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Now, who was Britain's first Christian martyr?
This might be a clue. This marvellous cathedral
and abbey church behind me was dedicated to him.
He was St Alban and today,
Flog It comes from the town named after him... St Albans.
Even though St Alban sounds virtuous, which indeed he was,
and I'll tell you why a bit later,
this place is reputed to have more pubs per square mile
than any other town in the United Kingdom.
And this one is supposed to be the oldest in Britain.
It's called Ye Fighting Cocks
and it boasts many illustrious visitors,
one of whom was Sir Walter Raleigh.
Well, the weather is slightly inclement. It's been raining
but thankfully there are no puddles,
so our gallant expert, Mark Stacey, doesn't have to take his cloak off
for the wonderful Kate Bliss. Are you enjoying this today?
-Yeah. Loads of people.
-What have you seen so far?
Oh, lots of interesting items, Paul. I can't wait to get them inside and unwrapped.
Well, I think it's 9:30, the doors are open, let's get them in.
We're in the town hall today
and some of the owners of family heirlooms you can see below
are getting rather excited.
Let's see who has made it to the valuation table first.
It wouldn't be Flog It if we didn't have another piece of Troika.
-Now, where did it come from?
Well, it belonged to my parents,
and in the '60s and early '70s we took many holidays in Cornwall,
although I don't remember exactly where they bought it.
It was probably on one of those summer holidays
and they've had it ever since, and my father
died several years ago and my mother has recently moved into a care home,
so this has come to me, and I wondered if I ought to keep it
but I think they would rather like to think that other people had seen it,
-someone else had bought it.
-And do you like it yourself?
I do like it, yes, I do.
-And this looks almost the original shade?
So, if we take the shade off, Dee,
and then we can have a little look at the lamp base.
We've got a typical Troika shade...
very geometric, very abstract, this circular shape,
and if we turn it round,
you've got a completely different design on the other side,
so you can actually use all sides,
so if you get bored with looking at that one, you turn it around.
If we turn it upside down, we can see we've got a cover which will almost certainly be marked Troika,
possibly then with an artist or designer signature on it,
initials, but very much late '60s.
I think if it was a slightly stronger colour,
where we had a sort of dark blue background and brighter colours,
we would probably be looking at £300, £400.
I think because it's got that sort of paler, earthier colours,
we're probably looking at sort of £150 to £250, with £150 reserve.
How do you feel about flogging it?
-Wonderful! Well, I look forward to seeing you at the auction.
Thank you very much, Mark. I look forward to it as well.
What a handsome bear, Zoe! So has he got a name?
-Rupert? Rupert the Bear!
-Now we've got three generations here. How old are you, Zoe?
And this is mum, Caroline, isn't it? And we've got your grandma with us,
so who does this bear belong to?
So how did your mum come by this?
When I was about three,
my mum's family worked in a house in St Albans, in Hangar House.
-Called what, sorry?
Which is a big country house, not far from here?
-Hangar Park in London Colney.
And apparently when I was three, the lady...what was her name?
-Lady Calladine, she took me upstairs to choose something from the nursery, and I chose this.
-What a lucky girl!
-Mum said there were loads of soft lions up there,
but I chose the bear.
-You wanted the bear?
-Not interested in anything else?
No, the bear. I don't remember it, but I still like him!
-So has he been much loved?
-Yes, very loved, yes.
-Ride it up and down the road!
-Yes. Mum lives on a hill,
so my brother had his go kart and I had Rupert!
-Did you have races?
Now he's up in Mum's loft
and that's where he's been for quite a few years, so he's just up there.
I've got three daughters, my brother has children as well
and you can't divide him between six children, or...
He's in a remarkable condition
considering you used to ride him down the hill!
He's got lovely fur, and he's straw-filled,
and he's got a few characteristics which help us to date him.
If we look at his eyes, the early bears that were made -
in Germany - of this sort of type,
had what were called "boot black" eyes, or "boot button" eyes...
little tiny black button eyes, rather like the buttons on boots,
hence they got their name,
and then from the 1920s, glass eyes replaced them
and then from the 1950s, the plastic eyes came in,
and I think that's what we've got here, with the amber surrounds,
and also the wheels help us date it.
Now I would put this probably Post-War, perhaps 1950s even,
and we've got two little tell-tale signs as well.
We've got a label actually on the wheels' axle, on the base here.
and it says sportspiel, which is German for a sporting toy,
or something that moves, basically, I think, and Muhlhauser would be the manufacturer of that metal base,
but...is there anything else you have noticed about his ears?
Have you seen a little button in his ear?
-Well, you've pointed it out to us...
-But you didn't see it before?
Well, we've got a little button here,
which is characteristic for, really, the top of the tree
in toy manufacturing in Germany, the factory called Steiff,
and there were different little buttons in ears
for different periods of manufacture
and this also helps me to tell me that it is 1950s.
Does it do anything else, Zoe?
-Yes. It growls!
-Listen to that! BEAR GROWLS
Can we hear it again? Oh, yeah! BEAR GROWLS
Well, I think it is super that that still works. Lovely.
So what about value? Any ideas?
-Not at all.
-Well, if he was slightly earlier,
if he was 1910 or slightly later,
then we'd be talking several hundred pounds,
but I still think
as a sort of 1950s in date,
he's going to be worth £100 to £150 at auction.
Not bad for an old bear, is he? Thank you very much for bringing him along.
-I rather fancy him myself!
Cathy, this doesn't look like the usual violin cases we normally see.
