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I'm in the heart of one of the most industrious cities in Britain.
From steam engines to gas lights, to chocolates, buttons and bangles,
they've all been produced here. And now it's our turn.
Today, "Flog It!" is made in Birmingham. Welcome to the show.
Birmingham's early wealth and reputation may be due
to its place at the heart of the Industrial Revolution.
But that's just one of its many claims to fame.
These household names were all originally made in Birmingham.
Following the example of the city's inventive forebears,
we'll be creating our own set of delicious moments
and riveting historical insights as we delve into all of these bags
and boxes brought along by this fantastic crowd here,
outside Birmingham's Museum and Art Gallery.
And, judging by the size of it,
it looks like the whole neighbourhood has turned out.
Our experts today are the young at heart, Thomas Plant...
-Oh, isn't that lovely? Is it by Schuco?
Brilliant, let's give you a sticker.
..and the excitable Christina Trevanion.
-I found one!
A Birmingham hallmark.
So, with a quick look at some of the items outside, it's time to get this
wonderful crowd inside and settled down ready for our valuation day.
With a wealth of items being unpacked,
there's plenty for our off-screen experts to take a look at.
Whilst they do, here's a quick look at what's coming up.
In the show today, we've got mystery...
-Well, I never noticed that before.
-There you are.
That's why you come to "Flog It!"
There would have been something that would have sandwiched it in-between...
-Yeah, absolutely. To have actually created the bowl.
So, stay tuned for all of that and much, much more.
There's a huge crowd here today, and I love seeing
if I can spot some gems before the experts decide
what they're going to take to auction.
Can I just have a look at this camera? Because, look, look.
Here, there's a great example of great British craftsmanship.
Look at that. J Lancaster & Son,
made right here in Birmingham.
And there's its patent number, look at that. 1891.
So, this is a late Victorian box camera.
Now, plenty of these have survived,
but I'll tell you where the value is.
It's in the bellows. It's a box bellows.
If you pull this out, those bellows have to be in perfect condition.
Also, the lens, and that's very, very critical.
If it's scratched, it's worthless.
But this one's very clean, it's in very good condition.
-Kirsty, how did you come by this?
-It was my father's.
And was he a photographer or a collector?
No, I think he got it from his dad, so...
So, it's been in the family quite some time
I just wonder if it took photographs of your family,
you know, sort of three generations back, let's say.
-That would be quite amazing, wouldn't it?
This one looks to be in perfect condition,
and it's made of Cuban mahogany.
I mean, there's no expense spared. I think it's absolutely lovely.
I think if you put this into auction,
-you might be looking at around £150-£250.
Because it's a lovely piece of kit for a photographer.
Photography items are highly collectable, so who knows?
We've spread ourselves out in all directions in this fantastic museum.
It's full of history, and it's full of inspiration,
and later on in the show, I cannot wait to explore it.
But right now, let's catch up with our experts
and let's take a closer look at what Thomas has just spotted.
-So, Anna, we met in the queue.
-So, in here is the fire engine we saw earlier.
It is unbelievably fabulous. Tell me, how have you had it?
I've just had it on a shelf for the last five years.
You know, it hasn't been doing anything.
-Not allowed to play with it.
-You were never allowed to play with it?
And I don't think my dad was ever allowed to play with it, either,
-who I inherited it off.
-Well, it looks pretty fresh. And it's so sad.
Toys are meant to be played with.
Definitely. And this one's so much fun.
-This Schuco fire engine, does it lift all the way out?
-It's not strapped in?
-Look at that. So, it's a tin plate toy.
Made by the Schuco company, a German company. This dates from about 1955.
-And would it have been sold in England?
-Yes. Yeah, for sure.
You've got to discount the war years a little bit.
Yeah, I wasn't sure if it was brought back especially for or...
Well, it might have been. It might have been.
Schuco's a very popular make. Heinrich Muller was the founder.
-He founded the company called Schuco in 1921.
Germany has a huge tradition of making great, great toys.
Trains, cars, and so you can see the workmanship in this,
but what's great are the colours.
-It's so bright!
-They're the primary colours, aren't they?
Those blues and the reds. And the little firemen, as well.
Yeah, they're brilliant.
So, tell me, what's made you bring it here today?
Well, it was left by my father so I've inherited it,
but I'm getting married next year, so...
-You're getting married?
-So every penny counts.
-That's the one.
So, when it comes to value, cos it's in such good condition,
it hasn't been played with and it's got its original box,
I think probably between, you know, £400-£600.
-Is that enough?
That's lovely! That'll pay for my wedding.
-Oh, don't be so ridiculous. Weddings are expensive!
-I was thinking, like, 50 quid. I'm so happy.
-Not at all! I'd reserve it at 300 so we don't give it away.
-Unfortunately, you can't call it mint.
-You can call it excellent.
I love all the different movements it's got, where you can...
-Does that wind up? Look at that.
-Wind it up.
But I think, as it's not been played with, we should leave it alone.
-So, we'll see you at the auction.
And I'd be really, really happy if we help you have a fabulous,
-fabulous day. Cos it's the best day...
-..of your life, really.
-See you at the auction.
-Wonderful, thank you.
That will be a showpiece for anyone's collection.
Now, Christina has chosen a historic industrial gallery
for her first valuation.
So, Rachel, we're surrounded in this beautiful gallery with these
beautiful Victorian 19th-century pieces.
We're moving slightly more into the 20th century here.
We've got this Art Deco light which is just screaming 1930s at me.
Where's it come from?
Well, it was my mother's. We don't know the origin.
She may have had it when she was younger.
-She died last year, she was 98.
But it could have been from one of the many sales that my mother
and father used to go to when I was younger.
So, when you say sales, did they go to auctions?
Well, they went to auctions
and I think they went to auctions at house clearance sales.
-Oh, brilliant, when they were really, really good ones.
I love it. I mean, it's really, really fab.
Do you remember it in Mum's house?
Myself and my two sisters can only remember it being in the bathroom.
-In the bathroom?
And I'm assuming that the only two-pin plug that she had
in the house - the shaving socket.
That's right. Yes, yes.
