St Albans Flog It!


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St Albans

Experts Mark Stacey and Kate Bliss uncover some super finds in St Albans and presenter Paul Martin discovers The Natural History Museum at Tring.


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Today, Flog It is in St Albans which, even now, is based

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on the medieval town that grew up around the abbey.

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Many of the medieval buildings still exist and at its heart

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was the market which has continued since those times, giving the town

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its lively atmosphere.

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There is no market today - the bustle you can hear behind me is this magnificent Flog It queue.

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-You ready for this?

-Yeah!

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Thumbs up. An excitable bunch.

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We've got two great experts, today. Kate Bliss and Mark Stacey.

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They'll be setting their stalls up inside, valuing all the wonderful

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antiques that are brought into the splendid Georgian town hall.

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Kate's up first and it looks like it's tea for two.

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Sue, we're all set for a rather grand tea party.

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-Just need the cucumber sandwiches, eh?

-Indeed.

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What can you tell me about this?

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Really, that it's been handed down in the family

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-and I'm the last one to have it.

-Right.

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So, really, we now just don't have any room for it.

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The boys don't want it.

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-Your boys?

-Yes. I've asked them.

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-Not quite their sort of thing!

-Definitely not their thing. No.

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-They're very minimalist.

-Are they? So you're sort of having a declutter.

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I'm definitely having a declutter. Yes. This is the start of it.

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Well, I have to tell you, unfortunately,

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tea sets and coffee sets have gone down in value, I'm afraid,

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in the auction market in the last few years,

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whether they're in porcelain or in pottery or in silver, cos people just

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really don't want to use them anymore, at the end of the day.

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This is a lovely period part set.

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I would put it probably at early Victorian, late 1830, 1840, probably.

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And it's hand-painted decoration, so all the flowers on the inside

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is all done by hand and then the gilt is overlaid over the top.

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Now, you're going to ask me what factory this is, aren't you?

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-Yes.

-And I'm not going to be able to tell you.

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There were all sorts of factories in England,

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producing this sort of thing in the early 19th century.

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The best quality botanical painting is normally signed.

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And you see it at on the top class factories like Chelsea and Derby.

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This isn't quite in that league

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-and I have noticed we've got quite a bit of damage, haven't we?

-Yes.

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-So we've got the little finial here. It's been reglued?

-It has.

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-On the coffee cups, we've got a bad crack there and another here.

-Yes.

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-And the sugar bowl's had a bit of a knock?

-Just a little.

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There's a nasty crack there.

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So all that, I'm afraid, is going to bring it down. It's also incomplete.

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So we've got, I think it's three teacups?

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And one, two, three little, four little, coffee cans.

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I would have thought there would have been six of each...

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or even more.

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But, nevertheless, it's a lovely period part tea set.

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The sort of thing that should go in a cabinet, really, on display.

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-That's where it was living.

-Right.

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So, have you any idea of value?

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-None at all.

-OK.

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Well, I think the major thing is the damage, I'm afraid.

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That's going to affect it quite a lot and I think several years ago,

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this would have made several hundred pounds.

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Unfortunately, today, I'm going to say, at auction, anything from £80

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to perhaps 150, on a good day.

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-That's fine.

-The milk jug is probably one of the nicest pieces.

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Undamaged. And just looking at that on its own, you can see

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it's a really pretty thing, isn't it?

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Typically Victorian. Quite elaborate, really.

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-It's quite an eyeful, isn't it? Perfectly...

-A little over the top.

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-So, do I take it it's not quite your taste, Sue?

-Definitely not.

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No. So will you be quite pleased to see the back of this?

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To flog it? Yes. I think that would be a very good idea.

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-Well, we'd better get a good price for you.

-That would be nice.

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-Hello, Philip.

-Hi, Mark.

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Now, we see a lot of pocket watches on the show but none quite like this.

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-Where did you get it from?

-Well, it belongs to my mother

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and has been in my mother's family for a good number of years,

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but quite its origin, we're not absolutely sure.

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-Now, you've looked the hallmarks up cos it is silver?

-Yes.

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-What have you found out? It's hallmarked.

-The case is hallmarked Birmingham,

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1828 and the watch is Birmingham 1840.

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So it's obviously a bit of a marriage, there.

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-Yes. I think so.

-Maybe the original case broke

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and they put it in to one that was hanging around the house.

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The nice thing about this is we've got this very nice sort of enamelled

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face here, which is The Society of Oddfellows.

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-Have you found out any information on it?

-Not a lot, really.

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I did look up the Order of Oddfellows on the web and it seems

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to have American origins, probably Salem and New York.

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It's very nicely done, actually.

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You've got some masonic symbolism, there.

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Unfortunately, we have got a little bit of damage on the enamel around the rim, but not too much.

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And also, we can see that the movement, itself,

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was made by Richard Sullen of Nottingham.

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And you've got this lovely chaste, nice fusee movement.

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Now, what about value? Have you got any ideas, yourself?

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Well, not really, other than that I did see one on your programme

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a few weeks back and I think it was valued around the £100 mark,

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but it made about £400 when it was sold and I think that was probably

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because of the interest that somebody had in the Masons, really.

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I'd still be tempted to keep it lowish - I didn't see that one

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and it might have been something particular about it.

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-Yeah.

-Maybe a complicated movement or it was signed by the right maker,

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or something like that, you know what I mean, which can often

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change the value. I would still keep it around the £100-150 mark.

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Why have you decided to sell it now?

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Well, as I say, it belongs to my mother.

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It's one of those items that sits in a drawer that nobody looks at.

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We don't really know the history

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so it's no real sentimental value to us, so we might as well just convert

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-it into the cash, I think.

-Have a bit of fun.

-Yep.

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We'll put it in with a 100 reserve, so we don't give it away.

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I look forward to seeing you at the auction and time will tell.

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Time will tell whether it's worth anything. Thank you very much.

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-Les and Geoff, you're interested in all sorts of antiques and collectables?

-We are.

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-It's a bit of a hobby?

-It is.

-So what do you most like doing of a weekend?

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Normally, we'll find our way out to the boot sales on a Sunday morning.

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-Geoff, is it pottery you're interested in, or do you have a specific area?

-No.

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Myself, I collect carnival glass, but Les here, he collects Wade.

