Paul Martin and experts Mark Stacey and Michael Baggott visit Torquay on the lookout for more dusty but valuable antiques.
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Today, Flog It is on the English Riviera,
a place of choice for Victorian royalty and the well-heeled.
It has a real continental feel to give St Tropez a run for its money.
Welcome to Torquay and Flog It!
Tourists have come to the English Riviera since the 18th century,
partly inspired by King George III who was apparently cured of mental illness by a dip in the sea.
This inspired rich and important landowners to follow suit for the good of their health.
Torquay impressed everyone.
One early visitor wrote in 1794,
"How great our surprise at seeing a pretty range of new buildings fitted up for summer visitors
"who may have enjoyed carriage rides, bathing, retirement and a most romantic situation."
We're at the Palace Hotel in Torquay
which has been welcoming holidaymakers since 1921,
but today the crowds are here for something completely different.
They'll get their antiques valued by Michael Baggott and Mark Stacey.
If our owners like the valuations and they want to flog their item,
we whisk them down the south coast where they go up for auction.
-Could've been a bit more for Mary.
-He was decapitated.
-Michael was spot-on.
There's no shortage of interesting looking bags and boxes
and Mark's already spotted a rather stern-looking gentleman.
-Good morning, Margaret.
I love this plaque you've brought.
He looks as if he's flushed with success and I hope we will be.
-Do you know anything about it?
-Nothing at all.
-Where did it come from?
-An elderly gentleman gave me it 40 years ago.
He said it belonged to his father, so I imagined it was old.
Where has it been in your house?
-It was on the wall, but I didn't like the look of it.
A bit scary. So, it's been wrapped up in a cupboard.
Did this elderly gentleman have a Scottish connection?
I wouldn't know. I don't know about that.
It might have started life in Scotland.
It's got the look of the Portobello factory,
the painted decoration on the side.
He's a religious looking character, almost Wesley,
but I don't think it is Wesley.
There's no mark on the back to give us an indication of the factory,
but this wonderful creamy texture to the pottery
and this bluish tinge tells us that it's pearlware.
-And pearlware was made in Staffordshire, the northeast,
as well as in Scotland.
-Have you ever thought of the date of it?
-No, I've no idea.
I think this was probably made around 1810, 1820.
It's getting on for 200 years old which isn't bad.
We have a small chip there, but it doesn't make a huge difference.
I've got more damage on me and I'm nowhere near 200 years old!
The value might surprise you too, because though it's not attractive,
there are a lot of collectors for early pottery.
I would put a value on it for auction of between £100 and £150.
-By your reaction, I think you quite like that.
I wish I'd said 80 to 120 now.
The reason I put that on it is I want to tempt the buyers in.
It's going to a good auction room in Plympton
and I think they'll pull in the collectors for it.
I have a feeling it might even top our top estimate.
-Let's see how far we can reach with it.
Sue, where did you get this curiously shaped object from?
I inherited it from my aunt about 15 years ago.
Is it in pride of place at home?
It's been by the fireplace for 15 years, I think,
but I don't like cleaning it.
-Have you any idea what it might be?
-It may be a Victorian hand-warmer.
-I'm not sure.
-Oh, close, close.
If we have a look at it and pop it open,
we must be careful because the hinge is broken...
-Do you know how that happened?
-It's always been like that.
We've got this brass pierced ball and this steel gimballing inside
which is supporting a small heater.
You would have a flame there,
but it's not a hand-warmer, it's a carriage warmer.
They would be carried in carriages and they would emit warmth from them.
They were produced for a number of years. Any idea how old it may be?
Well, a guess, Victorian?
You could be forgiven for thinking it was Victorian
cos they were made up until that time.
They started to be made in the 17th century here and in Holland.
They continued to be made through the 18th and early 19th centuries.
It's hard to date them because they've always got this stylistic flaw engraving on them
all the way around to let the heat out.
But as it's such a nice quality one and the catch is very well made,
I'll stick my neck out and say it's about 1780, 1800 in date.
That's older than I thought.
Whether it's English or Dutch, I don't know, but it doesn't matter.
Have you got any idea of its value?
No, I've never thought about it very much. It's just always been there.
-In the fireplace?
-Did you do anything to it?
It's a little bit bruised.
As children, we'd roll it up and down the hall at my aunt's house.
-Your aunt was happy about this?
-I don't think she knew we were doing it.
Condition-wise, it's fairly good, but it has got a few dents.
At auction, it should do between £200 and £300.
If we put a reserve of £200 on it, pop it into the sale
and it does well, what are your plans for the money?
I don't know. Probably treat my friends to something.
-So, they'll all be rooting for it?
-Thanks for bringing it in.