-I think that's wonderful.
-That was my mum.
If we look at the piece, it is screaming Art Deco at us, isn't it?
And, I think, really quite endearing.
So, we've got this wonderful sort of tableau here of this fawn and snail.
Now, I think, in sort of folklore like Aesop's Fables, there was
a wonderful story about the fawn and the snail,
very similar to The Tortoise And The Hare, and who got there first.
And I think it's probably representative of that.
-It's made from spelter, this little section here.
Spelter is an alloy, it's a base metal alloy.
It's used quite profusely instead of bronze. OK?
Now, spelter was known as the poor man's bronze.
So, sadly, if it were bronze, it would be very, very valuable.
But it's not. And we can tell it's spelter. If you have a little look
at the back of the deer, that's been gilded, and we can see
the spelter underneath which is more of a grey pewter colour.
So often with these Art Deco spelter or bronze figures,
they are just bronzes, they're statues, effectively.
But the added bonus of this one is that, underneath this glass sphere,
is a light fitting, isn't it? Which, obviously, Mum used.
Do you remember it ever working?
-I think I looked at it just to see if it worked.
-And did it work?
-I think it did work.
-Oh, did it?! Oh, fantastic.
But being in the bathroom, I thought, well...
Not the safest of things.
So often with these things, you find that this has become separate.
So, the fact that we've still got this is wonderful.
And the fact that the wonderful sort of mottled greeny-white tones
have been echoed in this painting of this foliage here is really lovely.
It all sort of ties it all together. Do you like it?
I can appreciate the beauty and the work that's gone into it
-but it's not really my style.
-What sort of idea do you have on value?
Well, I was advised by a website
-that the valuation would be about £120.
That sounds very steep to me.
I think £120 would be an appropriate retail valuation for it.
So, if it were to go into a shop window.
It wouldn't sell at that sort of level in an auction house.
-I mean, £40-£60, how does that sound to you?
-Yes, I think that's OK.
-Is that all right?
-With a reserve of £40.
I think it stands a really good chance of selling at that.
I'm sorry not to match your expectations of 120
but we do have to be realistic.
-Don't worry. That's fine.
-It'll be an experience, won't it?
-It will be an experience, exactly.
-So, let's look forward to the auction.
-I will do.
That is a come-and-buy-me estimate for a charming piece.
And I'm sure it's bound to attract the bidders. Now it's my turn.
Maggie... I recognise these straightaway.
-A set of team bells for a heavy horse.
It's an early warning system, really -
"Jingle, jingle, here come the horses,
"they're coming down the dusty track.
"Get out the way, they can't see you!"
I'd say this set of four bells dates back to the early 1900s,
How did you come by them?
-I collect bells.
-Yes. I like animal bells.
I like farm bells and I've got all sorts of big ones and small ones.
-But I can't display these properly.
-Do you play bells at all?
-Like handbells in a church?
-Well, I am a professional musician.
-So, you're not a campanologist, you're not a bell ringer?
-What instrument, not bells?
-Percussion. Oh, right.
-So, percussion cowbells, yeah?
So, what have you done with them?
Well, they've been parked by a big grandfather clock
and I think I'm not really enjoying these bells
and I'm downloading, I'm getting to be an old bat now.
I want to shift things out.
I live in Wiltshire and there's lots of pubs in my local area that
have this kind of thing around the bar as pub decoration, but authentic
pub decoration, because that's a great part of our social history.
And I know there are plenty of people that collect this
early sort of heavy horse memorabilia. There really is.
How much did you pay for these?
It was just over 200, I can't really remember but
-I think it was at an antiques fair.
-I think you got good value for money.
-Yeah, I think I did.
-I really do.
Four bells, you know, it's £50 each, it's well presented.
It's a stand, it's been mounted for you as a decorative object.
And now ready to go, so...
If you want to sell them, hopefully, we'll get your money back.
Let's put a valuation of £200-£250 on these.
-Can we have a 10% discretion on that?
I don't think we'll need it, but just to tempt bidders in.
If we're one bid under, we'll be able to sell it at £180.
I tell you what, we've got to let everybody hear them ring.
Let me just lift this out. Ready?
Now, can you imagine a team of, let's say, two heavy horses
coming down an old dusty track pulling a hay wagon?
I mean, the noise!
-You'd definitely get out of the way, wouldn't you?
And someone else with a good eye -
very handy in the antiques business -
So, Roger, we're here in the Industrial Gallery,
and we're surrounded by all this beautiful ornate metalwork here.
-Isn't it gorgeous?
-Yes, it's absolutely splendid.
And how appropriate that you've brought this beautiful piece of
-metalwork in to show me.
-Where's it come from?
Well, I acquired it off somebody's house
where the lady had passed away,
and I got the family's permission to take it and keep it.
-Awww, that's nice, OK.
-And I've had it about six years.
-So, relatively recently, really, then.
So what attracted you to it?
The enamel and the candle still in the holder,
which I think makes it more attractive.
It does. I think it's not British.
-I think it came from France.
It probably dates to the late 19th century,
and I think this enamelwork on it is really particularly lovely.
I mean, I see a lot of silver-plated chamber sticks
which, frankly, are a bit dull.
And you can... You know, before we had electricity,
before we had electric light,
obviously you needed chamber sticks to be able to see. We didn't have
the convenience of just being able to flip on a light switch, did we?
This one is like a shining light
-in the chamber sticks of chamber sticks, isn't it?
-To have this enamel on it is really beautiful.
And I think the thing that really attracted me to it is,
not only has it got its candleholder here, the sconce,
we've also got the vesta holder here.
So, you would have had your matches in there,
and the strike on there,
so that when you were carrying around your lantern, obviously,
or your chamber stick in the dark, if it went out,
you'd obviously have your supply of vestas on there.
Now, I've often seen mantel clocks
with this sort of champleve enamel technique on.
You don't often see chamber sticks.
The technique of champleve enamelling is very, very similar
to what we call cloisonne enamel.
And that's made, basically, like a stained glass window,
-so you would have wirework...
-Yes, I know.
..separating the different pools of enamel, whereas champleve enamel,
they would hollow out wells and then fill them with enamel
and then fire them.