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-But you've also got an eye for a bargain.

-Oh, yeah.

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Tell me about where this came from.

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Right. We was walking round the boot sale about two years or so ago, now.

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It was quite late in the morning.

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I looked down in the grass and saw it laying there.

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-In the grass?

-In the grass. Yes.

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I thought, it looks like Troika but it can't be.

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Somebody would have bought it by now. So, when I picked it up and saw it was Troika,

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I asked the gentleman how much it was, he said he didn't like it,

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said I could have it for £2. I said well,

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if you don't like it, what about £1 and he said take it away now.

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So when he said £2, you even bartered him down to half price?!

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That's right. That's a boot sale.

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You have to make a bargain.

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So what about you, Geoff? Did you know it was Troika?

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Straightaway. As soon as we saw it, we knew exactly what it was.

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-Bargain of the day.

-I should say! Cor, I wish I'd been with you.

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Well, yes, it is Troika, but it is what's known as a mask

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which is slightly more unusual among the Troika wares that you see

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available on the market today at auction.

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And they are purely ornamental, but they show

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the influence, really, of the very architectural

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forms that some of the wares took.

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And really, the forms of a very early civilisation, similar

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to the Aztec empire in South America.

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You can really see this here in the face.

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I have seen them with a slightly more interesting kind of glaze,

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with the bluey-green glazes, whereas this, for me, is slightly duller.

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We've got this, sort of, beigey-brown and lighter green, so there isn't

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a huge contrast. Well, not until you turn him over, anyway,

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and you've got this striking orange

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picking out what looks like this abstract nose, doesn't it?

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-Yes.

-Which is quite striking.

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Again, the same beige and green.

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And also, if we turn it over, we can see the mark in the base here,

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just as it should be, but we have got a little monogram.

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-Did you notice that?

-Yes. Yeah.

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Just by the name, there.

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And I'm pretty sure it's the monogram for a lady called Honor Curtis,

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who was actually head decorator at the factory,

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so she had a pretty important position and was highly respected,

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so that's going to give it a bit of help for a collector to have that.

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So, do you like it?

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To be honest, not really, no.

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-You liked it for £1!

-Well, I like it for £1. Yes!

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And there's obviously people out there who do like it.

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It's hard to come by now. So you look at it and think,

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let somebody have it who likes it.

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So, what would you like to get for it?

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-You tell me.

-£7 or 800.

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Yeah.

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I think I would value it, conservatively, at 6-800.

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-I can see it making 800, 1,000 on a good day.

-Yeah.

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So, what a find!

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-That's it.

-Lovely.

-Just hope it can go to some nice home, somewhere.

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-Hello, Rosemary.

-Hello.

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What a nice object you brought to show us? Have you had it a long time?

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It's been passed through the family,

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-back to my great-great grandmother.

-Where did she get it from?

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The family'd descended from the Comptons.

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And one of the female members ran away with the coachman.

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-Oh.

-And she brought that with her.

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-So she ran away with the coachman and that?

-Yeah.

-Lucky woman!

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It's a very interesting object. Where does it live at home?

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It's been wrapped in bubblewrap under my bed.

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Oh, that's a shame, isn't it?

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-Cos it's meant to go on the wall.

-Yes.

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-And then you'd put dried flowers, or flowers, in here.

-Yes.

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What I particularly like about it, that distracted me in the queue,

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-actually, are these wonderful posureness colours.

-Yes.

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You know, this iridescent, this lovely, sort of, ruby lustre.

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The blue, very much copying that, sort of, Middle Eastern style

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of several hundred years ago.

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-They've wrapped it in this wonderful sort of Persian shawl, as well.

-Yes.

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Now, in terms of dating this, it's very highly Victorian.

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I suppose we're looking at maybe 1860, 1870, something like that.

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It isn't marked so it's difficult to decide where it's from.

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I think it might be continental, but it's a lovely object.

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Sadly, of course, over the years, it's had a bit of a bash.

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We've got several little chips and a bigger one on the edge, here.

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Yes. I think that's where grandmother had it in the fireplace.

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-She had it in the fireplace?

-Yes.

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-And she kept flowers in it and it dropped over?

-Yes.

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But none of the family like it now? Is that why you decided to sell it?

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Well, mum hasn't got room for it anywhere.

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I don't like it.

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-So you decided to flog it?

-Yes.

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We should put it into auction with a sensible estimate.

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If it had been in perfect condition, it would have been more desirable.

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-Yes.

-But with the damage, I think we should put the estimate somewhere

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-like £80-100.

-Right.

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-With an 80 discretion reserve on it. Would you be happy with that?

-Yes. That's fine.

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I think it's got great visual appeal.

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-Yes.

-And if you want something quite unique on the wall, this is it.

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-And you won't be sad to see the back of it, then?

-No!

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That's good. I look forward to seeing you at the auction.

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-Thank you very much for coming in.

-OK. Lovely. Thank you.

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So many people and so many wonderful items,

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but right now, it's time to up the tempo.

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It's time for our first visit to the auction room,

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so here's a quick recap of all the items we're going to be selling.

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Even with the damage, I love Susan's hand-painted 19th century tea set,

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though she can't wait to flog it!

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It's time, too, for Philip's Birmingham silver pocket watch

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to head off to the sale room.

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Kate spotted this unusual Troika mask.

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I think Les and Geoff are going to make an excellent return.

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They only paid £1 for it.

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Mark is showing his taste for the exotic

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with this Victorian wall pocket but will the buyers agree?

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Next stop, Tring, which is the location of today's sale room,

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with auctioneer Steven Hurn on the rostrum.

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He knows the crowd well here at Tring Market Auction.

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Fancy a cup of tea, Steven?

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I think that's too good to drink a cup of tea out of, Paul, don't you?

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It's not just a 19th century tea service.

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It's in fact a bit of fine art for sale.

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Well, yes, it's very interesting. It's not easy to identify

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the factory, but I think by the shape and the handle shape, as well,

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and the quality of the decoration, I think it's late New Hall.

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And it's one of the tea sets that are presently doing quite well.

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It's very decorative and it's one that the trade could split.

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-Yes.

-That's where its value lies.

-Into little trios.

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Into little trios. Selling them off.

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-I can see it, actually. I can see that.

-Sure. That's right.