Well, I presume it is a violin.
I can see the violin bow there.
Let's have a look. Shall I take this out?
-Yes, please do.
-You don't sound like you're from St Albans.
There's a slight Irish...
There is an Irish undertone there
but I have been made a British citizen now. You're in safe hands.
-A St Albans citizen!
-St Albans citizen, yes.
Well, let's move the case.
I'm kind of getting the picture of what this is all about now.
I like the original case, that's nice.
The bow, that's OK.
It's a typical student bow.
Some bows are worth an awful lot of money
if they're silver mounted, but this one is a typical student bow
with probably no value whatsoever,
but this is what is intriguing me, because it's not a violin, is it?
-No, it isn't!
-Aah, look at that!
It's a practice violin!
Tell me all about this.
Well, unfortunately, I have very little to tell you
because it was given to my husband by an uncle
and he gave us no information about where it came from at all.
My husband plays the violin, but has a very long neck
and consequently can't make use of the practice violin.
-Can I have a look?
Aah! That is exquisite!
Just look at that shape!
That's a typical "S" scroll
that you see on the sound holes either side on the violin.
That is so beautiful.
There's a little bit of age to this, you know.
I would say that is over 100 years old.
-This is made of mahogany.
Yes, and obviously it would be used to practice fingering positions.
Yes. I'm sure you're right.
Any idea of the value?
None whatsoever. None whatsoever.
It has kind of puzzled me, really, because this is a hard one to value.
I can see this quite easily doing £300, put it that way.
Oh, goodness, wow, yes, OK.
-That sounds good to start with, doesn't it?
It might even do £400. I don't want to get your hopes up.
-But I think that is where we have got to pitch this.
Yes, let's protect this with a fixed reserve
..And put it into auction with a value of, hopefully £300 to £400.
-I'm sure it will find...
-A good home.
-..A really lovely home.
Irene, James. Now, you've brought a nice gold Albert chain to show us.
It is a family piece?
Yes. It's my husband's.
Is it? Where did it come from, James?
My father gave it to me 20, 25 years ago.
Do you think it was handed down to him by his father, or did he...?
Really, that's where I haven't got a clue.
I don't know where it came from originally.
I don't know whether it has ever been used. I can assume it has,
but I don't know for sure.
-Have you used it yourself?
Because people do wear them, actually, these days as neck chains,
but basically what we've got
is a nice nine-carat gold Albert watch chain.
This is a gentleman's accessory for keeping his pocket watch
and other things on and we've got a nice little seal down here
which has got bloodstone on one side
and a cornelian on the other side.
Not marked, so nobody has put their family crest on that,
and that's quite a typical sort of shape.
So, where has it lived with you all these years?
In a little...
In my bedside table.
It never sees the light of day, really.
17 years it has been in there, and Jim hasn't known!
So, it's time for it to go?
Yes, I think so.
Well, gold is doing quite well at the moment, the prices are quite high
because of the current world economic situation, and we've weighed it.
It comes in at about 60 grams, I think.
I would have thought we should put this in with an estimate of something like £250 to £350...
-With a £250 reserve.
Crikey! I didn't realise that.
-Is that all right?
-Does that please you?
Better than sitting on the bedside table.
-You can put the money to better use, although it's a very attractive thing.
That's wonderful, so I look forward to seeing you at auction,
and let's hope you get a good price.
Thank you very much.
Marion and Jim, a lovely little period jewellery box.
Always nice to see jewellery in its original case. But what's inside?
Let's have a little look.
We've got a super little dress ring there.
Now, tell me, is this a family piece?
Yes. It was a family piece of my mother's at one time,
we possibly believe.
So, do you remember your mother wearing this, Jim?
I remember my mother wearing a ring similar to that.
Because it was so long ago, I can't swear that was the actual ring.
-So I'm now thinking that is too large.
So we're not sure whether this is her engagement ring or not?
-No. We're not.
-OK. Well, certainly, looking at it
from a jeweller's point of view,
it certainly could well be an engagement ring.
I would think, probably, between the wars. Possibly 1930s.
Maybe a little bit earlier.
We've got old cut diamond, what we call old cut.
These ones are slightly duller.
And diamonds are also graded according to their colour.
These are slightly tinged with a browny colour,
so that they're towards the lesser good quality end of the scale.
What you would expect from stones of this sort of size
in this sort of quality ring.
And then we've got a sapphire in the centre.
And the sapphire is called trap cut, or step cut.
You can see why with that square shape
and then the step up to what we call a table, the top of the stone.
And that's actually quite a good cut for an engagement ring.
It's in a rubover setting so it doesn't sit too proud.
So you could wear it every day as engagement rings were designed to be.
Even do the washing-up in that one.
Sapphires vary a lot in their blue tone.
Sapphires from Burma and Sri Lanka and India tend to be
slightly lighter in colour and you can see that in mine.
That much lighter blue colour.
And what we call the more inky stones are generally from Australia
and from Thailand. What about value?
-Haven't got a clue.
I think the condition of this sapphire will affect the value quite a bit.
At auction, I think we've got to be looking at probably 150 to 200.
I would hope it would make the 200, possibly 250 on a good day,
if two people like it.
It would be sensible to set a reserve at 150, if you're happy with that.
-So no regrets about getting rid of it?
No. Don't think so.
If you come to Tring during the school holidays,
you're going to find this building full of excited schoolchildren.
And they're absolutely loving this place.
They've been brought here by family that are in the know,
because this place, it's a real hidden gem.
