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Paul Martin meets up with experts James Lewis and Philip Serrell in the heart of Cardiff to hunt out bargains to sell at auction. He also takes a tour around Cardiff Castle.


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This is the magnificent Coal Exchange in Cardiff -

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what a beautiful building. It used to be the city's commercial hub, but now it's a top entertainment venue,

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hosting big-name acts such as Jools Holland, Van Morrison and Flog It!

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Cardiff was one of the world's greatest coal exporters

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and built its reputation on this black gold.

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This is where all the big deals took place in the city's industrial heyday. Judging by this queue,

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we've gone back in time, cos all these people are here to make a bob or two by flogging antiques.

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The two experts making big deals today are Phillip Serrell and James Lewis.

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What is that worth on the open market?

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-That's a tidy lump.

-Good call.

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-81.20.

-That's a cliche!

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Let's get inside and hopefully dig up more treasures.

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-How you doing, Ted?

-Very well.

-I can see from this

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you're a lifeboat honorary secretary and an RNLI man.

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I was, until two years ago.

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-Where did you serve?

-Barry Dock.

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Oh dear. Well, all credit to you, Ted. It would terrify me.

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You know a bit about this, don't you? Did you buy it, or did you...

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-Found it in the skip.

-You found it in a skip?

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I was helping to clear someone's house, years ago.

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It was thrown in the skip, and I liked it.

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I said, "Can I have it?" He said, "Yes, you can."

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That was about 40 years ago.

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-What appealed to you about it?

-The workmanship in it.

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Why do you now want to sell it?

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It's of no interest to my daughter or granddaughter.

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I thought if I can get a few bob for it, I'll start my own collection

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-of small silver.

-You're going to sell this and buy bits of silver? Brilliant.

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You've done some homework into what it is,

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so you can tell me and I can be completely superfluous to this.

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-Tell me what you found out.

-Someone went on the internet for me,

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and found out is was a Stevengraph...

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-Can I just stop you?

-Yeah.

-What's a Stevengraph?

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-It's a process of weaving silk...

-On a jacquard loom.

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-When did they start doing that, then?

-1854, it says on there...

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-And I think it was five or six years before that.

-So a Stevengraph is a process of weaving silk

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on a loom that was, in your view, invented round about 1850-something.

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-1850.

-And how do you know that's by Thomas Stevens?

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-It says so on the back.

-Show me?

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Thomas Stevens, and Coventry on it.

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You see a lot of Stevengraphs - a lot of them are hunting scenes,

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and a lot of jockeys, and portraits of Fred Archer, and that type of thing, but this is a really lovely

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commemorative bookmark, but what is interesting is it's a conundrum -

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I looked up Stevens in the book just before I started filming this, and it said he invented this process

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in 1862. Now, you've got information that says it was more like 1850, so we've a conundrum here,

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cos with a 12-year gap,

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I wonder whether these things were mass-produced after the original opening of Crystal Palace,

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sold simply as commemorative items.

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-You spent a lot of money framing it up, haven't you?

-About 40, 50 quid.

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-They did a good job...

-They've done a super job of it.

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My view on an estimate for this is gonna be the cost of your framing.

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I would put an estimate on it of £40-£60.

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We'll put a fixed reserve on it as well. We'll put a reserve of £40 for you.

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-Fair enough.

-So you'll buy a bit of silver with the proceeds?

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I like the small pieces - scent bottles, snuff boxes,

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-things like that.

-Let's hope it sells really well and you buy a good bit for your collection.

-Thanks.

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Anne, you're a local girl, aren't you? Originally from Scotland, so what brought you here?

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My father was an architect, so we used to move around,

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whenever he went to a different job, so I started up in Dunfermline and moved down to Hertfordshire,

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-then I met my husband and moved to Wales!

-A Welshman?

-He is.

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Now you're living in Cardiff, and you've brought along a whole family, by the looks of it.

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-Do you collect these character jugs?

-No, my grandmother collected them.

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-And she left them to me in her will.

-Do you like them?

-I think they're very decorative,

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-but not...my taste.

-That was a very polite answer!

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I bet they haven't been out of that box you brought them in for years!