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Do you know, we've got £80-150 on this.

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I think there's a lot of people that would like to buy it between 80 and 150.

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But you'd like to sell it for a lot more than that!

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I think it will fetch quite a lot more than that.

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OK. Let me ask you to stick your neck out because I know

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you want considerably a lot more.

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I'd like to see more and so would Susan, cos she's decluttering

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so the money's going to come in very useful.

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Well, I'm going to, as you say, stick my neck out

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and I'm going to tell you that that will fetch over £300.

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Right, time's up. No, it's not the end of the show.

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Time is up for Philip's pocket watch and we've got £100-150 put on this?

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-Yes.

-Should do this quite easily. Bit of quality.

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It's been in a drawer. You don't want it?

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-A long time. The family don't want it, so let's hope we can sell it.

-It's going under the hammer.

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If we had a key, we could test if it was working or not.

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Oh, yes, but I think the collectors will know that.

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And it's lovely with the masonic cresting on it

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which is great. That should really help boost it a bit.

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It's going under the hammer now.

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Good watch. Richard Sulley. It's also decorated with the arms to the face.

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What shall we say for this one? Shall we say 150 for it? £100. £80.

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90. 100. 100, I'm bid.

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Ten, I've got.

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20, I'm bid. 30, I'm bid. 40.

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Are you 50, 60?

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160 I'm bid. 70 now.

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£160. 70, is it?

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At £160, then.

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Yes! Top estimate.

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-All right, I think.

-£160.

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-Hammer's down. Happy with that?

-Very pleased.

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-Brilliant. Less the commission. That's not bad!

-No. It's very good.

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I've been waiting for this one, the Troika mask.

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We've got £8-1,200 on this.

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I've just been joined by Kate, our expert and Les and Geoff.

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Originally we got an estimate by Kate of £6-800, but these guys have

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upped the reserve to 800.

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Do you do this all the time, buy stuff at car boots

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and put it into auction?

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-No.

-No.

-No. I collect Wade and he collects carnival,

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so we just look for what we want, but we saw this thing and well,

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you're not going to leave it.

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And here we are on Flog It!

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What a great story. You see, it is out there.

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You've got to get up early and go shopping for it.

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Right now, it's going under the hammer.

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Now this important piece of Troika. The mask, this time, lot 242.

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We ought to be looking somewhere around 8-900 for this,

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I would have thought.

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What about 500 for it, then? Shall we say four? Yes.

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Madam says 400. Thank you.

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400, we're bid for it. At 420 now.

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At 450 bid. 480 bid.

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500. 520, I'm bid for it.

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550, I'm bid for it. 580.

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At 580. £600. £620.

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At £620. At £650.

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80 now. At £680. 700, is it? At 680.

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At £680, £700, is it?

0:17:170:17:20

At £680, then?

0:17:200:17:22

Down we go, then. At £680.

0:17:220:17:26

We're just a few bids away from selling it.

0:17:260:17:29

We've got a fixed reserve of £800.

0:17:290:17:32

I think that just two more bids away,

0:17:320:17:34

-we'd have had it.

-I think so. Yeah.

0:17:340:17:36

-With a bit of discretion, that would have gone today.

-That's right.

0:17:360:17:40

But you wanted a fixed reserve.

0:17:400:17:41

-Win some, lose some.

-Yeah.

0:17:410:17:43

This wall pocket is Rosemary's. It was her grandmother's.

0:17:470:17:50

And it was gran's, wasn't it? It's been right through the family.

0:17:500:17:54

-It's not going to be yours for much longer.

-No.

0:17:540:17:57

Not with the valuation Mark's put on it!

0:17:570:17:59

I think it will exceed that.

0:17:590:18:00

We're got to do well over 150, haven't we, surely?

0:18:000:18:03

Well, there is a bit of damage on it, Paul,

0:18:030:18:05

-this is the thing.

-I didn't see that.

0:18:050:18:07

And also, these sort of things, I mean, it's very highly Victorian.

0:18:070:18:11

I mean, I'd love to see it making 200 cos I think it's worth it. It's a lovely piece.

0:18:110:18:16

-That's what I'm rather hoping.

-It's quirky.

-I think this is a classic

0:18:160:18:20

decorator's piece and it's hard to put a value on that, isn't it?

0:18:200:18:24

-Yeah.

-You're flogging it because of what?

-I don't like it.

0:18:240:18:28

You don't like it! Well,

0:18:280:18:30

that's a damned good reason, isn't it, to sell it, so good on you.

0:18:300:18:33

Let's hope we get top dollar. Going under the hammer now.

0:18:330:18:36

That's certainly a different shape, isn't it, that one?

0:18:360:18:40

There you are. Lot 365. What shall we say for this piece?

0:18:400:18:43

I think, possibly, we might ask £200 for it.

0:18:430:18:46

£200 for it.

0:18:460:18:47

£50. That's a start, then.

0:18:470:18:49

£50, I'm bid for it. 60, I have now.

0:18:490:18:51

70, I'm bid. 80. £80.

0:18:510:18:54

90, is it? £90. £100 is bid for it.

0:18:540:18:57

110, I have. 110. 120. 120. And 30.

0:18:570:19:02

And 40. 150. And 60, I have now. 170.

0:19:020:19:05

80, is it? 180. 90. 190. And 200.

0:19:050:19:10

At £200. And 210, now? At £200.

0:19:100:19:13

No more? OK, then. 200, I shall sell.

0:19:130:19:16

It's going, I sell then, for £200.

0:19:160:19:19

Yes! I'm loving it.

0:19:190:19:22

-That's so good, isn't it?

-Very nice.

0:19:220:19:24

It really deserved 200. So quirky.

0:19:240:19:26

-Quirky, the better.

-Yes.

0:19:260:19:28

It's gone. You've got your £200, less a bit of commission.

0:19:280:19:32

-What are you going to do with that?

-Give it to my mum.

0:19:320:19:36

Right. Susan's tea set.

0:19:410:19:42

We've got a fixed reserve of £50.

0:19:420:19:44

Top end 150, hopefully. Be happy with that, wouldn't you?

0:19:440:19:48

-Fingers crossed.

-It's beautifully hand-painted and decorated.

