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-There you go.
Today we are in Reading in the County of Berkshire,
and we are here at this magnificent Grade-II listed town hall.
We haven't even opened the doors yet and I've already lost my voice!
But Reading is situated between the port cities of Bristol and London,
so when the railways arrived here in the 19th century,
manufacturing was able to boom,
goods were sent all over the world,
and this in turn made Reading its fortune,
and we're hoping that trend continues here today.
We're hoping some of you make your fortune.
Welcome to Flog It!
In the 19th century,
Reading was built upon three main industries,
which became known locally as
the three Bs - beer, bulbs and biscuits.
The brewery, H & G Simonds, was a pioneer of pale ale.
Suttons Seeds used the new Great Western Railway to send
their seeds and bulbs across the country.
But by far the town's biggest employer of the period
was the family-run biscuit manufacturers, Huntley & Palmers,
whose name was known across the globe.
One of the members of the family was also
the founding member of Reading Museum,
which is housed inside this magnificent town hall.
Now, I know this crowd are eager to get inside,
and get on with those valuations.
They want to know, "What's it worth?" Are you ready to go in?
And helping to put a value on the antiques and collectables of Reading
we have two experts, Nick Davies and David Harper.
And it looks as if David has already found his first item.
I think I'm going to take a chance on you.
-I'm going to red sticker you.
This is an experience you are never going to forget.
Is that right?
And eagle-eyed Nick is working the queue too.
It's a good job I brought my glasses.
So it looks like we're in safe hands today.
-We can have one each, Nick.
-Yeah, that's good.
Well, they've got to be Japanese or Chinese. One or the other.
I'm going Japanese.
Well, just to be contentious, I might go Chinese.
Right, it's 9.30am, and time to open the town hall's doors.
As well as housing the 11 galleries which make up Reading Museum,
the town hall complex also boasts
a fantastic concert hall which dates from 1882,
and this is where our crowd are
making themselves comfortable today.
Whilst everyone gets seated,
let's take a look at what's coming up on the show.
A wealth of collectables with a local connection land on our tables,
such as the 1930s football programme featuring Reading,
brought in by a local fan.
I used to sneak in without my mother knowing.
Mother said that football wasn't the game for young ladies.
And David uncovers the life story of a local Reading policeman.
This, including his truncheon,
actually sums up one man's career and one man's life.
And I'll be taking a closer look at the history of Huntley & Palmers,
and finding out what it was like to work at their factory.
If the wind was in the right direction,
the smell would waft across to the town centre.
As you can see, everybody is now
safely seated inside the concert hall -
it's time to get on with those valuations.
Who is that lucky first person going to be?
We're just about to find out.
Let's catch up with David Harper,
and take a closer look at what he's found.
Elaine and Richard, we met outside.
-I said we were going to go on a journey of discovery.
Elaine, start the journey off.
Well, this is my grandfather,
my father's father, David Jessie George,
and his wife Clara.
And he was in the Wiltshire Regiment
and posted to Fort Napier,
-Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.
So you can trace back these pieces, really way back.
-If you look at the dress here,
it screams late Victorian, 1890, maybe 1900.
But I wouldn't suggest very much later than that,
looking at the photos.
What was his job in the Army?
He was a Sergeant Major.
Oh! I bet he was a stern one.
He looks stern, doesn't he?
-Was he involved in the Boer War?
-He would have been, but, you know...
Well, let's be honest, he had to have been.
If he was there posted with the British Army,
he in one way or another was involved.
-He would have been involved.
So what's his connection, then,
with what are most certainly Zulu artefacts?
We don't know whether he traded them or brought them back
because they were of interest to him.
-I don't know, I just know that they've always been in the family.
-Do you know what that is?
-I'm guessing that is drinking vessel.
It is, it's a water bottle.
Then we have a very ornate belt.
I was always told that was the lady's.
-Yes, I would say it was.
-To wear round her waist.
-This is the male one.
Now, you think it's male?
I don't think it's male at all.
-I think it's female.
I think it's a female modesty belt.
What about that one there, Elaine?
That's a diddly one, isn't it?
Well, I think that is an infant's dress piece.
Or neck piece.
Well, yes, I just assume it would go round the waist.
Either way, it's incredibly beautiful
and very, very decorative, isn't it?
Now, these are what we might refer to as trade beads,
so these were introduced to Africa in the early 1800s, '20s, '30s,
almost as currency.
-So glass beads.
-From the UK?
-From the West.
-They are glass, are they? I didn't know that.
Yeah, absolutely. They would be as good as money.
I think they're magnificent.
And what's lovely about these objects is the fact that you can
categorically trace them back in time.