So, similar techniques, different names.
-I think it's a lovely thing.
If you can imagine it being used,
it wouldn't just be your standard chamber stick.
If we say upstairs and downstairs,
it would have been an "upstairs" item
rather than a "downstairs" item.
It's a really beautiful thing.
And, originally, it would have cost a lot of money.
How much do you think it's worth?
Well, I haven't a clue, but what I've thought about is,
something like at least £30.
£30. Yeah, I think that's about fair, yeah.
I would put somewhere in the region of £40-£60,
-maybe £50-£70 on a good day.
-So, are we happy at £40-£60?
-Yes, thank you.
-Reserve of £40. We'll put it forwards for auction.
-And, hopefully, we'll get a really good result for you.
-OK, thank you.
It's time for me to take the opportunity
for a look around the area.
Situated just outside of Birmingham,
perfectly set in its own Grade I grounds, is Hagley Hall.
Complete with its own church and cricket pitch,
it's a world unto its own.
The Hagley estate has been in the same family
for an astonishing 15 generations ever since 1558,
when Sir John Lyttelton purchased the land.
For the next 450 years
and for all the momentous events in the country's history during that time,
this green and pleasant patch of England
has been home to this ancient family.
The present house as we see it today
was built in the 1750s by George, first Lord Lyttelton,
who was secretary to the Prince of Wales
and briefly Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Now, this was the era of the Grand Tour -
where young men finished their education in Europe,
returning back to England with a passion for all things Classical.
And in architecture, that meant the Palladian style,
of which Hagley is the perfect example.
In fact, Hagley was the last great Palladian house
to be built in this country.
George and his family were among the elite of British aristocracy
and, as such, held privileged positions
in the royal courts of the ruling monarchy.
Hagley's austere, almost plain exterior
couldn't be more opposite to what greets you when you enter the house.
It's a riot of decorative ornamentation everywhere you look.
It's like walking into a confectionery box of architectural detail.
The bas relief panel above this magnificent chimneypiece
is something to behold.
That's a copy of a baroque oil painting,
but all of that panel has been achieved with plaster casts
and carving in that plaster as it's setting.
It's quite an incredible technique
and that's been done by the Italian stuccadore Francesco Vassalli.
We know he did it because it's signed, which is very rare.
Little is known about Vassalli,
but he must have been at the top of his game -
well known throughout Italy,
well known enough to be brought over here to do that one panel
which cost 50 quid back in 1759.
We know it cost £50
because there's an inventory for it in Lord Lyttelton's accounts.
It is quite incredible.
I'll take a closer look because to appreciate this sort of thing,
you have to see the light and shade,
the undercuts in the plaster,
which depicts Pan winning the love of Diana
with this snow-white fleece.
Look at the fleece! The whole thing's almost moving.
Can you see it? It just makes it look real.
It comes alive, that whole panel jumps out to you. Very impressive.
Something else that grabs your attention,
on the opposite wall to the fireplace, is this large roundel.
If you have a look at the figure, that's Cybele,
the goddess of fertility.
But she's been crowned with a castle on her head.
I didn't know what that was about,
but apparently she's the protector of the house.
And it would have been this room
where Lord Lyttelton first greeted his guests
and to celebrate the completion of the house in 1760,
he held a three-day house-warming party
and it seemed like the whole county was invited.
You could imagine the scene, arriving here,
glittering evening gowns full of silver and gold thread
sparkling in the candlelight, fine wine and conversation
as if you've been transported to a different realm.
And you enter the saloon,
this is where all the entertaining would have taken place.
The decoration has been stepped up a gear.
All the family portraits
have been framed with these garlands and swags,
dripping down the wall with architectural detail.
And the ceiling with the putti flying around in the clouds.
This is more free-flowing Rococo,
some of the finest plaster relief work I have ever seen in any country house in England.
'This is the drawing room,
'unaltered since Lord Lyttelton's original design,
'and enjoying the sumptuous surroundings is the current custodian,
'the 12th Viscount Cobham.'
Lord Cobham, you inherited the house several years ago when your brother died,
so you're now responsible in maintaining this house and the grounds.
What's been the greatest challenge for you?
Oh, in a way, trying to find out all the details about the wretched family,
which I knew nothing about when I came here
and then tackling the maintenance that hadn't been done for a while.
The conservation on the roof,
the stonework on the house was a major problem.
We're sitting in this room
which really is the culmination of the first Lord Lyttelton's interior design tastes.
Was the room designed for the tapestries?
Because looking at the borders, they're not cut down at all.
No, they predate the house by about 25 years.
In fact, they date back to, I think, 1725
and the house was finished in 1760.
So, the walls...
The walls and the whole room was designed around them
and George put pictures into the room so it was his showpiece.
It really does flow, the whole thing,
right through to the mirror frames.
It does and I believe that the whole room was designed around the hoho birds,
which reflected in the mirror over the...
-You can see, that's typical of Chippendale.
On the cresting of the mirrors, that hoho bird,
-and it's picked up in the tapestries.
Let's talk about the completion of the house in 1760
and that three-day house-warming party.
-That must have been some bash.
-I think it was.
George was a far worse entertainer than he was a builder
cos he tried to rank everybody invited according to their relative status and wealth,
which was rather like trying to start on Debrett's from nothing.
Apparently, the party developed into an absolute shambles
while everyone decided that they were seated
either above or below where they should have been
and Thomas, his son, who was known in the family as Naughty Tom,
failed to dance with the lady with whom he was meant to be dancing with,
who was a most important lady.
Cos it's all about etiquette, isn't it?
Absolutely, but he decided there was a far better girl that he had found in one of the local villages
that he was going to start the dance with, which he did.
So, it was quite a party, but not entirely as George had wanted,
I think, is probably the way to put it.
-Was he the black sheep of the family, the son?
He was clever, intelligent, bright, but he also was a hedonist.
He loved his ladies and loved gambling.
He was, I think, quite spoiled by George.
Very unfortunately, he went very much to the bad.
What happened, eventually?
Supposedly, he was visited by a bird in his room who told him
that if he didn't mend his ways, three days hence at midnight, he'd die.