0:19:480:19:51

Had a chat to the auctioneer just before the sale and he said he can

0:19:510:19:55

-see this doing upwards of £300 plus, so what do you think of that?

-Yummy.

0:19:550:20:00

-Yummy. Yummy. Yummy.

-Definitely.

0:20:000:20:03

You're buying a bit of fine art, here.

0:20:030:20:05

Every single little panel is so different. It's so uniquely painted.

0:20:050:20:09

Bit of damage, of course, but might put the collectors off.

0:20:090:20:12

Well, we set the reserve low cos Susan just wants it gone,

0:20:120:20:15

But I have to say, I think that's pretty optimistic, 300,

0:20:150:20:19

looking at the damage. Cos if you look carefully, it's quite difficult

0:20:190:20:23

to find a piece that is perfect.

0:20:230:20:25

There's some tiny chips and tiny cracks.

0:20:250:20:27

We've got a feeling it's going to be split up,

0:20:270:20:30

not kept as a set and sold in trios.

0:20:300:20:33

It is beautiful.

0:20:330:20:35

-Oh, well. We'll wait and see.

-What's the money going towards?

0:20:350:20:38

-A tap.

-A tap. Well, I think you can get a complete bath suite.

0:20:380:20:42

We're going to find out right now,

0:20:420:20:44

-because I'm quite excited about this.

-That'll be nice. Me too!

0:20:440:20:48

Now we come to something very interesting. There you are.

0:20:480:20:51

A pretty part service. Now, where do we start on those?

0:20:510:20:53

Are we going to start at £200 for it?

0:20:530:20:56

It's a very pretty one. £200 for it.

0:20:560:20:58

150. I'm bid 150 for it.

0:20:580:21:01

150, I'm bid for it.

0:21:010:21:02

Thank you. 160 I'm bid now.

0:21:020:21:04

170, I'm bid for it. 180.

0:21:040:21:07

180, 190.

0:21:070:21:09

190. £200 is bid for it.

0:21:090:21:11

210, I'm bid now. £220. £230.

0:21:110:21:17

240.

0:21:170:21:19

Surely you're 50? Thank you. 260.

0:21:190:21:21

Reserve. I want to see a big smile!

0:21:210:21:24

Yes? 280.

0:21:240:21:26

290. 300.

0:21:260:21:28

And 10 now. 310, is it? Yes. 310.

0:21:280:21:31

And 20. Are you 30?

0:21:310:21:33

330. I want 40.

0:21:330:21:36

Yes. This is good!

0:21:360:21:38

£340. 50?

0:21:380:21:39

£340. One more? No?

0:21:390:21:42

At 340 then, I shall sell. It's going down and I sell.

0:21:420:21:45

For £340, then.

0:21:450:21:49

-Wow.

-That's great, isn't it?

0:21:490:21:51

Hand basin, couple of taps. Plumber can fit that for you!

0:21:510:21:54

-Yeah. Brilliant.

-Well, well, well.

0:21:540:21:56

It was quality, through and through, despite the damage.

0:21:560:21:59

You're buying a work of art. Lovely little hand-painted panels

0:21:590:22:03

and that's so unique.

0:22:030:22:04

Maybe somebody can restore it.

0:22:040:22:06

It'll get split up. It'll get split up into trios.

0:22:060:22:09

That did exceed my expectations. That's a great price.

0:22:090:22:12

That's the beauty of auctions. You can't put a price on something!

0:22:120:22:15

If you come to Tring during the school holidays,

0:22:210:22:23

you're going to find this building full of excited schoolchildren.

0:22:230:22:27

And they're absolutely loving this place.

0:22:270:22:29

They've been brought here by family that are in the know,

0:22:290:22:33

because this place, it's a real hidden gem.

0:22:330:22:35

It's part of the Natural History Museum.

0:22:350:22:38

Coming here to the Natural History Museum at Tring,

0:22:420:22:45

is like stepping back in time and visiting a museum straight out of the Victorian era.

0:22:450:22:50

The museum was built in 1889 for the second Baron Rothschild,

0:22:520:22:57

Walter, who turned out to be one of the country's greatest

0:22:570:23:00

collectors of natural history.

0:23:000:23:02

Walter had been obsessed by the natural world from an early age

0:23:040:23:07

and by the time he was ten, he had amassed a collection of insects

0:23:070:23:11

and birds large enough to start his first museum in a garden shed.

0:23:110:23:15

But before long, his collections were filling rented rooms and sheds all over Tring.

0:23:150:23:21

The museum was built as a 21st birthday present from his father,

0:23:210:23:24

to provide a permanent place for them all to be housed.

0:23:240:23:28

For the next 18 years, under duress,

0:23:280:23:30

Walter went to work for the family's banking business,

0:23:300:23:33

but during that time, he spent all his money, his energies

0:23:330:23:36

and his enthusiasm on this place, creating possibly

0:23:360:23:40

the greatest ever natural history collection ever assembled

0:23:400:23:44

by one man.

0:23:440:23:46

His collections included thousands of mammals, reptiles and fish.

0:23:460:23:50

It had everything from gorillas through to hummingbirds

0:23:500:23:53

and even a group of domestic dogs.

0:23:530:23:55

I'm here to meet Katrina Cook, who's a curator here

0:23:570:24:00

at the museum's ornithological department,

0:24:000:24:02

whose passion with animals also started when she was really young. Pleased to meet you.

0:24:020:24:06

So, when and where did it all start?

0:24:060:24:09

It was my mother's fault! When I was very, very young,

0:24:090:24:12

she'd bring me here to the museum

0:24:120:24:14

at least every week of every school holidays.

0:24:140:24:17

I can't remember the first time I came cos every time,

0:24:170:24:19

as you walk in the door, there's that great wow factor, when you walk in

0:24:190:24:23

and see the polar bear. Even now, I've spent a lifetime coming,

0:24:230:24:26

there's always new exhibits to see that you hadn't noticed before.

0:24:260:24:29

But also, I draw and I was obsessive about drawing. In fact, at 11,

0:24:290:24:34

I tried to draw all the birds on the British list.

0:24:340:24:37

-Oh, wow. Did you get through them?

-I've got about halfway. Not too bad.

0:24:370:24:41

Always obsessed with animals. My room was a museum.

0:24:410:24:44

It was full of skins and wings and pinned insects and things.