And I would say that they are not tourist, because they're too good.
I've seen too many cheap, mass-produced tourist things.
These are really high-end. I think, good quality, late 19th,
early 20th-century Zulu pieces.
Very, very tricky to put a price on them.
Oh, yes, I can imagine, yes.
You've got photographs, you've got the family history,
you can give it the provenance that we need.
-So an estimate of, take a chance,
£200 to £300.
-Is that bad?
-It sounds incredible.
Really? Well, I am delighted because
these are the kind of things, you two,
that may not get any interest whatsoever, but with that story,
-they might just absolutely take off.
I know, don't you like taking a chance?
-Shall we go for a bit of excitement?
Shall we do it? Are we going to reserve them?
No, no, no.
I don't want them back. I didn't know Grandfather.
I'll gain, though!
We move from South Africa to Berkshire now,
as Nick has found an item with a local connection.
Well, Doreen, thank you for coming in.
You've brought us an interesting football programme here,
Reading against Arsenal.
1935 FA Cup match.
-How have you come about this?
Well, this came from my father who supported Reading,
and went to almost every home match.
-And did you go with him?
-No, no. Mother said that
football wasn't the game for young ladies.
-So what I did is I went out to a friend's house
who lived near the ground,
telling my mother that I was going to visit a friend,
and then the two of us used to go along to football.
So you used to sneak in without your mother knowing?
I used to sneak in without my mother knowing.
Although I found Father quite often in the ground, Father never let on.
And this is all at Elm Park? They don't play there any more.
This was all at Elm Park.
No, they've moved now to a beautiful stadium, the Madejski Stadium,
which is the other side of town.
And do you still go?
Only very occasionally now.
So tell me, the programme here from the FA Cup
is a fifth-round tie, I believe. My, how times have changed.
There's a picture in here of the Arsenal team.
Look at them, they look like they've got woolly jumpers on.
They're playing in woolly jumpers, knee-length shorts.
I mean, can you imagine the players of today going out like that?
Even when I used to go in the late '40s and '50s,
the shorts and the tops were very different,
although Reading have always played in blue and white.
Always played in blue and white. And they're called the Royals, aren't they?
-They're called the Royals.
-Why is that?
Well, before that I think they were called the Biscuits.
The Biscuits because of making biscuits in town.
I didn't know that. You see, I am learning something today. I learn something every day as well.
It's a really interesting bit of social history.
The good thing about it - it's pre-war,
so there is a little more value to the items that are pre-war.
People tend to like the pre-war programmes.
And the other good thing in its favour,
two things, it's an FA Cup match,
and its Arsenal as well, because there are collectors
of, obviously, all different teams.
Arsenal - still being one of the biggest teams,
there'll be more collectors for that.
Do you know the result?
I think Arsenal won 1-0.
Correct. But apparently, don't feel too bad,
because they got knocked out in the next round
by Sheffield Wednesday, apparently.
I didn't know that.
So value wise, it is not worth a fortune,
-but it is a nice bit of local, social history.
I would say it is somewhere around about £50,
so 40-60 I would probably put in as an estimate.
How do you think about that?
That's fine. Absolutely fine, yes.
You just want it to go to someone who will enjoy it, by the looks of it.
-Put a reserve with a little discretion of 40, sound OK?
That sounds fine.
Whilst our experts continue searching the valuation day
for items to take off to auction,
I'm heading to Reading Museum in another part of the town hall
to have a look at something of local interest.
Now, earlier on I was telling you how Reading was known
as the town of the three Bs,
for its industries in beer, bulbs and biscuits.
Well, a lot of people argue it should be the town of four Bs,
because Reading's brick manufacturing
should be included too.
S & E Collier Ltd was the town's largest brickmakers,
who established themselves in Reading in the mid-19th century.
They were well known for their terracotta and Reading red bricks,
which were made from iron-rich clay deposits from the local area.
Many of the streets in the town had houses
which were made from these red bricks.
In 1974, Reading Borough Council commissioned John Piper,
a well-known British artist of the 20th century,
to design two tapestries for the new civic offices,
called Rural Reading and Urban Reading.
In the urban tapestry, Piper was trying to show that Reading was a
beautiful town that shouldn't be overlooked.
He was a big fan of Reading's redbrick heritage,
and said of the redbrick streets, "The washable,
"weather-resisting surface that will hardly change with centuries of wear
"changes its look with the different lights of different days,
"and has plenty of delights to satisfy the unprejudiced eye."
I absolutely love this and to top it all off, he has even put a flock of
seagulls up there enjoying the view.
