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Powderham Castle in Devon,
a fantastic location for our valuation day.
This room was once part of the Great Hall,
but it now features this very grand staircase.
All the rooms here in this stately home aren't what they seem.
Over the last 600 years, the house has been altered considerably,
but one thing is for sure - we're staying firmly on the spot.
Welcome to Flog It!
Powderham Castle dates back to the 14th century and it's the
much-loved long-standing home of the Courtenay family.
Set in 3,500 acres, with a deer park,
it's seen significant changes over the years.
The castle has adapted to each generation living within its
Today, we're making this stronghold our base,
as the family has opened the gates to "Flog It!",
and the crowd is already making itself at home on the terraces.
If you want to take part in "Flog It!",
this is where your journey starts - a valuation day,
just like this one here at Powderham Castle in Devon.
Hundreds of people have turned up, laden with antiques and collectibles,
hoping they're one of the lucky ones to go through to the auction
later on in the show and go home with a small fortune,
but first they have to see our experts because they want to
know the answer to that all-important question, which is...
-What's it worth?
Brilliant! Stay tuned and you'll find out!
And we've brought in the best experts.
-Keen and eager is West Country lass Claire Rawle.
-Oh, a teddy bear!
Hello, boy. I'm glad to see you haven't smothered him in the bag.
I like to see his head hanging out of the top!
He's got a real snub nose, hasn't he?
And hot on her heels is someone who always has something to say,
Oh. Well, you've still got the price on it.
An outrage! How much was it? What were you asking?
With such a huge crowd, it's time to get the people inside.
We're filling the rooms, so they can settle down and unpack.
And while they all meander their way through the castle,
let's take a look at what's coming up later on in the programme.
Claire finds a real token of love
that's travelled all the way from Spain.
-Obviously, your father had a very good eye.
Will can't keep his hands to himself.
-It just sits nicely. You're safe.
-Don't go for it!
And one of our contributors is moved at the auction.
-That is fantastic, isn't it?
-Absolutely astonishing. Thank you.
And I'll be taking a closer look at this amazing architectural
structure, now firmly planted on Plymouth Hoe - but, amazingly,
it started life 14 miles out at sea, on perilous Eddystone Rocks.
But before all that...
The deeper you dig at Powderham Castle,
the more you discover. Appearances can be deceptive.
Now, here, in the First Library, this is where the family would entertain guests throughout
the 18th century, but if I do this to the bookcase, watch this...
Follow me - you'll love it.
Here we go. Look at that. Another room.
The China Room, set within the medieval walls of the castle.
Are there any more surprises?
We're just about to find out, as we go over to Claire Rawle's table.
Let's take a look at what she's discovered.
-Maureen, it's good to meet you.
And good to meet you in the library of this beautiful castle.
And you've brought along a really, really pretty silver trinket box.
-So, is this a family piece?
I can always remember it being on my grandmother's dressing table
for as long as I remember and when she died, it came to me.
For years, it was so black I actually thought it was
-pewter or something. I never realised it was silver.
-Until I found the hallmarks fairly recently.
And I thought, "Wow! Got to do something with this."
Well, it certainly isn't pewter, although I know what you mean.
-Sometimes, it goes so, so black. So you cleaned it up, did you?
-Haven't done it recently.
-No, no. That's a good idea.
Never over-clean silver.
It is indeed German, but it has got import marks Chester,
so it was deliberately imported into this country to be sold,
-and the date is 1906. So it's a little Edwardian box.
It was made by Berthold Muller in Germany.
And Muller actually made a lot of items that were imported into
this country to be sold as decorative items and when an
item of silver is imported into this country, it has to come up to
our standards and so that is why it has the Chester hallmark on it.
Right, the M is the Muller, presumably.
Yes, that's the actual maker. And it's sometimes known as Hanau silver.
I don't know if I pronounced that right. But it's a region of Germany.
They imported a lot of decorative items into this country
and that's exactly what it is. It's a little trinket box,
so you put on a dressing table or a Bijouterie table or whatever.
It's beautifully embossed with figures on the front here,
ladies in 18th-century costume. And interesting, I think -
it's got nice decoration round it of musical trophies, so it's quite pretty.
Funnily enough, when I saw it first, I thought it might have been
slightly earlier because the decoration is very 19th century,
-but then it didn't alter an awful lot.
-Follow a pattern, I suppose.
-But it's pretty.
-4oz. All right.
doesn't actually affect its value because a lot of silver is sold for scrap, so you base it on the weight.
This is more than scrap. It's a collector's piece. Now, one thing I noticed when I looked at it.
Where you've got pieces that are embossed and decorated like this,
the silver's slightly thinner and if people over-clean it,
they make holes in it, so it's good that it stayed black for so long.
-If you hold it up to the light, you can see there's a couple of very small holes
-in the lid, but that's acceptable.
-I'm not surprised. An item of that age,
there's bound to be something wrong somewhere, I suppose.
Oh, indeed, yes. The great thing is it hasn't been squashed or bent.
The hinges work well and I can see it going on someone's
dressing table or in a little display cabinet.
-But you've obviously decided now's the time to get rid of it?
-Yes. I'm beginning to declutter.
You get to that stage in your life where something's got to go
and whether it was sentimental or not at some stage, I've got other
-pieces that have more sentimental value, so some of it has to go.
-Yes. Well, I think this will sell well.
I'd like to put an estimate of about 80 to 120 on it.
That's an auctioneer's favourite, I'm afraid. It goes over the hundred.
Chances are it might make a little more than that,
but it has got two small holes, so you have to bear that in mind.
And I'd suggest a reserve just under the lower estimate of about £70.
-Is that good?
-That's fine. Excellent.
-Thank you very much.
-I shall look forward to that.
So, when you've got this money burning a hole in your pocket, what are you going to do with it?
Well, the one problem when you start decluttering is
-you find you've got to redecorate.
-Oh, OK. Yes.
-So that's going in the pot for that.
-Oh. Well, that's good.
-I look forward to seeing you at the auction.