0:24:440:24:47

-Fantastic.

-I stuffed my first bat at seven.

-Did you really?

-I did. Yeah.

0:24:470:24:52

-At home?

-At home.

-What did your friends think of you doing this,

0:24:520:24:56

cos they're all into their dolls, probably?

0:24:560:24:59

I don't actually think I had many!

0:24:590:25:02

Most young girls get into ponies and horses.

0:25:020:25:05

You got into bats and taxidermy!

0:25:050:25:06

Walter must have been quite an incredible man.

0:25:080:25:11

Possibly, slightly eccentric, don't you think?

0:25:110:25:14

I think all natural historians have a slight tendency towards eccentricity

0:25:140:25:18

and Walter had the dangerous combination

0:25:180:25:20

-of, sort of, money with the madness.

-He's got a lot in common with you!

0:25:200:25:24

-If only you could have met!

-We would have got on like a house on fire.

-Yes!

0:25:240:25:28

# Wild thing... #

0:25:280:25:30

Walter was a complete eccentric.

0:25:300:25:32

He had kept an extraordinary menagerie of exotic animals

0:25:320:25:35

at his home in nearby Tring Park. Among them were kangaroos,

0:25:350:25:40

a tame wolf, 64 cassowaries and a giant tortoise.

0:25:400:25:44

He could often be seen in his coach, being drawn by zebras, both locally

0:25:440:25:48

and on the occasional trip to the capital.

0:25:480:25:50

Some of the animals which Walter brought back, both alive and dead,

0:25:580:26:01

from his travels and the collecting expeditions that he financed,

0:26:010:26:05

you know, had never been seen before.

0:26:050:26:07

It's really important to remember that not only was he an

0:26:070:26:10

eccentric scientist and a man who did crazy things, but he was also a very

0:26:100:26:15

very, very serious natural historian and made an enormous contribution

0:26:150:26:19

to the understanding of science at that time.

0:26:190:26:22

Your department, the ornithological department, that's not open to the general public,

0:26:220:26:26

so can I have a sneak behind the scenes, please?

0:26:260:26:29

-I think we can arrange that.

-OK. This way?

0:26:290:26:31

Follow me.

0:26:310:26:33

The Natural History Museum moved its ornithological collection

0:26:350:26:39

from London to Tring in the 1970s.

0:26:390:26:41

There are 17,000 specimens preserved in jars. And 16,000 bird skeletons.

0:26:410:26:49

Most impressively, there are almost 700,000 bird skins,

0:26:490:26:52

95% of the world's species.

0:26:520:26:57

How do the birds vary from the mounts, then?

0:26:570:27:00

What's the difference in stuffing them?

0:27:000:27:02

Well, these are what we call skins as opposed to mounts. So they're all

0:27:020:27:07

prepared just lying flat.

0:27:070:27:10

They've got just cotton wool for eyes. They don't need glass eyes.

0:27:100:27:13

They don't have to be wired into a lifelike position.

0:27:130:27:16

This way, they're easier for scientists to look at and measure and compare one with another.

0:27:160:27:21

Can I have a look at that? Is that a parakeet?

0:27:210:27:23

That certainly is. That's not just any old parakeet.

0:27:230:27:26

Why? What's different about it?

0:27:260:27:28

This is a Carolina parakeet, which is now extinct in the wild.

0:27:280:27:31

And this is also prepared by the famous artist, John James Audubon,

0:27:310:27:35

who produced a mammoth book of the birds of America.

0:27:350:27:38

-And you do this as well here, don't you?

-Actually prepare specimens?

0:27:380:27:42

-Part of your job remit?

-Oh, yes. It certainly is. Yep.

0:27:420:27:45

We're adding to the collection all the time. Nowadays, we're not going out and shooting.

0:27:450:27:49

We rely on people to bring birds in to us that they found dead.

0:27:490:27:53

How do you go about preserving this bird?

0:27:530:27:56

OK. When the bird's freshly dead,

0:27:560:27:58

you make an incision from here, mid-sternum,

0:27:580:28:01

down to the vent and then prise the skin away from the actual body.

0:28:010:28:05

Some of the bones stay in. The bones of the legs and the wings.

0:28:050:28:09

-OK.

-Skull, that's the original skull in there, as well.

0:28:090:28:12

So you're literally just taking the skin off the carcass of the bird

0:28:120:28:15

and then when it's all off,

0:28:150:28:17

-make a false body the same size to go back into the skin again.

-Right. OK.

0:28:170:28:21

It's not as gory as people think.

0:28:210:28:24

Now, I believe in this section somewhere,

0:28:240:28:26

there's something quite special you're going to show me?

0:28:260:28:29

-They're all special.

-To you, they are, aren't they?

-Yes.

0:28:290:28:32

I think you're probably referring to these little chaps.

0:28:320:28:35

-Gosh.

-These are Galapagos finches.

0:28:350:28:37

Some of these were actually collected by Charles Darwin, himself.

0:28:370:28:40

Is that his handwriting, as well?

0:28:400:28:42

No, none of these bear Darwin's original labels,

0:28:420:28:45

but I can show you a bird, not a Galapagos finch,

0:28:450:28:48

but it is one of Darwin's. Most of Darwin's specimens

0:28:480:28:52

don't actually have his own labels on, anymore. They were taken off.

0:28:520:28:55

-But this chappy, this is a bobolink, an American bird. It's...

-3374.

0:28:550:29:00

3374, in Darwin's own fair hand.

0:29:000:29:03

Absolutely incredible. It is such a fascinating place, Katrina.

0:29:030:29:06

Thank you so much for showing me around and especially behind the scenes.

0:29:060:29:10

You're welcome. My pleasure.

0:29:100:29:12

Back to St Albans Town Hall now, where Mark is getting very excited.

0:29:160:29:21

-Hello, Robert.

-Hello.

-You've bought this absolutely

0:29:240:29:27

exquisite piece of porcelain in. Tell me about it.

0:29:270:29:31

Well, my father-in-law was a polo pony trainer

0:29:310:29:36

and he was employed by a wealthy man

0:29:360:29:39

in the south of France, in the 1930s.

0:29:390:29:41

And he married a local French lady

0:29:410:29:45

and they lived down there quite comfortably until the war.

