
At £130 maiden bid takes the others out. 140 anywhere else?
£130 we're selling. All done?
That was short and sweet. £130.
Double bottom estimate so that's good.
He'll be really pleased with that.
He will, won't he? Thank you for standing in.
-Hope he gets better soon.
-I enjoyed it.
A tidy £100 profit on Andrew's original investment.
Next, it's Debbie's pair of classic silver candlesticks.
Our next lot is bound to light up the sale room.
I've been joined by Christina and Debbie here, our owner.
The candlesticks. Did you ever use them at Christmas time?
Set the scene?
-I think my mum used to.
Special occasions, but they've been packed away ever since.
-It's a shame.
-Not many of us dine by candle light anymore, do we?
We don't with kids, let's face it.
They'd put their fingers in the flame. All sorts of things.
-Not a good idea.
-There is a market for them. We've got 2-300?
They're getting some really good, strong prices today.
-So fingers crossed.
The pair of silver candlesticks. £200 takes the underbidder out.
210. 220. 230. 240. 250.
-260. 270. 260 on commission. Anyone else?
I'm selling at £260.
That was quick. It doesn't last long, does it?
I have to be honest, I wasn't sure they were going to sell,
-so well done.
-Spot on with the estimate.
Now, our next item couldn't be more different.
Going under the hammer right now,
we have a Masai warrior's shield and some spears -
good tribal artefacts and I've been joined by Harry,
who's in full dress with a swagger stick.
Look at this. Ooh!
So, what's this all about, Harry?
Well, my father was in the prison service in Kenya
and one of the local Masai tribes gave him the spear and shield.
This is what he wore every day.
Oh, brilliant, hope it brings you good luck.
It's going under the hammer right now. Good luck, Harry. This is it.
Any bids and interest? I can open here at 130.
-Right, we're in.
150 in the room? 140 with me. 150.
Right in the distance, I've got you at £150.
Paddle aloft, thank you.
Do I see 160 anywhere else?
At £150, he'll take them home with him, be sure of that.
At 150. 160 anywhere else? Last chance.
At 150 to sell then, all done. Are we finished?
-£150, they've gone.
-I'm very happy indeed.
-They'll only rust in the shed.
-And I love this.
And you're obviously going to keep this.
-This is not for sale.
-This is part of the wardrobe.
300, 210, 320...
It's our final lot -
the Royal Worcester china collection.
Linda couldn't be with us today but we do have her sister Janet.
I know Linda's feeling poorly, but I guess this is your inheritance,
-And you can remember these as a little girl?
"Don't touch them. Don't smash them."
They were always in a cabinet or on the sideboard.
It's a nice little trio. What have we got here?
We've got a pair of ewers. And also the potpourri, as well.
Not a big lot but we decided
it's better to sell them together rather than split them up.
Hopefully they'll stay together. Right, here we go.
Let's put it to the test.
Royal Worcester. Potpourri and the two jugs.
Where do you start me? Interest in this one. Have to open at £260.
270. 280. 290.
-300 and 10. 320. 330. 340...
-Smashing through the estimate.
-In the room at 370. 380. 390.
400. 410. 420.
-410, ladies bid.
-This will cheer Linda up.
All done at £410 for the Worcester? All finished? 420 last chance.
At 410 I'm selling.
That's what we like. That's what we call a result.
You've got to be over the moon with that?
We weren't expecting that.
Were you expecting the top end of the estimate?
-I don't know, really.
-There's no accounting for taste, is there?
-That was a come and buy me, wasn't it?
-£22 on my left.
That's it. It's all over for our Flog It! owners.
What a brilliant day we have had here in Stourbridge.
If you've got something you want to sell we'd love to flog it for you.
Bring it 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.
We would love to see you. Dust them down and bring them in.
But until then from Stourbridge and all of us, it's goodbye.