Well, hopefully our experts are enjoying the view
back in the concert hall.
Let's catch up with them and see
what else we can find to take off to auction.
Now, Jane, I'm sorry to say,
but I do feel there are three of us in this relationship.
You could be right there.
Yes. Tell me all about the third person.
Well, the third person should have been brought here by my brother.
Why couldn't he make it today?
Because he's in Berlin on his jolly holidays yet again.
Right. And you're here at work, because this is where you work.
-What is your job here?
-I run the conference office here.
And I love your surname.
-Is it true you are called Jane Austen?
-I am Jane Austen.
That's my married name.
Anyway, we must get back to the mask.
-Do you know who made it?
Only in as much as it's Troika.
So he bought it in Liberty's in 1978 for £20.
If we turn it upside down,
we can see that it is signed Troika,
and an initial by the potter themselves.
And it is all, of course, hand-painted,
so each and every one is completely individual.
So you've got the very Aztec design at the front,
but it is, in actual fact, reversible, isn't it?
-So if you get bored of that face, you can spin him around.
That's more a kind of Picasso face in actual fact, isn't it?
Would you have it in your house?
I think I probably would, actually.
Well, I think, Jane, the more I look at it, the more I like it.
I mean Troika itself is a fascinating company,
founded in 1962 by three people.
Troika is Russian for three.
-Oh, yep, yep.
-It's a great story.
Apparently one of the founders' grandfather
escaped Russia in a troika,
which is a sledge pulled by...
I've had a ride in a troika.
-Indeed, in Russia.
Well, there you go.
A great story behind the mask, if you like.
But I think it makes it even more interesting
the fact that your brother bought it new.
-Because the firm in the early '80s came to an end, so 1978.
And from Liberty's as well,
it's got a great history as well, hasn't it?
-£20 in 1978.
What would that equate to today?
Oh, tricky one.
100? I'll guess.
-OK, so valuation today, has it increased in value?
Has it been a really good investment?
Well, I would guess,
in auction, 300 to 400,
taking into account a little bit of a chip,
add a little discretion on the 300.
How would he feel about that, do you think? Can you act on his behalf?
Well, I can, as I spoke to him this morning,
and I think he would be quite happy with 300-ish.
OK, so he has already mentioned the figure of 300?
Yes, I think he was saying 300 would probably be his bottom line.
OK, OK, shall we go to auction at 300 to 400, fixed reserve at three?
Yes, I think that sounds good.
Jane Austen, I will see you in auction.
Well, what a great day we are having here in the town hall in Reading.
Our experts have been working flat out, as you've just seen.
They've now found their first three items to take off to auction,
so stay with us, it could get very exciting.
Here's a quick recap, just to jog your memory of all the items we are
putting under the hammer.
Elaine threw caution to the wind
when she decided not to put a reserve
on her decorative Zulu artefacts made from glass trade beads.
We are staying in Berkshire to sell Doreen's 1935 Reading versus Arsenal
FA Cup match programme,
so fingers crossed it can stir up a local crowd.
And finally the two-sided Troika mask belonging to Jane's brother,
who bought it for £20 in 1978.
Let's hope it's grown in value since then.
Well, today it's auction day.
This is where we put those valuations to the test right here,
Martin and Pole auction rooms in Wokingham.
And I've got a good feeling about today,
because the sun is shining and I tell you what,
I think our owners are going to be in for a jolly good time.
They're all inside now,
so let's catch up with them, and get on with that hammer action.
Remember, whether you're buying or selling at auction,
there is always commission and VAT to pay.
Here, the rate if you are selling is 15% plus VAT.
Our auctioneer today is Matt Coles, and he's already on the rostrum
wielding his gavel, so fingers crossed for our first lot.
I've just been joined by Elaine and Richard and going under the hammer
right now, your grandfather's African clothing, the Zulu clothing,
-and it has been in the family ever since?
-Yes, it has, yes.
Good luck, everyone, we're looking for £200-£300,
let's find out what the bidders think.
It's going under the hammer right now.
Pre-19th century south African beaded neck pieces and gourd.
Starting with me at £150.
With me at £150.
Any further offers?
150. Go on, come on.
It's at £150.
Are we all done at 150?
At 150, then.
Maiden bid, Paul.
-£150, we were lucky because there was no reserve on that.
-No, that's fine.
-You didn't want a reserve, did you?
-No, it can go.
-Well, lucky it went for 150 and not 50 quid, in a way.
Yes, yes, I think that's absolutely lovely.
Thank you very much indeed. Yes.
Now it's time for an item from a little closer to home.
Right, let's hope our next lot hits the back of the net,
and we score a goal with it.
