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 -
what a beautiful building. It used to be the city's commercial hub, but now it's a top entertainment venue,
hosting big-name acts such as Jools Holland, Van Morrison and Flog It!
Cardiff was one of the world's greatest coal exporters
and built its reputation on this black gold.
This is where all the big deals took place in the city's industrial heyday. Judging by this queue,
we've gone back in time, cos all these people are here to make a bob or two by flogging antiques.
The two experts making big deals today are Phillip Serrell and James Lewis.
What is that worth on the open market?
-That's a tidy lump.
-That's a cliche!
Let's get inside and hopefully dig up more treasures.
-How you doing, Ted?
-I can see from this
you're a lifeboat honorary secretary and an RNLI man.
I was, until two years ago.
-Where did you serve?
Oh dear. Well, all credit to you, Ted. It would terrify me.
You know a bit about this, don't you? Did you buy it, or did you...
-Found it in the skip.
-You found it in a skip?
I was helping to clear someone's house, years ago.
It was thrown in the skip, and I liked it.
I said, "Can I have it?" He said, "Yes, you can."
That was about 40 years ago.
-What appealed to you about it?
-The workmanship in it.
Why do you now want to sell it?
It's of no interest to my daughter or granddaughter.
I thought if I can get a few bob for it, I'll start my own collection
-of small silver.
-You're going to sell this and buy bits of silver? Brilliant.
You've done some homework into what it is,
so you can tell me and I can be completely superfluous to this.
-Tell me what you found out.
-Someone went on the internet for me,
and found out is was a Stevengraph...
-Can I just stop you?
-What's a Stevengraph?
-It's a process of weaving silk...
-On a jacquard loom.
-When did they start doing that, then?
-1854, it says on there...
-And I think it was five or six years before that.
-So a Stevengraph is a process of weaving silk
on a loom that was, in your view, invented round about 1850-something.
-And how do you know that's by Thomas Stevens?
-It says so on the back.
Thomas Stevens, and Coventry on it.
You see a lot of Stevengraphs - a lot of them are hunting scenes,
and a lot of jockeys, and portraits of Fred Archer, and that type of thing, but this is a really lovely
commemorative bookmark, but what is interesting is it's a conundrum -
I looked up Stevens in the book just before I started filming this, and it said he invented this process
in 1862. Now, you've got information that says it was more like 1850, so we've a conundrum here,
cos with a 12-year gap,
I wonder whether these things were mass-produced after the original opening of Crystal Palace,
sold simply as commemorative items.
-You spent a lot of money framing it up, haven't you?
-About 40, 50 quid.
-They did a good job...
-They've done a super job of it.
My view on an estimate for this is gonna be the cost of your framing.
I would put an estimate on it of £40-£60.
We'll put a fixed reserve on it as well. We'll put a reserve of £40 for you.
-So you'll buy a bit of silver with the proceeds?
I like the small pieces - scent bottles, snuff boxes,
-things like that.
-Let's hope it sells really well and you buy a good bit for your collection.
Anne, you're a local girl, aren't you? Originally from Scotland, so what brought you here?
My father was an architect, so we used to move around,
whenever he went to a different job, so I started up in Dunfermline and moved down to Hertfordshire,
-then I met my husband and moved to Wales!
Now you're living in Cardiff, and you've brought along a whole family, by the looks of it.
-Do you collect these character jugs?
-No, my grandmother collected them.
-And she left them to me in her will.
-Do you like them?
-I think they're very decorative,
-but not...my taste.
-That was a very polite answer!
I bet they haven't been out of that box you brought them in for years!
They've been in our loft since I had them, and it's a shame they're hidden when someone might appreciate them.
OK, so it is a family heirloom as such. You've inherited them. Have you any kids?
-I have three children.
-They should be inheriting these.
-Yes, they should.
-I've got one daughter.
-Does she like them?
I don't think she's actually seen them.
-I don't think so.
-She wouldn't like them?
