Paul Martin and experts James Lewis and Charlie Ross visit the Kent spa town of Tunbridge Wells in search of antiques to sell at auction.
Browse content similar to Tunbridge Wells. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
If you've got a winner in your wardrobe, charms hiding in your chest,
unwanted heirlooms in the bedroom, Flog It is the show for you.
Today, Flog It comes from Tunbridge Wells,
a town which owes its existence to a drunken nobleman some 400 years ago.
In 1606, a young Dudley Lord North was making his way back home,
on horseback, having been drinking and partying all night in London.
Still feeling the worse for wear,
he chanced upon the waters of the Chalybeate Spring.
He got down from his horse and drank the waters to quench his thirst.
Lord North felt so rejuvenated after drinking the cool, iron-rich spring waters,
that he declared it health giving to his friends and acquaintances.
As word spread of the water's supposed health-giving properties,
it soon attracted the cream of 17th and 18th century society, eager to try it for themselves.
A settlement grew around the spring and Tunbridge Wells was born.
Well, word has spread that Flog It is in town and we do have a massive queue.
Let's see if our experts, James Lewis and Charlie Ross, can pick out the cream of antiques.
-What a wonderful box.
Now, is this a family piece or is this something that you've bought recently from auction?
My gran recently gave it to my dad.
I don't know how long she's had it.
-My dad, years ago, was in the Navy, so I don't know whether she bought it because of that.
It goes further back than that.
It's a wonderful piece of typical sailor work.
Traditionally, people say that sailors, while they were at sea,
would turn their hand to scrimshaws and wool work pictures and this marquetry on writing boxes.
I don't know whether that's true because sailors had very little space on board ship.
To actually be working something this big, I think would be quite unlikely.
These come in various shapes and forms.
The more ships that are on these writing boxes, the more valuable they are.
Some just have one on the cover, like this. Others have them all around the sides.
If we look inside here, we've got some alterations to it.
Whenever you've had anything altered with it, it reduces the value.
This leather writing surface is 20th century.
If we look in here, there should be a secret compartment under here,
little compartments at the top here, but that, again, doesn't work, so that reduces it.
There should be two inkwells, for red ink and for black, they're missing.
And a pen tray in the centre.
So this old box has seen better days.
Somebody's had a go at restoring it, but they haven't gone the whole hog.
You see this wood around the outside of the box?
This is known as a rosewood. This started to be used around 1820.
You can identify it by very dark, almost black streaks next to pale brown.
Now, do you know why it was called rosewood?
-No, I don't.
-Because when these guys were over in South America and overseas,
cutting these fantastic trees down,
when they cut this tree down, it smelled of roses.
-That's how it got its name, rosewood.
And then, you've got a very plain wood that has taken a stain.
This would've been bright, vivid blue when it was new.
And a wood that takes a blue stain well is sycamore,
so this is likely to be sycamore.
All this would've been bright. You see some of the colours left in the flag here.
We've just got blue and hints of red left.
All the sails would have been bright.
It wouldn't have looked anything like this when it was new. It would've been really bright.
Now, if we look at the sides.
Big panels of burr walnut. Again, very expensive veneer.
-So this has got everything on it you want to see.
Date... Well, we've got a plaque on the front here.
Have you ever been able to make out what it says?
-Erm... no. Just the date, 1877.
I mean, I don't think that's the original engraving.
I think somebody's put that in there at a later date.
Because, although it's the right sort of period, I think this is 1850-1860. It could be 1870.
But the quality of the engraving is just pricked in with a pin,
so that's why it's rubbed away so easily.
A standard writing box is worth £30 to £50.
The more ships you add, the better they are. One ship, what do you think?
Well, I'm hoping it's going to be a couple of hundred.
Absolutely bang on. I think an estimate of £200-£300, something like that.
-As it's a family piece,
why do you want to sell it and not pass it down a generation?
Well, because my dad's got some other boxes that have been in the family as well, and it just...
It's quite big, isn't it? Takes up a bit of room.
Let's take it to auction, see what happens. I think it'll do well.
There are always collectors for marine-related items.
So as a workbox, 50 quid.
-But with that on the top, 200 to 300.
-Let's see what happens.
Michael and Marion, you have brought quality today.
This is magnificently painted.
It really is. And I think - it's not on canvas or paper,
it's actually on porcelain. Did you inherit it?
No, no, I bought it only...
I should've thought, in the last 12 months.
Oh, dangerous. In the last 12 months!
It might be a bit more than that.
This will be an interesting test of valuation, won't it!
And you bought it in a shop?
No, at the Ardingly Antiques Fair.
The fair? So you went off to a fair to buy this.
-Is this something you do weekly, monthly?
-But I like to go to antique fairs.
-Not that irregularly, really.
Do you know when he's going?
Does he say, "I'm just going down the shops?"
-They're on a calendar, when he's going.
And what do you think about this?
I just let him go. He enjoys it so much.
Well, we'll come back to what you paid for it.
I mean, I'm dicing with death here.
I can't see a signature on the front.
-It's not going to be English - it's going to be German, I think, almost certainly.
Looking at the clothing and the fact that it is on porcelain, which they did,
I think we'll find it's late 19th or beginning of the 20th century. It's around about 100 years old.
I liked the painting of this "chatelaine", they call it?
Yes, that's right - the chatelaine here, holding scissors, needlework items, all sorts of things the lady
would need round about the house for day-to-day use.
It's in fabulous condition. There don't appear to be any cracks or chips, crazing.
It's in what we call a Hogarth frame, a more modern frame.
But I think probably the gilt frame is a little too heavy for the picture itself.
I'd like to see it reframed, but I don't think that matters. If we turn it round,
somebody's written in Biro here,
"The Young Mother by Robert Beyschlag.