There's 11,000 miles of coastline around the British Isles,
so, on the south Devon coast, we had to see nautical memorabilia.
Tell me all about it, Jason.
I don't really know a lot about it.
All I know is that when we bought it from the auction,
we overheard the auctioneer say
that it was built in Chatham Dockyards in the 1800s.
-As an exhibition piece for the Golden Hind.
Other than that, nothing else?
-I've no idea.
-How long ago did you buy this in auction?
-It was only months ago.
-How much did you pay?
-£14 with commission.
-With the commission, it's £15.
-You definitely got a bargain.
It is a model of the Golden Hind.
It's a late Victorian one, around about 1880, 1890.
We call it a scratch-built model.
It's a one-off and it's built of whatever materials are at hand,
a mixture of woods cobbled together and painted.
I expect this has had its last few years of its life
in a theme pub or a restaurant.
The more you look at it, the more you can see the detail,
the rigging, the blocks, the gaffs, the cannons.
Everything is right about it, apart from this door-knob finial from a piece of furniture.
-I did think that was a little bit strange.
-It's a bit over the top.
And there's rather a crude repair on the rudder, look.
It's been done probably in the '50s or '60s with strips of rubber.
The plinth isn't right for it, the base, unfortunately.
That lets it down, but someone who buys that will sort it out.
We'll get a good return on what you paid for this, £14.
It's a hard one to pin down
as it's scratch-built, a one-off.
That will put the value up, but the condition will let it down.
I think we're looking at a value
of possibly £60 to £120,
somewhere around there.
-I know it'll do the £60 mark. I'd like to say 80 to 120.
Hopefully, two people will fall in love with it.
If you've only had it a few months, why do you want to move it on?
I did get it for myself, the reason being if I did keep it myself,
-I'd try my hand at sorting it out, but I'd ruin it.
-You'd ruin it.
Whoever buys this will leave it looking exactly as it is.
If we got £80, what would you do?
We're looking to save for a holiday at the moment, a family holiday.
-It's lovely and let's hope it sails away at the auction room.
Debbie, you've brought this little fellow in to see us.
Where did he come from?
I found him in my grandmother's loft 20 years ago after she passed away.
He was wrapped in an old blanket.
He's in fairly good condition for being wrapped up in the loft.
-Did you have him out on display?
-I did for a couple of years,
on the bedside cabinet, then I put him away again for safekeeping.
-He's lived most of his life in the dark?
-Poor teddy bear.
-Do you know anything about him?
I'll tell you a bit about him. He's in plush mohair.
And a little bit worn around the belly.
There's something in his belly.
He's either been used for smuggling or he's got a growler.
And even if I press it very hard, I can't get him to growl,
so that's broken, but he's in fairly good condition.
He's got a plastic, rubberised nose
which I'm told dates him to the post-war period.
So, he's probably 1945, 1955.
I don't know if it was your grandmother's or your mother's.
And he's your classic teddy bear and very collectible too.
-So, have you got any idea of what he might be worth?
-No idea at all.
Even with the little bits of wear, he's worth between £40 and £60.
-Hopefully more than that.
So, if we were to put him in, have you got any plans for the money?
-My children would find a way of spending it.
-So, your children would rather have the cash?
We'll put him into the auction and do our very best.
-Beryl, Derek, nice to see you.
You've brought an interesting thing in.
Tell us the history of it.
The history is we were in London. We had been down to one of our shows
because we used to be in the nursery trade - cots, prams and baby things.
And I thought I'd have something a little bit showy.
I saw these lorgnettes and they were very nice,
-so we bought them in Portobello Road.
-At a jeweller's and I used to use them.
-I think we should have a look.
If we look first at the handle,
we've got this lovely turquoise blue enamel on here
with this engine turning underneath it.
-As we turn it round, it gives that lovely rippling effect.
And that technique is very French,
so when we look for some marks, we'll find they're continental.
French or Swiss.
If we fiddle with that button, there you go.
There's your glasses to look over. And if we have a look inside,
we've got some continental marks, but also some import marks
to show it was sufficient quality to be hallmarked in this country.
-We're looking at the early part of the 20th century.
Maybe 1910, 1920. They went up to the Art Deco period.
The other thing I like is they're telescopic.
That just gives you the chance to be more superior.
-You can go like that.
They're absolutely charming. You bought them about 35 years ago.
-What did you pay for them?
-I think it was round about the £50 mark.
That's not too bad, considering that you're buying them in London.
-£50 at the time was a lot of money.
-It was, actually.
I think the estimate today should be about £120 to £150 on them.
-You've enjoyed them.
-They've gone up in value.
And if we get a good price, what will you put the money towards?