It's part of the Natural History Museum.
Coming here to the Natural History Museum at Tring
is like stepping back in time
and visiting a museum straight out of the Victorian era.
The museum was built in 1889 for the second Baron Rothschild,
Walter, who turned out to be one of the country's greatest
collectors of natural history.
Walter had been obsessed by the natural world from an early age
and by the time he was ten, he had amassed a collection of insects
and birds large enough to start his first museum in a garden shed.
But before long, his collections were filling rented rooms and sheds all over Tring.
The museum was built as a 21st birthday present from his father,
to provide a permanent place for them all to be housed.
For the next 18 years, under duress,
Walter went to work for the family's banking business,
but during that time, he spent all his money, his energies
and his enthusiasm on this place,
creating possibly the greatest ever natural history collection
ever assembled by one man.
His collections included thousands of mammals, reptiles and fish.
It had everything from gorillas through to hummingbirds
and even a group of domestic dogs.
I'm here to meet Katrina Cook, who's a curator here
at the museum's ornithological department,
whose passion with animals also started when she was really young.
Pleased to meet you. So, when and where did it all start?
It was my mother's fault! When I was very, very young,
she'd bring me here to the museum
at least every week of every school holidays.
I can't remember the first time I came cos every time,
as you walk in the door, there's that great wow factor, when you walk in
and see the polar bear. Even now, I've spent a lifetime coming,
there's always new exhibits to see that you hadn't noticed before.
But also, I draw and I was obsessive about drawing. In fact, at 11,
I tried to draw all the birds on the British list.
-Oh, wow. Did you get through them?
-I've got about halfway. Not too bad.
Always obsessed with animals. My room was a museum.
It was full of skins and wings and pinned insects and things.
-I stuffed my first bat at seven.
-Did you really?
-I did. Yeah.
-What did your friends think of you doing this,
cos they're all into their dolls, probably?
I don't actually think I had many!
Most young girls get into ponies and horses.
You got into bats and taxidermy!
Walter must have been quite an incredible man.
Possibly slightly eccentric, don't you think?
I think all natural historians have a slight tendency towards eccentricity
and Walter had the dangerous combination
-of sort of money with the madness.
-He's got a lot in common with you!
-If only you could have met!
-We would have got on like a house on fire.
# Wild thing... #
Walter was a complete eccentric.
He had kept an extraordinary menagerie of exotic animals
at his home in nearby Tring Park. Among them were kangaroos,
a tame wolf, 64 cassowaries
and a giant tortoise.
He could often be seen in his coach,
being drawn by zebras, both locally
and on the occasional trip to the capital.
Some of the animals which Walter brought back, both alive and dead,
from his travels and the collecting expeditions that he financed,
you know, had never been seen before.
It's really important to remember that not only was he an
eccentric scientist and a man who did crazy things, but he was also
a very, very, very serious natural historian
and made an enormous contribution
to the understanding of science at that time.
Your department, the ornithological department,
that's not open to the general public,
so can I have a sneak behind the scenes, please?
-I think we can arrange that.
-OK. This way?
The Natural History Museum moved its ornithological collection
from London to Tring in the 1970s.
There are 17,000 specimens preserved in jars
and 16,000 bird skeletons.
Most impressively, there are almost 700,000 bird skins,
95% of the world's species.
How do the birds vary from the mounts, then?
What's the difference in stuffing them?
Well, these are what we call skins as opposed to mounts. So they're all
prepared just lying flat.
They've got just cotton wool for eyes. They don't need glass eyes.
They don't have to be wired into a lifelike position.
This way, they're easier for scientists to look at and measure
and compare one with another.
Can I have a look at that? Is that a parakeet?
That certainly is. That's not just any old parakeet.
Why? What's different about it?
This is a Carolina parakeet, which is now extinct in the wild.
And this is also prepared by the famous artist, John James Audubon,
who produced a mammoth book of the birds of America.
You do this as well here, don't you?
-Actually prepare specimens?
-Part of your job remit?
Oh, yes. It certainly is. Yep.
We're adding to the collection all the time. Nowadays, we're not going out and shooting.
We rely on people to bring birds in to us that they found dead.
How do you go about preserving this bird?
OK. When the bird's freshly dead,
you make an incision from here, mid-sternum,
down to the vent and then prise the skin away from the actual body.
Some of the bones stay in. The bones of the legs and the wings.
-Skull, that's the original skull in there, as well.
So you're literally just taking the skin off the carcass of the bird
and then when it's all off,
-make a false body the same size to go back into the skin again.
It's not as gory as people think.
Now, I believe in this section somewhere,
there's something quite special you're going to show me?
-They're all special.
-To you, they are, aren't they?
I think you're probably referring to these little chaps.
-These are Galapagos finches.
Some of these were actually collected by Charles Darwin himself.
Is that his handwriting as well?
No, none of these bear Darwin's original labels,
but I can show you a bird, not a Galapagos finch,
but it is one of Darwin's. Most of Darwin's specimens
don't actually have his own labels on anymore. They were taken off.
-But this chappy, this is a bobolink, an American bird. It's...
3374, in Darwin's own fair hand.
Absolutely incredible. It is such a fascinating place, Katrina.
Thank you so much for showing me around
and especially behind the scenes.
Most welcome. My pleasure.
Well, we're seeing such a variety of items here today,
but right now it is time to put our experts' theories to the test,
and find out if they're on the money.
It's our first visit to the sale room. Here are the items we're taking with us.
Pity about the colour, Dee!