Thousands of people DO like them, and this whole characterising of a drinking vessel or jug
dates back well into the 14th century with the bellarmine jars,
made in the Rhineland, and you had a little face of Cardinal Bellarmine on it, and he got drunk a lot,
and he was a little fat figure, and they'd decorate the neck of the bottle with him.
And in Victorian times, toby jugs were really popular,
and this whole thing has carried on right up to the present day,
and Doulton do make toby jugs,
but these are an extension of toby jugs - character jugs.
There's one here that I think is probably the most collectable,
and that's Merlin, the wizard,
and he's got an owl on him - the decorators really do like owls.
They do make them in four different sizes - this is the largest size you can buy.
We've got 21 here.
I think 21 this size is a bit over the top, so you're not gonna flog this one, you'll keep this one!
-Let the kids fight over this one!
This is a very collectable size, as they're not too big or small. It's the second size down from this one.
The next one is about a third less,
and the one at the very bottom is a quarter of its size.
They're tiny. We can't see those very well,
-so they're not worth collecting. You've a lot more, though?
-They were displayed in my grandmother's dining room, on the shelf.
-A real avid collector!
-And had to dust them all!
-Exactly! They put a smile on your face, and that's what they're designed for.
There's a few early ones here - some 1940s ones,
and most are 1960s. I'd like to put them into four groups of five.
And let's have five in each group - obviously one group has six,
as you've got 21.
And I think their value is around £20 each.
So really there is a table full, here, of about £420.
Shall we flog them, then?
-I'm sure my grandmother wouldn't mind at all.
June and Graham, thank you for coming along today.
-What have you brought?
-Well, a picture my mother had -
it was given to her by her mother, and my mother's recently died,
-and now it's come into my possession.
-You don't want it?
It's not actually the sort of thing that I think is very pretty, and it wouldn't go in our modern home.
-What do you reckon, Graham?
-I'd rather have a fishing reel!
It's a real difficulty, as you can have something that's come all the way down the family line,
and it ends up with you, and you don't like it, so what do you do?
-Create a new family heirloom?
-I wouldn't have thought so.
My son likes backpacking, and travels pretty light,
so I don't think he's interested in inheriting anything from us at all!
You said it was a picture - we call this a cristoleum.
Basically, it's a process where an engraving or print would have been laid onto the back of the glass,
and various parts cut out and coloured in. Occasionally, they're signed.
It's quite a romantic little scene - these two young children in a courtyard,
and he's putting his finger like that, maybe scolding the other,
or just telling them a secret. A lot of these were produced in America.
They're quite collectable.
A lot of these get damaged - cracks in the corners...
But this is in quite good order, and they were very collectable.
I think the market's hardened for them a little bit,
and I'd estimate this at auction between £40 and £60.
And put a reserve on it at £30. Happy to put that in?
Yes, I think so. There's always the possibility it'd get broken...
Then it ain't worth anything!
Graham, happy with the 40-60 estimate?
-Yep, I'll go with the boss!
-"Go with the boss"!
-It's the boss's mum's mum, so it's her decision!
-As long as it goes to a good home.
Now, Surinder and Gramander, when you find something in a house
it's a bit of rolled-up carpet, or a dead rat, or a bird that's fallen down the chimney,
and in your case, you're a bit luckier than most - you found this.
-Where did you find it?
-I moved into a flat 4 weeks ago,
and we were having a rummage when we moved in, me and my brother,
-and we found a few items.
-How brilliant! What else did you find?
We found a few bottles of unopened whisky!
Above a downstairs toilet - I opened a little cupboard,
and there it was at the back.
You don't often find that sort of thing!
It's known as a sextant. It was called that as it was a sixth of a circle.
It superseded an instrument known as a quadrant.
Quadrants were used from about 1450, and sextants from about 1730.
The idea was you'd take the instrument, and find something
celestial, if in the Northern Hemisphere, you'd take the North Star,
find that, look through your eyepiece,
and then it reflects, in the mirror here, and when the reflection appears on the horizon,
you'd read off the silver gauge here.
