The team are in Luton, where experts Anita Manning and Mark Stacey value antiques and collectibles. And presenter Paul Martin visits a local milliner.
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Today, Flog It comes from a town that's famous for cars, hats
and not to mention one of Britain's fastest-growing airports.
Today, we're in Luton in Bedfordshire.
With Luton's long history of car manufacturing,
it's fitting that today's valuation day
comes from the Vauxhall Recreation Centre.
Our experts? We've got the classic, slick lines of Anita Manning,
and the more practical, reliable Mark Stacey.
We've got a massive queue, all laden with antiques and collectables,
so it's now 9.30, let's get the doors open and the show on the road. Everybody, inside!
You've brought a lovely selection of travelling books to show us,
which are really interesting, but before we go into details,
can you give me the history of them in your family?
Well, they have just gone from loft to loft,
and I'm having a big clear-out. It's a question of the storage. They've got to go.
-So you've inherited them from a relative?
-Yes. My great-grandfather.
-So they've been in the family quite a while, then?
-Oh, yes, yes!
-And have you looked at them at all in detail yourself?
I've never read any of them.
-So you haven't got a big library at home?
-No. Not of these ones.
They are fascinating, actually. You've got about 27 volumes here,
and if we just take one of my favourite ones, Spain and Portugal, and each one is similar in a way.
When we open it up, we'll find a little map
-of the country in question...
..and then we have the title of the book, The Modern Traveller, popular description,
and the various countries of the globe.
-Each one is dated, either 1824, 1825 or 1826.
And in some cases, if you look at the others, we've got four volumes of India,
we've got Russia, all of the Far East,
as well as a lot of countries in Europe,
and then it gives you a whole history of the countries that you're actually researching,
-so this is almost an early 19th-century equivalent of the internet for travellers?
But much more interesting, I think, and they've got these very nice leather spines here
with tooled work on that, and then the gilt titles.
-Have you ever thought of the value?
-I actually thought people would buy them just to cut the maps out.
Oh, really? Well, you've got a good point there, because that happens a lot,
but it normally happens when the books are damaged,
-or when you haven't got as complete a set as this.
We've got a little bit of damage in the books, but I suspect people will buy them.
-A specialist buyer will buy them for the content.
I know that early travelling is quite a popular collecting subject,
and I would say, if we were putting these in for auction,
we ought to be looking at something like £400.
-Is that good?
-I thought about £2 a book, or something!
-Oh, no, no. I think they're more than that.
I suppose, because of some of the wear,
we should maybe put the estimate at £300 to £500, and put the reserve at £300.
I think we should set a reserve at £300.
-I assume, by the look on your face, you're happy to sell them at that?
-Oh, I am, yes, definitely!
Molly, John, welcome to Flog It.
It's lovely to have you along and to have brought this lovely piece of pottery.
Do you know what it is?
-Charlotte Rhead, yes.
Molly, tell me where you got it and give me a little bit of its background.
It appeared in John's family home when we cleared the house out.
Some of it's been in my family for many years, I don't know how many years.
-Perhaps since the 1930s?
Now, Charlotte Rhead, I find her very, very interesting.
The Rheads were a family who lived in north Staffordshire,
and they had been associated with pottery since the 18th century.
-Charlotte was third generation...
..of this family who were associated with pottery.
Now she was born in 1885, and by the time it came to 1930,
when she was at her best,
-she was one of the leading ceramicists of that period.
Very popular just now. Her lovely Art Deco and Art Nouveau pots are sought after.
But if we just look at the back stamp, it's always nice to see that beautiful signature.
Charlotte Rhead is a child who was a sickly child.
She didn't go to school, but she spent most of her time drawing.
She went to the Fenton School of Art to learn design and enamelling
before starting in one of the factories.
I like the colour, I like the blues, it's vibrant.
To me, it's a singing blue.
It's lovely. Well, we can put it into auction in Cambridge,
and I would like to estimate in the region of £50 to £80,
-and we could perhaps put a reserve of £45, just to protect it.
One thing that had occurred to me, Molly, a jug usually has a handle...
but it also has a spout.
-True. We never thought of that.
-Never thought of that.
-So what it is?
-The thing is, if it had been a mistake,
-she would not have signed it.
So her signature is there, and she has regarded that
as a complete item,
so maybe she has a sense of humour.