Blue might have been better, but Troika always does well.
Zoe's Steiff bear, Rupert, climbed out of the loft
straight into the auction room,
where, with a bit of luck, he's going to find a new home.
What an unusual piece! I'm hoping there will be plenty of bidders
in the sale room who might appreciate Cathy's shapely practice violin.
And with gold prices riding high,
Irene and James' chain should do really well.
Or will Kate's choice, the sapphire and gold ring,
turn out to be the real jewel in the crown?
Now, I wonder whose heirlooms will be tempting the bidders today
at Tring Market Auction.
Well, it's nearly auction time.
You've just heard what our valuers think back at the valuation day,
but what does Steven Hearn think, our auctioneer?
Let's get his opinion.
This is a bit of quality. It belongs to Irene and James.
It's a nine-carat fob chain.
We've got £250 to £350 on here.
"Phew!" Well, gold is fetching a lot of money right now.
Well, yes. We're in a period of good pricing for gold
and other precious metals, and it's just right
for that gentleman about town, PAUL, isn't it?!
That's right, gentleman about town.
I don't like the bloodstone, though.
Oh, dear! Well, it's a good weight, you know.
You've got 60 grams,
excluding the fob, so if you start breaking it down,
and also a lot of the value now can be attributed to the fact
once it moves on from the sale room we could have two ladies' bracelets,
we could have a pendant, or we could just have it... With 60 grams,
60 grams at metal prices today...
-..That's going to achieve its reserve for scrap metal!
And it may get broken up by the trade, so it has legs, hasn't it?
I think so. I think so, and I think
we could be close to £500.
This Troika lamp should light up the room. Your mum bought this in Cornwall, didn't she?
Yes, she did. My mum and dad, on a holiday in Cornwall
and she's now moved into a care home.
-Does she mind you flogging it?
-Oh, no! She's given her permission.
She's very happy for us to sell it
and she'd like the money to go towards my daughter's wedding.
Oh, how super! She will be watching this!
-Yes, she will!
-I think you'll enjoy this and what a great way of putting money towards the wedding.
We've got lots of Troika in today's sale.
-Which is a good thing.
-The buyers are here, the collectors are here.
-Let's find out what this is going to do.
-This is going under the hammer now.
Lot number 214.
Troika, and we have the vase and the shade is in the store.
£100 to start me, thank you. £100 I'm bid then.
And ten I have bid now. 120... and 30. Are you 40, sir?
140, 50 is it? £150 now.
And 60 I'm bid for.
And 70 now. No? 160 then.
60, we've reached it.
Thank you. At £160, then. Thank you.
He sold it - £160!
-That's not bad, is it!
No. That might pay for my outfit!
No, it will pay for the hat!
You know as well as I do, a wedding is so expensive, isn't it?
-But it will pay for...
-I'll tell you what you can do. You could buy the shoes and hire the hat for that!
Yes, what a brilliant idea!
Thank you, Paul!
We see plenty of Steiff bears on the show, and they all go,
but a Steiff with wheels, that's definitely going to go!
It's about to go under the hammer.
I've been joined by the gorgeous Zoe, Kate, and, of course,
mum and grandma - Maureen and Caroline.
Three generations are going to wave off... What's teddy called?
-Rupert! They're all going to wave Rupert off!
We've got £100 to £150, so what are you going to do with the money?
Hopefully we're going to get loads.
I'll put it in the building society for my three daughters.
I think we could do... ooh, £250 hopefully.
Well, there are two other bears in the sale.
They're just ordinary teddy bears and they've actually got good labels too,
so I think that will attract the toy buyers.
-I think it is in for a good chance.
-Right. Good luck, you two.
Good luck, Zoe. It's going under the hammer now.
Lot number ten. We have now the Steiff pull-along bear.
This is a lovely one.
What a lovely condition this is in. Isn't that a grand one?
Rupert's going! Oh, no!
At least, we think he's going!
120 for him, 80 for him.
Are you £80, madam? £80. £90.
Are you £100?
Yes, 100 I'm bid then.
100 for the bear. £110 I am bid now for it.
£120. £130 now...
-It's going up, Zoe!
-140. 150, sir.
£150. And 60, and 170 we have now.
170 for him. Are you 80?
180, yes, that's... 190 now.
180, then, I'm selling bear.
At £180 then. Thank you very much.
-Yes. Great result!
-Rupert has done the business!
We're all happy with that, aren't we? Lots of smiles?
-They can share the 80, I'll have the 100.
She'll have the 100. They can share the 80!
-What a smart cookie!
-That is a shrewd business lady down there!
Right. My turn to be the expert. I've just been joined by Cathy
and we've got that wonderful "S" scroll training violin,
it doesn't make a lot of noise, so you can put up with somebody practising
and learning their fingering.
-It is a great cause. All the money is going to charity,
so tell us a little bit about it.
Well, I have been a volunteer for many years at Grove House in St Albans.
It is the local day hospice and we treat not only cancer patients,
but patients with other life-threatening illnesses
and we have to raise an awful lot of money
so anything that we can do, we like to in order to boost the funds.
-Right. So we need top dollar, right here, right now, don't we, basically?
-We'll do our best.
We'll find out because it's going under the hammer.
There we are, the training violin.
I think that one, we ought to be looking somewhere in the region
of £300 for it, surely.
300, 200 for it.
Yes, at £200 then.
At £210. Are you 20? 30 now
and 240 and 250, is it? At £260.
and 70 now... 280 and 90. No?
At £280... then I'm selling at £280.