0:29:450:29:50

And at that stage, all English people were advised to get out

0:29:500:29:54

of the country within 24 hours.

0:29:540:29:56

When they knew they had to get out of France,

0:29:560:29:59

they decided to hide a few things,

0:29:590:30:01

-cos you couldn't take it with you.

-Quite.

0:30:010:30:04

So they dug a hole in the garden, put that in it,

0:30:040:30:07

-but obviously with packing, of course...

-And buried it.

0:30:070:30:11

-In 1946, they went back for a holiday, dug it up.

-Oh, God.

0:30:110:30:15

So between burying it and digging it up,

0:30:150:30:19

that's where the damage occurred.

0:30:190:30:20

There is a little bit of damage to two of the legs and also to some of the beading.

0:30:200:30:26

If we actually look at the piece,

0:30:260:30:28

it's like a jewelled golden egg, isn't it?

0:30:280:30:31

-Yes.

-You know, with this wonderful finial on the top and this wonderful

0:30:310:30:36

turquoise enamelling, forming these graduated beading decoration with

0:30:360:30:41

tiny, tiny bits at the top to larger bits at the bottom.

0:30:410:30:44

All this decoration behind it.

0:30:440:30:46

And then these, sort of, almost pearl-like beading down the side.

0:30:460:30:51

And when we open it up, we've got the mark

0:30:510:30:54

of one of Britain's finer porcelain makers, Worcester.

0:30:540:30:57

This is the Kerr and Binns mark for the last quarter of the 19th century.

0:30:570:31:03

But it's a lovely object.

0:31:030:31:04

It just screams quality.

0:31:040:31:07

I know. It does. Yes.

0:31:070:31:09

The whole thing is fabulous.

0:31:090:31:11

Now, value.

0:31:110:31:13

It must be worth a fortune.

0:31:130:31:15

They all say that, don't they?!

0:31:150:31:16

I think it's a very difficult thing to value.

0:31:160:31:19

I think in perfect condition,

0:31:190:31:21

-we could be looking for something like 500, £1,000.

-Yes.

0:31:210:31:24

The damage will hold it back, so I think what we've got to do is put

0:31:240:31:28

an estimate at auction which reflects the fact that we know it's damaged,

0:31:280:31:32

-but it won't put off the buyers.

-No, no.

0:31:320:31:34

I would like to put, maybe, 150 to £200 on it, with 150 reserve.

0:31:340:31:40

-It wouldn't surprise me if it doubled.

-Oh, good.

0:31:400:31:43

Cos I think there'll be a lot of people who are saying, well,

0:31:430:31:46

-actually, I can have that restored better.

-Yes.

0:31:460:31:50

Have you had it out on display all these years since you've had it?

0:31:500:31:53

It's been on my wife's dressing table all these years and it hasn't

0:31:530:31:57

come in the way of any damage or accidents,

0:31:570:32:01

-but you never know. And I would hate to knock that over.

-Yes. Exactly.

0:32:010:32:04

-Your wife is happy to sell?

-Yes, indeed.

0:32:040:32:06

-Fantastic.

-That's why she sent me along today.

0:32:060:32:10

Our experts are working flat out upstairs at the Flog It blue tablecloths and downstairs,

0:32:150:32:19

there's still 100s of people sitting waiting patiently. And one of them

0:32:190:32:24

is Thelma, here, who's clutching, I believe, an accordion.

0:32:240:32:27

-Is that right?

-That's right.

0:32:270:32:29

Squeeze box, my dad called them. Can I have a look? Is this yours?

0:32:290:32:33

-No. It's my son's.

-It's your son's.

0:32:330:32:35

And where is he today, then?

0:32:350:32:36

-In Spain.

-Is he on holiday, is he?

-No. He lives there.

0:32:360:32:39

Oh, nice. Why hasn't mum gone out to join him, then?

0:32:390:32:42

-Somebody's got to sell it, haven't they?

-Oh, I see.

0:32:420:32:45

-Do you know much about it?

-No, not really.

0:32:450:32:48

-Where did he get it from?

-I have no idea, cos when

0:32:480:32:51

he moved out to Spain, he just left it behind at home.

0:32:510:32:54

I phoned him last night and I said

0:32:540:32:56

to him where did you get it and how much?

0:32:560:32:58

-"I'm on my way to see Flog It!"

-He can't remember.

0:32:580:33:01

He didn't think it was worth anything.

0:33:010:33:03

Wow. The box is rosewood.

0:33:030:33:06

-It is.

-Yeah. So this is quite a nice instrument and it needed protecting.

0:33:060:33:11

-That's quite fortunate you've still got this little case.

-Yes.

0:33:110:33:15

The first thing to check on these accordions is the bellows.

0:33:150:33:19

You can see they're in pretty good condition.

0:33:190:33:22

There's one little split there, but that shouldn't deter too much

0:33:220:33:25

from the value, cos there's only one.

0:33:250:33:27

It can be repaired, probably, yes.

0:33:270:33:29

Yes. Yeah. Again, we've got rosewood here, with pierced fretwork.

0:33:290:33:33

That's quite nice.

0:33:330:33:34

-There's a bit of damage.

-Can that be repaired?

-That can be sorted.

0:33:340:33:38

That's not too much trouble.

0:33:380:33:40

And, that's what I was looking for, a maker's label. Rock Chidley.

0:33:400:33:45

135. High Holbourn. London.

0:33:450:33:48

So it's a good London maker. Yes.

0:33:480:33:50

Yeah. And I'd put this at the turn of the 1900s, about 1910, 1920.

0:33:500:33:56

I wish I could play them.

0:33:560:33:58

-So do I.

-Yeah.

0:33:580:34:00

Any requests?!

0:34:000:34:02

Sadly, I can't play. But I've valued a few of these on Flog It before

0:34:050:34:10

and to my surprise, they do quite well.

0:34:100:34:12

-Good.

-And a little trick I learnt about valuing them was,

0:34:120:34:15

count up the little pegs.

0:34:150:34:18

-Yeah.

-Yeah. We've got 24 there.

0:34:180:34:20

-That's a pretty good one.

-Is it?

-Yes.

-Oh, good.

0:34:200:34:24

One recently sold in auction

0:34:240:34:26

and I think it had something like 32 pegs on it.

0:34:260:34:29

-And that got £1,200, in auction.