So he asked his pals and girls around for the night
and they thought it'd be funny to move the clock forward an hour
so when he was still hale and hearty, but not on tremendous form,
at 11 o'clock reading 12 o'clock,
-they departed and he was found dead in his bed the next morning.
And that was actually a well known supposed ghost story
that ran through the 18th and 19th century.
Horace Walpole, the 18th-century man of letters and extraordinary wit,
was a good friend of Lord Lyttelton's
and he visited Hagley Hall shortly after it was finished
and he wrote, "I wore my eyes out with gazing, my feet with climbing and my tongue with commending,"
and I know exactly how he felt after being inside.
Hagley Hall is the perfect time capsule of 18th-century Rococo decoration.
Let's have a quick recap of what we're taking to auction.
If Anna's going to make it to church on time, her fire engine
needs to pull out all its stops to attract the bidders.
Will Rachel's lamp run away as swift as a deer or as slow as a snail?
And if we ring them loud enough, I'm sure Maggie's horse bells
should attract campanologists from far and wide.
'Christina lit up Roger's day
'with the history of his enamel chamber stick,
'but will it have the same effect in the saleroom?
Right, the moment we've all been waiting for, it is auction time.
Anything could happen. You know the score, so don't go away.
Well, this is what it's all about, the saleroom is filling up.
Just look at this.
And on the rostrum, we'll have our very own expert Nick Davies
auctioneering today. So, fingers crossed everything will fly.
I'm feeling nervous for our owners right now. They're down that end.
I'm going to catch up with them and we'll get on with our first lot.
The commission in today's sale is 21% for buyers and 18% for sellers.
I absolutely love this next lot. It's my favourite in the sale.
It's that little Schuco fire engine and it belongs to Anna,
-and we're selling this because of your...
-Up-and-coming wedding. You need every penny, don't you?
Good luck with that.
-Thank goodness you've got a Schuco fire engine to sell.
That's what I say.
Yes, because that's going to fetch big money, I'm hoping for top,
-top estimate on that.
-Oh, I wish it would make top, top money.
-I really do.
-We're going to put it to the test right here, right now.
This is it, good luck.
The 1950s battery operated Schuco fire engine.
There it is, in very good condition. With the outer box, as well.
We can open this one at £290 and 300 I look for in the room. 290 with me.
300 now. 300 and a hand up, got you at 300, sir.
-Do I see 310 anywhere else? At £300 I've got, 310 anywhere else?
-Gentleman's bid at £300, last chance at 310.
Are we all sure and done?
-Gentleman in the leather jacket at £300, all done?
-That's money towards that wedding!
-That's brilliant, isn't it?
-That's most of the wedding paid for now.
-Where are you getting married?
-In my fiance's parents' garden.
-Oh, are you?!
-Oh, well, that's a smart move. Smart move.
-In a tent.
-It'll be lovely.
-I'm sure it will. In the summer?
-Oh, enjoy it.
It's nice to know "Flog It!" is contributing to Anna's big day.
Where weddings are concerned, every little penny helps.
Going under the hammer right now, we've got an Art Deco lamp
belonging to Rachel, and not for much longer, I don't think.
I like this. Why are you selling it?
Well, it doesn't really go with our house.
-You haven't got the Deco look everywhere?
-We've got a much older house, so...
-So, it's just out of period, really.
-Will it get the top end?
-I hope so.
-Yeah, so do I.
It's so stylish.
I'd say quintessentially of its time that there will be collectors
-that want it.
-Good luck, this is it.
The Art Deco table lamp, there we are, with the fawn
and the marble effect sphere. Rather nice example.
£90 straight in takes all underbidders out.
£90 bid will take it on commission, taking all the underbidders out.
£90, 95 anywhere else?
Gosh, well, that certainly exceeded my expectations. Wow.
95, your last chance. £90, I'm selling...
-Maiden bid, first bid in.
-So, that means you must have had two commission bids, yeah.
-So, congratulations, that's fantastic.
-Well done. Well done.
Thank you so much.
-You see, there's always a market out there.
That's the good thing about an auction room,
-they will find that buyer for you.
-Well, good luck.
-I've really enjoyed the experience.
-Oh, good, I'm so pleased.
Swift like the deer, just one discerning buyer.
Now, can I continue our winning streak?
Oh, the bells, the bells, the bells, the bells,
I hear them ringing right now.
Yes, it's my valuation and, you've guessed it,
I've just been joined by Maggie. Who was a percussionist
-for the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, weren't you?
You were. You know how to play, my girl.
And only a percussionist could collect bells, really.
Hopefully they will sell. Let's cross our fingers. Here we go.
Horse bells, there we are. They play a lovely tune
and we can open those at 180.
I look for 190 in the room.
190 for the horse bells.
At £180 now. Anybody coming in at 190 for the horse bells?
No interest in the horse bells. £190.
-Anyone coming in for the horse bells?
-No, no, no!
-Nobody got a horse? Can't help you with that, no?
We'll move on then, I'm afraid. They'll stay here.
Sadly, they didn't sell.
But I kind of had a hunch.
I know they're worth that sort of money but we should have pitched it
-a bit lower to encourage people to get in there.
A disappointing performance, but I'm sure they'll receive
a more appreciative reception on another day.
-Roger, why are you selling this?
-Well, I don't need it.
-I was lucky.
I told you it was given to me about five years ago.
If we get the estimate, it's worth every penny of that.
Well, it's difficult.
The enamel has got really beautiful colours, hasn't it, Roger?
It's a nice thing. How useful it is, I don't know.
Good luck, both of you. It's going under the hammer right now.
Enamel candle holder, there we are.
It's got a stamp compartment underneath, a sweet little thing.
£40 for it? Quickly, for this one.
35 then, no interest at 35?
-Oh, come on, bid, bid, bid!
-There's a guy down the front he's missed.
40. 42? £40 on the second row, at £40 it'll be.
42 anywhere else?
-Oh, I think that's it, Roger.
-We've done it, Roger, well done!
-Thank you! We've done it.
Gosh, that was close. I was getting really worried.
