Charlie Ross and Elizabeth Talbot are in King's Lynn hunting for treasures to value, and presenter Paul Martin discovers that not all tulips are from Amsterdam.
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King's Lynn sits on the banks of the River Ouse in Norfolk and its fine buildings bear witness
to the fact that the town was a major port in medieval times.
Today, it bears witness to another Flog It!
The town was originally called Lynn,
but after the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII,
it changed its name to Lynn Regis which is Latin for King's Lynn.
It was a member of the Hanseatic League of Merchants
which held the monopoly of trading across the North Sea.
King's Lynn remains a flourishing fishing and container port
and there's a busy traffic of grain ships which takes us to the site of our valuation day.
Here at the Corn Exchange are our two experts,
Elizabeth Talbot and Charlie Ross. They found the devil!
First up, something's got Charlie all shaken up.
A subject close to my own heart here, related to alcohol.
This is a real statement of the period, it's wonderfully Deco,
the shape, the materials, it's chromium-plated.
-It's very solid. What is the material?
-It's like Bakelite.
-It's very heavy.
-It feels like Bakelite. It's very dense.
I love it because you twiddle the top round and it's got all the recipes for each of the cocktails.
-You've got eight recipes...
-That'll keep me going for an evening.
-..most of which contain gin.
We're gonna start with a Bronx tonight, I think, which is dry gin, dry vermouth, orange juice and ice.
-Sounds really refreshing. Your sort of thing?
-I'd have a go at that.
-What about a Clover Club? Gin, egg white...
-Grenadine and lemon juice.
There's too much salmonella around!
I thought, looking at the recipes, this was an American contraption.
But I did turn it upside down and it's got "the Master Incolor cocktail shaker, made in England".
"Patent pending." Whether they got the patent is anybody's guess.
There's a strainer there.
You put your cocktails in there with the ice
and that will drain out lemon pips and peel and mint in there.
It leaves the lumps of ice behind.
Here we are, the spout. It's foolproof. They don't want to waste any of their cocktails!
And the air into the little hole and out it comes.
That's a gill and that's graduated.
You can measure it, pour your spirits into there with the ice and do the whole lot.
-Where did you get it from?
-That came from my parents.
It might have been a wedding present. They were married in '36.
-I can't see my father buying one.
-He was a beer man.
-What a waste!
-My mother was gin and French, but didn't need this sort of thing.
-Straight into the glass!
-I don't recall seeing it used.
-It doesn't look used. Why are you selling it? Was it tucked away?
Simply because of that. It was in their house and when we cleared it, my brother and sister didn't want it.
I took it back and thought my son might be interested.
-Even he didn't want it.
-Did he not?
-It would be nice if it was used.
-Did you think this would send you to the Bahamas?
-I thought it might buy me a bottle of gin.
It's going to struggle to make more than £50.
My guide price would be perhaps 40 to 60. It's not going to make £200 or £300 in a month of Sundays.
But I wouldn't want to sell it for a tenner because it's too well made.
-I don't think I'd sell it for a tenner.
-Shall we put £40 to £60 on it?
-We'll put a reserve on it of 40. Happy with that?
-We'll have a drink to celebrate afterwards.
I don't know why I'm drawn to this chap,
but I'd like to know all you can tell me about him.
The reason I've come to see you is because I didn't know what it was or what it was used for.
-How did you come by him?
-In the early '80s, I was at a little sale
and it was in a box of odds and bits.
It was the other stuff I was more interested in.
-I never had it on display.
-It'd frighten the neighbours?
I've never seen anything like him, but he scores ten out of ten for novelty value.
-So he's been locked away...
-25 years in the loft in a box.
-You had a spring clean and decided he's...?
-I'm downsizing and moving into a flat.
-It was in one of the boxes and I thought, "Oh..."
-"There you are!"
What we have here is a piece of porcelain which I believe is German.
The mark underneath is a blue "N" beneath a crown and several factories used that.
It could be one of the Nymphenburg factories. It's a very white porcelain -
souvenir ware that Germany was so good at producing circa 1900.
He's not academically from a good source from that point of view,
but the features are fantastic, very strong and bold.
He's got inset glass eyes, so a bit like some of the Staffordshire pottery dogs of a similar period.
And like some of the teddy bears. It gives a really eerie, hypnotic look to him.
What adds to the curiosity, as I'm sure you've seen, is at the back here we have these two holes.
I would suggest they were intended to take an electric flex.
You see these holes in nursery and living room lamps from this period
and a small bulb would be placed inside.
Then at the top, he has a large hole surrounded by little holes.
If you look up his neck, there's a chamber inside his head
which would take some scented oils,
so from the heat of the lamp, aromatherapy was issuing from it.
The larger hole would be where you'd pour in the liquid and lots of holes like an atomiser.