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They've been in our loft since I had them, and it's a shame they're hidden when someone might appreciate them.

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OK, so it is a family heirloom as such. You've inherited them. Have you any kids?

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-I have three children.

-They should be inheriting these.

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-Yes, they should.

-Girls?

-I've got one daughter.

-Does she like them?

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I don't think she's actually seen them.

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-I don't think so.

-No.

-She's 17.

-She wouldn't like them?

-No.

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Thousands of people DO like them, and this whole characterising of a drinking vessel or jug

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dates back well into the 14th century with the bellarmine jars,

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made in the Rhineland, and you had a little face of Cardinal Bellarmine on it, and he got drunk a lot,

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and he was a little fat figure, and they'd decorate the neck of the bottle with him.

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And in Victorian times, toby jugs were really popular,

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and this whole thing has carried on right up to the present day,

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and Doulton do make toby jugs,

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but these are an extension of toby jugs - character jugs.

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There's one here that I think is probably the most collectable,

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and that's Merlin, the wizard,

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and he's got an owl on him - the decorators really do like owls.

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They do make them in four different sizes - this is the largest size you can buy.

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We've got 21 here.

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I think 21 this size is a bit over the top, so you're not gonna flog this one, you'll keep this one!

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-Yes.

-Let the kids fight over this one!

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This is a very collectable size, as they're not too big or small. It's the second size down from this one.

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The next one is about a third less,

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and the one at the very bottom is a quarter of its size.

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They're tiny. We can't see those very well,

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-so they're not worth collecting. You've a lot more, though?

-Yes.

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-They were displayed in my grandmother's dining room, on the shelf.

-A real avid collector!

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-And had to dust them all!

-Exactly! They put a smile on your face, and that's what they're designed for.

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There's a few early ones here - some 1940s ones,

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and most are 1960s. I'd like to put them into four groups of five.

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And let's have five in each group - obviously one group has six,

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as you've got 21.

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And I think their value is around £20 each.

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So really there is a table full, here, of about £420.

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Shall we flog them, then?

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-Yes?

-I'm sure my grandmother wouldn't mind at all.

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June and Graham, thank you for coming along today.

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-What have you brought?

-Well, a picture my mother had -

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it was given to her by her mother, and my mother's recently died,

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-and now it's come into my possession.

-You don't want it?

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It's not actually the sort of thing that I think is very pretty, and it wouldn't go in our modern home.

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-What do you reckon, Graham?

-I'd rather have a fishing reel!

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It's a real difficulty, as you can have something that's come all the way down the family line,

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and it ends up with you, and you don't like it, so what do you do?

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-Create a new family heirloom?

-I wouldn't have thought so.

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My son likes backpacking, and travels pretty light,

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so I don't think he's interested in inheriting anything from us at all!

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You said it was a picture - we call this a cristoleum.

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Basically, it's a process where an engraving or print would have been laid onto the back of the glass,

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and various parts cut out and coloured in. Occasionally, they're signed.

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It's quite a romantic little scene - these two young children in a courtyard,

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and he's putting his finger like that, maybe scolding the other,

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or just telling them a secret. A lot of these were produced in America.

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They're quite collectable.

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A lot of these get damaged - cracks in the corners...

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But this is in quite good order, and they were very collectable.

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I think the market's hardened for them a little bit,

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and I'd estimate this at auction between £40 and £60.

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And put a reserve on it at £30. Happy to put that in?

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Yes, I think so. There's always the possibility it'd get broken...

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Then it ain't worth anything!

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Graham, happy with the 40-60 estimate?

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-Yep, I'll go with the boss!

-"Go with the boss"!

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-It's the boss's mum's mum, so it's her decision!

-As long as it goes to a good home.

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Now, Surinder and Gramander, when you find something in a house

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it's a bit of rolled-up carpet, or a dead rat, or a bird that's fallen down the chimney,

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and in your case, you're a bit luckier than most - you found this.

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-Where did you find it?

-I moved into a flat 4 weeks ago,

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and we were having a rummage when we moved in, me and my brother,

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-and we found a few items.

-How brilliant! What else did you find?

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We found a few bottles of unopened whisky!

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Above a downstairs toilet - I opened a little cupboard,

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and there it was at the back.