-And I hope we at least buy a few pots of paint for you out of it.
-Hope so, yes.
One thing about "Flog It!" - we see all sorts.
What on earth has Will found?
Frank, have you just picked this up out in the car park?
An old bit of stone?
No, I dug it up in the garden about 23 or 24 years ago.
-So it is just a lump of rock?
-Well, it is a stone, isn't it? Yes.
So, I saw it and I immediately thought - it's an adze.
Now, an adze is a hand-held axe.
-It could be held by hand, or you could fix a handle to it.
Strap it onto a piece of wood.
-Use it as an axe.
-That's right. So it's an axe head.
Axe head, I think.
-And it's made from greenstone.
-It's from Cornwall.
-Ah, so not far.
-Well, yes, not very far.
-Devon and Cornwall.
-Cornwall, yeah, that's right.
-Devon and Cornwall.
-That's about the best thing I've ever found.
Well, do you mind if I hold it? Cos it's a tactile piece, isn't it?
And what's this, I see? Some inscriptions.
Well, that went to Exeter Museum to verify it
-and then it went to London.
-Oh. This stone's been around.
-More than I have!
-It's travelled further than you!
-So, it's been authenticated.
-Show me the authenticity.
-That's what they done, what they sent back.
"I took your items to the curator of the museum at Exeter and
"he was very interested, especially in the axe.
"This is made of greenstone..." We got that right.
"Found in West Devon and Cornwall.
-"They date from 4000 to 2000 BC," so Neolithic.
"There are least four other axes of this type in the museum..."
-In Exeter, but this one here is better than what they've got.
-So they say.
-"Yours is much nicer..."
-There we are, you see.
-You're quite right, so yours is the one... Did they make you an offer for it?
-No, I wasn't interested in selling it.
-But you are now.
-Well, I've had it long enough. I thought, "Shift it on."
Well, I think it's an interesting piece and I think other
-people will find it interesting.
-I think so.
-Certainly local people.
Local history. The connection, the letter from the museum. Great story.
-Estimate. Now, I'm notoriously mean, Frank.
-I can see that.
I'm going to say to you, let's put it in at £100 to £200
and let the market decide what it's worth.
-I want a reserve on it.
-Yes. I'll reserve it at 100?
Yes, that'll be all right, I think.
And at the end of the day, it's going to make what it makes.
-Well, good work. Keep digging.
And next time you find something, come and find us.
Right, thank you very much.
Back to the library and Claire's making the most of
the beautiful surroundings.
Maria, you've brought along the most charming, beautiful brooch here.
I think it's absolutely exquisite, but I gather it's been in
the family a while. Tell me a little bit of its history.
Well, as far as I know, it belonged to my mother.
She had it for 40, 50 years and my father gave it to her as a present.
That's all I know, really. She liked to wear it. She wore it quite a lot.
And we all like it in the family, but we are not jewellery wearers.
Oh, right. Yes. And so is your mother no longer with us?
No, she's not. She passed on in March.
-Right, and so the brooch has come to you.
Yes, to me and my two sisters,
but my two sisters have given me permission to sell it in England.
Yeah, cos your mother and father, they were still living in Spain.
They were still living in Spain, yes.
I think it's absolutely beautiful. I mean, the detail in it.
So we've got an 18-carat gold dove, beautifully worked,
sitting on a crescent, set with old-cut and mine-cut diamonds.
And then a sweet little pearl pendant at the base there.
And he's also got little diamonds just in his wings and
a tiny little ruby eye, but if you look closely, I mean,
the work on the feathers of that little bird, absolutely exquisite.
-And what a token of love.
-That's what we always thought.
-I mean, a beautiful thing to buy for anybody.
-And I'm so glad she wore it.
-And she loved it in her time.
-She appreciated it. She liked to wear jewellery, so yes.
But as you say, you'd almost worry about wearing it because you'd worry
about it getting caught in things, or the little pearl off and a lot
of collectors of jewellery from this just Edwardian period,
they actually collect them more as decorative items and put them
in little cabinets and they look absolutely charming.
I mean, it shows off the diamonds beautifully in the little pearl.
So people, yes, they do still wear old jewellery, but also there's
the collectors' market for people that just love beautiful objects.
-Obviously, it has value
because it's made of a valuable metal,
it's got diamonds in it, sweet little pearl.
Brooches aren't that popular, mainly because people don't wear
brooches these days. They have become unfashionable.
-Have you ever had it valued in the past at all?
-No, I haven't.
Its sale value, I think, is going to be in the region of £200 to £300.
-Does that sound OK?
-That's OK. Yes, that's OK with me.
I didn't think it was going to get that much because it's so tiny.
Well, yes, but then, it's so beautiful.
I mean, it doesn't have to be huge to be worth lots of money.
-I think it's the quality of the workmanship.
-And obviously, your father had a very good eye.
Yeah, you know, it's quite unusual. Thank you so much for coming in.
-It's been a pleasure and I'll see you at the auction.
Back to Will now, and he's making me jealous.
Well, Belinda, I'm just having a look round, in case Paul's watching.
To be honest, if he sees me valuing these, he's only going to get upset,
isn't he? Because we all know he loves a bit of Troika,
which is exactly what you've brought in.
These are fantastic pieces.
-Where have you got them from?
-We bought them at auction.
You say "we", who's that?
-My husband and I.
did you always like this sort of Modernist decoration?
Were you always quite forward-thinking in your tastes,
-you and your husband?
-I like them.
My husband preferred them, to be honest.
-You like them, he loved them.
So, what drew you to them?
-Because they're not everyone's cup of tea, are they?
That's what you like. See, that's what I was...
-Like your good self.
Oh, thank you very much.
I've been called many things but never abstract.
Well, Troika, as we know on this programme,
set up 1963 by Benny Sirota,
Why I mention Benny Sirota is because this one is by him - was designed by him,
wasn't it? They call them what, the Thames Fish Plaque, is it?
The Thames Fish Plaque With Outer Buildings.
Interesting, isn't it? Real sort of of the time, very cutting-edge,
Then, this one, I think, is called the...