"1838-1903", and that's a copy of this label here.
This is encouraging. This is quite an old label.
I'm going to try taking it out.
German writing, because there's an umlaut here.
"Sprossling", or something. I can't translate that, and I can't even read the first word.
-It's quite obviously not the artist.
-It is probably the subject of the picture.
So we've got really, I think, an attribution
rather than a definitive...
Value. It's no good asking you what you think it's worth because you bought it.
I'm going to put a value in today's market of £200 to £300 on it.
I suppose you might look at it and think it should make a little bit more.
I wouldn't be surprised if it made 340, 360.
I would like to see it in at 200 to 300 with a reserve at 200 to get it going in the market.
-If it doesn't make 200, it's not worth selling, in my opinion.
What did you pay for it? £5 or £600?
Can you divulge this information in front of your wife?
Would you like to close your ears?
I gave 240 for it, and I thought it was a bargain.
I think that's tremendous.
Bearing in mind that you're buying at say halfway between a retail and trade market situation.
I think in a shop you'd pay £500 or £600 for that all day long.
-Yes, I think so.
-So I think you've done well.
We'll put 200 on it.
We'll aim for 300. We'll aim for 400...
he said, fingers crossed.
-What do you know about these continental figures?
What are these doing in Tunbridge Wells?
They're Dux figures, which I believe are from Czechoslovakia.
-They were in my father's house, and when he died about four years ago, I inherited them.
Royal Dux is a factory that started in 1853 in Czechoslovakia.
Of course, it wasn't Czechoslovakia in those days - it was Bohemia.
The factory was started really for domestic ware, tableware.
And Eduard Eichler took the factory over about 20 years
after it was established, around 1870, and he was a modeller.
And he really turned the factory's fortunes around.
It was struggling with these tablewares - plates, bowls, saucers and that type of thing.
With his modelling skills, he turned the factory around.
In 1873, they won the Paris Exhibition silver medal,
and the next 30-35 years was really the period of time when Royal Dux was in its heyday,
specialising in these models in this rustic bronze and brushed gilt effect.
This is typical of not only Royal Dux,
but they were competing with the Royal Worcester figures made here at the same time.
If we turn the figures over, we see the pink triangle mark.
That really is the mark that shouts Royal Dux.
I don't know any other factory that used that.
Nice and clearly marked.
Date will be around the height of production of these figures,
around 1900-1910, something around there.
-Have you noticed the spade on this one?
-It's obviously been replaced.
-Yep. Her hand is filled with glue.
-It could be that the originals were made of wood.
Because it is a slot in the bottom there, to have something attached.
But I think it's far more likely it would have been a ceramic pole, that somebody's broken and replaced.
Having grown up with these on the mantelpiece at home,
why do you want to sell them?
Well, they're not really the sort of figures that I'd like to have on my mantelpiece at home, and also,
we are trying to sort of size down a bit,
so obviously whatever they would fetch would be very helpful.
They are the sort of things that you either love or hate,
and they go in a certain type of house.
If it doesn't suit your interior, then I understand.
They're a bit too good to be wrapped up in a box somewhere.
Do you have any idea of the value?
No idea whatsoever.
I think an auction estimate of £250-£350 should be about there for them.
The best modeller for Royal Dux was a chap called Hempel
and figures that are signed by him do make considerably more.
But considering they're not signed, and they're not in bad condition,
and the heads haven't been off - that's always a killer!
No chips around the base and in relatively good condition, I think 250-350 would be about right.
And let's just see what happens on the day.
Dorothy and Jim, thank you for bringing this item in.
Wonderful bit of table treen,
but it does contain a little hidden gem, doesn't it? It's a tool kit.
Whose is it? Whose family does it come from?
Well, we believe it comes from my family.
-My sister gave it me because I save things.
-I mean, you always used to do crochet in them days, didn't you?
I mean, the lady of the house had to do fine needlepoint, as you say, crochet, knitting, and pass these
skills on to the young girls, and that's why they did lots of needlework samplers.
The tools inside here are very very fine. If we tip them out...
let's have a look at these.
They're not really crocheting needles. They look like needles for very fine-point needlework.
Not even turkey work, not for cushions, but something much finer, like silk work.
This is really nice
because this is the universal handle which goes in the middle.
-It's almost like a snap-on toolkit of today, isn't it?
And there you've got your needle with your hook on the end.
They're all made of steel.
These have been gilted.
This is steel, but it's blued steel.
It's been heated up just to make it look slightly decorative, with this damask turn on it. Can you see it?
-Which is what you find on gun barrels.
-And the vessel itself - that's made of ebony, and it's in perfect condition.
And ebony again, a very valuable hardwood in its day.
And I think this little vessel and this kit dates back to around about 1840, 1850,
judging by that little finial, which is a nice architectural detail.
It's slender. It's not the middle of the Victorian period,
-where everything went over the top. That's very precise.
Yeah. It's a wonderful little thing.
It doesn't have a great deal of value, that's the only thing.
But its value is in its social history, and what it's all about.
And obviously, its value to your family.
I think, for auction purposes, we could put
-an estimate of probably £30-£50 on this.
-It doesn't seem a lot of money, does it?
-It doesn't, really.
We could put a fixed reserve on it.
-Go on then.
-I know the collectors will love this.
Yes. It'll go to someone that really wants to own this, and look after it and cherish it.
Patsy, a little birdie has told me that this isn't an unfamiliar surrounding for you, is that right?
-Here we are in Tunbridge Wells and you've been in this building before?
A few times.
-Singing and dancing.
Singing and dancing? On that very stage?
-On that very stage.
-When was your last performance?