The light inside would shine through this semi-translucent porcelain
and through the eyes.
-You'd never sleep!
-It would be nice if something smoked.
-Yes, it would.
Quite eerie. It's quite a niche market.
-It might appeal to Goths or devil-worshippers.
-There's a lot of those in the Stamford area(!)
-The little chip has always been there.
-He's got a hairline crack to his top lip.
-Have you got any guestimate as to what he might fetch?
-20 quid or 25 quid, surely.
-I would think £25 to £35.
-A few pints down the golf club!
-Tina and Helen, I've got that right, you're both sisters?
-And you've brought in something of local interest.
-We hope so.
This is Norwich School. How did you come by these watercolours?
They were left to me by my mother.
-Did you take a shine to these when you were a little girl?
They were up on a wall in the lounge in my grandmother's house.
I was gonna say, "How did Mum come by these?"
These are Victorian. We are looking at around 1860 here.
-This is my mother here.
-That's your mother.
-And her sister.
And in the back are actually my grandfather and grandmother.
-Oh, this is nice. And she owned...?
-She owned these, yes.
Here's the catalogue of the exhibition they were purchased from - 1935.
-Yes, that's right.
And inside, the two pictures - "Landing Fish At Yarmouth And Companion Picture, William Freeman."
-Absolutely fantastic. And someone's scribbled in the dates that he was born.
-That was me.
-"1813 to 1897." So you've done a bit of research, haven't you?
They're watercolours picked out with the odd bit of chalk.
Especially on this one. You can see the chalk there. It's slightly more vibrant.
They are naive, but they're beautifully done.
They're understated, working boats in action.
They're unloading the catch, but they are classic vessels,
-the Dutch barges, the Norfolk barges.
-With the big, brown sails.
-Do you know how much your grandmother paid for them?
-There's no price in the catalogue.
-Can we put these into auction with this catalogue as well?
It shows they've been in the same family for three generations. They've not done the circuit.
-No, they haven't.
-Do you have kids?
-Why are you breaking this lineage? You're robbing them of their heritage(!)
-I'm a dreadful mother(!)
But I've just rung my son and he's prepared to let these go.
-You've given them to your son?
-I've offered them to him when I die or before I die.
He's decided he would like to have the money cos they need a new car.
-There's a few trapped insects in here. Where have the pictures been?
-Hanging on the wall.
-All the time.
-Any idea of value?
-I haven't, no. No idea of value.
-What do you think, Helen?
-300 or 400 each? I'm not good at this.
-Sounds about right.
I'd like to put them into auction as a pair with a fixed reserve of £400.
-I think they'll do £600.
-That will be good.
-They've got two old bangers which are useless.
-And a growing family.
This is very unusual, Lynn. What can you tell me about it?
Well, as far as I'm aware, it's a cupping set.
It's for blood-letting. It actually belonged to my great-grandmother
who used to assist with births and things like that.
-I don't know that she was a qualified midwife, but...
-She assisted the people of the town.
-In those days, they had a lady in the town if they needed assistance.
-And attend with the doctor.
-So this was hers?
-It would have seen hard work in its time.
-You've never seen it used, I guess?
I think those days are long gone really, aren't they?
Whoever saw this put together would have been daunted. The Victorians loved the concept of blood-letting,
letting out badness from the body by drawing off blood.
They used leeches a lot. This is a mechanical version of a leech.
We draw back the little knives by this little lever here which primes it like a flintlock pistol.
You hold it on to the skin and by releasing the button, the little knives shoot through
and score the skin at which point you rush up with this,
put it on to the skin and draw back to pull out the blood that you require.
Not for the faint-hearted really. So you've inherited it, have you?
-No, it still belongs to my mother, but she's happy to sell it.
-Has it been pride of place in the...?
-Not at all.
Until very recently, it was down the chicken shed.
You've got a very clean and dry chicken shed
because it's in surprisingly good order.
Do you have any idea what it might fetch? Any hopes or aspirations?
-No, but it isn't doing any good down the chicken shed, so somebody else might as well enjoy it.
The value, I think, will be limited to round about...
-I should think on a bad day, £40, on a good day, it might make £80.
£40 to £80 would be realistic. Are you happy with that?
-We'll put it to the test and see how we get on. Thank you for bringing it in.
-It's a pleasure.
MUSIC: "Tulips From Amsterdam"
Whenever you think of tulips, you think of Amsterdam, but I'm in the Lincolnshire town of Spalding.
This whole region is known as South Holland and you can understand why, can't you?
This area was once an inhospitable marshland until Roman settlers built a system of dykes and canals,
draining the water to reveal rich, fertile soils, perfect for agriculture and horticulture.