-Well, for obvious reasons.
That would be one calculator, wouldn't it,
to pull that out of your pocket?
-Would you carry it?
-No, I wouldn't.
-No, neither would I.
-I'd only end up breaking it.
You say you bought them from auction.
How long ago? Was it fairly recently?
-15 years ago.
-15 years ago.
-Do you remember what you paid for them?
-Go on, then.
Well, listen, I think, you know, at the end of the day,
it's down to what the collectors are prepared to pay nowadays,
aren't they? I'm afraid I'm going to be a bit more realistic in my
estimate. I think probably on the calculator plaque,
around the £400-£600 mark.
Fix a reserve at 400.
On the Sirota piece, because of the connection with him,
one of the founder members,
I would say 600-800 on that.
I think offer them as two separate lots.
But if you add the two estimates together,
you're looking at around maybe 1,000, 1,500.
On a good day, we might go some way towards getting your money back,
which would be a bonus, wouldn't it?
-It certainly would.
-Belinda, it's been a pleasure.
Thank you very much for calling me abstract, I think.
Yeah, but you are, so...
-That's a nice end to your day.
-I'm not having this...
No, no, no.
While everyone's busy here,
I'm off to do something completely different.
Why is it that it can be pouring with rain in North Devon
while Dartmoor is cloaked in mist
and it's ice cream time at Paignton on the south coast?
Three different types of weather in a space of 100 miles.
It feels the weather is nothing but unpredictable, but in fact,
it can be scientifically predicted to within four days of accuracy.
And this is where it all happens,
the Met Office headquarters just outside of Exeter, which houses
the latest hi-tech equipment and highly trained experts.
The meteorologists don't just tell us
if we need an umbrella one day or a bikini on another,
they give us small warnings on perilous conditions
such as UV levels, floods, drought and storms -
information which could be life-saving.
Now, if you are a weather fanatic, I'm going to whet your appetite.
This is the operation centre, and it's buzzing with information
All of these screens are providing weather-related data, which is
fed into TV and radio feeds
and also acts on your mobile phones, so you can get the very latest,
up-to-the-last-minute information on the weather.
But you cannot appreciate the vast significance of all this
modern technology unless you turn back the clock
and go back to the primitive origins of weather forecasting.
from the National Meteorological Library and Archive
is here to give me a potted history.
How did weather forecasting start and when?
Well, in 1854,
that's the first...that is the origin of the Met Office, and
it was founded with the intention of protecting life and property at sea.
At the time, there was no intention to forecast the weather.
-They actually didn't believe it was possible.
So the plan was simply to collect observations, particularly wind.
And there's not much point in knowing the prevailing wind
if you don't know the direction and current,
so they were collecting both of those sets of data at sea.
And we actually used the scientific version of a message
in a bottle in order to do that.
We do have some examples here.
They were placed in a small glass bottle, which was corked,
And you had notes on which the captain would write his latitude,
his longitude and the direction in which he was travelling.
So it provides in sort of six languages essentially,
"If found, please return to the Admiralty in London."
And from those, they were able to track the currents and understand
the speed and, you know, the direction of the world currents.
The science of forecasting was founded
by Admiral Robert FitzRoy, who was the founder of the Met Office.
And he developed this as a science based on those observations.
And then in 1859, there was
a very major storm, which is called the Royal Charter Storm,
and that resulted in the loss of 133 ships around the British Isles,
and in particular, the Royal Charter herself
went down off of Anglesey, with the loss of 450 lives.
And there was a great outcry resulting from that, that surely,
you know, at this point,
we should have been able to predict that storm.
Something should have been done.
So Robert FitzRoy said, "Yes, we could have done that."
And he wrote a report which he presented to the Board of Trade.
And this is one of the original charts from that.
-And he used it to prove that they could have predicted the
course of that storm and understood the weather going on around it.
And from that, he persuaded the government to allow him
to start the first warning service, a gale warning service,
which still continues. It is now known as the shipping forecast.
The Met Office was originally funded by the Board of Trade.
But by the Second World War, it was part of the Air Ministry.
And it played a vital role in the war effort.
This D-Day chart shows the importance of weather forecasts
when planning one of the most significant Allied operations
against the German forces.
Meteorologists consulted about the best time to carry out this
massive seaborne invasion of Normandy.
It needed fair weather and calm seas
so the landing craft wouldn't capsize.
On the advice of the Met Office, the planned operation was delayed
by one day because conditions wouldn't have been suitable.
It was a very small window of opportunity.
But with that accurate information,
it helped change the course of our history.
During the 20th century, developments in technology
have been key in gathering weather information and passing it on.
The invention of the telegraph made observing and forecasting
In 1959, the first computer capable of doing 30,000 calculations
a second was introduced. This was a major step forward,
making numerical-based predictions possible for the first time.
In the 1970s, the satellite revolution proved a quantum
leap in the accuracy of weather data by providing a birds'-eye
view of how the atmosphere moves.
But that was nothing compared to what the Met Office have today.
This supercomputer, one of the fastest in the world,
can do more than 23,000 trillion calculations per second.
And all of that information,
from observations around the world, is sent into here,
the operations centre.
Meteorologist Helen Roberts is going to explain how this busy room works.
We have lots of different types of forecasting.
So everybody is aware that we do media forecasting,
but there's lots of other things going on.
We have our aviation section.
That is probably the biggest section we have, actually.
And we have one of only two world area forecast centres
in the world.
And they're forecasting upper air charts,
so high-level aviation charts.
Then we've got our marine forecaster who, among other things,
is producing the shipping forecast,
which still goes out regularly on Radio Four.
And them behind me here, we've got
one of our newest sections, which is space weather,
as well as our hazard centre, which is looking at
things like land slips, which can be as a result of the weather.
And also, volcanic ash, if something like that should occur.
And with all the new computers, has it become more accurate,
let's say, in the last 30 years, weather forecasting?
Yes. So just as an example, our four-day forecast now
is as accurate as our one-day forecast was 30 years ago.