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You don't often find that sort of thing!

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It's known as a sextant. It was called that as it was a sixth of a circle.

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It superseded an instrument known as a quadrant.

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Quadrants were used from about 1450, and sextants from about 1730.

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The idea was you'd take the instrument, and find something

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celestial, if in the Northern Hemisphere, you'd take the North Star,

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find that, look through your eyepiece,

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and then it reflects, in the mirror here, and when the reflection appears on the horizon,

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you'd read off the silver gauge here.

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It's also signed. "JJ Stiles of Sunderland".

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Sextants are an absolute minefield.

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They really are. But what we can say is a pre-auction estimate, guaranteed to make £300-£500.

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-That's all right!

-Is that all right?

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That's a month off the mortgage, anyway!

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But I think it might make more.

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If this is a good maker, it's up to the auctioneer to do their research,

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I think it'll do well. It's got all its parts, the original lacquered brass,

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it hasn't been polished or cleaned, the box is in what we call country house condition,

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in other words, "tatty", but it's exactly how you want to see it.

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I thought of putting brass polish on there, but I thought no.

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Oh, good job! You just have to touch it and the colour comes back.

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Brasso on this would have killed it.

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I know you put £300-£500 on it, but is it worth putting a reserve on it?

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Yeah. I think we should.

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This is a very specialist item. We're taking it to a general sale.

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It's gonna be a good sale, but not a specialist sale of scientific instruments.

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At the end of the day, if there aren't the right people there,

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and it's not advertised to that section of the market, it won't make the money. So reserve - essential.

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-See what we can get off the price of the house!

-Take a bit off the mortgage off!

-OK!

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One of the great centrepieces of Welsh history

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is this building. It's Cardiff Castle.

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It's undergoing some restoration,

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as you can see from this scaffolding.

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That doesn't bother us, because it's the inside we're interested in.

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The austere walls of this fortress give no hint

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to the amount of exuberance we're about to see.

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Oh, gosh. This certainly does have the wow factor.

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It's the banqueting hall, and it's one of the largest rooms here.

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It symbolises the tone and style of the interiors.

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It is total architectural fantasia. Each room is themed like this one.

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In this room, it depicts the medieval history of the castle

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shown with the most wonderful painted illustrations on the walls.

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Even the fireplace tells part of the story.

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Just look up here. The second Norman Lord of Glamorgan

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riding to battle on his horse in all his glory.

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Below, in the dungeon, is the son of William the Conqueror,

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who was imprisoned in the castle.

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The detail in the plasterwork is extraordinary, full of relief.

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We have a salmon here popping out of the wall.

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There's a little lizard. If you follow the detail

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all the way round, it ends with a tiny little mouse on the other side.

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The rooms was completed in 1890,

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towards the end of the Victorian era. Yet looking at it,

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it looks like a banqueting hall from the Middle Ages.

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To understand why that's so, we've got to go back to its creators.

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Much of the glamour of this 2,000 year old building dates from 1866.

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It's down to two men. The then owner, the Third Marquis of Bute,

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and the eccentric Gothic revival architect, William Burges.

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Lord Bute was not only one of the richest men of his day,

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but a great enthusiast of the Middle Ages.

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William Burges had a love of the grotesque and weird,

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and a keen passion for Gothic architecture.

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Together they formed one of the most important architectural partnerships of the 19th century.

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They created a mosaic of fantasy rooms that were both

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intellectually impressive and new to the Victorian era.

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Yet ironically, their designs were inspired

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by the Gothic style of the 13th century.

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But it wasn't all highbrow.

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Burges's creative and wicked sense of humour did add some light relief to his work,

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as I can show you in this example here.

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Look at this little baby sliding down the banister.

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I expect Burges had done that as a lad,

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and it's something we've all wanted to do.

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But then, you've got this crocodile sitting here, snapping away,

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ready to spoil all of the fun.

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I mentioned earlier the importance of themes throughout the rooms in the castle.

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This room is no exception. It's the winter smoking room,

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and it's situated in the clock tower, so not surprisingly

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its decorative theme is time.

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What I like, when you look up, you can see the richly decorated

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twelve signs of the zodiac in the vaulted ceiling.