# Look at you now, flowers in the window... #
In its heyday, Spalding's flower production matched Holland's,
employing over 2,000 workers who produced 3,000 tons of flowers and bulbs every year.
By the 1970s, the tulip industry went into decline.
Ironically, the very soil which provided the means to its prosperity also led to its downfall.
In Holland, the soil is very dry and sandy, so it's quick and easy to clean off the bulb,
but in England, the soil is siltier, so it takes longer to clean the bulb and is more labour-intensive.
That's why Spalding lost out to the cheaper competition from abroad. I'll pop that back.
Despite the decline in the industry, bulbs and flowers are still a very important part of the economy.
4,000 acres of daffodils are grown locally
and here at Winchester Growers, flowers are big business.
Soil is no longer an issue because all the plants are now grown
using a water-only system, known as hydroponics.
-To tell me about it is Production Director, Mike Mann.
-How long have you been in business?
-About 30 years.
-What do you grow?
17 million stems of tulips that you see here, but that's not all.
In summer, we have seven million stems of lilies and in the spring, 100 million stems of daffodils.
Crikey, what a lot of flowers!
-I'd love to go on a guided tour. I don't want to see all 100 million! Let's go.
-Talk me through the production process.
-The biggest change is the amount of time the bulbs are with us.
20 years ago, even ten years ago, bulbs would have been with us for 20 weeks in a tray full of compost.
-Nowadays, they are with us for just six weeks.
-Is that all?
-That's taking up a lot less space.
-They're not prone to disease or rot.
-We get a much more even crop than we used to do.
It's a very simple method. Here's the bulb.
There are these little spikes in the tray.
We gently push the bulbs down on those spikes.
As simple as that. We fill this up with water with some nutrient in it.
We then persuade the bulbs that it's still winter time,
so they have three weeks in a temperature control store at nine degrees.
They'll root, into the greenhouse, then nice flowers three weeks later.
How long will it take to get that height? They're ten inches?
-Yes. About three weeks once they go into the glasshouse.
-They're ready for selling?
Well, it's a hub of activity here.
-After your brief relationship with your plants, they go out into the big wide world?
People won't realise we're talking less than 24 hours
from the moment we harvest the flowers to the moment they're being packed and out the door.
The girls bunch them, then we trim the bottoms up.
-So all the stems are level?
-They're nice and level.
Then the last piece is the sleeves, so when you pick them up in the supermarket, your hands are clean.
-It's a full job...
-It's unbelievable. It's just hands-on, a hive of activity.
There are so many people here working away. Absolutely incredible.
-Mike, thank you so much.
-It certainly opened my eyes up!
There was a real mixed bag of items in our valuation day in King's Lynn.
Now let's hope we can get some good money for them at auction.
The drinks are on me if the cocktail shaker does better than £40 to £60.
At £400-600, and with great provenance,
Tina's local watercolours should sail through the auction
He may not be to everybody's taste, but I'm sure this little German devil
will make someone smile.
Finally, a gruesome little item, but this could prove a real "draw"
for any specialist collector - or vampire.
Today's sale comes from Batemans Auctioneers in Stamford.
There's such a buzz outside, I wonder what it's like inside? We'll find out now.
Taking the reins on the rostrum today is auctioneer David Palmer.
We're gonna stir you up now with David's cocktail shaker.
£60 to £40, it's a bit of fun. It's got all the recipes on the side.
-Who have you brought along?
-Marika, my wife.
-Where are you from?
Why are you flogging the cocktail shaker? You should be using it.
It's never been used by us, it's never been used by my parents
and I don't see it being used.
It's a bit of fun and I'm sure it'll do really well.
It's put a smile on everybody's face. It's going under the hammer.
Lot 529, an Incolor, early 20th century, Art Deco cocktail shaker.
Rather a cool cocktail shaker.
If you twist the lid, it tells you how to make these drinks.
-I think there's somebody on the phone for this.
-10. 12. 15. 18. 20.
-35. 40. 45. 45 over there...
At 45. 50. 55. 60.
65. 70. 75...
-This is amazing.
-90. 95. 100. 110.
160. Behind you at 160. You're out with the moustache at 160.
I sell with the bid at £160. It goes then...
-On the phone...
-Telephone's coming in.
-An iconic design.
-We would have been happy with 40 quid!
-I don't believe it!
-You said 40 to 60!
I think they missed a nought off!
-This is astonishing.
-This is madness.
-This is a golden moment.
At 360, I sell in the room... Are you sure you're out on the phone?
It's an important piece. Ann Summers designed a range of giftware on this.
-What are you gonna do with that?
-I need some time to think about it.
-It'll still go to the grandchildren.
Marika's probably right. It may go to the grandchildren.
Coming up right now, a little devil, and it belongs to Ken.