So a huge improvement over the last few decades.
-That's massive, isn't it?
And our three hourly forecasts are over 90% accurate,
so, yeah, we're doing pretty well.
Does anything still surprise you with the weather?
Do you get it wrong now and then?
It's rare that we get a big surprise.
We've got so much observational information - satellite,
radar observations - it's unusual.
It's incredible to think we've come this far
in just over 150 years, from a message in a bottle to
a handful of people given sporadic information which was
often off the mark to this operation.
It runs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
And it has an impact on all of our lives.
The Met Office HQ here at Exeter never sleeps, nor does the weather.
Here's a quick recap of the four items we're taking to auction.
There's the intricate silver trinket box.
Dug up in a garden, the axe head.
And not one but two Troika plaques - the calculator design...
..and the River Thames scene.
And that beautifully made brooch.
We've travelled an hour south-west to the Devon coast.
Well, the moment I've been waiting for, and you.
We're going to up the tempo right now because it's auction time.
We're putting those valuations to the test on the outskirts of
Plymouth here at Eldreds saleroom.
On the rostrum is auctioneer Anthony Eldred.
Right now, our owners are feeling really nervous.
I'm going inside to catch up with them.
The hammer's just about to go down on our first lot, so let's go in and enjoy the fun.
Commission here is 15% plus VAT.
Going under the hammer right now, some continental silver.
It's a German trinket box belonging to Maureen.
You're in good company here, because silver has been selling well.
-That's what I like to hear.
-Yes. So, fingers crossed it happens for you as well.
-This is superb quality.
-Well, it is nice quality and it's pretty and it would make
-a good gift for somebody.
-The music bits on there are unusual.
-Do you know what?
You're right, actually. It's ready to go as a gift, isn't it?
-Yes, that's right. Yeah, it is.
-For a musician somewhere.
It's going under the hammer now.
The continental rectangular trinket box. And I'm bid £72 for it.
At 72. Five. Eight. 80. Two. Five. At £85.
-Five. 100. And five.
-This is good.
-It is good.
At £110, here.
Are you all finished? At £110.
Very good. You got it right, didn't you?
-Well done. It's not easy being an expert.
-Brilliant. Well done.
-And thank you for bringing it in.
-Thank you very much. I'm very happy.
What a great start!
I'm a fan of our next lot, but is my passion going to be shared?
Belinda, thank you for bringing in some Troika.
-You know, it's one of my favourites, it really is.
It sums up that rugged Cornish coastline.
I'm a big fan of Benny Sirota and the team that put Troika together,
as we know. We've got two plaques, we've split them into two lots.
We've got the River Thames fish plaque.
I've not seen one of these come up for sale for a long, long time.
And we have possibly your favourite plaque.
The calculator one. I'd prefer that, myself.
The abstract-ness of it.
But right now we're going to try with the Thames plaque.
Will put a value of £600 to £800 on the Troika with the River Thames design.
But Anthony and Belinda had a discussion.
It's now been reduced to 400 to 600.
This is it. Here we go. Let's see if we can get that £600 mark.
Next lot is the Troika pottery River Thames fish plaque.
There it is. £350 for that.
At 370. 380. 390. 400.
And ten. At £410.
At 420 now.
-Bidder in the room.
In the room. At 430.
Last chance, then, at 430.
That's 430 for the first lot.
We just got that away, didn't we?
Fingers crossed we get a bit more for the second.
-This is it.
Here we go. Let's see if we can get that £600 mark.
Here's another Troika pottery plaque.
A calculator pattern this time.
£350 for it.
At 350. At £350 against you all.
Against you all. Including the internet.
-At 360. 370. 380. 390.
-The internet's coming now.
At £400 here.
Online. At £400.
Are you all done, then, at £400?
-That's surprising, isn't it?
£400, I'll sell it.
£400. We just got that away.
-Oh, never mind!
-Not to worry.
-You'd think we'd get top money for it down here,
wouldn't you? You really would.
There was bidding online. Obviously, it had been spotted.
Sometimes you've just got to accept that maybe they've found their market value.
Of course. They're gone now.
Hopefully gone to a good home.
I do hope it has.
Now, how will Frank's garden find fare?
This stone has been fashioned, as you know, into an axe head 4,000 years ago.
It really is quite fascinating to hold it as well, isn't it?
-I mean, that's real history.
-It is. You've got to hold it.
-It's got some energy about it.
It does, yes. Right, it's going under the hammer right now. This is it.
Stone axe head.
There it is and it was dug up in Dawlish and dated
between 4,000 and 2,000 BC.
-And £80. At 85.
-Nothing, is it?
At £80, then. Are you all finished at 80?
-That one can't quite be sold.
-Didn't sell it. It didn't sell.
No, I'm not surprised.
Oh, it's so hard to put a value on an artefact like that.
I would have paid you £100 for it. But I can't. So, go to the museum.
-Depends if you've got two people that want it here in the sale.
-There you go.
What a shame.
Now, let's hope there are bidders out in force for the pretty
Maria, I love this. It's real quality.
I hope this little dove flies away, I really do.
It's not a lot of money for the amount of detail that's in
there, is there, when you think about it?
It's so pretty and as you look at it under a glass, I mean,
-all the sort of work on the feathers and things, it's a lovely thing.
I can understand why you don't want to wear it any more.
-It belongs to the whole of the family, in a way, it was Mum's.
-So, your sisters don't mind you selling it.
-Not at all.
-So, we're going to put it to the test right now.
-I'm confident this will sell.
-Yeah, I think so, yeah.
18-carat yellow and white gold brooch. 150 starts it. At 150.
-At £150. 160, if you want it.
Looking for phone lines, internet bids, anything like that.
At 180 now.
At 180. Five. 190.
Five. At 195.
200 now online. And ten.
-Online at 210. 220 now. 230.
Still going. 240.
250. At £250.
270. At 270, then.
Last chance online.
-Maria, the hammer's gone down.
-Quality, quality, quality.
-Thank you for bringing that in.
-It's a good story as well.