-Yes! That's OK, isn't it?
-It will do very nicely, thank you.
-He sold it. Just did it, just, just, just did it.
Jim and Marion, Kate, good luck.
It's just about to go under the hammer.
It's that gold and sapphire ring. We've got £150 on this.
You never thought of wearing it, did you?
-Too small. Wouldn't get past the knuckle.
With jewellery, you have to wear it.
-There's no point sticking it in the bank.
-No, no. No.
So, hopefully, someone's going to fall in love with it.
It's going under the hammer.
Good-looking gold, sapphire and diamond ring.
Are we going to bid £200 for it?
£100 bid. 100, I'm bid there now.
10. Thank you. 120, I've got. 130.
And 40, I'm bid. 140. And 50 now.
At 150. And 60?
A bit more. A bit more. A bit more.
No more? At £160, then.
I'm selling at £160.
Yes! £160. The hammer's gone down.
Good valuation. It's a hard pitch, isn't it?
Yeah. I think it's cos that sapphire is really quite worn.
It's obviously been worn and loved and the wear on the stones
is going to count against it, but it's a fair price.
Remember that swivel!
My word, didn't it go on the end of that Albert watch chain.
It belongs to James and Irene.
We're looking for around £300, aren't we? £250 to £350.
Had a chat to the auctioneer and he said it's got to do that.
The gold is worth that at scrap value.
Unfortunately that is what you judge a lot of these values on,
because the fob itself, while it is quite nice quality, it is not rare,
it is not 18th century,
it hasn't got a good armorial or anything like that on it,
so it basically is the gold value
and we're riding a bit of a high in gold at the moment.
-It's selling well.
-The right time to sell it.
-It's going under the hammer. This is it.
Very fine quality Albert chain, with the bloodstone swivel fob.
Lot 586. Where do we start for this one?
Do we start at 200? Thank you.
200, I'm bid there. At 220...
That's a good in.
240, 260, at 280, £300, 320,
340, 360, 380...
Wow, they love it!
£400, 420, 450, 480,
£500, 520, 520.
On my right at 520, then.
You lose it, sir. I'm selling on the right here.
It's going for £520. Sold.
Yeah, £520! James, you were standing with your mouth open!
-That was wonderful!
Just goes to show, doesn't it? If you've got stuff like this
lying around, bring it into one of our valuation days.
We'd love to see you. You can get details on our BBC website or just check details in your local press.
Come on, bring it along!
Have you ever wondered what is behind the name of the village,
the town or the city that you live in?
Well, sometimes the answer can often reveal a fascinating glimpse
into the historical events that have shaped the place you live in,
and St Albans, well, that's definitely no exception.
During the Roman occupation in the third century AD,
St Albans was called Verulamium.
It was the second largest town in the Britain.
You can still see remnants of the Roman occupation here today.
The ruins of St Albans' Roman theatre, for example,
were unearthed in 1847.
This was the scene of all sorts of Pagan ceremonies and entertainments
played out in front of several thousand cheering spectators.
Now, among the crowd here, some 1800 years ago,
was a man whose name would go down in history.
And he was called Alban.
St Alban was the first Christian martyr in Britain and is venerated
to this day by the cathedral for his integrity,
courage and self-sacrifice.
And someone who knows all about Alban's extraordinary life story
is Jeffrey John, the Dean of St Albans Cathedral.
So, tell me about this extraordinary man, Alban.
Well, Alban was a citizen of Verulamium,
that's the Roman city that is down the hill from the cathedral.
It was one of the biggest of the Roman cities.
Alban lived around about the middle of the third century, about 250 AD,
and it was a time when the Christian faith
fell in and out of favour with the empire.
It all rather depended on the whim of the Emperor whether Christianity was legal or not.
Alban himself was not a Christian, he was a Pagan.
He would have worshipped the old Roman gods and sacrificed to the Emperor as citizens had to do,
but the important thing is
that he befriended a Christian priest
at a time when Christianity was out of favour
and when a time of serious persecution came,
he took him into his house, he hid him from the authorities.
This is despite the fact that he wasn't Christian himself,
but he must have been impressed by this priest,
and began to learn a little bit about Jesus and about the Christian faith.
But of course, the day came when the Roman soldiers were looking for him,
came to the house and Alban protected the priest by changing clothes with him.
Because Alban was a citizen, he had a special cloak.
The priest, by taking the cloak, would have been able to pass
through the guards, through the city walls and escape, which he did.
Alban took the priest's garb, so he was wearing a priest's cloak
and when the soldiers came they therefore arrested Alban as the priest, so he took his place.
Incredibly brave, deeply Christian thing to do.
So Alban was taken to the Roman forum, put on trial
and asked his name and religion.
He replied, "My name is Alban and I'm Christian".
This was enough to incriminate him and he was taken to be beheaded
on the site of where the cathedral stands today.
Legend tells us that spring water miraculously
popped up out of nowhere
and began to refresh Alban right at the moment of his death,
and on seeing this, his executioner refused to carry out the deed
and converted to the faith, there and then.
He was also beheaded and became Britain's second martyr.
His replacement, another executioner who did carry out the execution
on Alban, is said to have gone blind shortly after.
His eyes literally fell out.
Now that is an incredible story.
Do you think we can witness the same sort of courage today, Jeffrey?
Well, there's an answer here, I think. Here we've got a...
Gosh! Brightly coloured!
-They are, yes.
-They would have been originally, wouldn't they?
Yes. The Medieval statues would have been very brightly coloured. These are very modern ones.