I'd like Beryl to have jewellery for her neck or diamond earrings.
-Is that a good idea, Beryl?
-Yes. I have arthritis in my hands.
I can't wear rings any more.
-So, maybe a nice bracelet or necklace or some nice earrings?
-That would be very nice.
-I hope a lot of people want a pair of lorgnettes.
We've had no shortage of quality items coming through the Flog It doors here today.
Here's a quick reminder of what we're taking to the auction room.
Will Margaret's pearlware plaque pass the £100 mark at the auction?
Could Sue's carriage warmer heat up the bidders
and make between £200 and £300?
The model ship may have been caught in a storm, but will it sail away?
If you go down to the woods today,
you'll find a bear that's lost its growler, but is he a bargain?
And here's looking at you through a pair of lorgnettes.
At £120 to £150, the bidders could have double vision.
The sale today comes from Plympton, a former trading centre for locally mined tin
and the birthplace of renowned artist, Sir Joshua Reynolds.
It's auction preview day and as the public look at what's up for grabs,
I'll corner auctioneer Anthony Eldred to see what he thinks of some of our experts' valuations.
Now, this is a real curio,
Sue's carriage warmer.
If I open this up, you see it works on a gyroscope effect
where it'll always find its own level. Isn't that unusual?
-Michael Baggott has put £200 to £300 on this.
-We won't see another one for a long time.
-I've not seen one.
Certainly not in this form. I've seen square ones.
It's a fascinating object. £200 to £300 is probably what it's worth.
It's not worth any more than that.
I can see this doing the top end because it is so rare
and it's a nice period thing. If you had £300, would you buy this?
I wouldn't, but I see that a lot of collectors would.
It's not a thing of beauty when it's closed like this,
but when you open it, it becomes much more interesting.
-It's like Pandora's box.
-I would have it open like that.
Anthony seems confident about the carriage warmer. What about the battered boat?
Oh, my word, just look at Jason's model ship of the Golden Hind.
I think it's sailed down from Torquay to Plymouth in a Force 9!
Can't remember it looking like that at the valuation day.
I put a valuation...of £80 to £120 on this. I put a reserve of 60.
I'll stand by my reserve because I know it looks so tatty...
It certainly doesn't look seaworthy enough for your original quote,
but you may just get the £60.
-I think it could fail.
-I might have had rose-tinted spectacles on.
But it's a restoration project,
I want you to look enthusiastic, be very positive on my behalf
and push it to the bidders as a good auctioneer can sell things.
You're testing my talents.
It does at first glance look like a bag of string and parchment.
-I think Hurricane Charlie's done its worst.
It's got some deck detail and I will do my very best for you,
but I'll have my work cut out.
We'll see, but first to go under the hammer is Margaret's plaque.
-We need £100 to £150. You don't like it.
-I'm not keen on it.
-But I bet somebody out there will love it.
-I hope so.
-Will we get the top end?
-I like it.
-A nice piece of English pottery.
-Would you have it on your wall?
Let's find out. The bidders of Devon will love this. Good luck.
A pearlware, oval, portrait plaque.
And I'm bid £60 for it.
At £60. 65 anywhere? Against you all in the room at 60.
5, surely? All done at £60?
5. 70. 80. 90.
-We've got it.
At 100. Are you all done at 100?
Quite sure then...?
-We just did it - £100.
-That was close.
I'm not an auctioneer, but you are.
If you have enthusiasm in your lots, you can draw the bidders in.
I'm sure a good auctioneer will sell something for a little more.
-We're supposed to encourage and enthuse.
-Of course you are.
But if there isn't anybody bidding in the room, it is difficult to drum up that enthusiasm.
-You cut it flat?
-Sometimes it's better to say nobody will buy this, let's get on with the next sale.
-And you'll spend your £100 on what?
Great start. Let's hope the bidders aren't sitting on their hands now.
If they need warming up, we've got Sue's carriage warmer,
valued by Michael at £200 to £300. I think that's right on the money.
I'd like to see the top end. I had a chat with the auctioneer.
-He didn't quite grasp it...
-Wasn't keen on it,
didn't know a lot about it, so he's gonna trust Michael's opinion here.
-I hope so.
-It's all down to you, Michael!
-I've found out it's based on an Islamic incense burner.
They came into this country hundreds of years ago and were used as hand or carriage warmers.
-But I think that little catch means it's European.
-It sets it off.
Might be an Islamic style, but it's definitely Dutch.
This is the 19th century, ball-shaped carriage warmer.
Got a gimbal-mounted burner inside.
It starts at £100. 10 if you want?
110. 120. 130. 140.
At 160 then. Against you all at £160...?