We're talking about Doreen's FA Cup programme,
and it's Reading versus Arsenal.
Great that it's pre-war, and it's local,
and that's what it's all about.
Hopefully someone in Reading is going to buy this.
A fan will buy this, and they will want to cherish it.
Maybe an Arsenal fan.
Or an Arsenal fan.
But it's thanks to you, anyway.
Let's find out - what's it worth?
We're putting this programme under the hammer. Here we go.
Start this with me at £28.
With me at 28.
35, 38, 40.
With you now, £40. 42 on the internet.
45, 48 on the internet.
50 in the room, 55.
At 55 on the internet.
Any more at £55?
Are we selling at £55?
Any more at £55?
£55, it's gone.
That's not bad, is it?
-For one programme.
-For one programme, yeah, absolutely.
Next it's that hand-painted Troika mask.
This was brought to our valuation day by Jane.
-It's great to see you again. And I know it was your brother's.
-And this is your brother?
-This is my brother.
-What's your name?
Peter, pleased to meet you.
A man of good taste.
-Why are you selling this?
Why do you want to sell it?
Well, I've got a house full of collectables,
and this is the only thing that has actually appreciated in value!
Let's realise some cash.
So you're really playing the money market in a way.
Look, fingers crossed. I hope it does a lot more than the 3-4.
I'm hoping this is a come-and-buy-me.
Slight chip in this one,
just a little nibble out of it which will make some difference.
But this is speculation, this is what auctions are all about.
This is why they're such great fun,
and it's going under the hammer right now.
Let's hand the proceedings over to our auctioneer.
Absentee bids on this one.
I can start it with me at £300.
320, 350, 380, 400,
420 with you now.
-At £420. Any more?
-That was a nice little roll.
-I wanted that to keep on going.
Any more? Are we all done, then, at £420?
Well, we just did over the top end which is good news, isn't it?
-It's good news.
-That's all right.
-It's good news.
-It is good.
-Well, thank you - thank you for bringing it in!
Some great results so far -
and we'll be back at the auction a little later on in the show.
Now, when I was in Reading,
I was keen to find out more about the town's biscuit heritage.
Huntley & Palmers were the world's largest biscuit manufacturers
in the 19th and early 20th century.
In fact, their success
led to Reading being nicknamed Biscuit Town.
The company began in 1822, when Joseph Huntley, who was a Quaker,
founded a small bakers in London Street in Reading.
Then he entered into partnership with George Palmer,
who was a distant Quaker cousin of his,
and Huntley & Palmers was born.
By 1846, the pair had opened a large factory on King's Road.
This site ended up growing to over 30 acres,
and it even had its own steam train
to take biscuits to the nearby mainline.
Huntley & Palmers was hugely successful -
as the largest biscuit manufacturer in the world,
their produce was shipped as far from the South Pole to the Sudan,
it went everywhere -
and their success was largely due to the cousins' religious beliefs,
which meant they turned out a great product.
It was because of their Quaker conscience
that the cousins used only the finest ingredients
in their biscuits - and they charged a fair price, too.
So the public soon came to trust their brand.
By the 1900s,
the company was making around 400 different types of biscuit.
And the popularity of their biscuits
meant that a whole entire army of people were required
to service the small town that Huntley & Palmers had become -
and the people of Reading were more than willing.
In fact, many generations and entire families
worked at their biscuit factories, and by the year 1900,
Huntley & Palmers were employing around 5,500 people...
and these people needed somewhere to live,
and many of them ended up living here.
This area is called Newtown,
which is close to the factories where they worked -
and a lot of them, the Huntley & Palmers employees,
ended up living in these redbrick terraced houses.
Now, these were built from the 1870s onwards.
The company had a reputation of being a good employer
who provided benefits for their workers,
such as a sick fund, pensions, and even a cake on their wedding day.
In return for good working conditions,
the owners had high expectations of their employees,
who had to abide by strict rules.
The company also looked after the health and wellbeing
of their workers.
Today this area is called Palmer's Park.
Now, originally, it was purchased towards the end of the 19th century
by George Palmer for the Huntley & Palmers employees
to use as a recreation facility,
so they could come here and play football and cricket and tennis -
and subsequently the employees lived a long and healthy life,
and it's also been said
that they largely enjoyed working in the biscuit factory, too.
It was like one big, happy family.
Although biscuit production ceased in Reading in the 1970s,
there are still people who still have fond memories
of working at the factory.
Both John Manning and Ray Bell started at the company in the 1950s
and became engineer apprentices at the age of 16.
Do you remember the smell of the biscuits,
the smell that used to come out of South Factory?