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But also, you've got the four seasons in each gothic arch.

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Up here, we've got autumn, winter,

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spring, and finally, up here, summer.

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Burges was a perfectionist, and he left no stone unturned in his designs,

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not even in the windows. If you look closely,

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you see that they too symbolise time.

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The stained glass shows the days of the week.

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Starting here, we've got Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

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Tuesday is in the middle, with Tyr,

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and Wednesday is on the far end here with Woden.

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Even though Lord Bute only spent six weeks a year here,

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every room, even the least used ones, were richly and highly decorated.

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This is the summer smoking room, and it has a dazzling array of colour.

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It reflects Lord Bute's love for astrology.

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If you look up at the dome, you see the stars and constellations,

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and the four elements. Earth, air, fire and water.

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Suspended from the dome is this magnificent gilded bronze chandelier

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in the form of Apollo, the sun god.

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He's standing on his chariot wheel, and the spokes of the wheel are the rays of the sun.

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Everybody's hard at it here at the Coal Exchange. It's business as usual.

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Now it's time to go over to the auction room and put the valuations to the test.

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Here's a quick recap of all the items under the hammer.

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Ted found this bookmark in a skip,

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but will it find £40-60?

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Susan's hoping that 21 toby jugs she inherited

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will turn into a tidy sum.

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Jean and Graham's house is too modern for their cristoleum,

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but will it go for £40-60?

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And Gramander and Surinder are hoping

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the sextant will lead to a fortune.

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Question is, will the bidders go crazy for our lots?

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We'll find out in a moment because this is where all the action will take place -

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the Athenian Auction Rooms in Cardiff.

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Before the hammer goes down, let's catch up with Ryan Beech to see if he has any wise words.

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I love this lot. It's my favourite thing in the sale.

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I don't know a lot about sextants but it looks a pretty good one.

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It's not the general 19th century standard Royal Navy issue.

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It belongs to the Singh brothers and they found it in a cupboard.

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A lucky find. This one is lacquered brass, so it's more decorative.

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-You do see them ebonised or black-lacquered.

-Yeah.

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So it's got that decorative element.

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The sort of thing someone with a nautical interest would buy

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-and it'll sit on a sideboard...

-And be polished and look the part.

-Yes.

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And people will say, "What's that?"

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James Lewis, the expert, put £300-500 on this.

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I... It's certainly not going to make 500.

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300 would be its upper limit.

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I'd have said maybe £200-300.

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Encourage the buyers in at 200-300.

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Yes, and it's a fairly constricted market as to who's going to want it.

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If you have a nautical interest, you're there straight away,

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but it narrows your market a bit.

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-We are on the website. The internet plays a major part.

-It does.

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I think this will find the right buyer. I'm going to be optimistic!

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Someone's got to be, Mr Pessimist.

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Realist, I would say.

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Now it's time for that wonderful cristoleum to go under the hammer

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with that lovely image of two children playing. Valuation £40-60.

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It belongs to Jean and Graham.

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It was your mum's or your grandma's.

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My grandmother's first, then my mother's, and then mine.

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We have a great valuation. I think this could do more.

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I just think that in this business things go in trends.

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Cristoleums were very popular years ago and I think the market might have toughened up, but we'll see.

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We're going to find out what the bidders of Cardiff think. Good luck.

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Cristoleum of two young boys.

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Start me at £50. £50 I have.

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-Straight in at 50.

-60.

0:20:590:21:01

65. 70.

0:21:010:21:03

At £70. 75. Clears the book at 75.

0:21:030:21:07

80.

0:21:070:21:09

85. 90. 95.

0:21:090:21:12

At 95. At 95.

0:21:120:21:14

Are we all done at 95?

0:21:140:21:17

£95. What are you going to do with that?

0:21:170:21:20

We haven't really thought, have we?

0:21:200:21:22

-We didn't expect it to go to that much.

-Invest in something.

0:21:220:21:26

-Another antique.

-Good man. That's what I like to hear.

0:21:260:21:29

I've just been joined by Ted and we're about to do some recycling

0:21:330:21:37

-because we found a Stevengraph bookmark in a skip, didn't you?

-Yes.