-Quite sure at £160...?
-Come on, come on.
-Didn't do it.
-Didn't do it.
-Didn't sell it.
-I'll have to take it home again.
Or put it into a specialist sale. This isn't quite the right room.
Someone was interested at 150, 160, so we're fairly close. It's a pity we didn't get it away.
This is the moment I've NOT been looking forward to.
Here is Jason who's a big bloke. I hope he's got a sense of humour.
-We'll find out. Do you want to know what the auctioneer said?
It will struggle. I said it could be a restoration project at £60.
He said it might struggle at 20 to 30.
-You're not gonna thump me, are you?
And it's the carved wood model of the Golden Hind.
It's had a rough trip, but is an excellent challenge to restore it.
And I'm bid £30. Against you all at 30.
At £30. 5 if you want it. At 30.
At £30. 5. 40. 5. 50.
-5. 60 now. At £60... All done at 60 then?
-We've done it.
Quite sure at £60? All done then? Last chance at £60...
-He sold it.
-I'm so pleased I put a 60 reserve.
On an 80 to 120, that was quite speculative.
I'll stick to furniture in future.
-I was gonna walk the plank there, but we did it.
-We did it.
-And you only paid £14?
In the right sale room you can make a profit.
Mary cannot be with us. She has a hospital appointment.
Let's hope she's on the mend, unlike Teddy who's lost his growl
and his head fell off, but Michael has put £40 to £60 on this.
-I think he's gonna do it.
-I hope he BEARS up well in the auction!
He's the only toy in the sale, so he might struggle a bit.
His growl has gone and he's a bit tired, but he's charming.
And he does have the look. Let's find out what the bidders of Plympton think of Teddy!
It's a post-war teddy bear.
Little bit tired, but he looks quite good fun.
I'm bid £40. 2 if you want?
42. 5. At 45 now. Against you all still.
-At £45. 8 if you want him?
Teddy's going for £45. All done?
Just over the bottom end, £45. Could've been a bit more for Mary.
He was decapitated and stitched back, so I think £45 is a good result.
Beryl and Derek are just about to flog their lorgnettes
which is such an unusual thing.
Mark valued it at 120 to 150.
-Are you happy with the valuation?
-Yes, I am.
-Hopefully we'll get the top end.
-I hope so.
And Lot 79...
is the pair of early 20th century, enamelled lorgnettes.
And several bids again. I'm bid £125.
-At 125. 130.
5. At 135 then...
Against you all at £135...
At 135, I'll sell it. All done...?
-He's done it, no-one else to push him. £135.
-That's very nice.
What are we gonna put 135 quid towards?
Less a bit of commission to pay. In this sale room, it's 15%.
What's the money going towards?
It was going towards a necklace for Beryl cos she can't wear rings now with arthritis.
But we were talking today with my mother, it's her birthday, 96,
we might push it up there to Yorkshire.
-Happy birthday, Mum.
-Happy birthday, Mum.
It may look like another slice of English countryside,
but hidden from view, as was intended, is Crownhill Fort,
built in the 1860s to fend off an attack from invading armies.
By 1850, France had recovered after the defeat at Waterloo
and set about building a naval fleet to re-establish its strength.
With the launch of the first fully iron-clad warship, La Gloire,
the British Parliament took note.
Led by Prime Minister Lord Palmerston, Britain began to build 70 forts to defend its harbours
against the possible threat.
The "Palmerston follies" stretched around the south coast
with Crownhill Fort the largest in the Plymouth area.
As the flagship defence post, it was at the cutting edge of Victorian fort design.
After nine years and a couple of strikes along the way,
it was finally opened in 1872 at a total cost of £76,400.
In today's money, that's just over £4 million.
Built on an exposed hill 400 metres in front of the defensive line,
the seven-sided fort had a 360-degree lookout.
An advancing enemy could be spotted at distance from the huge ramparts as they approach Crownhill
and would meet the first line of defence, a 30-foot-deep dry ditch.
The soldiers would be armed with rifles and artillery,
able to fire on the enemy that had reached the ditch.
The idea was to have a line of fire in each direction on this level.
If that wasn't enough, each caponier had 21 rifles and two cannons which fired case shot.
You can just imagine the noise - absolutely deafening.
You can hear the acoustics with my footsteps, let alone one of these things going off!
The place would've been filled with smoke, there'd be no visibility
and the armourers were loading by touch alone.
Underground tunnels zig-zagged around the fort, allowing soldiers to be deployed quickly and safely,
but also enabling them to listen in to intruders on the outside.
20 soldiers at any time would live, sleep and eat in the barracks,
receiving the most basic provisions and kit.