If the wind was in the right direction,
the smell would waft across to the town centre.
Yeah, you could tell what they were baking on any particular day
-by the smell.
-Yeah. The ginger nuts, especially.
The sheer numbers of people, as well.
I always remember where we came out at lunchtime,
it was like a football crowd, wasn't it? Coming up Gas Works Lane.
So many people all milling about.
Because when you think back, it was almost everyone in Reading,
I honestly believe, had some relation -
mum, dad, brother, sister, uncle -
who had actually worked at Huntley & Palmers.
-Every day was a laugh, wasn't it? To be honest.
It was really good fun, yeah.
I think it was the characters that made the place.
It isn't just memories that survive
from the era of biscuit manufacturing in the town.
Reading Museum in the Town Hall
holds a wealth of the company's artefacts,
and hundreds of examples of their biscuit tins.
Huntley & Palmers' phenomenal success
is partly due to the fact that
they pioneered the use of the biscuit tin.
Now, their airtight tins were extremely popular abroad.
They preserved the biscuits and kept them fresh in hot, humid climates.
Now, it's even rumoured that when the first white man entered Tibet,
he was greeted with a tin of Huntley & Palmers biscuits -
they'd got there before him.
And it wasn't just families that enjoyed Huntley & Palmers biscuits.
Here, in its very own tin, is a biscuit that was provided
to Captain Scott's ill-fated expedition to Antarctica in 1911.
Scott ordered these as a vital provision.
He knew biscuits originated from the sea biscuit
which was provided to sailors on long voyages,
and it seems that Scott was a bit of a connoisseur,
because we have a letter here which he wrote to the company
and it says - I can read it out, look,
"We find on opening the tins of Antarctica and Emergency Biscuits
"that the biscuits are considerably cracked and broken.
"The cases have been handled a good deal,
"but I also think that some change has taken place
"which makes them more brittle." Isn't that fabulous?
It wasn't just Scott who cottoned on to the fact
that biscuits could be used as a vital ration -
during World War I,
Huntley & Palmers made up the standard ration for the soldier,
and here are some wonderful surviving examples.
Look at this - this one here, December the 25th 1917,
and it says "teacake" on it -
but look at that, it's got a little wooden box
made up from the side of the trenches.
That is absolutely fabulous -
and there's another one here, look,
with a cut-out of a soldier standing in a sentry box.
That's lovely, that's dated 1915.
In the interwar years,
the high costs of goods and the strength of the pound
led to a fall in production.
Then, after World War II,
labour shortages, competition from cheaper manufacturers
and a lack of investment all contributed to the eventual closure
of Reading's biscuit factory in 1976.
Down in South Factory when the last biscuit came through the oven,
the last Cornish wafer, there were men there,
old men, they'd been there as boys
in the late '20s, perhaps, and '30s,
they were in tears when they saw those last biscuits coming through.
-They'd been there all their life, yeah.
-All their life.
They'd been through a world war,
and they come back and then see the end of this.
Yeah, it was very sad.
-It was a tragedy for Reading when the company packed up.
A lot of people were really upset about that.
But it was good fun. It was good fun.
I think it was probably the best job that we ever had.
Back over in the concert hall,
our valuation day is still in full swing,
with hundreds of people waiting patiently for a valuation -
and it looks as if we haven't quite had our fill of biscuits yet,
as Nick is indulging in a sweet treat.
Well, here we are, Barbara, leaning on the stage of Reading Town Hall,
where lots of famous people, I'm sure, have performed -
and it's our turn now.
So, tell me about this tin you've brought with us today.
-How long have you had it?
-I reckon about 30 years.
-My sister-in-law gave it to us.
She worked at Huntley & Palmers biscuit factory,
and we decided to keep it -
-my husband thought it was quite fun...
..and then they withdrawed it.
-So you'd already got this...
-..and your sister said it's going to be withdrawn?
-Because of the naughtiness that was on the...
Now, we need to look at this very closely, don't we?
-We do, yes.
-I might even have to get my glasses out.
-So in this lithograph, here,
which is in the manner of Kate Greenaway,
who was a very good illustrator of children's books...
-So it's quite an...
..idyllic English country scene, isn't it?
-Yes, it is.
-With a nice tea party -
but if you look very closely, what's going on?
Well, if you look here, there's two dogs...
Right, just there...
-There's two dogs enjoying themselves, shall we say?
And also just under that branch there, right at the back,
you can see some knees and arms
of a young courting couple, shall we say, and leave it at that?
Now, I assume that's why it was withdrawn.
Who found out about this?
-I don't really know.
-We're not sure.