It would have been awfully sad if that didn't sell for 40 quid.
-Cos of all the work that involved.
-Yes, I am, thank you.
-Good for you. Thank you for bringing that in.
We are coming back here later on in the programme, so don't go away,
because this could get very exciting.
Now, Birmingham is well known for its industrial past and its
jewellery trade, but it's not that well known as an artistic hot spot.
But if you take a closer look at some of the art in the city's
museum, it can reveal some world-class talent.
I went to investigate.
Among its many works of art, the museum houses the largest
collection of Pre-Raphaelite works on display anywhere in the world.
And that's thanks to one of its first curators,
who started collecting the works by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood
well before the museum opened.
The Pre-Raphaelites were a group of young
and rebellious Victorian artists who met at university.
They formed a brotherhood. They wanted to create something new,
something dynamic that would provoke the attention of the general public.
They were frustrated by the outdated formulaic works being produced
by the so-called art establishment of the day.
Their work drew inspiration from myths and legends,
Keats and Shakespeare.
And it's known for its brilliance and vivid colour.
Inspired by the simpler and more direct style
of 15th-century painting and its colours,
their paintings depict a world of intense feeling, poetry and passion.
Now, this is possibly one of the most iconic
and recognisable images of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.
It's painted by Rossetti and it's titled Proserpine.
It is Jane Morris, who Rossetti was in love with.
Jane was married to William Morris and she found William cold
It was an open relationship that went on for quite a few decades.
And this is painted at Kelmscott,
where he was staying with the couple at their home in around 1882.
And it's full of symbolism.
You can see the pomegranate, that's the fruit of Hades.
She's taken a small bite from it,
which means she can never return to Earth.
The incense burner, that's an attribute of the goddess, as well.
And when you look at the decorative quality of the picture,
with all the folds in the velvet, you can see it's really accentuated.
The ivy also is a symbolism of somebody clinging on,
somebody never wanting to let go.
And you can see this with Rossetti's work.
He was so in love with Jane Morris.
I absolutely love this.
These galleries are a masterclass in the art of the Pre-Raphaelites
and well worth a visit.
But for the locals,
it's this gallery which is the highlight of the collection.
This room is devoted to the art of Edward Burne-Jones,
a native to the city, who was born here in 1833.
Indisputably, Birmingham's most famous artist.
Burne-Jones was a devoted student of Rossetti
and he shared the same Pre-Raphaelite obsession with
medieval and mythical imagery.
And with this interest in religious content,
he soon developed his own moodily atmospheric style.
One work of art which really dominates this room is this,
The Star Of Bethlehem.
It was completed by Burne-Jones in 1890
and first exhibited here in 1891.
But because of its huge scale, really,
to appreciate this, you have to get back to about here,
where I'm standing now, to turn round and see its incredible detail.
Now, what's surprising about this is it is in fact a watercolour.
And it's so typical of the Pre-Raphaelites.
It's the Nativity scene set in the Middle Ages.
And one of the three Wise Men, as you can see, the one in the middle,
is a knight, and the angel is holding the Star of Bethlehem.
I absolutely love that. That dominates the centre of the picture.
It really draws you in, amongst all this Gothic gloominess
and these wonderful elongated figures, so typical of Burne-Jones.
Yet, Jones has still retained a wonderful
sense of spirituality here.
Burne-Jones was also an illustrator and designer,
working closely with his friend, William Morris.
They shared the same love of honest work
and appreciation for the exquisite craftsmanship of the Middle Ages.
Ideals that formed the basis of the Arts and Crafts movement.
Towards the end of the century, Burne-Jones was firmly
established as an elder statesman of the arts,
whilst the next generation of young artists
at the Birmingham School of Art were creating a buzz all of their own.
They were inspired by Burne-Jones, the Pre-Raphaelites
and the Arts and Crafts movement, and their fresh,
distinctive work gained the art world's attention.
They included Arthur and Georgie Gaskin,
a pioneering husband-and-wife team who injected
a breath of creative air into the craft of jewellery making.
And their exquisite handcrafted pieces rapidly gained them
a reputation for beautiful high-quality jewellery.
The museum has one of the largest collections of Gaskin's work in the country,
and I've come behind the scenes to the conservation lab to meet up
with curator Martin Ellis to find out a little bit more.
Martin, thank you for getting a lot of these things out for me on display.
I particularly like the early photographs. They are documents of early social history.
Arthur was a teacher,
so tell me a bit about his teaching principles.
He was a great teacher.
He was a great artist, he was a great illustrator,
and he was teaching at Birmingham School of Art,
and then Georgie became a pupil, which is how they met.
How did that relationship develop
and what sort of division of work did they do?
Well, she was his pupil, that's how their romance blossomed, I suppose.
They married in 1894, and from then on, really,
they worked very closely together, firstly as illustrators
and then they decided to turn their hand to jewellery manufacture.
Georgie seems to have been the designer.
Arthur carried those designs out to a level where they could be produced,
but they both clearly works on their designs together.
Very much the Arts and Crafts ethos, really.
Very much the Arts and Crafts ethos.
And working as a collective with other artists?
Yes, one of the great strengths of Arthur being such a successful
teacher, he had a pool of highly-skilled students
that he could draw on, and they started off in a very limited way.
And this is a relatively early piece from about 1900,
and it's the enamel that gives it its life and vitality.
The basic structure is a pretty simple wire structure.
True to William Morris's ethos, really, the whole Arts and Crafts ethos.
That's right, and in their work, to master your materials,
to use your hand and your eye
and your skill in the production of beautiful work
was fundamentally important.
Jewellery which is led not by precious material but by designers.
-It's using silver rather than gold, it's using...
They were unpretentious.
Looking at these photographs, you can see
they weren't just practitioners, they where believers in what they did.
-They lived the life, as it were.
Thank you for showing me this, because that really is a unique window back in time,
looking at all of this and seeing the jewellery with the photographs.
-That's so important and that's what we call in the trade provenance.
-It is provenance
and a window back to an extraordinary time.
And their work needs to be better known, I think.
-They need to be celebrated more.