-So it's a mystery. Shall we flog it.
-Let's go for it.
I'll see you in Cambridge.
-Now you've bought a fascinating little group of items in to show us.
-Yes, I have.
-Give us a little bit of history on them.
My father loved collecting glass.
He started collecting antiques in the late 1960s and he loved
going to the local antiques fair and he fell in love with lamps...
anything that was unusual...
And he fell in love with these.
He had just a love of car lamps and bicycle lamps.
And did you inherit that love or not?
I did, yes.
I did. I love antiques.
-And where do they live in your home now?
-All in boxes, I'm afraid.
They're not really suitable for the modern home, they're really not.
-You've got to love this type of thing, haven't you?
-It's got to be your collecting bag really?
-Yes, you have.
Well, they are fascinating and it's got us talking today
cos we haven't had anything quite like this on the show before
and I just want to talk about a couple of the pieces.
This lamp ceased production in about 1922, so it was made before then,
and it's called the Colonia, which is rather nice, and it's in good condition.
We've got this rather nice big lens here
and we've got the little green light on the side as well,
and it's really quite a nice object, and then we've got this funny lamp,
which was designed by a Frenchman called Pigeon, and we all looked at it and thought it was a Pigeon lamp.
What would you do with a Pigeon? Of course it's not.
It's a sort of individual travelling night-light almost,
and you have the wick coming out there and of course,
when you want to extinguish it,
you put that on the top and it puts the flame out.
We've got all this nice writing here and it's very difficult to read
but we have just deciphered,
"12 good hours' light for one whole penny"!
So I suppose if you used it to walk,
12 hours would actually last you a very long time,
but it's actually quite nice to have that on there, isn't it?
-Have you ever thought about the value?
-Not at all. I have no idea at all.
I think this is quite a difficult one,
because I don't know how big a collectors market
there is for this type of thing, but I think they are quite fun,
and there must be people out there who would like to maybe start a collection
who haven't got this particular model.
I would have thought
hopefully around the £100 mark for a little group like that,
so if we put the estimate at sort of £80 to £120 -
it's a typical auctioneer's cliche, really, £80 to £120 -
but I think it works in this case.
-Would you be happy with that?
And who knows? They might light up the saleroom!
Well, it's great to see some youngsters on the show.
-What are your names?
-Jasper. Are you brothers?
-Just friends? And how old are you both?
-And eight. So whose is this little Welsh dresser?
-And did Mummy give it to you?
-How did Granny come by this?
-Her dad made it.
-Her dad made it?
So your great-grandfather made this?
-Was he a carpenter?
Your grandpops was very, very clever.
This is an apprentice piece, really.
It's a scaled-down little dresser and it's beautiful.
It's made in pitch pine. Are you hoping to sell this?
Are you really? Well, this has been in the family a long time,
four generations, it's part of his heritage.
I think he should keep it, don't you?
Well, it could sell for some money.
What do you think it's worth?
D'you know what I think? I think I'm gonna go for the middle...
I'm gonna go for £75.
I think it's worth £75 to £100 if we put it into auction, but I think you should hang onto it.
One day, you'll be really proud to own this.
When you grow up a bit, when you get to my age, you'll want something that Great-Grandad made.
And £75 is not a lot of money, but it's a lot of money to you guys, isn't it?
That's a hell of a lot of money, but, hang onto it!
It's your heritage. Look after it!
Yeah, look after it. Promise?
Sandra... I really became quite excited
when I saw these two wonderful tiles.
Tell me, where did you get them?
Well, as a young child, I lived in Dunoon where there was a large villa
behind my house and in those days,
children were allowed to run free so we used to go up
and forage about in it, and we just picked them up off the floor.
-They've come from a burnt-down house?
-And lived with you ever since?
-They've travelled from Dunoon in Scotland to Luton?
-You must have liked them!
-Oh, they're beautiful!
They are! They are indeed!
Well, they're very interesting, as well as being beautiful.
These are De Morgan tiles, and they were made by De Morgan
who was a follower of the Arts and Crafts movement
and a great friend of William Morris.
In fact William Morris sold De Morgan's tiles in his retail outlet.
I would date these tiles from about 1890 to late 1900s.
De Morgan was famous for these high lustre tiles, and people loved them.
They were made in fireplaces or for decorative purposes.