The gentleman who designed it was a chap called Mark Hill.
-Who was a little bit...
-mischievous, shall we say?
-Mischievous, that's right.
-He thought he'd have a bit of fun.
-Have a bit of fun -
and put these two scenes within the context of this scene here,
and they are very difficult to spot.
It's not that old, though, is it?
This was done in about 1980, I believe, is that correct?
-Something like that, yes.
-Something like that -
and you've kept it wrapped up, unused, ever since?
It's been at the top of the wardrobe ever since.
The biscuits are still in there.
You're better than me - I'd have eaten the biscuits,
without a shadow of a doubt.
Assortment biscuits, there.
-A nice bourbon in there, as well.
So, what do we think on value?
I'm not going to go mad on it.
-I think somewhere around about 60 to £80 as a reserve.
Maybe with a little discretion, give a little bit of flexibility again.
I think that should do. You happy with that?
Yes, I'm quite happy with it.
-It's not bad for a tin of biscuits, 60 quid, is it?
I think we'll do that -
-we'll go to sale and see what happens on the day.
And afterwards we'll have a cup of tea and biscuits as well.
OK, thanks very much.
I'll join you for that cuppa!
Next it's over to an interesting collection on David's table.
Now, Len, I can see the family resemblance - but that is not you?
No, that's Father.
So, your father, was called...?
-Same as me.
-Same as you, OK.
So, named after your father.
-Yeah, 1931, that was.
-Tell me about your dad.
Did he have a full career in the police force?
Oh, yeah, he done 32... 32 years, he done the business -
and with him, police force came before family and friends.
Did you find that your life was slightly restricted,
-having a father in the police?
I done things that... I shouldn't have done.
You know, nothing serious -
and he'd come home and he'd say, "You got something to tell me?"
And I'd say, "No." And he'd say, "Well, I think you have."
-He would know, wouldn't he?
And all of these badges and emblems and medals, they're all his.
Can you talk me through, here?
-Well, that would be his cap badge in the '30s.
And then that was his number when he started.
Then he was a Sergeant with the number 8.
-Then he was an inspector...
-..and he went into a cap...
-Oh, I see.
-Which became that.
And then he progressed up the line,
which gave him a crown on the shoulders.
-Just a higher rank.
After that, he done the distance through the medals.
OK, so what medals have we got here?
What are they relating to?
One's a war medal...
-OK, so that's service during the Second World War?
Which, in actual fact, me mother took a bit of stick over that,
because everybody else's husband went in the forces...
-..and they used to say to her, "It's all right for you,
-"your husband's at home."
-But he had to be home.
-Of course he did, yeah.
-That was it.
-And then he got a Coronation medal.
-That's the one there.
Your dad was issued with a medal to wear on the day, I suppose?
-Is that for long service, this one?
-More than likely.
-More than likely.
And then, to top it all,
Queen's Police Medal for duty to the country.
And this, I assume, then,
relates to the letter here
from the Home Office at Whitehall dated 1962,
-so this, I'm guessing, is just before your dad retires.
It says here, "Sir, I am directed by the Secretary of State
"to inform you that Her Majesty the Queen is pleased to award you
"the Queen's Police Medal for distinguished service."
That's pretty good going, isn't it?
That ain't bad for 32 years, is it?
32 years is all wrapped up in that one medal.
-He must have been so proud.
-And you, too.
He gave his life to it, you know what I mean?
Yeah - and you're right, this, including his truncheon,
actually sums up one man's career and one man's life.
So when you look at these things, it must flood back, memories,
-good and bad, I assume?
-But what's the situation today?
-What are you looking to do?
-I'm going to unload them, if I can.
I mean, they've been in the back of the wardrobe.
They don't deserve to be in the back of the wardrobe.
-For 40 or 50 years, or whatever.
They don't. There are collectors out there for this sort of thing,
and rightly so.
They need to be, now, in a collection.
They're almost museum quality,
and you've got all that local connection, as well.
They'd sit well here, today, in a museum, wouldn't they?
-They really would.
So, they want to be offered to someone
who's going to look after them and display them.
So, it's very difficult to value a man's career and life
-sat in front of us...
..but unfortunately we have to do it, and I think...
I don't know whether you're going to be shocked or horrified, here,
but I think, in auction...
..their value, really, sensibly, is only £200-300 for the collection,
which seems a drop in the ocean.
Compared to what it actually represents -
but I think, more to the point, it needs to be out there on display.
-Let's get it out there.
-Shall we do it?
-Someone enjoy it.
-Are you happy at that, 200-300?
-With a little bit of discretion on the 200?
-Yeah, yeah. Fine, yeah.