-Lovely story with it.
-So, thank you very much.
Well, that's our first three lots under the hammer. So far, so good.
Before we return to the valuation day to find some more treasures
to sell, I've been exploring Plymouth's maritime history -
in particular, one extraordinary story that involves an
incredible feat of engineering.
14 miles south-west of Plymouth lie Eddystone Rocks.
Sitting on a busy shipping route,
they were known as Dread Eddystone because up to 50 ships
a year and their crews were being lost on this treacherous reef.
A solution was a lighthouse to mark the deadly spot,
and Henry Winstanley's ornate wooden creation was the very first
offshore light to be built in the world.
It survived just five years before being swept away
in the great storm of 1703.
The next lighthouse lasted 50 years before being destroyed by fire.
Trinity House, which is responsible for the safe navigation of shipping
and seafarers, permitted a private consortium to build a new light.
And this is the result, Smeaton's Tower, named after John Smeaton,
who was one of the first people to call himself a civil engineer.
But this wasn't built here on Plymouth Hoe.
Like the first two lighthouses, it started life out at sea,
on Eddystone Rocks, which posed a real design challenge.
What was needed was something more robust and fireproof.
Something like this, designed by engineer John Smeaton.
Now, he based his concept on an English oak tree,
something with core strength, something with stability and
foundations and roots, like an oak tree.
And of course, he chose his design to be created out of stone.
And not wood.
Smeaton's light did its job on perilous Eddystone Rocks for
more than a century,
before being dismantled and re-erected here at Plymouth Hoe.
Curator Nigel Overton is going to explain why the stone
construction was so radical.
The challenge of building a rock lighthouse 14 miles out at
sea was a pretty brave endeavour and, obviously, it took people
like Smeaton to deliver a lighthouse on a sea-swept rock.
The key to building in stone,
apart from persuading people that it was practical, was to come up with
a hydraulic mortar or a waterproof cement cos you're out on
a sea-swept rock, you need a cement that's going to be able to go hard in those conditions.
Fortunately, in the mid-1750s, Smeaton met and lodged with
William Cookworthy, who later went on to develop English porcelain.
Smeaton experimented with him and they came up with an ideal
mixture that proved integral to the construction.
But that was only part of the jigsaw.
-There is hidden cleverness in the way the stonework is joined together.
-You've got an example.
And that's what we're going to show you with this, if we may, yeah.
-Each of these blocks represents...
-One of these. Yes, basically.
-A block of Cornish limestone.
-That's basically that, isn't it?
But between every block, there's a diamond-shaped piece of
Purbeck marble that drops in there and that's a joint stone.
Smeaton was worried when the building moves, as it's going to,
out on a sea-swept rock, he didn't want those vertical joints to open up and let the water in.
-So the joint stone prevents that problem.
-Oh, I see, yes. Stops it filtering through.
Then, to clamp each stone together, over the top of the join and inset
inside the masonry is a staple or a cramp,
-so those two blocks now can't easily part from each other.
And then in the middle of each block of masonry is a joggle stone, this
was called, of Plymouth limestone, and then is you put the joggle stone in each of the neighbouring blocks,
-then the next block above links to those.
So, the joggle stone has the effect of linking each block
on the course above to two of the stones on the course below.
So, it keeps that accurate in a course.
It's a simple but remarkably clever device.
It's interesting, Smeaton himself was quoted to say that,
"I don't want this lighthouse to last one age, or two ages.
"I want it to be there in perpetuity."
So, he was thinking long-term.
And indeed, it stood on the Eddystone for 123 years,
so it did its job on the Eddystone.
It was replaced in May of 1882 by the present lighthouse and
this lighthouse was re-erected on the Hoe and
-has been here itself now for over 130 years.
One of the reasons it was replaced was that they were concerned
that there's a cavern in the reef which was getting slowly
enlarged by the action of the waves and they felt that eventually,
Smeaton's Tower would crumble and fall.
It must have been one hell of a project to dismantle it out there and bring it back here.
Well, I think that's important to get across.
I mean, Trinity House were pondering a controlled explosion,
or possibly dismantling,
but various people stepped in offering to buy the building,
but Plymouth Corporation had a meeting, they decided they wanted to bring it back.
They were just developing Plymouth Hoe here as
a public park and they had a place for it.
There was a navigational obelisk where this building now stands.
So they were going to build it, re-erect it here.
It was going to be a memorial to Smeaton.
And it was also going to be a day mark, a navigational mark, so it
would still carry on fulfilling some sort of navigational function. It's obviously become a landmark.
Most people don't even realise that it spent the first half of
its life out at sea.
More than a century ago,
three lighthouse keepers worked in this building,
obviously in alternating shifts,
keeping an eye on the light in the lantern, which is just up there.
You can see through the scoop of light.
Now, there's mention in one of their logbooks of this building
moving like an old oak tree,
swaying as it was being battered by the high winds.
And in one particular storm, in 1824,
there's mention of the waves being so high and powerful that they
reached the top of the lighthouse, shattering the glass in the lantern.
Must have been a strange existence.
There's something really special about lighthouses like these.
This particular one has stood the test of time,
both out at sea and here on dry land,
and it's highly unlikely that any more of this design will ever be
built again, so it makes it really, really special to be up here.
And it's brilliant that this one's open to the general public
because future generations get to appreciate the endeavour,
the achievement that went in to building this.
And you get to experience this and of course, when you're at the top, look at that view!
Back at Powderham Castle now,
which has seen its own fair share of moves and changes.
At the valuation tables, our experts are doing their best to keep
up the pace and Will's joining Jill's club.
Jill, you look like a well travelled lady.
Tell me, is this something you've picked up abroad on one of
-No, that was a gift from a friend.
-I did a bit of research on it and it's Fijian.
-You're dead right.
And from your research,
-you've probably found out what this was used for.
-It's a killing club.
It was a killing club, exactly what it was used for.
They're called ulas, U-L-A, so a Fijian ula.
And of its type, a very nice one.
I mean, I'm finding it difficult to keep my hands off it.