It's also signed. "JJ Stiles of Sunderland".
Sextants are an absolute minefield.
They really are. But what we can say is a pre-auction estimate, guaranteed to make £300-£500.
-That's all right!
-Is that all right?
That's a month off the mortgage, anyway!
But I think it might make more.
If this is a good maker, it's up to the auctioneer to do their research,
I think it'll do well. It's got all its parts, the original lacquered brass,
it hasn't been polished or cleaned, the box is in what we call country house condition,
in other words, "tatty", but it's exactly how you want to see it.
I thought of putting brass polish on there, but I thought no.
Oh, good job! You just have to touch it and the colour comes back.
Brasso on this would have killed it.
I know you put £300-£500 on it, but is it worth putting a reserve on it?
Yeah. I think we should.
This is a very specialist item. We're taking it to a general sale.
It's gonna be a good sale, but not a specialist sale of scientific instruments.
At the end of the day, if there aren't the right people there,
and it's not advertised to that section of the market, it won't make the money. So reserve - essential.
-See what we can get off the price of the house!
-Take a bit off the mortgage off!
One of the great centrepieces of Welsh history
is this building. It's Cardiff Castle.
It's undergoing some restoration,
as you can see from this scaffolding.
That doesn't bother us, because it's the inside we're interested in.
The austere walls of this fortress give no hint
to the amount of exuberance we're about to see.
Oh, gosh. This certainly does have the wow factor.
It's the banqueting hall, and it's one of the largest rooms here.
It symbolises the tone and style of the interiors.
It is total architectural fantasia. Each room is themed like this one.
In this room, it depicts the medieval history of the castle
shown with the most wonderful painted illustrations on the walls.
Even the fireplace tells part of the story.
Just look up here. The second Norman Lord of Glamorgan
riding to battle on his horse in all his glory.
Below, in the dungeon, is the son of William the Conqueror,
who was imprisoned in the castle.
The detail in the plasterwork is extraordinary, full of relief.
We have a salmon here popping out of the wall.
There's a little lizard. If you follow the detail
all the way round, it ends with a tiny little mouse on the other side.
The rooms was completed in 1890,
towards the end of the Victorian era. Yet looking at it,
it looks like a banqueting hall from the Middle Ages.
To understand why that's so, we've got to go back to its creators.
Much of the glamour of this 2,000 year old building dates from 1866.
It's down to two men. The then owner, the Third Marquis of Bute,
and the eccentric Gothic revival architect, William Burges.
Lord Bute was not only one of the richest men of his day,
but a great enthusiast of the Middle Ages.
William Burges had a love of the grotesque and weird,
and a keen passion for Gothic architecture.
Together they formed one of the most important architectural partnerships of the 19th century.
They created a mosaic of fantasy rooms that were both
intellectually impressive and new to the Victorian era.
Yet ironically, their designs were inspired
by the Gothic style of the 13th century.
But it wasn't all highbrow.
Burges's creative and wicked sense of humour did add some light relief to his work,
as I can show you in this example here.
Look at this little baby sliding down the banister.
I expect Burges had done that as a lad,
and it's something we've all wanted to do.
But then, you've got this crocodile sitting here, snapping away,
ready to spoil all of the fun.
I mentioned earlier the importance of themes throughout the rooms in the castle.
This room is no exception. It's the winter smoking room,
and it's situated in the clock tower, so not surprisingly
its decorative theme is time.
What I like, when you look up, you can see the richly decorated
twelve signs of the zodiac in the vaulted ceiling.
But also, you've got the four seasons in each gothic arch.
Up here, we've got autumn, winter,
spring, and finally, up here, summer.
Burges was a perfectionist, and he left no stone unturned in his designs,
not even in the windows. If you look closely,
you see that they too symbolise time.
The stained glass shows the days of the week.