Today, it's re-enactors that take their place, bringing to life the experience of a serving soldier.
-What was life like in the barracks?
-Far better than on civvy street outside.
At least you're warm, it's dry.
You're given your kit, your clothes, two good meals a day.
-I take it you saw no action here in the time?
-No, not one.
We didn't fight the enemy at all.
What's the daily routine like?
Early in the morning, six o'clock, up, try and wake,
-send some men detailed to the cookhouse.
Take the tea dixie down and use your tea bowl.
It's not only a tea bowl, it's a shaving bowl or it could at night be a night bowl.
We'll move on from that swiftly. I wondered why it was so big!
Once you've done your drill, there wouldn't be a lot to do unless you were on duty. You'd do maintenance.
You'd have to do maintenance on the gun, you'd have to practise.
Every so often, a general would say, "We want you out on the moors for a couple of days.
"We'll do sham fights. We'll put a dummy enemy out. We want you to fire rounds at the targets."
-What would a soldier earn?
-One and tuppence a week before stoppages.
One and tuppence is a lot of money.
-But deductions for the wife
or money sent back to Mother,
stoppages for fines, stoppages for loss of kit.
You went drinking the other night, you lost your belt - buy a new one.
Sunday pay parade, start off at one and two, sorry, there's your total - threepence, three farthings.
-I bet some gambling went on in here as well.
-No doubt some went on.
In its heyday and fully armed,
Crownhill was garrisoned by 300 Royal Artillery soldiers.
Despite all the practice runs, the French threat amounted to nothing
and as technology moved on, the fort became obsolete.
Today, the fort is open to the public and 130 years on,
it's only one of two forts fully preserved in original condition.
It may be a legacy to Palmerston's imaginary foreign invasion that the guns are far from silent.
We're back at our valuation day in Torquay,
home to one of our most prominent crime writers.
Agatha Christie was born in Torquay in 1890
and is the most widely published author ever, only outsold by the Bible and William Shakespeare.
She wrote 80 books over a career that lasted more than 50 years,
setting scenes in the Torquay area.
The scene's set at the Palace Hotel and the only mystery is what will turn up on the Flog It tables.
Shirley, you haven't been disconnected at home to bring this?
I doubt it, but you never know, do you?
-So, if this isn't your day-to-day phone...
-Where does this live in your house?
-On top of my bureau at home.
It's just, you know, for show really, but...
-Where did you get it?
-I acquired it 40 years ago.
-You bought it as an ornament?
-I didn't buy it.
-I think it belonged to an ex-husband.
-But he's passed away.
-So, it is mine.
-It ended up with you.
It flummoxed me a bit because early phones aren't my speciality.
We've got a lovely mahogany base and all the fittings are in brass.
And we've got this early Bakelite handle
and rather amusingly this button says, "Press this while speaking."
-So, you get some exercise, as well as a conversation.
And it's apparently "the magnet".
-The period of its manufacture is about 1905, up to the First World War.
-I thought so.
But it's a lovely thing.
It's most unusual in its form and I haven't seen many like it.
Usually you see the upright telephones with a hook on them.
People like to have them working in their homes now.
It just makes having a conversation more enjoyable.
-There is a little bit of damage there.
I'm not an expert in early phones,
but they are collectible and it's a pattern I haven't seen.
I think at auction it's going to be in the region of about £70 to £120,
-that sort of region.
-If we gave the auctioneer maybe 10% discretion at the £70...
But we could both be pleasantly surprised.
-So, what are your plans for the money?
-Towards a holiday. Pocket money.
-Malcolm, I really like these candlesticks. Are they yours?
-How have you got them?
-Someone gave me them with a load of other stuff.
-When did you receive them?
-About two months ago.
-So they're a new acquisition?
-You thought these were interesting.
-There's signatures on the base.
I thought they were old, so I'm just curious about them, really.
You're quite right. They've got this "AR" mark underneath.
Which means "Augustus Rex".
And if these were Augustus Rex candlesticks,
we're looking at a pair of Rococo candlesticks of the 1740s, 1750s.
They are German and they would be quite valuable.
We've got typical scenes of rural lovers and typical colours as well,
the turquoises and pinks and these lovely floral sprays.
Unfortunately, that's not the case.
These are much later than that.
They are round about 1900, 1920.
The hole in the bottom was put in to stop it breaking in the firing.
If the air couldn't be released, the whole thing would shatter.
And on one of them, we've still got a slight firing crack.
That happened in the kiln.
I can see these in somebody's house. They're quite commercial.
Have you thought of their value?
Roughly about £30, £40.
I think I might please you in that case.
If we put these in for sale, we'd be looking at an estimate of £100 to £150.
-Is that all right?