-My goodness, me.

0:34:290:34:33

Yes. Lesser ones will fetch around about £80-100. If I said

0:34:330:34:37

that's half decent, despite the bit of damage,

0:34:370:34:40

I'm pretty sure we're going to find a collector that will want that.

0:34:400:34:43

-Yeah.

-I was surprised when I valued my first one

0:34:430:34:46

and I put £80-120 on it and it was a speculative sort of estimate.

0:34:460:34:51

I'm surprised it sold for £200.

0:34:510:34:54

-That was jolly good.

-Yeah. So you might get that, Thelma.

0:34:540:34:57

-That would be rather nice!

-Yeah. Shall we put it

0:34:570:35:00

into auction with a value of £150-200 and see what happens?

0:35:000:35:04

-That would be super.

-Yeah.

0:35:040:35:06

But I wouldn't be surprised if it made somewhere around

0:35:060:35:09

-the 200, £240 mark.

-Oh, wonderful.

0:35:090:35:11

Marion and Jim, a lovely little period jewellery box.

0:35:170:35:20

Always nice to see jewellery in its original case. But what's inside?

0:35:200:35:24

Let's have a little look.

0:35:240:35:25

We've got a super little dress ring there.

0:35:250:35:27

-Now, tell me, is this a family piece?

-Yes.

0:35:270:35:31

It was a family piece of my mother's at one time, we possibly believe.

0:35:310:35:35

So, do you remember your mother wearing this, Jim?

0:35:350:35:38

I remember my mother wearing a ring similar to that.

0:35:380:35:41

Because it was so long ago, I can't swear that was the actual ring.

0:35:410:35:46

-OK.

-So I'm now thinking that is too large.

0:35:460:35:49

So we're not sure whether this is her engagement ring or not?

0:35:490:35:52

-No. We're not.

-OK. Well, certainly, looking at it

0:35:520:35:55

from a jeweller's point of view,

0:35:550:35:57

it certainly could well be an engagement ring.

0:35:570:35:59

I would think, probably, between the wars. Possibly 1930s.

0:35:590:36:04

Maybe a little bit earlier.

0:36:040:36:06

We've got old cut diamond, what we call old cut.

0:36:060:36:10

These ones are slightly duller.

0:36:100:36:12

And diamonds are also graded according to their colour.

0:36:120:36:15

These are slightly tinged with a browney colour,

0:36:150:36:19

so that they're towards the lesser good quality end of the scale.

0:36:190:36:23

What you would expect from stones of this sort of size

0:36:230:36:26

in this sort of quality ring.

0:36:260:36:27

And then we've got a sapphire in the centre.

0:36:270:36:30

And the sapphire is called trap cut, or step cut.

0:36:300:36:34

You can see why with that square

0:36:340:36:37

shape and then the step up to what we call a table, the top of the stone.

0:36:370:36:41

And that's actually quite a good cut for an engagement ring.

0:36:410:36:47

It's in a rubover setting so it doesn't sit too proud.

0:36:470:36:50

So you could wear it every day as engagement rings were designed to be.

0:36:500:36:55

Even do the washing-up in that one. Having said that,

0:36:550:36:58

I think this one has been worn an awful lot as an everyday ring,

0:36:580:37:02

cos you can see the facet edges of the sapphire are really worn down.

0:37:020:37:06

You can see it with the naked eye.

0:37:060:37:08

-Yes.

-So it's been much loved, I think.

0:37:080:37:11

That's good.

0:37:110:37:12

It's a lovely combination having a sapphire and diamond.

0:37:120:37:16

Typical combination for an engagement ring.

0:37:160:37:18

Sapphires vary a lot in their blue tone.

0:37:180:37:21

Sapphires from Burma and Sri Lanka and India tend to be

0:37:210:37:25

slightly lighter in colour and you can see that in mine.

0:37:250:37:28

That much lighter blue colour.

0:37:280:37:30

And that we call the more inky stones are generally from Australia

0:37:300:37:34

and from Thailand. What about value?

0:37:340:37:38

-Any ideas?

-Haven't got a clue.

0:37:380:37:40

I think the condition of this sapphire will affect the value quite a bit.

0:37:400:37:44

At auction, I think we've got to be looking at probably 150 to 200.

0:37:440:37:49

I would hope it would make the 200, possibly 250 on a good day,

0:37:490:37:52

if two people like it.

0:37:520:37:54

It would be sensible to set a reserve at 150, if you're happy with that.

0:37:540:37:57

-Yes.

-Yes.

0:37:570:37:59

-So no regrets about getting rid of it?

-No.

0:37:590:38:02

-No. Don't think so.

-No?

-No.

0:38:020:38:05

Right now, let's jog our memories of our final three items

0:38:050:38:08

before we head off to the sale room.

0:38:080:38:10

First, the fabulous Worcester egg with its unforgettable story

0:38:100:38:14

of being buried during the Second World War.

0:38:140:38:17

Then Thelma's son's Rosewood accordion,

0:38:170:38:19

which I tuned into the moment I saw it. I've a feeling it'll do well.

0:38:190:38:24

Or will Kate's choice,

0:38:240:38:26

the sapphire and gold ring, turn out to be the real jewel in the crown?

0:38:260:38:29

Let's find out.

0:38:290:38:31

Jim and Marion, Kate, good luck.

0:38:340:38:36

It's just about to go under the hammer.

0:38:360:38:38

It's that gold and sapphire ring. We've got £150 on this.

0:38:380:38:41

You never thought of wearing it, did you?

0:38:410:38:43

-Too small.

-Too small. Wouldn't get past the knuckle.

0:38:430:38:46

With jewellery, you have to wear it.

0:38:460:38:48

-There's no point sticking it in the bank.

-No, no. No.

0:38:480:38:51

So, hopefully, someone's going to fall in love with it.

0:38:510:38:54

It's going under the hammer.

0:38:540:38:55

Good-looking gold, sapphire and diamond ring.

0:38:550:38:58

Are we going to bid £200 for it?

0:38:580:39:00

£100 bid. 100, I'm bid there now.

0:39:000:39:02

10. Thank you. 120, I've got. 130.

0:39:020:39:05

And 40, I'm bid. 140. And 50 now.

0:39:050:39:07

At 150. And 60?