Starting here, we've got Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Tuesday is in the middle, with Tyr,
and Wednesday is on the far end here with Woden.
Even though Lord Bute only spent six weeks a year here,
every room, even the least used ones, were richly and highly decorated.
This is the summer smoking room, and it has a dazzling array of colour.
It reflects Lord Bute's love for astrology.
If you look up at the dome, you see the stars and constellations,
and the four elements. Earth, air, fire and water.
Suspended from the dome is this magnificent gilded bronze chandelier
in the form of Apollo, the sun god.
He's standing on his chariot wheel, and the spokes of the wheel are the rays of the sun.
Everybody's hard at it here at the Coal Exchange. It's business as usual.
Now it's time to go over to the auction room and put the valuations to the test.
Here's a quick recap of all the items under the hammer.
Ted found this bookmark in a skip,
but will it find £40-60?
Susan's hoping that 21 toby jugs she inherited
will turn into a tidy sum.
Jean and Graham's house is too modern for their cristoleum,
but will it go for £40-60?
And Gramander and Surinder are hoping
the sextant will lead to a fortune.
Question is, will the bidders go crazy for our lots?
We'll find out in a moment because this is where all the action will take place -
the Athenian Auction Rooms in Cardiff.
Before the hammer goes down, let's catch up with Ryan Beech to see if he has any wise words.
I love this lot. It's my favourite thing in the sale.
I don't know a lot about sextants but it looks a pretty good one.
It's not the general 19th century standard Royal Navy issue.
It belongs to the Singh brothers and they found it in a cupboard.
A lucky find. This one is lacquered brass, so it's more decorative.
-You do see them ebonised or black-lacquered.
So it's got that decorative element.
The sort of thing someone with a nautical interest would buy
-and it'll sit on a sideboard...
-And be polished and look the part.
And people will say, "What's that?"
James Lewis, the expert, put £300-500 on this.
I... It's certainly not going to make 500.
300 would be its upper limit.
I'd have said maybe £200-300.
Encourage the buyers in at 200-300.
Yes, and it's a fairly constricted market as to who's going to want it.
If you have a nautical interest, you're there straight away,
but it narrows your market a bit.
-We are on the website. The internet plays a major part.
I think this will find the right buyer. I'm going to be optimistic!
Someone's got to be, Mr Pessimist.
Realist, I would say.
Now it's time for that wonderful cristoleum to go under the hammer
with that lovely image of two children playing. Valuation £40-60.
It belongs to Jean and Graham.
It was your mum's or your grandma's.
My grandmother's first, then my mother's, and then mine.
We have a great valuation. I think this could do more.
I just think that in this business things go in trends.
Cristoleums were very popular years ago and I think the market might have toughened up, but we'll see.
We're going to find out what the bidders of Cardiff think. Good luck.
Cristoleum of two young boys.
Start me at £50. £50 I have.
-Straight in at 50.
At £70. 75. Clears the book at 75.
85. 90. 95.
At 95. At 95.
Are we all done at 95?
£95. What are you going to do with that?
We haven't really thought, have we?
-We didn't expect it to go to that much.
-Invest in something.
-Good man. That's what I like to hear.
I've just been joined by Ted and we're about to do some recycling
-because we found a Stevengraph bookmark in a skip, didn't you?
We're going to recycle it into £40-60, hopefully.
I think this stands a chance of getting to the top end.
In an ideal world, it ought to do well. It's a pure collectors' piece.
For someone who collects Stevengraphs, it's an unusual thing.
I really hope it does well.
It would do well in Coventry. We're not in Coventry, but...
-Somebody could buy it from Coventry...
-I might get sent there if it doesn't sell.
-If it doesn't sell, it'll sell another day.
That's the spirit. It's going under the hammer. Good luck.
Lot number 659
is the Stevens bookmark,
-Bids on the book.
-45 I have.
50. 55. 60. 65...
At 65... Back with me at 65.
On commission at 65. At £65...