-Len, let's go to auction.
-Let's do it.
-Let's do it.
Well, we've found two items, so, so far, so good.
Everyone's having a cracking time.
We only need one more before we go off to auction
and, I tell you what, my day just gets better and better and better,
because I have just bumped into Martha here with a tray of delights.
Look at that, very Nice, I must say.
Now, the viewers might recognise you...
Look at this face - yes, you're working it out now.
Remind everybody where they last saw you?
So, I was on the Great British Bake Off season five,
and I've made some coconut Nice biscuits and some iced gems,
which originate from right here.
So you've made this, inspired by Huntley & Palmers?
Yes - so, I did an event here in Reading
with people who used to work in the factory
and they were sharing their stories with me,
and I hadn't realised that things like iced gems
were actually made right here, invented here.
They put some biscuits in the oven one day and they came out shrunk,
and they thought, "Do you know what? We'll just sell them as gems,"
and they were un-iced,
and they sold them for about 30 years with no icing on at all,
and then one day they thought, "Do you know what?
"let's put some icing on them, make them a bit more fun."
It was about 100 years ago now,
but they're still on every party table all around the country.
-They look great.
I bet they taste great. I'm going to have a go in a minute,
but I'm going to offer some to the audience.
Go on, have one of these, have one of these.
Thank you very much.
Do you know, what? That is fantastic.
That is really good, isn't it?
That just melts in your mouth.
I just love the way that it makes so many people happy.
Nobody ever says no to cake, and it makes you a lot of friends.
I just love to share food around.
Now it's time for our final valuation of the day,
and Nick has come across a couple of pieces of grandmother's silver.
Well, Peter, I spotted you outside in the queue
with these two little quirky bits of silver.
They were actually my grandmother's.
When I was clearing the house when my mother died,
we picked up these things...
-..and these were actually... came back from Latvia.
-When the Russians invaded,
it was one of the things... They could only carry...
They had to leave everything else behind...
..and they had to actually flee,
and the few things they brought with them.
-That and some cutlery, and that was it.
Pocket-sized things, really.
Pocket sized, it was all you could carry. Yeah.
-You were running for your life.
The stories behind these things are half as interesting
as the items themselves. I just LOVE this.
-I love this.
-I know it's a cigarette case,
and cigarette smoking is a bit de rigueur,
but of the time, it's beautiful.
Now, they're both Latvian silver,
so they're from your parents' home...home country.
Bernard Bergholz is the maker of that one.
Do you know what? We've looked at this,
I can't dig a maker out for this one.
We have tried. They are similar sorts of dates,
-and this we can date because of the mark.
It's 1924 to 1944 -
but we can date this even better inside
-cos there's a little inscription, isn't there?
-Yes, that's right.
The little owl, that was a mark of endearment
-by my grandfather to my grandmother...
-..and he used to call her owl.
-He used to call her owl?
Yeah, made that, and that was...
..and presented it, and that was her birthday.
What a nice touch.
I mean, from the outside it's got nuances of Russian silver,
and this coiled snake,
and the way his tongue comes round right to the snap,
you can almost hear his mouth snapping as you shut it.
I think it's beautiful.
Your little matchbook cover complements, as well.
I suspect might be a little bit earlier,
-maybe the same sort of period.
I always thought this one was German, actually,
because of the scene.
-It's very Black Forest, absolutely.
When you look at it, like you say, it's a typical woodland scene -
but they're just something a bit different, something a bit unusual,
-but this, to me...
-I prefer this than that, personally,
I think it reeks of better quality.
-What about value?
-Yeah, I can believe that.
They're difficult because of what they are, they're smoking-related.
Also they're not English silver,
and people tend to love a hallmark in this country -
but the design is beautiful.
On both of them, but, again, particularly this one.
My head's telling me 60, 80,
my heart's saying it's worth more, should be 80 to 100.
So let's go 80 to 100, with a bit of discretion.
-Yeah, I'm happy with that.
-OK? Are you happy with that?
That one probably not as much.
That one I would have thought you're going to be around about 30 to 40,
reserve around the bottom estimate's 30 on that one, 80 on that one.
-How does that sound?
-I'm happy with that.
Thanks ever so much for bringing them along...
-My pleasure, sir.
-..and we shall see you at the auction,
-and enjoy ourselves.
Well, that's it, we've found our final three items
to take off to auction -
so, it's time to say goodbye to Reading Town Hall.
We've been made very welcome here today,
and I've loved finding out about Reading's biscuit heritage.
Before we head off to the saleroom, though,
here's a quick reminder of the items that are going under the hammer.