0:39:070:39:10

A bit more. A bit more. A bit more.

0:39:100:39:13

No more? £160, then.

0:39:130:39:14

I'm selling at £160.

0:39:140:39:19

Yes! £160. The hammer's gone down.

0:39:190:39:22

Good valuation. It's a hard pitch, isn't it?

0:39:220:39:25

Yeah. I think it's cos that sapphire is really quite worn.

0:39:250:39:28

It's obviously been worn and loved and the wear on the stones

0:39:280:39:31

is going to count against it, but it's a fair price.

0:39:310:39:34

Robert, I don't know. How could he sell this after

0:39:400:39:43

that story we've just heard back at the valuation day?

0:39:430:39:46

This little egg has been through hell and high water.

0:39:460:39:49

The story's wonderful.

0:39:490:39:51

It's just so touching and it's lovely. It's absolutely lovely.

0:39:510:39:55

-It really is.

-It's a pity it's damaged but otherwise,

0:39:550:39:58

-it'd have been triple the figure, I suppose.

-Yeah.

0:39:580:40:00

But it is Worcester at its height of opulence.

0:40:000:40:04

The wonderful quality of that pearl beading.

0:40:040:40:07

And everything is decorated. I love it to bits.

0:40:070:40:11

Every little facet of it.

0:40:110:40:13

Any way you look at it, it just smacks quality.

0:40:130:40:16

Let's find out what this lot here in Tring think of it, shall we?

0:40:160:40:20

Because here it is, going under the hammer.

0:40:200:40:22

Lot 290, this time.

0:40:220:40:24

This is interesting, this one.

0:40:240:40:26

Worcester jewel ovoid vase and cover, there you are.

0:40:260:40:29

I think we ought to be looking for £200 for this one. At £200 for it.

0:40:290:40:33

200. At £100. Are we a £100 bid? 100, I'm bid for that one, then.

0:40:330:40:37

Thank you. 110, I'm bid for it.

0:40:370:40:39

120. And 30. 140. And 50.

0:40:390:40:43

Are you 60, sir?

0:40:430:40:45

160. And 70, is it? 180.

0:40:450:40:48

£180. At £180. At 190, now.

0:40:480:40:53

No? 180, I'm selling then. At 180.

0:40:530:40:56

90, is it? I'm selling at 180.

0:40:560:40:58

-Yes? £180, then.

-Happy with that?

0:40:580:41:02

Oh, absolutely. Yes.

0:41:020:41:04

-Will the wife be pleased?

-She's there.

-Is she?

0:41:040:41:07

What the buyers have taken

0:41:070:41:09

into account, of course. they've got to get it restored.

0:41:090:41:12

That will take a bit of money, but it's a beautiful thing.

0:41:120:41:15

-A great story and it's wonderful to have something like that.

-It is.

0:41:150:41:19

Guess what's up next. If I went like this -

0:41:240:41:27

give you a quick clue, wouldn't it? Thelma's accordion.

0:41:270:41:31

-This is exciting, isn't it?

-Isn't it just exciting!

0:41:310:41:33

What does your son think? Have you phoned him?

0:41:330:41:36

Yeah, when you gave me the estimate. Yeah. He had to sit down.

0:41:360:41:40

-Did he? Did he really?

-Yeah.

0:41:400:41:42

Have a couple of beers, putting his feet up in the sun out in Spain!

0:41:420:41:46

Yeah. I don't blame him, really.

0:41:460:41:48

Let's hope we do you both proud

0:41:480:41:51

and he treats you for sorting it all out, Thelma.

0:41:510:41:53

-Oh, yes. That'd be lovely.

-He'll get you out to Spain?

0:41:530:41:56

Well, of course. That's it.

0:41:560:41:58

Going under the hammer now.

0:41:580:42:00

This is it, Thelma. Good luck.

0:42:000:42:01

Interesting one. There you are.

0:42:010:42:03

Rock Chidley. Not too many Rock Chidley concertinas there.

0:42:030:42:07

There you are. Where shall we say?

0:42:070:42:09

Are you going to bid 200 to start me for it? 100, then. 100 is bid.

0:42:090:42:13

Thank you. 100, I'm bid for that one.

0:42:130:42:15

120 is bid for it. 150. At 150.

0:42:150:42:19

At 180. 200. 200, I'm bid for it.

0:42:190:42:22

220. At £250. 280.

0:42:220:42:26

300, I'm bid. 300.

0:42:260:42:29

At 320, I'm bid. 350, I'm bid.

0:42:290:42:31

380. At 400. 20. Is it?

0:42:310:42:35

No. £400. 20 now.

0:42:350:42:38

No more? At £400. You lose it, sir.

0:42:380:42:41

At 400, then, I'm selling.

0:42:410:42:43

Yes? At £400, then. Thank you.

0:42:430:42:46

-Oh, Paul, that's super!

-Isn't that good?

-That's smashing.

0:42:460:42:51

Yeah. I got a tingle out of that.

0:42:510:42:53

-400!

-Yeah.

0:42:530:42:56

-Oh!

-400 quid.

0:42:560:42:58

Instead of 100.

0:42:580:42:59

-Yeah.

-Cos that it was, the other one, wasn't it?

-Yes.

0:42:590:43:03

Well, we hedged our bets, didn't we?

0:43:030:43:05

-We did, indeed.

-We were hoping for 250.

0:43:050:43:07

-Well, they loved it.

-I can't wait to get home and tell him, now!

0:43:070:43:10

-I bet you can't. I bet you can't!

-Oh, lovely.

0:43:100:43:15

-I think we made Thelma's day there...

-You have indeed!

0:43:150:43:18

..and I hope we've made your day, as well.

0:43:180:43:20

We thoroughly enjoyed being at Tring. Everyone's gone home happy.

0:43:200:43:24

There's plenty more to come on "Flog It!" in the future,

0:43:240:43:26

so join us next time.

0:43:260:43:27

For more information about Flog It, including how the programme was made,

0:43:270:43:31

visit the website at bbc.co.uk

0:43:310:43:34

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:43:490:43:52

E-mail [email protected]

0:43:520:43:55

Experts Mark Stacey and Kate Bliss uncover some super finds in St Albans and presenter Paul Martin discovers The Natural History Museum at Tring.