-A bit of fun, £20, £30, hopefully a little bit more.
You either love this or you hate it. I had a chat to Kate, the valuer.
-It's funny, but we wouldn't have it in our house.
-It's a quirky thing.
There is a market that would have it in their house, so, fingers crossed, they'll be here.
I think Goths or devil-worshippers.
Let's just check the saleroom and see if there are any Goths in here.
569 is the grotesque porcelain model of a devil's head,
I think one of the more attractive pieces of porcelain in the sale.
You shove a bulb in it and his eyes shine!
That is so spooky. I don't like it!
5 quid? 5 I'm bid.
At 5 only. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.
10. 12. 15. 18. 20. 22...
-It's not going home, Ken.
38. 40. 45. 50. 55. 60. 65...
You don't look traumatised by owning it, so that's good.
At 85. 90.
-Hold it up higher. The lady can't see.
I sell the devil's head at £90...
Are you bidding? All done at £90...?
-That surprised me!
-I'm very surprised!
-What will you put that towards?
-I said I'd buy the lads a drink at the golf club.
I've just been joined by Tina and Helen, the sisters, with a little bit of Norwich School.
We're in the right place to sell it. They are gorgeous.
Fingers crossed, we can get that car for your son.
-Yeah, we need a car.
-Has he come along?
-Yes, he's here.
-Give us a wave.
-That's Sam. And my granddaughter. Rebecca.
-So it's a proper family day out.
-Yeah, we've got to get the money.
-The pressure's on.
-It is. You valued them.
-I did. Fingers crossed.
-I think I got it right.
-I hope you have.
-This is it.
Lot 225 is the William Philip Barnes Freeman.
Attractive pair of watercolours.
Couple of hundred to start? 200? 200 I'm bid.
At 200. Take 10? Goes then on the main bid at 200...
210. 220. 230. 240. 250. 260.
270. 280. 290. 300.
310. 320. 330...
-Come on, come on.
-That's only two tyres!
Are you in on the phone at 340...? 340.
350. At 350.
360. 370. 380 now?
380. 390. Fill it up to the 4...? 400.
-At 400. I'll take your 10.
-You take it!
Are you all out in front? Goes then on the phone, 410?
410. Back in the room at 410. 420.
430. At 430.
-That's four tyres! He's got four wheels.
That looks like a yes. Are you sure?
-460, I sell on the phone...
Two lovely little watercolours.
At 460, I sell against you. He'll lend you a tenner. Go 470...?
Good man, good man.
At least you could be bothered to turn up. Goes on the phone at £460.
-We did it. Well done.
-You've got the wheels, Sam!
We've got your wheels, Sam.
No upholstery, but you've got the wheels. Bless him!
Next up, the most wonderful little cupping set and it belongs to Lynn.
-It belonged to your grandma.
You've brought a picture. There's lots of memories here.
-Not for me. She was before my time.
-But it's family inheritance.
It's been down the chicken shed for ten years. Nobody wanted it.
-Let's hope we get the top end of Elizabeth's estimate.
-I hope so.
A nice collector's item. Medical pieces are a specialist area.
£40 to £80, it stands up for itself.
I don't think it'll do much more than that, but it should do that.
Lot 331 is the scientific, medical stuff.
You can play the game properly at home now - doctors and nurses.
20 quid? 20 I'm bid.
25. 30. 35. 40.
45. 50. 55. 60. 65.
70. 75. 80.
130. 140. 150.
180. 190. 200.
210. This side at 210... 220. 230.
-Fantastic. Sucking more out of the buyers!
-I'm gonna burst a blood vessel in a minute!
-340. At 340 now... 350.
-It wasn't even named.
-Must be quite rare!
-400. Are you in on the phone, 410?
At £400 over here. Do you want to keep it? At 400.
Just another tenner? 410.
-It is a lucky charm.
-At £420. Finished and done at 420...?
Your last chance at 420. Who have I missed?
-What are you gonna do with 420 quid?
It really belonged to my mum
and my little girl has just started playing the saxophone.
-She's gonna buy her saxophone with it.
-Your great-grandmother would have approved.
-There's enough money now.
-She can buy it outright.
-It's all down to Great-Gran. She brought you luck.
-Absolutely. Mum will be over the moon.
-I've learnt something.
-So have I and I hope you have. That is another wonderful Flog It moment.
If you've got antiques you want to flog, bring them to our valuation day.
It could be you in an auction room next time.
For more information about Flog It, including how the programme was made,
visit the website at bbc.co.uk/lifestyle
E-mail [email protected]
The people of King's Lynn in Norfolk welcome the Flog It team. Experts Charlie Ross and Elizabeth Talbot hunt for treasures at the valuation day whilst presenter Paul Martin discovers that not all tulips are from Amsterdam.