These were made by our young people here at the abbey.
They're actually made of papier mache.
-Very clever, very lightweight.
-Yes, they are!
Yes, they were made by a group of our young people for our pilgrimage
and they represent modern martyrs.
We've got Alban in the middle there, with St Amphibalus, the priest
that he rescued on his left, but all the others are 20th century martyrs.
I can recognise one - that's Martin Luther King.
That's Martin Luther King, yes.
Then on Amphibalus's left here, we have Manche Masemola.
She is a South African martyr, a young girl
who was converted to Christianity
but very much against the wishes of her family, and very tragically,
her martyrdom, her death, was arranged by her own parents.
She was stoned to death in the Transvaal, that was about 1928.
And then more famously, I think, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, right at the end,
of course, was martyred under the Nazis in 1945,
just right at the end of the War.
-It looks like St Alban is in good company today!
I wonder how many people today know the remarkable tale of heroism
attached to the city of St Albans
or that their home town's name commemorates a man
who was prepared to give his life for what he believed in.
St Alban is buried in the tomb behind me, and as you can see,
the stonemason's work is absolutely incredible.
His shrine really is the centrepiece of the cathedral,
and for nearly two millennia, thousands of Christians
have made the pilgrimage to his final resting place.
Back in St Alban's town hall,
Kate has found something for a sweet tooth.
Lynne, I would call this a pretty smart silver sugar caster.
But I doubt you use it, do you?
No, not at all. It's kept in the cupboard.
-Yes, it certainly is.
Where did it come from?
It was actually a wedding anniversary present for my parents
for their 25th wedding anniversary.
OK. So how long ago was that?
-Mid '80s, I think that was.
So, do you like it?
Yes, I like it,
but it's not, sort of to my taste to actually have out on display.
The sad thing is, they're just not very practical these days.
People don't need sugar casters really. I know in the States
they sprinkle on their doughnuts,
but today, we don't use them in this country at all.
-I have to say, the design
dates right back to the mid 18th century, to about 1760,
the Georgian period, when things, of course,
would have been used at the table
in a pretty well-to-do household in the dining room and would have
been a very normal accoutrement to have on the dining table.
It's what I call a baluster shape,
obviously with this pierced lid here, which comes off.
There we go.
So we've got the hallmark just here, as you would expect, on the side,
dated for London 1894 and these initials here,
"GM", stand for GM Jackson, who is the silversmith, quite well known.
-But the date, I just told you, is 1894.
So it is a Victorian piece,
although the design goes right back to the Georgian period.
-So, I am afraid the good news is, if it was Georgian,
it would be about £600 to £800 at auction.
The bad news is that it is Victorian,
-and, if you like, it is in the Georgian style.
And as it is, it is worth £60 to £90.
Right. I won't moan at that.
-If you're not using it...
-..it's going to be a bonus.
-That's right, yes.
-So you're not worried about getting rid of it?
-Not at all.
-Pleased to see the back of it?
-Well, thank you very much for bringing it along.
-Thank you. Thanks.
-One of my favourite items.
Now, Geoffrey Baxter for Whitefriars, this Banjo vase.
Tell me about it. Where did you get it from?
Well, I used to work in a department store up in Oxford Street,
and Whitefriars were clearing out a warehouse,
and they found a load of vases,
and they were selling them for 15 shillings or 75 pence.
-And it didn't matter
whether it was a large vase like that
or one of the small Whitefriars' vases.
-So you bought it for 75p?
-Yes, I bought it for 75 pence,
and in fact, on the first day of clearance,
only about half a dozen vases went out on display.
They were bought by the staff, weren't they?
Most of the staff bought them for wedding presents.
-Of course, at that sort of price! It's amazing, isn't it?
-It is indeed.
And you've had it on display, have you, at home?
-Yes, but it's been at my parents' house.
And my dad's not very well,
so basically, we would like to buy him something with it.
To cheer him up? Oh, wonderful!
Well, I hope we can, because I think...
We can certainly turn 75p into a bit of a profit,
because this particular shape vase - the Banjo vase -
comes, of course, in 12 different colourways,
and depending on the colour, depends on the value, really.
Those striking ones, all the rare colours that were tried,
but weren't commercial, so weren't produced so much.
This is the willow pattern, which isn't the more sought-after design.
-Oh, no, but for 15 shillings...
-For 15 shillings...
You had not much choice, really.
No, no, but it's fantastic,
and we've done a lot of Whitefriars on the show,
so we all know how it was made.
Now, we know it was by Geoffrey Baxter,
but it still remains quite popular,
although the prices have become more realistic
than they were two or three years ago, so my estimate
-on this would be somewhere around £500 to £700.
-That would be fine!
-So quite a lot more than the 75p!
-Which is really good news.
We'll put the reserve at £500, with 10% discretion,
but I think, you know, we'll have...
Hopefully, there'll be a few other bits of Whitefriars in the sale
-and that will rub together and we'll get a good price.
-Let's hope so.
-And you're happy to flog it now?
-I look forward to seeing you at the auction.
Denise, what a splendid piggy-wig!
Isn't he great?
Yes, he's lovely. Always loved him.
-Do you feel quite attached to him?
-Well, I do, really.
He belonged to my husband's nana, and he used to sit on her hearth,
and when she passed away,
it was the first thing I said, could I have?
What can you tell me about the manufacturer of him?
Do you know what factory he is?
-He's Wemyss, which is a Scottish factory.
And I know they closed in the 1930s.