-I know, it's very tactile.
-It's just screaming out to be held.
You feel the weight of it and it just sits nicely. You're safe.
Don't go for it!
It just sits nicely in your hand, doesn't it? It's well weighted.
-It's beautifully made. And actually, quite commercial.
The market for tribal or ethnographic antiques is
actually very strong on the Continent.
-Big market for this type of piece.
Now, as far as value goes, there's quite a wide range of values,
depending on the size, the quality, the condition.
-But would this detract from the value?
-I don't think so.
-I think that's part of the natural make-up of the club, isn't it?
Because my understanding is that these were made in
a similar way to the Zulu Knobkerries,
in that they were made from a protruding branch and the actual
-head of the club is the sort of base of the branch within the main trunk.
So that's where the wood is very hard and very dense and I've seen
some like this that have got various bits of decoration on the heads.
-You've got mother-of-pearl inlay, bone inlay, and you were telling me earlier...
Human teeth. I mean, that's quite something, isn't it?
-Is that natural patina?
-Yeah. Exactly right.
Exactly, that is just the build-up of colour from being handled,
held, the natural oils from our hands just react as well, the air
reacts with the wood, and just gives it this lovely rich, deep colour.
-It's beautiful, isn't it?
-You can get very large ones, which were more used as weapons,
hand-to-hand combat, against, you know, rival tribes.
-This one, I think, generally used for animal hunting.
I think so. Easy to carry, easy to take with you, easy to throw.
I mean, you get that on the back of the head, you're going to know about it, aren't you?
-You're not going to wake up, no.
-You're going to end up some Fijian tribe's dinner.
Now, I think the market for this is strong at the moment.
Price-wise, I'm going to say to you - estimate £400 to £600.
-That's going to be an attractive estimate to potential buyers.
And the reserve, I think, we're going to fix at £400.
-Is that OK?
-Well, I think, in that case,
I'm almost certain that this is going to find a new home and
I wouldn't be surprised, like I said, if it's somewhere abroad.
-Might go home.
-Might do. Let's flog it and find out.
-I'll see you at the auction.
-Thank you very much.
Time for some fresh air now and Claire's found
a nice spot on the terrace.
Joan, you've brought in
two completely different types of watches. Both ladies' watches.
One a fob, which predated the wristwatches,
which, of course, are more 20th century.
So they're both quite different.
They're both divided by quite a few years.
But tell me a bit about them before I give you an idea.
They were both given to me for my 21st birthday.
The modern Omega watch was given to me by my mother.
And the fob watch was given to me by my aunt, who was also my godmother.
And it actually was her 21st birthday present from her mother
and father, so it's been in the family since the early 1900s.
The only thing is, I don't wear them.
There's nothing much you can do with the fob watch.
What I'd like is to put the money towards
a ring that I can remember the family with.
Yeah, that's very sensible, really, because as you say, I mean,
wristwatches, OK, you either like them or you don't and wear them.
As you say, a fob watch or a pocket watch, they're not very practical in this day and age, are they?
And they don't always keep very good time. They are terribly pretty.
It's an 18-carat cased watch. Very, very decorative.
You've got the gold dial with the blued numerals and the blued hand.
It's a nice quality watch.
It will have a very attractive decoration on the back of it.
And a sort of vacant, as they call it, cartouche,
which might have had initials in it once upon a time.
But really pretty. And very much the sort of thing a lady would wear on
a chain that would either sort of fit... Cos they didn't really have pockets in those days.
It would sort of be pinned on you, sometimes as a brooch or
a chain that would go into a sort of chatelaine, that type of thing.
But it is a nice quality one.
Moving onto the 20th century,
we have the nine-carat lady's Omega wristwatch.
Now, ladies' watches never seem as popular as gents' watches.
It's a very good make, very, very expensive.
A gents' Omega will still be worn
and is fashionable and very expensive.
The ladies' watches, however, unfortunately tend to come
down to their gold weight because ladies these days seem to
prefer silver jewellery and I think ladies just wear bigger watches.
They have bigger dials on them.
-I know I do.
-Yeah, I'm the same as well.
And so the delicate watches are going rather out of favour.
Now, we have weighed this.
We're looking at about 20g of nine-carat gold.
So I'm afraid, to a certain extent, it's based on the gold price.
This one is a different kettle of fish.
-It is higher-carat gold, but it is a collector's piece.
So, I think out of the two of them, that would be more a sort of
collector's item, whereas that is more of a sort of jewellery item.
But having said that, this is the one that carries more value
because it has more gold in it. And it is a good make.
When you come to sell them, I think they should be offered as two
separate lots, because they will appeal to different buyers.
I've put this watch in at about... Around about the £200.
I think it's going to work out at about 180 to 220 -
it will very much depend on the gold value.
But the name does also add some value as well.
OK, that sounds fine.
Now, this one, I'd say about 140, 150,
so I'd suggest putting a reserve at 130, just under the low estimate.
-Can we have it at 140, please? As a reserve.
I think we can probably just about agree that.
-Oh, you drive a hard bargain! That's fine.
Well, I think they'll go well because, at the end of the day,
they've both got good gold value in them and the market is good for that at the moment.
So I shall look forward to seeing them at the auction and seeing how they do.
-Lovely, thank you very much.
-Oh, thank you for coming in today.
Next up, Will's got his eye on something with an oriental flavour.
Pamela, tell me you haven't had to travel as far as this little
chap to get here today. Are you local to Powderham?
-No, not quite. Live on Dartmoor.
-I bet it's nice up there, isn't it?
-Yes, it's wonderful.
-I can imagine.
Tell me, why have you brought a little bit of China with you
here today? I say China as in the country, rather than porcelain.
-Well, I've had him for 60 years.
-And I love him dearly, but my children don't.
-Oh, you're joking?
So I want to see him go to a good home.
And then let them enjoy the money.
Well, you've come to the right place.
We shall do our very best for you.
But first of all, you say you've had him 60 years.
Tell me, something you've inherited or purchased yourself?
-No, bought at auction as one of four.