-About six months ago.
-Singing. Tunbridge Wells Choral Society.
Fantastic. This splendid chap must have had quite a history.
-Tell me all about him.
Well, he was given to me by an American admirer in a cabaret that I was in, when I was 18.
-Where was that?
And since then, he's travelled all round the world. In Hong Kong, where I lived for 17 years.
And my son took him off to university for a mascot and I thought I'd got rid of him.
But after he came back from university, he gave him back to me. So here he is.
There's no sentimental attachment?
Not really, no. I've got used to his face after nearly 50 years.
Oh, really? Do you know what he is?
Apart from being a monkey - or a chimpanzee, in fact.
-Do you mean a Steiff?
-Yep. It is a Steiff.
Unfortunately, if I can move him here, there should be something in the left ear.
Now, there is a little clip mark. Do you remember anything there?
-What did you do with it?
-I took it out straightaway!
-You took it out straightaway?
-It looked painful, so I took it out.
Well, it's such a distinctive model, I don't think we've got a problem
because you can tell it's a Steiff.
Its age - well, it was obviously bought new, so it was bought in what year?
'58. Now, also, there would've been another distinctive mark, there would've been a label.
-Actually, you can see... Was there? And you did that as well?
Well, may I say congratulations for ruining your Steiff!
Fortunately, as I've said, we can tell it is a Steiff.
The condition isn't perhaps all that it might be.
I'm afraid a lot of the straw has come out. Is it moths?
-I think so.
-I'm surprised, if your son took him to university, he's in such good condition.
Probably stuck in a cupboard. Left to the moths.
What made you bring him along?
Well, he was going in the bin because nobody wants him.
-In the bin?!
-So if I gave you 5p, you'd take that, would you?
A fiver. Well, I think he's worth a hundred or two.
-I really do.
-In this condition?
-In that condition.
So I think what we'll do here is hedge my bets.
I think we'll put an estimate of £100-£200,
-but we'll probably sell him without reserve, shall we?
-Happy? No reserve?
-So if he makes a fiver, I will go bright red but you'll still be pleased?
-Off to auction we will go.
-I think we'll do well with him. Has he got a name?
It's good to welcome you back. I look forward to seeing you at the auction.
Today's sale is at the Dreweatt Neate auction rooms in Tunbridge Wells,
and in a moment, auctioneer Daniel Bray is going to give us his opinion on some of our owners' items.
But first, here's a run-down of the antiques that are going to go under the hammer.
Julia's 19th-century writing box has seen better days.
She's still hoping, though, to see £200 to £300.
Michael bought this plaque for £240.
But will it make a profit or loss at the sale?
Gillian doesn't like the look of her Royal Dux figures.
So she's hoping to find a collector willing to pay £250-£350.
I valued Dorothy and Jim's ebony needle box at a spiky £30-£50.
And finally, there's no more monkeying around
for Patsy's Steiff chimp, valued at £100-£200.
This is a cracking lot. It belongs to Michael.
It's enamels on porcelain.
It's a lovely little plaque.
The scene is a young mother here.
Now, Charlie, our expert, has put £200-£300 on this.
But Michael bought this for £240.
-Not a good investment then?
I think he paid about the right money,
because we've looked very closely at this under an eyeglass,
and we think it may be painted over a printed base.
-That's why the image is so good, then.
Because he's just copying a basic outline that's underneath.
And we should achieve the estimate of £200-£300, but no more than that.
-So you think the valuation is about right?
-I think it should make within estimate,
and if it was wholly painted by the artist, then it could make more.
-Our feeling is that it probably is over a printed base.
-Fingers crossed we'll get Michael his money back at least.
Right, we want cashback right now.
A full refund of £240 for Marion and Michael on their enamel plaque.
Beautiful little thing. Valuation 200-300, but you actually paid 240 for this about a year ago.
-I did, yeah. And I thought it was reasonable.
Well, it looks fantastic quality, but I did have a chat to the auctioneer a little bit earlier.
He seems to think it's over-painted on a print.
Because hand-painted enamels on a plaque like that of that quality...
-Should be £600-£800.
-£1,000 on a good day.
-That's why I thought I'd got a bargain.
-I don't blame you!
This is it. It's going under the hammer.
This is the porcelain plaque after Robert Beyschlag.
And I have competing bids here at £200. 200. Any interest at 210?
£200 then, on commission. Any further bids?
-We need a bit more for cashback.
-A couple more?
Straight in and straight out.
-We're going to take that and smile, aren't we?
-We're going to smile.
We're going to smile.
Well, right now it's my turn to be the expert,
and I know it's not big bucks - £30-£50 - but it's table treen, brought in by Jim and Dorothy.
Now, they can't be here today, so I'm holding the flag and flying it high, hopefully.
There's competition from the Tunbridge Ware. It's going under the hammer now.
This is the cylindrical ebony crochet hook case and cover.
And who will start me, please, on this lot at £20? £20?
-Any interest? 20 is bid.
I have 22 against you. 25. 28.
£30 is with you.
Come on, we're going to do it.
Any advance on this lot at £30? 32.
40. 42. 45.
50. 55 with you, madam?
This is good. Top end.
Any advance then on this at 55?
Yes! Jim and Dorothy will be happy. I'm happy as well.
It's those Royal Dux figures going under the hammer, the labourers.
A lot of people like them, and Royal Dux always does the business, so no doubt it'll do it today.
Gillian's here. She's flogging them. We need 250-350.
I know many people like them because we do sell them, but I don't like them.
-I hate them.
-You hate them. ..James, do you like them?
-Nor do I.
I wouldn't bid for them at 50 quid.
Somebody will love them and I'm sure they're going to move now.