Barbara's Huntley & Palmers biscuit tin shows an idyllic country scene
with a few hidden extras, and it's still full of biscuits.
Len's collection of police memorabilia,
including badges, medals and a truncheon,
are mementos of his father's 32 years' dedicated service
in the force...
..and finally, fashioned from Latvian silver,
let's hope Peter's cigarette case and matchbox cover
strike a chord with the bidders...
..as we head back to Martin & Pole,
where auctioneer Matt Coles is still hard at work.
Latvian silver, absolute little treasures, aren't they?
-Yes, they are.
So, why are you selling these?
They've been sitting in a drawer for years,
so I thought, "Time to move on."
-I can understand that.
Right, let's find out what the bidders think,
because I'm quite excited about these.
They're going under the hammer right now.
The continental style cigarette case,
I have absentee bids on this one.
I can start it with me at £85.
With me at £85.
I'm selling at £85...
-Any more at £85?
At 85, then, selling.
Are we all done?
-Oh, that's gone. It was a nice Art Deco piece, though, wasn't it?
And here's the next lot, the little matchbox cover.
Start this with me at £22.
With me at £22?
Any further offers at £22?
Are we all done at £22?
Gosh, that's nothing, is it?
With me at £28, now.
One more? 30 with you, now.
£30. Any further offers at £30?
Selling, then, for £30...
It sold at £30, just.
That was on your estimates.
Well, that's a total of £115.
-I'm happy with that, yes.
Pay for a good night out.
I'm quite happy with that.
Next up it's that Huntley & Palmers biscuit tin.
Oh, crumbs, Barbara!
See, I had to start with that, didn't I?
-You know what's coming up, don't you?
Yes, the biscuit tin.
We couldn't come to Reading without finding a biscuit tin.
-No, certainly not. No.
-Especially not a naughty one!
I've seen that one before.
-Still perfect condition.
-It is, isn't it?
-Been in the cupboard for 30 years!
Let's find out what it's worth, it's going under the hammer right now.
Here we go, this is it.
I've got absentee bids on this one, I have to start it with me at £40.
With me at £40.
Any further offers at £40?
At £40, then?
With me at £45, now.
Any more, at 45?
As £45, now.
Are we all done, then, at 45?
We had a reserve of £60...
-Not quite there.
-Not quite there.
I think that's a good thing.
-I think we don't want to sell this too cheaply...
-..stick to that £60 reserve and hopefully another day, OK?
-Better luck next time, OK?
-Thank you very much for bringing it in, though.
Now for our final lot of the day.
-Leonard, good luck with this.
We're talking about the police memorabilia -
all of this memorabilia is your dad's, isn't it?
Is this a bit of a wrench, to let go?
Well, look, it's great.
What we've got here, with the medals and everything,
-the whole collection, I think it's fantastic.
I think this has got to stay in the borough,
-it's got to stay in Reading.
-It'd be nice.
We're going to put this to the test
as it goes under the hammer right now.
Here's the collection of police memorabilia.
Interesting lot, this one.
I have to start it with me at £290.
£290. Any further offers at 290?
-Hang on, the internet's going wild.
Hang on. Hang on, hang on.
We've got the internet at £380.
I've got 400 here.
-At £400 with me, 420.
Brilliant, there's someone in the room.
I've got a bid, here, of 480, actually.
480 with me, at 480.
Where do you want to go on the internet?
500, thank you.
At £500. Any more at £500?
-You want to bid?
Yeah? 550 on the telephone, now.
-Any more, at 550?
600 on the internet, now.
600 against us...
The suspense is killing me here!
It's on the internet at £600.
At £600, then.
Any more at £600?
Selling on the internet, then, at £600.
Yes, it went on the internet,
-but hopefully that person's bidding from Berkshire.
-My expert. Good boy.
-Feel all right about that?
-Oh, yeah, magic.
-Well done, Dad.
-Yeah, well done, Dad, yeah.
What a career. What a great career he had.
You're smiling and we're smiling,
and it's brought our show to a close today with a lovely surprise.
-Yeah, it was.
-So, thank you so much.
-I hope you've enjoyed the show,
we thoroughly enjoyed being here,
and do join us again for many more surprises -
but until then, it's goodbye from Wokingham, and evenin' all.
This episode comes from the town of Reading in Berkshire. Antiques experts Nick Davies and David Harper are on hand to find a selection of objects to take to auction. Nick comes across a programme from the 1935 FA Cup match between local team Reading and Arsenal, while David discovers some Zulu artefacts from much further afield.
Paul Martin finds out how, in the 19th and 20th centuries, biscuit manufacturing put Reading's name on the map.