Yes, remember those names - Arthur and Georgie Gaskin,
whose great talent restored the reputation for exquisitely
designed affordable jewellery made in Birmingham.
We're back now at the museum for our second lot of valuations.
We've got a brilliant crowd here, loads of happy faces.
-They're all enjoying themselves, aren't you?
That's what it's all about. And we're surrounded by fine art and antiques
and history in this amazing building.
So let's hope we can step up to the plate and find some gems of our own.
Let's catch up with our experts
and see what else we can take off to auction.
You've brought along this rather well-written book with handwriting.
-Which is fabulous. Where is it from?
It's been in the family, as far as I know, going back to my grandparents,
but I don't know anything about it before then
and it's just come down through the family.
Is it something you've been conscious of?
Now and then.
My theory on the actual piece
is it's almost like an exercise book. 1860s, 1870s.
Translations, writing, is a very good way of learning.
And this might have been done by a woman,
because they weren't schooled properly, were they?
It's funny, but I've always thought it was by a man. I don't know why.
I don't know, I mean, I'm here slightly playing devil's advocate.
-There are two different hands.
We've got this readable script...
-and then illegible.
-Well, not really, almost.
-It's very difficult.
It takes a long time to decipher when you're reading it.
But interspersed in this are some wonderful watercolours
to do with the actual script.
-This is rather marvellous,
the brave man saving...
with the baby there and another man on a horse.
Almost looks like Sherlock Holmes.
-Yeah. The Reichenbach Falls.
-That's it, I was looking for the name!
-Reichenbach Falls, where he and Moriarty had the scrap.
-I think the lightning...
-The lightning is good.
-It's done by quite an accomplished hand.
-The scale is good.
-And it's so fine, isn't it?
-Yes, it is good.
And on the next page, you've got this lovely little poem.
Well-written by the same hand.
And it says here, "My life shall never for a price be sold.
"Enough I have and I want no gold.
"My portion give to these poor souls,
"Whose all the black'ning surge now rolls."
-These are lovely quotes.
-They're very flowing
but they are also great quotes for modern day life.
-"Enough I have and I want no gold."
-I wish I could say that!
Well, I mean, but holistically and spiritually, they probably had enough.
-They don't need objects.
-That what I feel about the book -
there's a lot of spirituality in it, religion.
-Yeah, I mean...
-Parts of it.
It's not being shoved down your throat.
-That's what's quite nice about it. There's no God-fearing going on.
There's another lovely watercolour here and it's dated 1829.
-Well, I never noticed that!
-That's why you come to "Flog It!". 1829.
So I was wrong in saying Victorian.
-I have never seen the date in there anywhere before.
-Isn't that marvellous?
And at the very, very back of the book,
there's more interesting letters.
And here is a photograph from Japan!
A hand-coloured photograph
with all these geishas. Do you know anything about this?
-No, nothing at all.
-The whole thing is not that valuable...
-..but it's lovely.
-Would you be happy to put it to auction?
-And I would think it's worth £50-£80.
-And I'd reserve it at 40.
-That was fun.
Hopefully, whoever buys this will discover more about its creator
than we've been able to today.
Now, from the sublime to the unusual.
Michael, on the programme, we see a lot of pottery and porcelain
-and ceramics. We see an awful lot of it.
Not so commonly do we get to see moulds of how things were made.
-No, not at all.
-So it's really lovely to see.
-It looks a bit random...
-It is a bit random.
-It is a bit random.
And I thought, "Blimey, he's brought us a doorstop! That's kind!"
-Yeah. It's heavy enough.
-It's jolly heavy, isn't it?
-It is, yeah.
Tell me where you got it from.
I found it in a skip where someone was doing a house clearance
in Stoke-on-Trent, and I went in and asked
if I could have the item and he said, "Yeah, go for it."
-And did you know when you saw it what it was?
I saw some patterns on it, but until I took it home
and did a bit of research on the wording, I didn't know what it was.
Well, the wonderful thing about it
is that it pretty much says what it is.
It's Totem, by Susan Williams- Ellis, Portmeirion Pottery,
Stoke-on-Trent. Made in England.
And from that, we can establish that this is a mould
for a Portmeirion Totem patterned bowl.
Now, the Totem pattern was launched in 1963,
and it was designed by this lady, Susan Williams-Ellis,
who basically bought the AE Gray factory in Stoke-on-Trent in 1960.
Now, she called it Portmeirion because her father,
Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, was the man that built Portmeirion,
-which is the Italianate village in North Wales.
She worked in the gift shop at Portmeirion,
because it became a bit of a tourist destination, and from that,
her interest in porcelain and pottery and chinawares grew.
So then she started designing her own wares.
And if you look at some of the Totem pattern wares,
they really are quite wacky and quite stylish.
This is the Totem pattern,
which has got these wonderful designs all over it.
-Have you seen one of the bowls?
-I've seen some of them, yeah.
All different kinds of greeny colours and brown colours.
Absolutely, and so 1960s, aren't they? Really quite cool.
Unfortunately, we don't have any of the china itself, but we do have
the mould, and I find the process of manufacture really interesting.
It's interesting to see how it first originated
and the clay would have gone over here
and there would have been something that sandwiched it in between...
-So you've actually created the bowl.
Unfortunately, as soon as these were deemed too worn -
because there would have been hundreds, tens of hundreds
of pieces made from this mould - they would dispose of it.
And we can see that there is actually a flake on here
and that's why it was disposed of.
We've even got a date here.
We've got the rubber section here and then a date,
which says 16/5/69.
So this was six or seven years after the introduction of the range
-and it's still going strong.
-Now, when did you find this in the skip?
-A couple of years ago.
-So relatively recently?
-It's a tricky one, isn't it?
It is a tricky one, yeah.
I think I'm going to say 20-30 quid, no reserve.
But I think for a skip salvage, you've done jolly well.
-£20-£30 more than I got it for.
-Brilliant, exactly. Well...
Keep your fingers crossed.
What an unusual find, but I think this mould will really impress at the sale.
Now, while the valuations are in full swing,
I've come to see one of the museum's most treasured objects.