It's the pair of Royal Dux figures of farm labourers,
and I have competing bids on this lot to £250.
-280 is bid. 300 against you.
300, still on commission at £300.
-I'll sell this lot.
-Come on. A bit more.
He's done it. Hammer's gone down. 300 quid. That's pretty good.
Big smile. "We got rid of them," she's thinking!
What are you going to do with the money?
-My son's going on a skiing trip, so I'll put it towards that.
We've got some quality going under the hammer, and a great maker's name - Steiff.
But it's not a teddy bear - it's a chimpanzee.
Will that affect the price, Patsy?
Let's hope for the 250 top end, somewhere around there.
-It was given to you by an admirer?
-When you were 18?
-That was in his good days, you see.
-That's the American?
And you've bashed the monkey about.
-Did you give this chimpanzee a name?
-Shelly. How lovely.
Will he do the business for her?
No pressure - no reserve.
Oh, dear. How did you wangle that?
Let's hope the bidders go ape over him. He's going under the hammer.
We have a Steiff brown mohair plush chimpanzee.
Interesting lot, this one.
Any interest at £50, just to start?
-Oh, come on.
-50 is bid.
Do I see 60 anywhere? There's no reserve and it's £50. Any advance?
-This is going to be quick.
-60, new bidder.
-90 with you, sir?
-No reserve does the trick.
-It does, you see.
And 10? 110 is bid.
110 with the gentleman seated, at 110.
-Hammer's gone down!
-£110. What are you going to do with that?
-Well, grandsons' birthdays coming up. One day after the other.
And they need a set of woods for bowling, they've just started bowls.
-And how old are they?
-One is coming three, and one is nearly 11.
You've got your work cut out, looking after them!
This lot is definitely worth writing home about.
I don't care what the auctioneer says.
It's Julie's writing slope with that wonderful maritime inlaid scene.
£200-£300 James put on this.
I agreed with his valuation.
We had a chat to the auctioneer earlier, and he went "Mm-mm.
"That's gonna struggle." Big split in it, the inlay's done later.
And I said, "Look, that is worth £300 of anybody's money."
In a shop, £400-£500.
Inlay's later? Never heard anything so silly in my life!
It's absolutely perfect.
You see them day in, day out, like that.
It's a classic box, there's nothing wrong with it.
Maybe he just didn't like it.
Then say! Don't say it's late, it's not.
-He thought it would struggle around the 160-180 mark.
-That's here, that's going to sell.
-Do you think so?
Oh, yes I do. Yeah, definitely.
This is the Victorian rosewood mahogany writing slope,
and I'll start you here with a commission bid on reserve of £200.
Any further interest on this then?
-I'll sell, a maiden bid at £200... 220, thank you.
And it's with you at 220...
I thought it was going to climb a bit more.
-But we sold it.
-We sold it for the £200 to £300.
We said that, he doubted it. Who's going to get that?
Your dad or you?
Well, I think my dad, but I think he might treat me for bringing it down for him.
-Yeah, treat her.
We couldn't come to Tunbridge Wells and not talk about Tunbridge Ware, could we?
There are hundreds of items of Tunbridge Ware in this sale alone.
And to talk me through its history, we've got author and expert, Brian Austen.
Brian, thank you so much for coming in.
Tell us exactly what Tunbridge Ware is.
Well, you can see there's a wide assortment of wares in front of me.
The common feature is they're made of wood.
Some of them are ternary ware, some of them small boxes and cabinet wares.
So where and when did it all start?
Well, it probably started in London.
We must remember that Tunbridge Wells
-was not a settlement before the spring was discovered.
Initially, boxes are made in London, and other items, and I think they're
brought down by London tradesman to sell on the walks to the fashionable visitors.
But production starts in Tunbridge Wells probably at the beginning of the 18th century.
And how did production take off? How was it carried on?
It was carried on in small workshops.
None of the businesses were ever large.
We do get some idea of the number of workmen when we get to the 19th century,
and even the largest workshops probably didn't have more than about 30 - at most 40 - workmen.
Many were much smaller than that.
Let's just pick a few out. Starting from the earliest,
through to the middle of the period, and then something towards the end, shall we?
Let's look at this white wood sewing box.
-This is where it all started?
-Yes, that's as early as we can recognise.
Before that, undoubtedly, there was Tunbridge Ware.
We hear of people buying it at Tunbridge Wells, but we just can't identify it.
It isn't distinguishable from fine wood wares produced elsewhere.
Dating probably from about 1790-1800.
Do we know a maker's name on this?
Not on that one, but we do on this next one.
You'll see that this is a veneered piece.
And the centre card, which is the duty card, has the initials "JJ and A Sharp, Tunbridge Wells".
And they were one of the makers in the early 19th century.
And that's a top name to look out for?
Yes, but labelled boxes, Sharp boxes, are rare.
Tell me about the geometric patterns and the micro mosaic work. When was that introduced?
This box shows a view of Bayham Abbey, which is near Tunbridge Wells.
Produced with this micro mosaic or tessellated mosaic technique.
You've got some examples of the blocks. Can you show us how it's actually done?
Well, there's a block.
And you can see at the end there is part of a flower head.
That's just half the flower.
That's right. And you'd need several of these blocks.
For instance, for something like that, for that central view,
you might find that you've got as many as about 10 of these blocks, all joined together to make that view.
OK. So once that's built up to a certain level, you can cut through,
across the grain, and that will give you the image.
-Which you then stick on to the veneer, or to the box itself?
You can put it on to the veneer, or quite often, you'll find there is a holly surround, which then has to
-be cut and the mosaic let into that, for the centre view on boxes.
-It's incredibly intricate.
-It is indeed.