They are a good pair and they might push up on that.
-It obviously pleases you.
-I do like them, but they don't go...
-They're not your style.
-I'm a bit more modern.
If we got a good price, any ideas on what you might spend it on?
Not really. I'd probably take the wife out.
I'm updating my computer and stuff.
-Put it towards a new megabyte or something.
-Yeah, bit of software.
-And treat the dog.
-Jackie, where did you get this wonderful article?
-From my partner.
It was from his late grandmother.
That's about ten years ago now. I don't know a lot else about it.
Where does it live at home?
-It's in my unit with all my other articles.
-It should be on a desk.
-Do you know what it's used for?
-I thought it was a letter or a paper opener.
You can be forgiven for thinking that.
It's actually a page turner.
Sometimes they can be cut down to be used as letter openers
as that's slightly more practical.
It was used in Victorian times when you had a large newspaper.
Rather than get the print on your hands, you had a page turner
and you could insert it into each leaf and turn it.
-This would discolour and not your hands. Any idea how old it is?
-No idea, no.
It's a bit of silver and it's hallmarked.
I'll hunt around for my eyeglass and having got it,
it's by Edward Barrett and Barrett's a good maker.
They made little desk blotters, stamp cases and desk accessories.
That's absolutely in keeping.
And we've got the lion passant for sterling silver,
the leopard's head for London
and it's got a little F which is the date letter for 1901,
so it's just between Victorian and Edwardian.
The handle, unfortunately, isn't solid silver.
They've die-stamped it on a press because it's far too intricate
with these little flowers and acanthus motifs.
They've done that in two pieces and filled it in with pitch, so it's not very heavy.
They've got a bit of elephant ivory or any other ivory
that was large enough to form this blade and pinned it in.
-Have you any idea what it might be worth?
-It's going to be worth at auction between £50 and £80.
It's a nice thing, so we'll see how it does in the auction.
-Thank you for bringing it in.
-Thank you for seeing me.
You've brought a nice pair of watercolours in
with unusual subjects on them.
-Can you give me the history?
-Yes, they belong to my family.
My mother died at the age of 97 last October,
so my sister and I decided it would be better to sell the two together,
rather than split them up.
I quite like them. They're continental scenes.
I particularly like this one with the senorita with her fan
and the musician is playing outside her window.
You've got a few other street vendors there as well.
That might be a street in Santiago which would be fun if it was.
This one is a typical market scene
outside the cathedral or the town hall there.
They're both signed here, "Thomas Macquoid", this one "1894" and the one over there "1886".
They both bear labels on the back which adds a bit of provenance
which I always like
and it's staggering to think that even then it was £15, 5 shillings.
-That might have been later in a gallery.
-20 years later maybe, but it's a nice part of the history.
And when these were painted, the Victorians loved these scenes.
Their houses were covered with these paintings and pottery and ceramics
and china cabinets and furniture,
much more cluttered than we live today.
They should sell reasonably well. If we put them in for sale,
we should try them at an estimate of £300 to £400 for the pair.
-Is that something you'd be happy with?
-That would be fine.
And they might go for a bit more.
The valuation day is in full swing with the experts working flat-out.
It is thirsty work and I've got just the tonic.
There is something missing and it is a good job we're just a stone's throw away from Plymouth
where they have been putting the G into G&T since 1793 at England's oldest distillery.
Plymouth Gin has its roots at the Barbican in the historic heart of the city.
This place is home to the Royal Navy and there's always been a link between gin and the Navy.
Dutch courage was given to the sailors before they set sail.
But ordinary Britons got their first taste of the spirit at the beginning of the 17th century
when William of Orange, a keen genever or gin tippler,
came from Holland to seize the English throne.
It quickly became a fashionable drink amongst his courtiers.
William furthered the gin cause by encouraging the country to shun French imports of wine and brandy
in favour of domestic distilling, resulting in a gin free-for-all
with legal and illegal production rocketing.
The streets were awash with gin and the quality varied so much
that it was often bottled in stone jars to disguise impurities.
Gin took a grip on the country and scenes like Hogarth's painting of "Gin Lane" were commonplace.
In London, one in three houses sold gin, many people were paid in gin
and wives and daughters were sold into prostitution just to pay for the spirit.
"Mother's ruin" was threatening to destroy society.
By 1730, production was up to 11 million gallons,
so the government decided to halt this excessive consumption.
The Gin Act put a cap on things.
By introducing duty and forcing producers to have a licence, they got the situation under control,
but not without a public outcry.
There were several gin distillers in Plymouth when Mr Coates bought the Black Friars building in 1793
and ousted his rivals by winning a court battle to be the only distiller of Plymouth Gin.