Are we all done at £65?
-Happy with that?
-Very good, yes.
-A great bit of recycling.
This is an interesting lot. I've been looking forward to this.
I've been joined by Surinder and Gramander and we have that lovely sextant going under the hammer,
value £300-500, and what a lovely story, the way this was found.
It is a quality one. I've seen a lot of sextants
and a lot are Royal Navy issue standard ones.
This one's got all the whistles and stops on it. It's a quality one.
But will we get that 300-500?
It's worth it - there's no question of that -
-but there are no other scientific instruments in the sale...
I haven't seen any scientific instrument bidders. I'm hoping for a phone bid.
-If you get a phone bid, we're away.
-We heard what the auctioneer thought.
He thinks it might just struggle at the low end.
Time to see what the bidders think.
Lot 796 is the JJ Stiles of Sunderland brass sextant here.
£190 I have to start.
190. 200. 210.
-Someone has found it.
At 230... At £230...
240, is that? At £230... Are we all done then at 230?
He didn't sell it.
My advice is hang onto it.
It's definitely worth the 3, hopefully worth the 5,
if two people push over it. Take it to a specialist maritime sale -
there's an annual one - maybe to one of the major houses in London, let it find the right audience.
Don't do anything to it. Don't clean it or polish it.
That's very good advice. Leave it as if you've just found it, untouched.
That's how the trade like it.
Remember all those toby jugs? I do, because I put the value on them.
Remember Susan? She's now on holiday in Tenerife,
but I have her daughter Eleanor and mother-in-law June... Yes!
Got it right. Anyway, we've split the lots into four groups.
-We've got the first one coming up now.
It's about to go under the hammer. How come Mum didn't invite you on holiday?
I'm too good-looking for her.
Here it is. Good luck.
Lot number one, first of the four.
There are five Royal Doulton character jugs in lot 424.
38 I have to start.
40. 42. 45.
48? At £48...
Back with me at 48. 50. 55.
-80. 85. 90.
110. 120. 130.
140. At 140... 150.
-This is really good.
The gentleman at 150. Are we all done at 150?
Fantastic. That's much better.
I was thinking £100 for each lot, but that's really good.
Lot number 425.
-38 again to start...
-They sold for £150. This is the second one.
At £48... 50. 55.
-80. 85. 90. 95.
-The collectors are certainly here.
140. 150. At 150...
It's even better, this group.
Are we all done at 160?
Yes! 160. Fantastic.
£310 so far. Third lot to go. Third group now.
70 for this one, please? 70 I have. 75, sir? 75.
It's great, isn't it? It's exciting when you know people want it.
140. 150. At 150, the gentleman now.
160 with the gentleman.
At £160... Are we all done at 160?
Yes! Another 160!
Lot 427 - there are six of them this time. Six character jugs.
65 I have and 70 I'll take.
And 70. 75. 80.
We've got £470 so far. This is the last lot.
100. 110. 120. 130.
-Great. Come on.
At 170. 180?
The gentleman here at 180.
At £180... Are we all done at 180?
That was the best result so far!
Gosh, they loved them, didn't they?
They absolutely adored them. You didn't like them, did you?
I didn't see them much. They were in the attic, not doing a lot.
In the attic. Well, that is a grand total of £650, if my maths are right.
Above my estimate. I was thinking maybe 450, somewhere around there.
-Are you going to ring Mum up and tell her?
I think I better had or she'll be annoyed with me.
-What's she going to do with the money?
-I think she's going to buy some silver photo frames -
three, for me and my brothers - and when she goes, we'll have them and come and flog them here.
The auction's finished and the lucky bidders are collecting their lots.
The star of today's show had to be the toby jugs,
all 25 of them, selling for a collective £650.
If you've got any antiques and collectables you're unsure about
and you want to flog, bring them along to one of our valuation days.
I hope you've enjoyed the show. See you next time on Flog It!
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd 2006
E-mail [email protected]
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.