-You must have fantastic eyesight and very very fine, precise tools as well.
-Yes, if your saw was thick, you would lose most of your block in sawdust.
-What about restoration?
Let's say you've got a lovely box, a bit like this one,
-a band of micro mosaic work, and half of it's missing in the middle. Would you buy that?
Too difficult to restore.
There are a few restorers who could do it, but the charges would be extremely high,
and if you put it to a restorer who wasn't competent, it wouldn't look right.
I've got to ask you before you go...
you're an expert, I'll pick your brains. What is your top tip?
What should we look out for if we want to buy a piece?
Well, Tunbridge Ware has been a good investment over the years.
Prices have never collapsed as they have in other areas.
-Steady market, then.
One of the makers who's particularly popular is Robert Russell,
who produces this Tunbridge Wells marquetry - rather different from the mosaic.
If you have a look at the lobed designs, they are quite intricate,
-and they are attractive to collectors and fetch good prices.
-That's the name to look out for?
-One of them.
-You can recognise it by that particular...
-..style of marquetry.
-And on that particular box, we have a label.
-Would you like to have a look?
There we are. That's the label of Robert Russell.
What wonderful provenance. And value of that?
You wouldn't buy that in auction under £500, and it might well go much more than that.
OK. That's the one to look out for. Thank you.
It's time for me to return to the valuation day,
catch up with our two experts, Charlie and James, and let's see what other items we can find
to put into this sale for later on in the show.
We're still very busy at the valuation day.
And while I've been chatting to people in the queue,
James has finally caught up with someone he saw earlier in the day.
Jenny, Natalie, I have to say, I spotted you in the queue with these about four hours ago, didn't I?
I know they're not wonderful quality, but if we take the domes off,
and just put those down on the floor for the moment.
There are certain things that just make you smile.
I think these are absolutely fantastic.
You can just imagine these two as an old married couple...
That's what we said when we saw them.
How long have you had them in the family?
-We bought them in Harrogate about 32 years ago.
When we first married, we had a cottage, and they sat lovely on the fireplace.
When we saw them, we thought, "Oh, that's us when we get that age."
Nodding figures - you generally expect them to be made in Germany, made in bisque porcelain,
and they always have these little wire glasses.
You'd think these were bisque porcelain, but they're papier-mache.
That's what makes them more unusual.
I would guess these are probably English, judging by the dress and the overall look.
They have a sort of English/Welsh quirkiness about them
that I just don't think the continentals would have appreciated quite so much.
They've been under glass domes almost all their lives, so they've been protected.
They don't look as old as they probably are. I reckon these are getting on for 100 years old.
Around sort of 1900-1910, something around there. They're fabulous.
Very very crudely made.
They're probably made by somebody literally for a bit of fun.
The wooden chairs at the back are made out of probably a fruit tree from the back garden,
and they're hand painted, and the bases are just a piece of plain turned wood, quite crudely cut out.
-But they're fun, aren't they?
This is probably part of a doll's tea service
that's just been glued on here, and the cushion - hand-stitched, just a bit of fun.
-Have they been out till this weekend?
-No, they've been in a cabinet.
As I say, we don't use them any more.
It was more the glass I was worried about.
I thought, "That is going to get chipped", and the kids don't want them. Declutter.
Both children at university...
So you don't want them? What sort of things do you like?
I'm a real big fan of oak furniture and stuff.
-Really early oak?
-Georgian chairs and things like that. Classics.
-Wonderful. And it's a good time to buy as well.
Oak furniture has never really been as good value as it is today.
The figures themselves - I don't think they have a great value.
No, I know. They're just a fun thing.
They are. And I'm not going to put a huge value on them.
I suppose somebody should pay something like £50-£80.
If it makes them smile, it's the sort of thing they might pay that for.
-As long as we've got some people that like them, they'll sell.
-Big collection of hatpins?
-427 hatpins in there.
-Dare I ask you to open it for a quick look?
-Well, I don't know... I'm not very good with knots.
-Yeah, do you mind?
-Is it something you've collected?
-No, they were my grandmother's.
There's another box of them there.
Oh, my word. That is some display.
-Wonderful. Thank you very much for coming in.
I cannot wait to see these on the table. I just can't wait to see these on the table.
It's one of two things you've got here, Graham.
You know what it is. I think it's either a picnic box or a gramophone.
I'm going to open it up and have a look.
It's a gramophone.
Tell me all about it.
Well, it was my gran's. She used to play it when I was a young lad.
That's quite a few years ago now.
Yes. The favourite one of hers was "Davy Crockett" by Max Bygraves.
# Davy, Davy Crockett, King of the wild frontier! # I remember it.
I was sick to death of it.
Have you still got the record?
I'm afraid so. I haven't smashed it yet.
-And you inherited it?
My gran was getting on in years, so we had to put her in a nursing home.
-But she's still alive. She's 96.
-She didn't want this in the home with her?
-Not even Davy Crockett?
-Wouldn't have gone down well, would it, with the other people in the nursing home?
It's quite good quality.
I haven't been able to see here a maker's name. Have you any idea?
No idea whatsoever.
I don't think it's an HMV, because I think HMV had their names...
would've had it on the playing head as well.
The only thing I can see is that there's a bit of discoloration here, where there was probably a label.
-Probably Columbia, something like that.
-Date. Do you know the date of it?
Well, I think looking at that, I should think if it's 1950,
that would be almost exactly right.
It's post war. There's a needle case on the corner there.
Little Bakelite needle tray.
-The winder has lost its handle, I think.
Would have had a nice, probably red Bakelite handle to match that, I think.
That's going to go in here.
That's it. And then we'll wind it up.
The always amusing thing is it had slow and fast as well.