His recipe remains the same to this day.
Richard, what are the ingredients? What's so special about it?
The most important thing is the water, soft Dartmoor water, but also the seven botanicals.
What is that? Is that its recipe?
Yes, I've got some of them here.
So, this is the secret recipe, but not so secret now?
What goes into it is not secret, but the mixes and the proportions are.
We have juniper berries - every gin has juniper in it.
We've got coriander, lemon, orange - Plymouth gin is very citrussy -
cardamom pods from Sri Lanka, angelica root from Germany
-and orris root from Italy.
-Talk me through the distilling process.
We put 5,000 litres of neutral grain spirit, which is basically from English wheat,
2,000 litres of Dartmoor water and the botanicals into the still.
They're brought to the boil slowly,
then the spirit in vapour form goes through the swan neck.
-And that's what's collected?
-Yes, into a condenser and from there,
the spirit comes through to these spirit safes.
They used to be locked and the Excise man had the key.
This is still the place where the distiller can check the product.
And the first part is thrown away.
The middle part when it becomes consistent and the quality is right,
that's what's kept - the middle cut.
Wow, how fascinating is that!
-So, how long does the whole process take?
-Only a day.
-And it's ready to drink almost straight away.
-He said with a big smile on his face!
This might be a daft question, but how can you tell the consistency? Is it the old...?
No, it's the expertise of the distiller. It's done with the nose.
They all say that. I see lots of glasses dotted around.
-Maybe we should have a test, but not with the nose?
For centuries, the Navy took Plymouth Gin around the world,
spreading the word on this fashionable drink.
They even had their own gin pennant which was hoisted while in port
as an open invite to come aboard and have a drink.
Even today, each new vessel is given a pennant and a case of gin.
Traditionally, the gin was stored near the gunpowder store.
This was a problem because if the gin spilt, the gunpowder wouldn't ignite.
So, a special Navy-strength gin was developed
and at 57% proof, it would combust every time.
The gunpowder/gin mix was tested on deck to see if any dilution occurred on the way.
This proof test led to the alcohol measuring system we still use now.
While I get used to the subtleties of Plymouth Gin, here's a rundown of the items up for auction.
If Shirley's telephone connects with the bidders,
perhaps they'll exchange £70 to £120 for it.
Malcolm hopes his candlesticks will sell for at least £100.
That way, his wife and his dog will be in for a real treat.
Could Jackie's page turner make £50 to £80 when the gavel goes down?
And finally, let's hope our pair of watercolours
aren't left hanging around at £300 to £400.
In the saleroom, the lots are ready to go under Anthony Eldred's gavel,
but what does he have to say about the watercolours?
Mark Stacey has put a valuation of £300 to £400 on the pair.
They belong to Mary, but at £300 to £400 these are gonna sell.
She didn't want you to split them because they've been in the family a long time.
We've catalogued them together, but they're not really a pair
and might have made more split.
300 to 400 is conservative and we should do better.
-I love the detail in this one. That to me is 300 to 400 alone.
There's so much going on in it.
The bidders will have to pay the extra money to get that one.
-Mark says they are Spanish scenes.
-I can understand.
One of them does look to be,
but the other one is titled "Wurzburg" in Bavaria.
I suspect it is the market there.
Would our Mark have missed something like that?
What would you put them on as a pair?
-They should make between £600 and £800.
-That's what we want to hear.
Do you like these? They're Malcolm's continental candlesticks.
Mark Stacey's put £100 to £150 on these. Will they do it?
They might do it.
I don't see what else you could quote on them.
-They are porcelain.
-They're hand-painted, not transfers?
They are hand-painted, but look at the overall quality of the things.
They sort of lean over at the top.
This one's like the Leaning Tower of Pisa!
They are in good condition, they're not damaged
and they've got this pseudo Augustus Rex mark here underneath.
The decorators will like them.
I think for £100 they're perfectly good value.
There's no accounting for taste and someone out there will love them.
Will that wonky pair put the buyers off? Let's put them to the test.
Malcolm's going to sell the pair of continental candlesticks for £100 to £150,
-but he's also brought in his dog, Ginseng.
-What a face!
I say, hello! How cute is that!
Do you like these candlesticks?
-They don't do anything for me.
I had a chat to the auctioneer
and we both preferred a couple of empty wine bottles with candles in!
But I think they'll do the £100. There's a lot of work there.
-They're a little bit better than that, come on!
They're quality, but they're not my taste.
They're copies of 18th century, but they should make £100.
-They're decorative enough for that.
-That's all hand-painted.
-We'll find out now. This is it.
Next is Lot 363
which is a pair of candlesticks.
There they are, German candlesticks.