0:21:370:21:42

We're going to recycle it into £40-60, hopefully.

0:21:420:21:46

I think this stands a chance of getting to the top end.

0:21:460:21:49

In an ideal world, it ought to do well. It's a pure collectors' piece.

0:21:490:21:53

For someone who collects Stevengraphs, it's an unusual thing.

0:21:530:21:57

I really hope it does well.

0:21:570:22:00

It would do well in Coventry. We're not in Coventry, but...

0:22:000:22:03

-Somebody could buy it from Coventry...

-I might get sent there if it doesn't sell.

0:22:030:22:09

-If it doesn't sell, it'll sell another day.

-Exactly.

0:22:090:22:13

That's the spirit. It's going under the hammer. Good luck.

0:22:130:22:16

Lot number 659

0:22:160:22:19

is the Stevens bookmark,

0:22:190:22:22

lot 659.

0:22:220:22:24

-Bids on the book.

-45 I have.

0:22:240:22:27

50. 55. 60. 65...

0:22:270:22:29

At 65... Back with me at 65.

0:22:290:22:31

On commission at 65. At £65...

0:22:310:22:34

Are we all done at £65?

0:22:340:22:37

-Happy with that?

-Very good, yes.

-A great bit of recycling.

0:22:370:22:41

This is an interesting lot. I've been looking forward to this.

0:22:450:22:48

I've been joined by Surinder and Gramander and we have that lovely sextant going under the hammer,

0:22:480:22:53

value £300-500, and what a lovely story, the way this was found.

0:22:530:22:58

It is a quality one. I've seen a lot of sextants

0:22:580:23:01

and a lot are Royal Navy issue standard ones.

0:23:010:23:05

This one's got all the whistles and stops on it. It's a quality one.

0:23:050:23:09

But will we get that 300-500?

0:23:090:23:12

It's worth it - there's no question of that -

0:23:120:23:16

-but there are no other scientific instruments in the sale...

-Nothing.

0:23:160:23:20

I haven't seen any scientific instrument bidders. I'm hoping for a phone bid.

0:23:200:23:25

-If you get a phone bid, we're away.

-We heard what the auctioneer thought.

0:23:250:23:29

He thinks it might just struggle at the low end.

0:23:290:23:33

Time to see what the bidders think.

0:23:330:23:36

Lot 796 is the JJ Stiles of Sunderland brass sextant here.

0:23:360:23:40

Lot 796.

0:23:400:23:42

£190 I have to start.

0:23:420:23:44

190. 200. 210.

0:23:440:23:47

-220.

-Someone has found it.

0:23:470:23:50

At 230... At £230...

0:23:500:23:52

240, is that? At £230... Are we all done then at 230?

0:23:520:23:57

He didn't sell it.

0:23:570:24:00

My advice is hang onto it.

0:24:000:24:02

It's definitely worth the 3, hopefully worth the 5,

0:24:020:24:06

if two people push over it. Take it to a specialist maritime sale -

0:24:060:24:10

there's an annual one - maybe to one of the major houses in London, let it find the right audience.

0:24:100:24:15

Don't do anything to it. Don't clean it or polish it.

0:24:150:24:19

That's very good advice. Leave it as if you've just found it, untouched.

0:24:190:24:23

That's how the trade like it.

0:24:230:24:25

Remember all those toby jugs? I do, because I put the value on them.

0:24:300:24:34

Remember Susan? She's now on holiday in Tenerife,

0:24:340:24:38

but I have her daughter Eleanor and mother-in-law June... Yes!

0:24:380:24:42

Got it right. Anyway, we've split the lots into four groups.

0:24:420:24:46

-We've got the first one coming up now.

-Right.

0:24:460:24:50

It's about to go under the hammer. How come Mum didn't invite you on holiday?

0:24:500:24:54

I'm too good-looking for her.

0:24:540:24:57

Probably.

0:24:570:24:59

Here it is. Good luck.

0:24:590:25:01

Lot number one, first of the four.

0:25:010:25:04

There are five Royal Doulton character jugs in lot 424.

0:25:040:25:07

38 I have to start.

0:25:070:25:09

40. 42. 45.

0:25:090:25:11

48? At £48...