You could alter the tempo, really.
A good record, you'd always keep at the right speed, but if it's a horrible record,
just speed it up and get it over with.
I think it's probably worth... well, it is worth £30 or £40, because it is in good condition.
There's a little bit of rusting around the catch, but the chrome here is in super order.
I would rather think we'd let it take its course, really, in the saleroom.
Don't put a reserve on, and let's say goodbye to it.
And we'll be excited once it gets above a tenner.
If it makes a tenner.
Oh, it'll make more than that.
Well, we'll set it rolling, and we'll sit back and listen to the dulcet tones.
# One, two, three o'clock, four o'clock, rock!
# Five, six, seven o'clock, eight o'clock, rock!
# 9, 10, 11 o'clock, 12 o'clock, rock
# We're gonna rock around the clock tonight... #
Linda, at the beginning of anything we talk about on Flog It, we normally start by saying,
"Whose was it? What's the history about it?
"How long have you had it?"
Let me guess. Belonged to your parents,
and for the last 10 years, it's been in the cupboard.
You don't use it or display it, and you want to sell it
-because it's of little use.
And that is the problem with silver today.
People just do not use it.
How many places do you go to where you have tea for two, or afternoon tea in the garden,
using a silver tea service? It just doesn't happen.
So what we have here is a solid silver tea service.
The teapot, sugar basin and milk jug, assayed in Sheffield in 1939.
The coffee pot, slightly different - Birmingham, 1931.
And the salver, or tray that it sits on, Sheffield, 1946.
So they didn't all start life together.
But it's in a period when tea-drinking, socialising,
a grand lifestyle - that's what it was all about.
Today, it's mugs.
No saucers, and it really is a totally different lifestyle.
And that is why people are selling this sort of thing today.
For every 10 of these on the market, you have one person looking for one.
And that's all.
-It seems crazy.
But when I was first an auctioneer, I used to value this sort of thing
10 or 15 years ago at about £10 an ounce.
It's a rough way of doing it.
Today, it's between three and £5 an ounce.
-And that's just in 10 or 15 years.
Silver has never been cheaper.
Small work, such as vesta cases, snuff boxes, caddy spoons -
things that are collectible - are still doing well.
But this sort of thing, the market's flat.
So having depressed you totally...
as to the value of this, let's have a look at the bonuses to it, and the good points. It's in good order.
It hasn't been over polished.
The salver is where most of the money will be,
because this sort of thing is still used.
The tea service is out of vogue, people do still use salvers.
And it has never been engraved, never been chased,
so you've got no inscriptions to polish out. That's all in its favour.
So let's have a look at the individual value.
For the tea service, I would say that those three pieces on their own are worth about £100-£150.
-The coffee pot is another £60 to £100.
And the salver is another £100 to £150.
So we've got about £300 to £400, something like that.
-Now, I think the best way to help sell the tea service is to put it in one big lot.
But I think people will fight for the salver.
So if we put an estimate of £300 to £350 on it, take it to the auction
-and see what we can do, is that all right?
-That'll be fine.
Why do you want to sell it?
Well, for the reasons you've said. It's stuck up in the attic.
I've had it for 20 years and that's where it's stayed, up there.
It's never brought down because it might get stolen.
-We never use it, so I thought the best thing to do is sell it and enjoy the money.
Let's do that and see how we go.
Clare, I have never seen so many hatpins.
There must be... 300, 400 of them?
Just over 400.
-You've counted them all, have you?
-Where did they come from?
-They're my late grandmother's collection.
And they've been passed down to my mother and they've been in her loft
-since my grandmother passed away.
-Been hiding in a loft, have they?
-You're in danger of inheriting them from your mother?
-Yes, I am.
-And you have no intention to hold on to them?
-No, not really.
-They don't do a lot for you?
-You need to persuade your mother to sell them?
-Where is she?
-Away for the weekend.
Yes, that often happens at Flog It. People go away for the weekend
-and their children turn up with their things!
I think it's an extraordinary mix of hatpins.
There are some good ones, there are some dreadful ones, there are some medium ones.
But all of them have got an interest, and I particularly like some of the cushions.
I think some of the cushions here, First World War era cushions, are splendid, with their own beadwork.
-And I think they'll have a value themselves.
With regard to valuing all these...
well, we'll come to it, but I think what we'll do
is just simply try and isolate the ones of individual merit.
And I've pulled a couple out here by Charles Horner,
who we could describe as the doyenne of hatpin makers.
High Art Nouveau.
You can see the style - fabulous.
About 1900, and they're signed.
If you look very carefully, signed "CH", into the silver.
Made of silver, as opposed to all these other bits and bobs that have been used to make the other ones.
Now, these would have an individual value, I would hope,
-of £30, £40, £50.
Gem set. Not precious stones. But gem set.
We've got a couple of those - we've got four of those, in fact.
-We've got some other ones of his which aren't gem set.
We then, looking round here, have got a rare, eclectic mix,
but I think there are one or two that one could say are collectible,
for collectors, because they're interestingly different.
-in the shape of a golf club.
And I think that was made as a hatpin.
If you look at one or two of the other ones, I don't think they were ever hatpins.
They've got hold of something, stuck it on a bit of wire, and held together with a bit of glue.
It's an interesting concept how to sell these.
Does one sell them individually?
Probably not, because there's no point in plugging through 427 lots
at 50p or £1 each or whatever.
I think the Charles Horners need to go in pairs - one or in pairs.
It's certainly into hundreds of pounds.
I would be surprised if there was £1,000 here.
-My view is £500-£800 is about where we're going to be going.
-Did you have instructions before you set off?
-I did, yes. The higher of your valuation, really.
The higher of the valuation?