If we look on the back, we can see the back stamp,
which is an embossed back stamp and we have
W De Morgan and Sand's End Pottery.
William De Morgan often bought blanks from the Poole Pottery and decorated them himself.
Now I love these wonderful stylised flowers,
and they're in this almost Art Nouveau background of foliage.
The condition isn't wonderful.
We have some damage here and here
and someone has tried to do a wee bet of restoration.
-Was that yourself?
-No. It might have been my mother!
-It might have been your mum? Un-huh! And we have some damage here, and this is quite a big chip.
However, having said that, I still think that they should achieve a good price.
I would estimate these tiles to be sold as a pair
between £200 and £300.
Oh! Good grief!
-Would you like to put them into auction?
We'll put them in with an estimate of £200 to £300,
and perhaps a reserve of £175 in that region
-with a little bit of discretion.
Why do you want to sell them now?
Unfortunately I need a new chainsaw.
-You need a new chainsaw?
-Yes, for the garden!
As the old saying goes, if you wanna get ahead, you've got to get a hat,
and there were plenty in evidence in this morning's queue.
Luton has been right at the centre of the hat-making world way back to the 17th century.
In 1860, there were around about 60,000 men, women and children
all working in the hat industry here,
and they were making straw hats very much like this one.
To make a hat, you need straw plait,
which is then sewn into a cone shape.
It's then stretched into the required shape on a hat block.
The hat is completed by sewing the brim and the crown together.
Ribbon is then added to cover up the stitching and, finally,
the all-important trimmings are attached.
I've come to meet Mary-Louise Lowcock, who is carrying on the tradition of hat-making in Luton.
She designs and manufactures her own collection of hats in her own home,
a 21st-century cottage industry.
Mary-Louise, there is so much colour in your showroom I feel I'm walking through a rainbow, it's fantastic.
-Oh, thank you, Paul.
-It really is. Why Luton?
Why is Luton so popular for hat-making, and why did you have to come here?
The beautiful straw from Italy couldn't be imported because of the Napoleonic Wars,
and Luton and the surrounding towns and villages
had wonderful, very fine wheat-growing fields
that made this very delicate, lovely straw that was very fashionable.
-Yes. The resources are right here, basically?
We're surrounded by hats. How long does it take to make a hat?
Well, it can take anything from a whole day, about seven hours,
-to three or four days, like this, my artist's palette.
Yes, exactly, which I made to wear at Royal Ascot
and it was inspired probably by my love of David Shilling's work in the 70s,
who made extraordinary hats for his mother, Mrs Shilling,
and I'm sort of following in his footsteps, and also because I love art and painting.
-So you get most of your inspiration from books and magazines and other milliners?
-Yes, and collecting.
I've always been a great collector.
-What should you look for when you're buying a hat?
-When you go into a high street shop,
you might not get as much help as you would coming to somebody like myself,
so I think it's always a good idea to go on your own,
don't take anybody else with you, cos you've got to be happy with it, and you must take notice of the milliner,
and you must feel relaxed and you must smile, and you must wear of plenty of make-up.
You need to emphasise the lips and the eyes, and that's the wonderful thing.
The hat features on the eyes, the window of the soul!
Who are you main clients? Who buys your hats?
Invariably my most popular customer is the mother of the bride
and that's a great treat for them because I can
give them lots of attention, I help them with their whole outfit and I match their outfit exactly.
How much do you charge?
I know that's a stupid question, because each hat differs,
but on average, like the hat you're wearing now?
From £150 upwards.
-Well, it's good value.
-For a one-off!
It's extremely good value!
Talk me how you would make a hat like the one you're wearing?
-Where do you start?
-Well, I make the base out of buckram in two pieces,
and you sew the crown and the band on, and then it's covered in a special fabric,
and then I decorate it, which of course is always the nice part.
-That's the fun bit, isn't it?
-It is, it is! The indulgent part.
What's the most challenging hat you've ever had to make?
Well, I would say it was the hat I made for Jenny Bond.
-Which we've got just behind you there.
-We have, indeed.
-Here it is!
This took me three days, because it's entirely made by hand.
I bound the wire with silk and then I had to balance it
and hats have to be very light.
I think it's a shame that men don't wear hats any more
because it adds a bit of mystery, doesn't it?