-So you're a keen auction goer, are you?
-Used to be.
Were you interested in oriental pieces before you bought this chap?
Yes, I was, because I lived in Singapore for three years
when I was young. And we brought back quite a lot of oriental things.
-This wasn't one of them.
This was a new addition, as you say, from the auction.
Have you done any research into him? Can you tell me anything about him?
-Well, somebody told me that he was Chinese.
-Yes, I would agree.
-And that he was an incense burner.
-But I was intrigued by how he was made.
Well, when can be a little bit tricky because the Chinese tradition
for bronze pieces started thousands of years ago
and they were generally ceremonial pieces, or religious pieces,
rather than pieces for decoration.
So I think this has been made to be used.
I think it's definitely earlier than 20th century because a lot
of these pieces came out of China in the 1920s, that sort of period.
So I'm going to err on early 19th century.
Do you know where it came from when you bought it?
-Well, no, I think it came from a retired Army man...
..who put a whole lot of these into this one sale.
That's quite interesting. So, he was retired, so he's obviously of a certain age.
-Which would then take that back perhaps...
-Back a little bit further.
Which again adds an element of confidence to the buyer.
Because make no mistake,
-the Chinese are very good at producing these last week...
..to make them look like they've been around hundreds of years.
-I think he's a bit more age to him than that.
I mean, some of this patination of the bronze makes
me think that he's not new, he has got age to him.
Occasionally they are marked underneath.
This one isn't, I've had a look.
But again you have to be careful with Chinese marks, certainly
on bronzes, because they almost revere back to an earlier time.
What they're doing there is, they're almost offering reverence to past dynasties to give good luck
to this piece they're making in the same sort of style.
Now, the market has gone off the boil a little bit.
But even so, I think this is a nice piece, good, compact size,
nicely detailed, well cast.
If I open him up, obviously that's where the incense would go.
And then you can imagine the plumes of smoke coming out of the mouth.
-I'm looking at an estimate of...
I'm thinking of around the sort of £300 mark.
I mean, how does that sound? You want it gone, don't you?
Well, yes, I do because the value in him for me
-has been 60 years of love.
-Interesting, that's lovely.
So I can hold on to that.
Well, listen, why don't we put my sort of estimate as the top
-figure and say 200 to 300?
-I think that would be nice.
Yeah. Let's protect him with a £200 reserve and maybe just
a little bit of discretion for the auctioneer.
If he gets to 180, 190, rather than not sell it for the sake of £10.
I think if he doesn't make his...
-..reserve, I'll take him home.
Well, listen, it's been fascinating talking to you.
Thank you for sharing your story concerning our friend here.
Well, I'm pretty confident we'll see him away for you, so wave bye-bye.
And here's another interesting item.
-Hello, Ros, it's good to meet you.
And you brought some very pretty items in here.
Now, tell me, were they things that you bought for yourself
or you've collected, or...?
Well, they are something I bought for myself, and a long time ago now.
I think probably in the late '70s, early '80s,
when I used to live near Portobello Road.
And I bought them with the intention of making a jacket.
-And they've sat in a drawer ever since.
Right, so the jacket never got made.
-The jacket never got made, no.
-Oh, that's a shame!
It seems a shame to keep them in a drawer.
-So hopefully, somebody else may wear them.
Or even just put them out in a cabinet to look at.
-So, do you know what they are?
-Well, I believe they're micromosaic.
-But I don't know where they're from.
-Well, they're Italian.
And indeed they are known as micromosaic.
So very, very tiny little pieces of glass
and coloured stones in this wonderful design.
If you actually look closely at the medallions,
they are like little tiny flower heads, aren't they?
They are so pretty.
And then mounted on just a gilt metal.
They are not on a precious metal.
I'd have guessed there'd have been six buttons originally.
-I'm just thinking...
-I think there would have been a set of six,
but there's only ever been five.
Yes, which is fine.
It doesn't really make a lot of difference to the value.
So these were made in Italy through the sort of 19th century,
into the early 20th century.
I'm not sure they are not actually still being made today,
but they are much cruder.
-The later ones are much cruder.
-The thing with this, it's a lovely, tight decoration.
So I think they probably date from the latter part of the 19th century.
And also, in very good order.
They appear to be, yes.
I can imagine that style of belt buckle worn in that period as well.
Yes. Yes, very much so.
So there is this lovely shaped buckle, beautiful decoration in it.
Again, clusters of flower heads. Look like forget-me-nots, actually.
And then lovely palmettes radiating away. Beautiful panels of colour.
Lovely, lovely item.
It does appeal to today's market.
So obviously, you've made up your mind that, you know,
you're not going to make the jacket any longer.
-So it's time to sell them.
It is time to sell them, yes.
-Have you had them valued at all in the past?
Can you remember what you paid for them?
-Well, I probably paid under £10.
-OK. Yes, yeah.
-So a sensible price.
-A little while ago.
Yeah, well, I think they'll make a bit more than that now.
My feeling is... Again, it is the auctioneer's favourite.
-It's 80 to 120.
I think we are looking at a sensible estimate. I'd put the reserve at 70.
-OK, that sounds very good.
-Is that all right?
-Mainly for this.
I think the buckle will carry most of the value and the buttons will...
They just add to it.
They're lovely, cos they are very much made as a set.
-So we shall head off to the auction.
-..in buying you something else.
-Not to put in a drawer.
-Great, Ros. We'll see you there.
-OK, thank you very much.
Well, our experts have now found their final items to take off to auction,
which means we have to say farewell to this magnificent host location.
While we test the market for the last time in the saleroom,
here's a quick recap of all the items that are going...
under the hammer.
There's the mysterious Fijian ula.
Two timepieces - an Omega watch...
..and an older fob.
The colourful buttons and buckle may attract the fashionistas.
And the bronze dog, all the way from China.
We're back at the auction rooms with high expectations,
and Anthony Eldred is in charge.
Going under the hammer right now, we have some ethnographica.
Yes, that's right, some tribal art.
And we have a new ethnographica expert, Will "The Axe" Axon.