I'll speak to the auctioneer, and between us, we will sort out the best way to sell these.
I don't think they should be sold as one lot. I'm adamant.
I think they'll probably make six or seven lots.
-Put reserves on each of the lots...
..hopefully in agreement with your mother.
And we'll take it from there. Will she be able to come to the sale?
-She may be.
-She might be back in Blackpool!
I'll probably be representing her.
We'll look forward to seeing you on sale day.
I think there should be plenty of interest.
Important for us to tell the auctioneers, make sure that they notify the Hatpin Society.
In the heart of Sussex, you're never far away from a trug.
Don't worry, they're not nasty creatures from Lord of the Rings.
They're quite charming and tactile, and they've been friends
to gardeners and farmers for hundreds of years.
Way back in the 1820s, a man from Sussex made a decision
that had a profound effect, not only on the county, but also the rest of the world.
He invented the Sussex trug.
And people from all walks of life have used the trug, right up to the present day,
for carrying garden tools, fruit and veg, flowers, after dinner mints and even wool for their knitting.
And I've just dropped a stitch.
And this man's name was Thomas Smith.
Taking an ancient idea dating back to Anglo-Saxon times, Thomas reinvented the trog.
Trogs were heavy wooden containers used by Sussex farmers to measure grain and liquids.
But Thomas' redesign was an instant hit.
He created a part of the English garden scene which is now world famous.
And keeping those traditions alive is trug-maker, Robin Tuppen.
So how did Thomas redesign the trog?
Bearing in mind the word "trog" was the Anglo-Saxon word for boat shape,
so he had a solid frame of chestnut, sweet chestnut,
and lightweight boards filling the base of the trug, made out of willow.
You mention willow. The woods you're using, are they locally grown?
We use sweet chestnut, which is coppiced.
At the moment, we're coppicing at Herstmonceux Castle.
The willow that we use is bought as a by-product of cricket bat manufacture.
We buy that from the people who produce the blank bats,
and we use up all the wood they can't use for making cricket bats.
Oh, right. What about your market - who are you selling to today?
Obviously you've got something very traditional,
you're selling to a market who is very consumer conscious.
It is very difficult, but we do manage.
We have stiff competition from copies that are made in China.
You could say that copying is a form of flattery,
but we don't really see it that way, because they're not as good quality as ours.
So what does the future hold for the trug? Do you see any new design concepts coming in?
I think mainly the future will be the same as it has been, but we have got a new idea.
-It's a picnic basket trug.
It's basically a trug with a lid on it, with brass catches,
and it's absolutely perfect for taking a picnic out.
-Exactly. Everybody loves a picnic.
-Can I have a go?
-You certainly can.
I think I could become a trug-maker.
I like this. I don't think that's too bad for my first attempt.
-That looks quite good.
-Nice and bendy, isn't it?
-Not bad at all.
-Next stage. Right, into the steamer.
-Here we go.
-We take the freshly steamed chestnut and wind it carefully around the former.
-It's like a jig.
This one he's making at the moment is a garden trug, so it's very deep.
But we also do shallower trugs for, say, cut flowers.
Crikey. Every day you come to work, you leave the 21st century behind.
Hopefully. I wish I did.
-What happens now?
-Now we start to put the boards in and make the actual basket itself.
So it'll start to take shape.
There you go. Look at that. There is the finished item.
Tell you what, it's incredibly strong. That's going to last years and years.
How many of these do you make a week?
-Well, one man will make around 35 of these in a week.
-How many guys have you got working?
We've got eight people working for us, making these trugs.
And if you want that, that's going to cost you about 50 quid.
50 quid on mail order.
Hand-made, mail order, no extras.
£50 and that will last you, as you say, many years.
And they're all signed there on the bottom, look, so you know you've got a genuine one.
-Well, thank you very much.
-Thank you, Paul.
Let's remind ourselves of what's going to auction.
Jenny's nodding figures say yes,
but will the bidders say no to £50 to £80?
Will Graham's gramophone come up to scratch at £30 to £40?
Linda's silver 1930s tea set
will be a good buy, if she can say goodbye at £300 to £400.
And hang on to your hats, as Clare's collection of 427 hatpins
has been valued at £500-£800.
Now, what does auctioneer Daniel Bray make of them?
I remember this from the valuation. This is the best collection
we've ever had on Flog It that is actually for sale.
It belongs to Clare. It was her grandmother's, she collected them all.
Our expert has put £500-£800 on the whole collection, which I think is a little mean.
Yes. We've had a look at the collection, and we've split them into 10 separate lots.
-Because you think they'll sell better that way?
-I think so, indeed.
Because some of them will be of more interest to particular collectors, and the others, more decorative.
And we come to an estimate of £800-£1,000 on the collection.
That's more like it. As a total, I would've said £1,000, if not more - maybe 1,100.
There's some particularly interesting examples among them.
Particularly the silver ones, such as this golf club here, by Charles Horner.
And we're expecting there to be a lot of interest in these ones in particular.
And is this the sort of thing that will sell really well here in Tunbridge Wells?
I think so. We find we have lots of collectors for items such as this -
sewing related items and items that would've adorned clothing, etc.
I'm really hoping, fingers crossed, that this collection remains intact,
and whoever buys them buys the complete lot.
Earlier in the show, Jenny and Natalie gave us the nod to flog this lot.
We've got two nodding figures in glass domes, valuation £50-£80.
The glass domes are worth that alone.
-I don't like the characters, do you?
-No, I don't.
-That's why we're here.
-That's why we're flogging them. James, do you like them?
-You picked them!
-A naive charm.
A pair of papier-mache nodding figures.
Who will start me then at £20, please?
£20? 20 is bid.