Oh, hats do a lot for everybody.
They add a lure, a mystery, they're terribly attractive,
and they bring out the character in somebody.
But I would be really scared to wear one!
Until lots of other men start wearing them...
Oh, I see! Yes! And women I think are the same...
They have the same idea because people do look at you,
-but you've just got to ignore them, because you just look wonderful.
-Do your thing!
Exactly! Exactly! I mean people don't dress to look opulent these days.
We all look a lot more casual.
We don't want to draw attention to ourselves, and our lifestyles have changed.
All the ladies work now, whereas at one time they would have gone out for afternoon tea.
Well, hats off to you, thank you so much for talking to us today.
And I'm so pleased you're keeping the Luton hat-making tradition alive.
Not at all. It was my pleasure.
We were kept on our toes at the valuation day in Luton, but now we're off to auction
with our top four items.
And that £300 estimate for Pauline's travel books has certainly sent her reeling.
Will this colourful piece of Charlotte Rhead pottery sell,
even without its spout?
We're hoping that these brass lamps have a bright future
and I'm sure there's an Aladdin out there who'll love this lot.
Sandra wants to spend her profit from the William De Morgan tiles on something rather unusual.
I hope she knows what she's doing!
For today's sale, we're at Cheffins auction house in Cambridge,
with auctioneer Will Axon, so let's catch up and find out what he thinks about those tiles.
Well, you've seen these before, Will.
-You can spot these a mile off.
-De Morgan, yeah.
Late Victorian. They belong to Sandra. The story is great.
-Now she's selling these cos she wants to buy a chainsaw!
I don't know what for, but she wants a chainsaw, and Anita has put £200 to £300 on them.
Yeah. I can see where she's coming from. There's a little bit of damage
which will have to be considered.
-That usually occurs when they're taken out of fireplaces, that sort of thing.
-These were salvaged.
Were they salvaged? That's what usually happens with these.
Subject wise, they're pretty typical. They're sort of Persian, Isnik ware.
-They're not the kind of classic, icon-catching William De Morgans of the boats...
-..with the lovely oxy red?
I mean he's well-known for his big P & O commissions
for the ferries and also the Tsar of Russia...
He commissioned a large piece for his private yacht.
I was actually lucky enough recently to see the De Morgan Institute,
and we managed to see in an un-restored condition
a P & O commissioned piece that they had bought for £55,000
and it's amazing to see, made of up tiles, these large pictures of galleons,
sea serpents, so much going on. Those are the sort of pieces that command the high price.
But back to these tiles, which aren't quite in that bracket, but still saleable.
You're buying the name with these.
-I think to £200 to £300's right.
-Spot on the money?
Yeah. I would hope so.
Pauline, these are a fantastic collection of leather-bound books.
Late Georgian. I wouldn't be parting with them.
They're very collectable. Did you twist Pauline's arm, Mark?
I didn't twist Pauline's arm!
I'm glad she did part with them because we can make a show now,
-but I did fall in love with them, like you would have done.
-They're a class act!
Because they're wonderful things. They're leather bound, and I think we're safe. 300 to 400.
The condition's very good as well. You've looked after them.
They've been in a box in the loft, so I haven't even looked at them.
They've got the look. The decorators will absolutely love these!
Let's just hope they're right here and right now, because it's time to flog them. Good luck.
There we are showing the collection of travel books here.
Various volumes, nicely leather bound, in reasonable condition.
-I've got a hopeful bids here...
-..but I'll bypass those,
and we start already at 260, 280, 300..
320, 340, 360, 380, 400, 420,
440, 460, 480, 500,
520, 540, 560.
You're in now by 10 at £560 in the room now. At 560.
At 560. My bidder's out. All done then at £560?
-Brilliant! How about that?
-That's brilliant. Thank you.
Oh, ye of little faith.
They were worth every single penny!
What is the money going to go towards? There is a little bit of commission to pay.
I'll give a bit to my mum, because they were in her loft before mine,
and I want to buy my husband a Grand Prix ticket because he's been working on my kitchen.
-Yes, so I'll buy him a Grand Prix ticket, cos he's been working really hard, so...
Well, we have some studio pottery for you right now,
-a bit of Charlotte Rhead. Great name.
-Nice piece, £50 to £80, John, Molly, hoping for the top end?
We all want the top end.