£50 starts those. 5 if you want?
£50. 5. 60.
At £60 then. 5. 70.
-Surely? 5. 80.
-We're gonna do it.
5 anywhere? All done at £80...
-Didn't sell them.
-Not quite, not quite.
-It's all right.
-They weren't anybody's taste.
-I'm afraid not.
-Well, I didn't say I liked them!
-I wouldn't have them in my bijou residence in Surrey.
But they were decorative.
-Maybe try them in another sale with a lower estimate.
-We nearly got it right, just £20 under.
-Not too bad.
Thanks for coming in and thanks for bringing in Ginseng who is behaving very well.
He likes the camera. Don't you?
The crooked candlesticks had a leaning for Malcolm's mantelpiece
which is where they're going - back home!
Perhaps the telephone will ring more bells.
I wonder if there are any phone lines booked on Shirley's telephone
which Michael has put £70 to £120 on.
Quite a wide margin, Michael. It's normally 80 to 120.
It's a guestimate cos I've never seen one before in my life.
I don't have a clue what it's worth, but let's give it a go.
I wouldn't like to value it either.
-You've had this 40 years. It's now time to sell?
-It belonged to an ex-husband, so...
-The telephone's got to go.
Next is the earlier telephone on a wood base. There it is.
And I'm bid...
£50, against you all at £50.
At 50. 5. 60. 5. 70.
-At £70. At £70.
At £70 then, against you all. Are you done for 70?
At £70. Are you bidding...? 80. 5.
-He's got one bid on the phone, one on the book.
-90. At £90 now.
On the telephone at £90, against you all. I can sell it for 90.
-We'll settle for that. Good guestimate!
-Spot-on for a guestimate!
"The magnet" phone attracted a few bidders!
-You complain at MY lines!
-I can buy an up-to-date model.
-What will you do with £90?
-Buy an up-to-date model.
-That one you didn't use, so you had another one?
-Yes. Thank you very much.
Remember the wonderful watercolours that Mary brought in?
We've just been joined by Mary and Mark Stacey.
We had a chat to the auctioneer.
He said 3 to 4 is a "come and buy me".
He's hoping for maybe £600 to £800.
-That'll suit us, won't it?
-I think that'll suit Mary!
-It will. Excellent.
-A bit of pressure off Mark here.
We'll find out because we just don't know.
I feel we should've sold them separately,
but they mean something to you and you want them sold in a pair?
It would be a shame to split them,
-but maybe it would have been better to sell them separately.
-This is it.
Next is two watercolours by Thomas Macquoid. A bit of interest.
I'm bid £310 to start it. Against you all at £310 now.
320. 330. 340.
350. At 350 now. Still against you all at £350.
All done at 350, sell at 350...
The hammer's gone down, unfortunately, only £350.
Mark, you were spot-on. That's auctions for you.
-But you're happy?
-What will you put the £350 towards?
-My family are coming over from Australia, so we'll have a big party.
At 1,000. And 10...
For those of you wishing to turn over a new leaf,
you might be interested in Jackie's ivory and silver page turner
which Michael has estimated at £50 to £80.
I love this, it's quality. Will it turn a profit?
You've stolen my line!
I think it's got to sell. No question. I'd love it to make £80.
There's a spot of damage on the ivory, but that can be polished out and it will be as good as old.
As good as old!
The silver and ivory paper knife or page turner...
And I'm bid £42. Two bidders at 42. At £42.
5. 8. 50.
2. 5. 8. I'm bid 60.
-5. At £65...
At 65. 68. 70.
Against you seated at £70, still at the back. 75. 80 now.
-That's good. 80, oh!
-At £80. Quite sure?
At £80. All finished at £80...?
-Michael was spot-on, top end.
-80 quid, £80.
-Happy with that?
-Yeah, very good.
Michael, top end, well done.
If you're wealthy enough to want one to turn the pages of your newspaper, £80 is nothing to you.
-No. Very decadent.
-Lovely thing, though.
The auction's finished and our two experts have done us proud,
although one "no sale" each. What have you got to say?
-Those Dresden candlesticks hardly lit up the sale.
That carriage warmer, the bidders didn't warm to it.
-But at least I got that battleship away.
-You were lucky.
Some you win, some you lose.
If you've got any antiques and collectibles you want to flog,
bring them along to one of our valuation days. See you next time!
Subtitles by Subtext for BBC Broadcast 2005
e-mail us at [email protected]
Paul Martin, along with experts Mark Stacey and Michael Baggott, visits Torquay on the lookout for more dusty but valuable antiques. Whilst in Plymouth for the auction, Paul also inspects a huge Victorian military installation and learns about the production of Plymouth Gin.