0:25:110:25:14

Back with me at 48. 50. 55.

0:25:140:25:16

60. 65.

0:25:160:25:18

70. 75.

0:25:180:25:21

-80. 85. 90.

-Brilliant.

0:25:210:25:24

95. 100.

0:25:240:25:26

110. 120. 130.

0:25:260:25:30

140. At 140... 150.

0:25:300:25:33

-This is really good.

-160?

0:25:330:25:37

The gentleman at 150. Are we all done at 150?

0:25:370:25:41

Fantastic. That's much better.

0:25:410:25:43

I was thinking £100 for each lot, but that's really good.

0:25:430:25:47

Lot number 425.

0:25:470:25:49

-38 again to start...

-They sold for £150. This is the second one.

0:25:490:25:53

At £48... 50. 55.

0:25:530:25:57

60. 65.

0:25:570:25:59

70. 75.

0:25:590:26:01

-80. 85. 90. 95.

-The collectors are certainly here.

0:26:010:26:05

100. 110.

0:26:050:26:07

120. 130.

0:26:070:26:09

140. 150. At 150...

0:26:090:26:12

160.

0:26:120:26:14

It's even better, this group.

0:26:140:26:17

Are we all done at 160?

0:26:170:26:19

Yes! 160. Fantastic.

0:26:190:26:22

£310 so far. Third lot to go. Third group now.

0:26:220:26:26

70 for this one, please? 70 I have. 75, sir? 75.

0:26:260:26:30

It's great, isn't it? It's exciting when you know people want it.

0:26:300:26:34

90. 95.

0:26:340:26:36

100. 110.

0:26:360:26:38

120. 130.

0:26:380:26:40

140. 150. At 150, the gentleman now.

0:26:400:26:43

160 with the gentleman.

0:26:430:26:46

At £160... Are we all done at 160?

0:26:460:26:49

Yes! Another 160!

0:26:490:26:52

Lot 427 - there are six of them this time. Six character jugs.

0:26:520:26:57

65 I have and 70 I'll take.

0:26:570:26:59

At £65.

0:26:590:27:01

And 70. 75. 80.

0:27:010:27:05

We've got £470 so far. This is the last lot.

0:27:050:27:09

100. 110. 120. 130.

0:27:090:27:12

-140. 150.

-Great. Come on.

-160. 170.

0:27:120:27:16

At 170. 180?

0:27:160:27:18

The gentleman here at 180.

0:27:180:27:21

At £180... Are we all done at 180?

0:27:210:27:24

That was the best result so far!

0:27:240:27:28

Gosh, they loved them, didn't they?

0:27:280:27:30

They absolutely adored them. You didn't like them, did you?

0:27:300:27:34

I didn't see them much. They were in the attic, not doing a lot.

0:27:340:27:38

In the attic. Well, that is a grand total of £650, if my maths are right.

0:27:380:27:43

Wow.

0:27:430:27:45

Above my estimate. I was thinking maybe 450, somewhere around there.

0:27:450:27:49

-Wow.

-Are you going to ring Mum up and tell her?

0:27:490:27:52

I think I better had or she'll be annoyed with me.

0:27:520:27:56

-Yeah.

-What's she going to do with the money?

-I think she's going to buy some silver photo frames -

0:27:560:28:01

three, for me and my brothers - and when she goes, we'll have them and come and flog them here.

0:28:010:28:06

The auction's finished and the lucky bidders are collecting their lots.

0:28:090:28:14

The star of today's show had to be the toby jugs,

0:28:140:28:17

all 25 of them, selling for a collective £650.

0:28:170:28:21

If you've got any antiques and collectables you're unsure about

0:28:210:28:25

and you want to flog, bring them along to one of our valuation days.

0:28:250:28:29

I hope you've enjoyed the show. See you next time on Flog It!

0:28:290:28:33

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd 2006

0:28:470:28:51

E-mail [email protected]

0:28:510:28:54

Paul Martin meets up with experts James Lewis and Philip Serrell in the heart of Cardiff to hunt out bargains to sell at auction. He also takes a tour round the medieval interior of Cardiff Castle, the work of Victorian Gothic designer William Burges.