If we sell this, what's the money going towards?
-It'll probably go towards a bottle of wine and our next holiday in New York.
Sounds like they're jet-setters.
We should get the top end, a bit of Charlotte Rhead?
I estimated conservatively - £45. It's got to go higher than that.
And 400 is the Charlotte Rhead jug there for you.
Where do you start me on that? £50? Thank you. Straight in at £50.
That's the way to buy it. 60.
70, 80, 90, 100...
At £100. And 10 seated.
At 110 seated, bid at 110 now. Steals it at 110.
All done, then? I shall sell it. Hammer's up. Have you at £110.
Yes! You can't go wrong with 20th-century modern.
-That's what people want now.
A nice bit of studio pottery.
Enjoy, won't you?
I'm very jealous. I'd like to be going.
So would I! Would you like to come with me?
Is that an offer?
-We've got witnesses!
-You have witnesses.
Sandra, let's hope this next lot shines out from the rest, shall we?
-I hope so!
-That collection of lamps!
Well, we've got a valuation of £80 to £120
put on by our expert Mark, here.
And you're flogging because they don't suit your interior?
That's right, yes. I mean they won't fit my car, they won't fit my bike, and I need the space!
And lot 410 there being shown, thank you,
is the four Victorian lamps there for you, and I've got bids
here starting me where? £50, £60, £70, £80 bid here. At £80 I'm bid...
-We've sold them!
-At £80 I'm bid at £80 now. Against you all. £90, £100.
At £100. You bidding? No, careful!
At £100 I'm bid. At £100, at £100.
I'll sell them at £100...and 10, 120. One more if you like, no?
At £120 it's my bid. I'll take £130.
Yes or no? I shall sell it then.
The hammer's up at £120. Sold.
-Happy with that? Top end?
-Very happy indeed, thank you.
-What are you gonna spend it on?
-I'm going to treat myself
-to a new bigger barbecue.
-Yes, for entertaining.
-Have you got a nice garden as well?
Yeah? D'you like cooking outside? It is nice in the summer, isn't it?
Well, if we're gonna get another nice summer like we did last year, it'll be brilliant!
Why not? Barbecues are all the rage!
It is, and I love being on the top! The top of the estimate there.
-Wonderful. I'm really pleased.
-Thank you very much indeed.
Well, I'm in the middle of Cambridge surrounded by Scots lasses.
-Oh, you noticed that, Paul?
-Anita, I think I just might!
-Hi, Sandra, good to see you again.
We are both fans of William De Morgan and William Morris.
We love the tiles. We've got a valuation of £200 to £300.
I love this story! The money is going towards, what? Go on!
A chainsaw! A new chainsaw!
Are you handy with the chainsaw?
-Oh, I'm not too bad.
But £200 will get you a decent chainsaw, anyway.
£300 will get you a top-of-the-range one.
Let's see if we can get top-of-the-range right now. Good luck.
-Thank you very much.
-This is it.
And 330 now, 330 again showing, thank you, the De Morgan tiles there
for you. Where do we start these again?
Interest here on my commission bids at £150, £160, £170, £180, £190.
I'm bid £200 here, 220, 240, 260, 280, 300, 320, 340, 360, 380.
I've been left £390. £400 rounds it up, at £400...
Blink and you'll miss this! I tell you what, it has shot up!
At £400 who'll join us?
At £400 I'm selling them, left hand here on the telephone at £420.
£440. At £440, I'm bid. £460, 480.
-They love it!
-£500. And £50.
At £550 I'm bid. No. Thank you for your help.
At £550, original bidder still then.
-Oh, that is wonderful!
Not only can you get the chainsaw,
you could get the safety goggles, the helmet, the boots, everything!
A new garden, possibly!
They were the Rolls Royce of tiles!
Well, how about that?
What a great day, and all the lucky bidders are queuing up and paying for their lots.
Our experts were right on the money today.
I hope you've enjoyed the show.
Sadly that's all the time we have here from Cheffins in Cambridge, so until the next time...cheerio.
For further information about Flog It,
including how the programme was made,
visit the website at bbc.co.uk/lifestyle
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
The team are in Luton, where experts Anita Manning and Mark Stacey delve through the antiques and collectibles, providing their valuations. And presenter Paul Martin visits a local milliner still working in the traditional hat industry.