Away from all of the lights, the camera and the action,
the hubbub where the valuations are taking place,
I've come deeper into the heart of the museum to the Buddha Gallery,
and it's dominated by this one statue, the Sultanganj Buddha,
and it has a wonderful story attached to it,
which I'd like to tell you.
It was discovered by a railway engineer
working for the East India Company back in 1861.
He saw a hand sticking out the ground
and, after some careful excavation,
this whole statue was revealed and it's quite remarkable
to find something surviving from that age made of metal.
This dates back to the seventh century.
He would have been at the centre of an ancient Buddhist monastery,
and if you're wondering what he's doing with his hands,
the right hand's palm open in the air, that's a gesture of peace.
The left hand opened outwards facing downwards,
that's a gesture of giving, it's a blessing and he's beckoning you
into the museum, and that's why he's situated here.
You can spot him from 150 yards away,
from that Rotunda Gallery, all the way down there,
through the Industrial Gallery to this space, here,
and as you walk through,
he's calling you in and it has a really calming effect.
I love him - that's real history.
And the writing's on the wall for Thomas's next piece.
Ann, tell us where this plaque has come from.
Well, I found it in the house when I moved into the house in 2001.
-In the shed?
-No, in the cupboard under the stairs.
Cupboard under the stairs! Why did you bring it to "Flog It!" today?
Just because I saw an article in the paper that "Flog It!" was coming here
and I thought I'd see if I could find out any more about it.
So, HB Sale Ltd, Progress Works, Summer Lane, Birmingham.
-Do you know the company?
-I don't know them at all.
-It was established in 1862.
-Oh, was it?
-It's so lovely that it's such a local company.
And Birmingham has this huge history of making coins,
making medals, metalwork.
We can see what they made here - advertising novelties,
art metalwork, badges, brands, bronze and enamel plates...
-I mean, a real business.
-It is, yes.
-Probably roaring in the 1900s.
-I love this map here.
-I do, too, yes.
-Sweet, isn't it?
-I love that, yes.
-Do you know where we are relation to this map?
-I do, yes.
Can you point it out to me, please?
Yes. We've got to be up this way.
So just round the corner.
-Yes, that's right.
-I like this local thing. It's bronze, isn't it?
Is it really? I'm not sure. Bronze, copper...
No, it's copper, isn't it, with this verdigris on here.
Who's going to buy it? This is the thing.
A copper plaque in a sort of Deco Stepped style.
-There are a lot of people interested in local history.
-There is, yes.
Social historians, people who collect advertising material.
This is a bit of a one-off. What's this worth?
I don't think a great deal.
A copper plaque from a firm advertising where we are
and what we do.
It says what it says on the tin. I think it's only worth £40-£60.
-Are you happy with that?
-I am, yes.
-I think the copper is worth about that anyway.
-And then we could reserve it at £20.
Half the estimate. I think that's very fair.
-Are you happy?
-I'll be happy with that, yes. Thank you much.
-Look forward to seeing it at the auction.
For Christina's final valuation,
we go from one piece of local history to another.
Lorna, you've brought in to us three albums stacked full of postcards.
-Are there any of Birmingham?
-Yes, there are.
-Oh, fab! That's where we are now.
-That's right, yes.
-These are early 20th century, aren't they?
-I think they are about 1910.
-OK, so they're really quite nice examples of postcard albums.
-Where did they come from?
-They were my mum's auntie's,
and when they passed away, they came to my mum.
And to be perfectly honest, they've just been in a box under the bed,
not appreciated and only very rarely looked at.
Was it Mum's auntie that collected the postcards?
I think it was originally.
When we look at postcard albums, the earlier the better.
The ones you've got, as far as I can see,
-all date to the early 20th century.
I've had a bit of a flick through.
We've got a few tourist ones, some greetings ones,
but you have got some really lovely World War I examples,
some silk ones.
Can you tell me where they've come from?
They were sent by my aunt's husband to the little girl.
-I presume from when he was...
-From the front line?
-I think so.
-From the war.
-I think so.
Because it's obviously a silk card, which has got the French flag
and the Union Jack on there. And "God bless you", forget-me-nots.
Terribly symbolic. And there's a lovely note on the back which says,
"To my dear little Freda, with best wishes for a happy Christmas from
"your grandad." And he's just put here, rather ambiguously,
"Somewhere in France."
-So, obviously, he wasn't allowed to say where he was.
So, some really, really lovely examples
of what we term silk postcards.
Now, 2014-2018 will commemorate the centenary of the First World War.
So, we are anticipating that there will be quite
a surge in interest, and silk postcards,
especially sent from France and from the front line, is part of that.
And I think of all the postcards you've got, and there is a
really good selection, these are the ones that will add value.
Unlike stamps, postcards were unregulated, so it's very difficult
to say, unless they've been written on and dated, when they come from.
-So the market for postcards is quite difficult to gauge.
Having said that, I think there will be some value to it.
What sort of ideas do you think on value of the three albums?
Because I think we'd really be looking at putting them as one lot.
Well, I thought about £60 for the three.
I think that seems a little bit mean.
I would be happy to put them into an auction with an estimate of £100-£200.
Yeah? That is really good. I'm pleased with that, yeah.
We could be a little bit realistic and put a slightly lower reserve on,
of £80. And I think it would be really interesting
for collectors for these to go to places where they'd be really
-appreciated, rather than lying under the bed.
-Yeah, that's fine.
Let's keep everything crossed.
-OK, thank you. Thanks, Lorna.
-Thank you very much.
Well, that's it. You've just seen them, our experts' final choices of items to
take off to auction, and I think there are some real gems there.
I can't wait to find out what's going to happen.
But sadly, it means we've got to say goodbye to our magnificent
host location, Birmingham's Museum and Art Gallery.
A building full of treasure and history.
And let's hope we can make some history of our own as we go
off to the auction room. And here's what's coming with us.
Jane's journal revealed a very talented ancestor,
but the rest is shrouded in mystery.
Michael's mould is one of the most unusual skip finds I've come across.
He must have X-ray vision!
And there's much more to this copper plaque than first meets the eye.
It's a link to the city's 20th-century economic history.
Lorna's postcard collection is so packed with history,
it should have wide appeal.