30. 30 on my left. 35.
-Oh, come on, come on.
-40 against you, sir.
45, and it's with you at 45.
-Just got there at £45.
-We're going to sell.
-Not to worry.
-Not the top end, was it?
What's that going towards?
-Vodka? Did you say vodka?
-Vodka at uni.
-Vodka at uni?
-It's not life-changing, is it, 45 quid?
What uni are you at, Natalie?
Queen Mary, University of London.
-Right. Good luck. What are you doing?
Fantastic. It's going to the vodka.
This lot sounds good, and so it should, because it's a gramophone with seven records.
It belongs to Graham and he can't be with us.
He's on holiday. So I wish him luck there.
We've got £30-£40 riding on this, Charlie.
Graham's gone off to Blackpool to spend the proceeds in advance.
A few coffees, I think, and maybe the odd ice-cream!
-It's a lovely thing, though it's not signed.
-No, it isn't.
-It's got no name on it, but it's in good condition and it works, as we know.
We heard it. We had a jive! Let's hope it's a big hit in the saleroom.
This is the portable gramophone, and I've got competing bids here to £50.
-Straight in, top end! Yes!
-They're going up, aren't they?
-You see, it is a big hit.
£55. I'm going to sell in the room at 55.
60, new bidder. 65. 70.
-He'll be able to stay in Blackpool for another night!
90. 90 in the centre, then.
-Any advance on £90?
-Hammer's gone down.
That's twice what it would've done a year ago.
Twice your valuation.
This next lot's been stuck in the loft for a long, long time.
Linda's managed to salvage it. It was Mum's, but now you're going to flog it?
-And it's pieces of eight. Lots of silver.
A hell of a lot of silver. Why is it not on display?
Well, it's something that I just...
You just don't like?
-No, and I've got to clean it.
-You don't want to clean it either?
And if you do clean it, you put it out on display, it attracts burglars.
-Especially at £300-£400, what we're hoping for. Will we get that?
It's got to be worth it. At 300 to 400, it's not a lot of money.
People don't use tea services, so we need a couple of people that want it as a decorative object
that can keep it well away from the window and the burglars. Let's see.
People don't use tea services, don't like cleaning silver or displaying it. It's not selling well.
We're talking this down! But it should do the business.
Let's hand it over to Dan and watch him do his stuff.
There's eight items. A good lot here for your money.
And I have a commission bid to start.
-Ooh, commission bid, Linda.
-At £280. 280.
-That's not bad.
-Any bids at 300?
300 is bid, on my left. Any advance?
That's short and sweet. Bid it up.
I just can't believe that. I can't.
-But at least you're happy.
Big grin. We've done what we set out to do, we flogged it.
-I wanted to sell it, yes.
-We did the business. What's £300 going towards?
Holiday spending money, because we're off on a cruise soon.
-Where are you going?
-Oh, lovely. Well, put your feet up.
-Have a few sundowners on deck there.
-More fun than a silver tea service, isn't it?
-I'd settle for that.
-Enjoy it, yeah.
-And I'd go back home to my mug and the kettle and a teabag!
I've been joined by Clare, and remember that wonderful collection of hatpins?
They're about to go under the hammer.
We had an original valuation from Charlie, our expert,
£500-£800, which was a sensible collective valuation.
-The auctioneer absolutely fell in love with them.
There's some of virtue there, so he's decided to split them up into separate lots.
We've got about ten lots, with a new, revised valuation of around £800-£1,100.
-Fingers crossed we get the top end.
-We're going to find out now.
This is the collection of hatpins.
Who will please start me at £30?
£30? Any interest at 30?
No interest at 30 on this lot?
30 is bid. 35, will you, sir? Thank you. 40.
We need about £100 for each lot.
-110 is bid. 120. Any bids at 130? No? 120.
-Yes, hammer's gone down.
That's a great start. 120.
-Good start, they weren't the best.
-No. The best is yet to come.
There's another nine lots. Hold onto your hats, because it's fast!
Two silver hat pins by Charles Horner. 110 there, on the telephone.
Any further bids at £110?
Yes, hammer's gone down. Second lot.
It's an arts and crafts gold hat pin.
45 on the telephone.
Telephone bid again. Serious dealer on the phone.
150. On the telephone then, at 150, I'm selling.
Well done, Charlie.
Art Nouveau style. It's with the lady.
That one's gone in the room.
He's our very own Carol Vorderman.
The collection of four silver hat pins.
Any further bids, then, at 130?
£620, and we're only halfway through.
This is getting so exciting.
Who'll start me at £50? Any interest at 50?
No? Not popular, this design? We'll pass this then.
-You're taking some home.
-75 is bid.
Collection of hatpins, surprise surprise!
-They'll be getting bored.
-More and more hatpins.
55, and I can sell to you, sir, at £55.
750! Here we go, it's the last one.
And I can start you with a commission bid on reserve at £120.
It's a quality lot, this.
200 then, on my right at £200.
Yes! £950 - what are you going to put the money towards?
I haven't thought about it because I didn't know if they'd sell.
Start collecting something!
As you can see, the auction's still going.
It's all over for our owners.
We've had a great day in Tunbridge Wells
and hats off to Clare for bringing in that collection of hatpins.
It sold for a grand total of £950.
That's a good result. I hope you've enjoyed the show.
That's all from Tunbridge Wells. See you next time.
For more information about Flog It, including how the programme was made,
visit the website at bbc.co.uk/lifestyle
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd 2006
E-mail [email protected]
Paul Martin and experts James Lewis and Charlie Ross visit the Kent spa town of Tunbridge Wells in search of antiques to sell at auction. Paul uncovers the history of Tunbridge Ware and finds how to make a traditional trug.