I see the auctioneer has tickled my estimate.
You had four to six on this club, the auctioneer has now said...
-Three to four or three to five.
-Three to four.
-Three to four.
-Why did he say that?
Did he get on the phone to you and talk to you about it?
Yes, he did, but I couldn't understand why he dropped it.
Maybe he doesn't feel confident that it's going to do Will's estimate.
Enjoy this moment - it's going to sell.
Here we go, it's going under the hammer, this is it.
The Fijian ula, or throwing club, and £260 for that.
At 260. 70. 270.
80. 290, 300. And ten.
At £310. 20 if you want it. At £310, then.
Bidding's in the room. At £310.
Last chance at 310.
-Well, it's gone down, £310.
-I would have hoped for a little bit more.
I don't think there was any internet or phone-line bidding on that.
The guy in the room got lucky there. No-one challenged his next bid.
-It'd be interesting to know what he would have gone up to, though, wouldn't it?
That's called holding your cards close to your chest.
-It's had a good life.
Next up, perhaps the colourful buckle
and buttons may finally get to see the light of day.
Ros, I like this next lot, I really do.
The Italian micromosaic work, sort of mid-19th century.
Why did you buy this? Come on, tell me why you bought it.
Well, I bought it on Portobello Road about 30-odd years ago.
-It's a long time.
-It is a long time.
And I was planning to make a nice blue velvet jacket.
-Did you know this story?
-Yeah, it's good, isn't it?
-I had it in my mind, what I was going to do.
-I can see it. I can see it. You never got round to doing it?
You know, you don't have to put it on a belt or anything.
It would look lovely in a cabinet, wouldn't it? Set off.
-Yeah, really nice.
-Fingers crossed we get the top end for this.
-Yeah, I hope so.
-Or somebody else might be creative and re-use it
in a new way. You never know, do you?
It's going under the hammer now. Let's find out what it makes.
It's an Italian micromosaic buckle.
And some buttons to go with it. Several bids. I'm bid, £100 exactly.
Yeah, straight in, well above the top end.
-Worth every penny.
And ten. 120.
At £120. On my book.
125. 130. I'm bid, 140.
At £140. Against the net. 150 now.
At £150. Online at £150.
At £150 then. All finished at 150...
-Sold, 150. Ros, that's a good result.
-I'm very pleased with that.
I think that's a cracking thing.
And it's been saved.
-And somebody is going to put it to use and show it off.
-Let's hope so.
And here's another interesting duo.
Going under the hammer right now, we have Joan's nine-carat gold
lady's Omega wristwatch. It's a great watch. And it was your watch.
-21st birthday present.
-21st birthday present from my mother.
-God, that was a posh present.
-It was a very posh present.
-Wow, Mummy spent a lot of money on you.
A good dress watch, nevertheless, it's nine-carat gold.
Great Swiss movement. The name should sell it.
OK, there are watch collectors out there,
so it's going to go to a collector.
He said. THEY LAUGH
-Very positive there.
-Yes. Well, you've got to be, haven't you?
There's no turning back from this spot right now,
because it's just about to go under the hammer.
I'm bid 150 for it. At £150 on my book.
At 180 now. At 180, then.
Take five. We're all done, then, at £180.
-That has gone down. Straight in and straight out.
Good result. So that's 180 for the first part of the lot.
And the second part of the lot is the 18-carat-gold pocket watch,
which is about to be put under the hammer. Here we go.
The continental, open-face, keyless pocket watch.
£100 for that, at 100. And ten.
120. 130. And five. 140.
-Come on, come on.
-Seated in front.
-Last chance, then, online.
-That's good, £140.
-That's very good.
-That's not bad, is it?
-Brilliant, brilliant. That's £320.
-That's all right, isn't it?
That's all right.
-We're happy, aren't we?
-Very happy, actually.
'The pressure's on now for the globetrotting bronze dog.'
I love this - it's either late 18th or early 19th, isn't it?
It's bronze, it's Chinese, it's flavour of the month.
I think this will fly, this censer. I really do.
Hopefully more than the two to three, Will. I know you've got to be cautious.
Got to be cautious. But it's got good provenance.
You can trace back the history,
certainly enough to give the buyers confidence, I would hope.
I think the internet will be a factor in this lot.
Right, we're going to find out what the bidders think.
Hopefully those phone lines are booked and we've got some
internet bidding all the way from the Far East.
It's going under the hammer right now. This is it, Pamela, over there.
The Chinese bronze censer, in the form of a standing kaolin.
I'm bid £310 for it. To start at 310.
-At £310 for it.
Against you on the net. 310, 320. 330.
340. 350. 360. 370.
He's got a bit left on the book. He keeps looking down.
390 now. 400.
410. 420. 430. I'm bid 450.
-Well, you're not taking it home, I can tell you that much.
-It's a great looking thing, isn't it?
-It stands well.
-As censers go, yes.
540. 560. 580.
600. 620 now.
What's nice about someone bidding in the room is you know they've
seen it, they've handled it, they have confidence in it.
-And 20. 740.
Anything oriental, as you know -
mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore...
Everybody is buying this back.
-900. 20 if you want.
-It'd be nice to get 1,000.
Pamela, we might be getting £1,000.
At 940 now. 960.
Come on, don't stop there. Don't stop there!
At 1,050. 1,100.
1,200. And 50.
1,300. At 1,350.
At 1,350, it will be...
He's working well, the auctioneer, for us.
1,400. And 50. 1,500.
-1,500! We're so close, losing it for £50.
-Against the net.
-It is so hard when you're the underbidder.
-Shall I faint?
£1,550. Very last chance.
The hammer's going down. Yes!
Pamela, that is fantastic, isn't it?
-That is brilliant!
It's so hard, it is so hard for an expert to put
a price on something like that. What a way to end today's show.
I hope you've enjoyed it.
We said there'd be a big surprise at the end,
and we delivered. And I hope you did enjoy it.
But do join us again for many more to come in the future,
but now, from Plymouth, it's goodbye.