It's time to travel back to Fieldings Auctioneers in Stourbridge.
First up is Jane's intriguing journal.
We're ready to do battle in the saleroom right now
and prove the pen is mightier than the sword with this
early 19th-century handwritten journal belonging to Jane.
-Isn't this exciting?
-A packed saleroom, Thomas.
Hundreds of people hopefully pushing that estimate through the roof.
We've got £50-£80. I don't think you can put a value on this.
And I want to know why you're selling it,
because it's your own social history as well.
It sits on a shelf, nobody looks at it, apart from once every ten years.
-It's a shame.
You can't keep everything, and they don't love you back, these things. They're just objects.
Well, let's find out what the bidders think, shall we? Here we go.
Let's hand the proceedings over to Nick Davies.
A 19th-century handwritten poetical journal, dated 1829.
£80 takes the underbidders out, and there were a lot of them.
Do I see 85 anywhere in the room?
-85. 95. 100.
-That is surprising.
£100 on commission. Do I see 110 anywhere else?
At £100, selling on commission. At £100, all done...
It's gone. £100. That was quick - straight in, straight out.
-I'm really surprised.
-Someone valued it.
-I'm really surprised.
-It's gone, but hopefully you've got other things.
I mean, not just possessions but handwritten things, you know,
-mementos like that.
-I've got all my mum's letters she used to write to me.
That's a good price for an original piece.
Next, it's Michael's unusual piece of ceramic history.
-Good luck, Michael.
£20 is not a great deal of money for a bit of Portmeirion.
-This is a bit with a difference, though, isn't it?
It was difficult to know where to pitch it, because it's really unusual.
If I found that in a skip, I would go and get a lump of clay and pack it around...
-I'd pack it around it and see what happens.
I'd make myself something, and I'm sure whoever buys it...
-It's an industrial piece.
-..might have a go.
-I hope so.
I think it's a bit of fun. Obviously, you couldn't sell it.
We're not saying go out and make something and sell it!
-That wouldn't be allowed.
-No, no, no.
But I think what we've got is a little document of social history from Portmeirion.
-Yeah, and you don't get a lot of it, do you?
-You don't. Good luck!
-Social history going under the hammer.
Hopefully we can get £30, £40, £50 for this. Let's try.
The Portmeirion mould, there it is.
£30 takes the underbidders out. Do I see 32 in the room anywhere?
-The Portmeirion mould, then, at £30, selling.
-Last chance... 32 just in.
-There's a commission bid on the books.
Someone really wants it.
At £40. 42? Last chance.
At £40, selling, then. All done?
-£40. You've lost your doorstop.
I'm pleased you don't have to carry it home
-because it was quite weighty.
-Very weighty, yeah.
-It was a good workout!
-Thank you for bringing it in, Michael.
It's put a smile on my face
and we've all learned something, as well.
-That's ready good, thank you.
That's a 100% profit from a skip.
It's not always about the value. "What's it worth?" everybody shouts out,
but it's also about social history, little documents, a window in time.
And we've got one right now. It belongs to Ann. Not for much longer.
-I know it's not a lot of money. You inherited this in your house, did you?
-Yes, that's true.
-12 years ago?
-Where was it, in the loft?
No, it was in the cupboard under the stairs.
That's brilliant, isn't it?
Well, hopefully, Thomas, this is going to go back on the wall.
Yes, it's a real bit of social history and that's what I loved about it.
-As soon as you brought it out, I thought, "Oh, wow, interesting." I love the map.
-So do I.
I'd buy it if I lived on that map location. Good luck to you anyway.
-Good luck, Thomas.
-Let's put it to the test.
The plaque for HP Sale Ltd, Summer Works Lane, Birmingham.
Can open slightly below estimate at £30. Looking for 32 in the room.
£30? 32. There's hands everywhere. 32. 35.
-Come on, there should be lots of local interest.
40. 42. 45. 48. And 50.
-This is more like it, Ann.
-65 in the distance.
70 on the other side now.
75. And 80. 85. 90. 90, sir?
-85 on my left.
Are we all done? 90 anywhere?
£85 and selling...
Yes! The hammer has gone down. £85. We're happy with that.
I know Thomas is. You are, as well.
Whoever bought that, it's going on the wall
and someone is going to be proud of that.
-Yes. I believe so, yes.
You can never underestimate the interest in local history,
which brings us to our final lot.
I've been joined by Lorna and Christina, our expert.
And we are going to put some postcard albums under the hammer.
-This is a hard one to value.
-We have had some great surprises with photo albums.
-Oh, God, don't...
I'm hoping we get another one. I'm totally with you with the valuation,
-but, hopefully, we'll get £200-£300.
-Oh, I hope.
-What's with the dogs?
Who let the dogs out?
-Are you a dog lover?
-Yeah, I've got two setters and a springer.
Good luck, both of you.
Hopefully this will fly. It's going under the hammer.
On to the postcards, the collection of Edwardian postcards.
And a cracker. Three in the lot.
£100 straight off takes the underbidders out. 100.
110? You're out? 110 there.
120 anywhere else?
-There is someone here.
-There's a guy waving
-his paddle over there.
-We've got a bidding war going on.
This is what it's all about.
190. 200. 210. 220. 230. 240. 250. 260.
-260, says no. 250...
-Lorna, this is wonderful!
There would have been three or four quite rare ones amongst them.
290. 300. 310. 320. 330. 340.
-This is what I like!
-I'm pleased I didn't value it! I knew this would happen.
390 anywhere else? £380 for the postcards. For the local interest,
at £380. Are you sure and done? 390 is back.
-She's still with it. 410?
At £400, it's going down. Are you sure?
Yes, the hammer's gone down! £400! What a result! Who let the dogs out?
Lorna did, that's for sure.
-I know. Yeah.
-I had a feeling that was going to happen, you know.
-I really did.
There is commission to pay, but enjoy it, won't you?
And what a wonderful way to end today's show.
I hope you've enjoyed it as much as we have.
Join us again soon for many more surprises in the auction room,
but until then, from Stourbridge, and I'm losing my voice,
-It's all too exciting!