The factory was in Fife, in Scotland,
-named after Wemyss Castle and the family who lived there.
So it wasn't the manufacturer, then?
-And if we just have a look underneath,
I'm just looking for the all-important mark,
and there we go, so we've got the standard mark here,
impressed on the base, and that helps us to date it as well.
We've got Wemyss Ware there.
I would say he's roughly sort of circa 1900.
-Perhaps a little bit later.
The factory started in 1880, but in 1883, a very important man joined.
His name was Karel Nekola. He was actually a Bohemian designer,
and he brought to the factory a very distinctive hand-painted style,
which is what you normally associate with Wemyss,
and instead of this sort of lime green glaze,
he hand-decorated useful and ornamental wares
with big cabbage roses, with animals...
The most sought-after of his designs are cockerels and hens...
-I didn't know that!
-Or ducks amongst reeds, which he hand-painted.
I have to say, the hand-decorated wares are more commercial.
They're a little bit prettier, and I have noticed,
-sadly, he's lost his tail!
-Yes, he's missing his tail!
Did that happen when he came to you?
-No. He was always like that.
I guess it was because he was against the hearth.
So what about value?
You've always been attached to him, you say. What about monetary value?
I've always thought he was collectable,
but I've never really known how much he was worth,
because he is a plain glaze.
I know the ones that are painted are more valuable,
-so that's why I brought him along today.
-I can see a collector paying £400 to £600 for him...
..certainly at auction.
-Would it be all right to put a reserve on?
-I would suggest a reserve at the bottom level, so at £400.
-I certainly hope he would fetch that.
-Yes, I would as well.
Will you be sad to see him go?
I will, in a way, but then, my husband has just retired and we're
planning on spreading our wings, so we don't want to take a pig with us!
You've bought this absolutely exquisite piece of porcelain in.
Tell me about it.
Well, my father-in-law was a polo pony trainer
and he was employed by a wealthy man
in the south of France, in the 1930s.
And he married a local French lady
and they lived down there quite comfortably until the War.
And at that stage, all English people were advised to get out
of the country within 24 hours.
When they knew they had to get out of France,
they decided to hide a few things,
-cos you couldn't take it with you.
So they dug a hole in the garden, put that in it,
-but obviously with packing, of course...
-And buried it.
-In 1946, they went back for a holiday, dug it up.
So between burying it and digging it up,
that's where the damage occurred.
There is a little bit of damage to two of the legs
and also to some of the beading.
If we actually look at the piece,
it's like a jewelled golden egg, isn't it?
-You know, with this wonderful finial on the top and this wonderful
turquoise enamelling, forming these graduated beading decoration
from tiny, tiny bits at the top to larger bits at the bottom.
All this decoration behind it.
And then these, sort of, almost pearl-like beading down the side.
And when we open it up, we've got the mark
of one of Britain's finest porcelain makers, Worcester.
I think it's a very difficult thing to value.
I think in perfect condition,
-we could be looking for something like £500, £1,000.
The damage will hold it back, so I think what we've got to do is put
an estimate at auction which reflects the fact that we know it's damaged,
-but it won't put off the buyers.
I would like to put, maybe, £150 to £200 on it, with 150 reserve.
-It wouldn't surprise me if it doubled.
Cos I think there'll be a lot of people who are saying,
-"Well, actually, I can have that restored better."
Have you had it out on display all these years since you've had it?
It's been on my wife's dressing table all these years and it hasn't
come in the way of any damage or accidents,
-but you never know. And I would hate to knock that over.
Your wife is happy to sell?
-That's why she sent me along today.
Let's just remind ourselves of what we've got
before we head off to the sale room.
First, the fabulous Worcester egg with the unforgettable story
of being buried during the Second World War.
Lynne's glad to be rid of her sugar shaker,
so let's hope it spreads sweetness in the auction today!
Well done, Neil! What a buy!
I don't think we'll have any problem making a profit out of your 75p!
And if pigs had wings,
Denise's should fly right out of the auction room!
So, it's back to the auction room
where Steven Hearn is on the rostrum.
Denise's Wemyss pig.
Now, Kate's put a valuation on this at £400 to £600.
-Well, that's a fair valuation for a pig without a tail, isn't it?
He is an old pig. If we turn him over, belly up as they say,
you can see underneath,
he's got a good impressed crescent mark on there.
-Which is going to put him as one of the earlier piggies,
and he is probably going to be 1885, 1890.
Another good sign of these older pigs is the furrowing
or the wrinkles on his snout and his face.
You know, they do say, Paul,
the more wrinkles you get, that dates you, you know!
Ha ha ha! Well, I'm getting a few!
Well, there you go. Say no more about the pig and the wrinkles,
but price-wise, I think it's...
I think he'll go beyond the estimate.
Yes, he's got to, hasn't he?
It's a great name, the condition is there.
As you say, the tail's missing. If we had the tail,
-you'd be looking at £800 to £1,000.
-Well, there you are!
Robert, I don't know. How could he sell this after
that story we've just heard back at the valuation day?
This little egg has been through hell and high water.
The story's wonderful.
It's just so touching and it's lovely. It's absolutely lovely.
-It really is.
-It's a pity it's damaged but otherwise,
-it'd have been triple the figure, I suppose.
But it is Worcester at its height of opulence.
The wonderful quality of that pearl beading.
And everything is decorated. I love it to bits.
Every little facet of it.
Any way you look at it, it just smacks quality.
Let's find out what this lot here in Tring think of it, shall we?
Because here it is, going under the hammer.
Lot 290, this time.
This is interesting, this one.
Worcester jewel ovoid vase and cover, there you are.
I think we ought to be looking for £200 for this one. At £200 for it.
200. At £100. Are we a £100 bid? 100, I'm bid for that one, then.
Thank you. 110, I'm bid for it.
120. And 30. 140. And 50.
Are you 60, sir?
160. And 70, is it? 180.
£180. At £180. At 190, now.
No? 180, I'm selling, then. At 180.
90, is it? I'm selling at 180.
Yes? £180, then.
-Happy with that?
-Will the wife be pleased?
It was what the buyer's taken
into account, of course. they've got to get it restored.
That will take a bit of money, but it's a beautiful thing.
-A great story and it's wonderful to have something like that.
Right, it's time to put the Victorian sugar caster under the hammer,
and we've got £90 hopefully, top end... £60 to £90 on this.
-It's good to see you, Lynne.
-Who is this you?
-This is Katie.
Hello, Katie. We've got our expert Kate here,
who fell in love with this. You like this.
Yeah. It's a Georgian design but of course, it's Victorian.
Silver... It's not the most commercial item in the world,
but it should sell well!
It's just about to go under the hammer, Katie. Not really bothered!
Anyway, this is it.
There you are, lot 629, the sugar caster.
1894. Victorian one.
£80 for it. 50 I'm bid for it.
Five, 60, five, 70, five, 80...
-Five, 100, surely.
At £100...and five now. No?
Sir's got it then, for £100.
I'm selling to sir for £100, then.
-Top of the estimate.
Perfect! What do you think, Katie?
Oh, it's still gone right over her head, hasn't it?
-That was a great result.
-Yes, that was brilliant!
My mum's got one of these at home - a Banjo Whitefriars vase.
She'll be interested to know.
She's got the same colourway. This one goes under the hammer.
It doesn't belong to my mum, but to Neil.
We've got £500 to £700 on this, Mark.
-Yes, we should...
-I think we're going to get that.
We should do, should do.
-Happy with that?
-I am indeed!
He should be, cos he only paid 75p for it, didn't you?
-I did indeed!
-If we get £700, what would you put the money towards?
Well, hopefully towards my dad's...
helping him towards some of his care at home.
Well, it's about to go under the hammer right now!
Right. Here's another good piece of Whitefriars. There you are.
Nice Banjo, in willow. What do we say for this one?
Are we going to get around 600 for this one? 600?
Are we 400? 300 bid, thank you.
320 I have it now. At 350 and 80, 400, three of you, 420...
-Are you 80? 480 now.
-480 I'm bid for it. 480.
500 I'm bid, 520, sir, and 550 there. 58... 50 in the corner.
580, yes? 600 we've got it.
At 620 now. 620, 650, 680 now.
At £680 then, you're out in the room.
I'm selling away from you then at £680, then. Thank you.
£680! We're going to settle for that! I think you are, Neil!
-Yes, I am indeed.
-Better than 75 pence, isn't it?
It is, indeed! It's a good profit.
Right. What's next off to market?
Yes, you've guessed it, the Wemyss pig, which belongs to Denise.
-Who have you brought?
-This is my son George.
-George, pleased to meet you.
-I gather all the proceeds are going to George's...
-How many have you had so far?
None so far. I'm waiting until summer, cos I've got my exams.
Oh, OK. OK. So this Wemyss pig should do...should do £400 to £600!
-Kate, you fell in love with it.
-Even with the missing tail?
-He's off to market.
This is it. Ready? He's hot to trot. It's going under the hammer.
Right. Now we change direction, and we start off with the Wemyss pig.
There he is. Lost his tail.
What shall we say for him? Are we going to start him off at £500?
500, 400 for him? Yes. 400. That's it. I thought you would like that.
-400 is bid for him, then.
420 we're bid, at 450,
480, 500, £520, 550...
-That's very good!
We've got somebody on the phone, that means they're keen!
680 is it for him? 680,
700 we're bid, 720...
-720 and 750, I have it.
-This could be a new car as well!
-At 750 for him. 780.
800 bid. Are you going to bid 20?
820, 850, 880 now, £900.
Gosh! Could we do that magic thousand?
920. 950. Is he 980?
-Let's get where we should have started. £1,000.
1,000 I'm bid for him. 1,020 now?
Yes? No. £1,000 then for pig.
-We have a new bidder at £1,020.
The new bid against it, there you go, just one bid takes it.
He's going then at £1,020, then.
-£1,020, yes, bang, under the hammer!
-Oh, that's brilliant!
-George and Denise, what do you think of that?
-Oh, I'm really, really pleased!
-I'm just ecstatic!
A group of lessons.
If you pass first time, well, there's probably £500 left
in the kitty to put towards a car.
That's definitely going towards a car, then!
Oh, what a kind mum! Give your mum a big hug!
Yeah, thanks, Mum, for the new car as well!
-"Thanks, Mum!" "Thanks, Mum!"
-And maybe some new clothes?
That's what I call a great mum. I mean, what a great result as well.
That is double what I thought.
I thought we might top the top of my estimate,
but with the damage, that's a very good price.
-I'm really pleased!
-Right. I think that's great!
George got his driving lessons, we've had a brilliant day in Tring.
I hope you've enjoyed the show. Join us next time for plenty more surprises on Flog It.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Experts Mark Stacey and Kate Bliss find some gems in St Albans, while presenter Paul Martin visits the cathedral to get to the root of the city's name.