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I'm sure you'll all know the delightful story of the little girl
who tumbled down a rabbit hole into Wonderland.
What may surprise you is that Alice and all the other bizarre characters
were born right here in the imagination of a mathematics lecturer.
Today we're in the university city of Oxford. Yes, this is Flog It! And oh, dear, oh, dear, I'm late!
I'm heading for the marvellous Sheldonian Theatre.
Well, I have made it just in time.
Everybody's now safely seated inside.
It's time for me to join our experts
and delve through all of these bags and boxes that this wonderful crowd have brought in
and who knows what wonderful mysteries we might uncover?
'Later in the show, I get the chance to play the drums...'
'.. and get some technical instruction
'on a most unusual instrument.'
Do you blow hard or medium?
No, no, no. Blowing a raspberry. That's the deal.
BLOWS A RASPBERRY, INSTRUMENT MAKES NO SOUND
The two experts spearheading the team here in Oxford are...
Tracy Martin, who works as a valuer at an auction house in Essex.
She specialises in 20th-century antiques and collectibles.
Boys' toys, they love them. They're all buying them back, the men.
They all want their childhood revisited.
-They didn't really grow up, half of them, did they?
She's joined by our old favourite, Charlie Ross, who takes a more traditional line.
-Bring it back in 100 years' time. I'll still be here.
-I'll do that!
He has gained his wide knowledge through the tried-and-tested route of being an auctioneer.
-You've brought a child for me to value?
-I'm good at that, I have a grandchild now.
Charlie's first up with Diana, and she's brought in a trio of nice-looking rings.
Diana, it's nice to see you here, and you're visiting Oxford today?
-Where are you from?
-We're from Sussex.
So you've loaded up your rings, brought them along here -
where did they start life, as far as you're concerned?
My mother gave them to me.
I don't think she'd ever worn them.
They don't look very worn, it looks like
the ruby cluster ring has been worn,
it's a little bit worn, but they're in pretty good condition.
Yes and I know that my father had given them to her.
-So they emanated from his side of the family.
Did they? Yes. Well, they date from early 20th century.
-So they're virtually 100 years old.
-They're all 18-carat gold, so good-quality gold.
Doing perhaps the worst first, this ruby and diamond cluster is a synthetic ruby, so it's not
-a real one, although it's a big whopper...
-That would've been nice.
I know, it would.
But nevertheless, a very delicate setting
and cast and chased shoulders, these are the shoulders here.
So, a huge amount of work's gone into these.
The next one we have is diamond and rubies, proper rubies, diamonds,
-alternately inset, again into an 18-carat shank.
And here, we have here the cultured pearls, you can see cultured pearls,
they're all uniform size.
-I see, yes.
-With tiny little chip diamonds into the corner.
-They're very ornate, but not everybody's cup of tea.
-Do you wear them?
-No, unfortunately I can't get them on my fingers.
-I might think about it, but they're not really me.
-Have you thought of making them bigger?
-I did on one occasion, but I thought, "No."
They're quite dated in style and I think they're not going to be the easiest things to sell.
They're fabulous quality, but, to be honest, the average person today
has a ring made for them quite often, or there's more of a tendency towards
a straightforward diamond ring, single-stone, three-stone diamond ring,
rather than clusters of stones.
What about value? You've got them heavily insured, presumably?
Oh, yes(!) THEY LAUGH
Come on, have a guess.
I was sort of thinking perhaps, I don't know, 200, 250,
something like that.
I think a bit more. I'm not sure about the synthetic one,
-but they'd average out at over £100 each and I'd like to see an estimate of 300 to 500.
-OK, that's good.
300 to 500 with a discretionary reserve at the bottom end,
so we reserve them at 300, if the top bid the auctioneer gets is 280,
then you might as well sell them. I mean, you're expecting 250 to 300,
but I think we'll be pretty safe at £300.
-If we do well, you can have a few more days in Oxford.
-That would be great. I'll enjoy it.
Well, we all would, it's a fantastic place to visit.
Next, a Victorian desk stand caught my eye,
belonging to Bruce and Joan.
It might just be the thing that someone is looking for.
Is it yours?
-Yes, it is.
-How long have you had that?
It's been, well with me for over 30 years.
Where is it at home, Joan? What do you do with it?
-It's in the broom cupboard.
-In the where?
-In the broom cupboard.
-On a shelf, hopefully.
-No, on the floor.
Is it really? Poor thing, poor thing.
You obviously don't really want to keep it then,
-if it's in the broom cupboard.
Obviously, this little lid comes off.
To facilitate the ease of that, there would've been a little acorn
screwed into there that you could lift this lid off with,
but unfortunately that's missing,
because that's where you'd keep your nibbed pens. I'd say it's around about 1860, 1880.
It's not the sort of Gothic revival Puginesque-type Victorian
you'd expect on these big over-the-top office desks. They're the ones that fetch good money.
This is very much plainer than that.
It's typical of the Victorian period,
it's still over-the-top again.
But I guess this wouldn't be used by an academic but more likely
a clerk or an accountant, somebody like that.
Somebody that did a lot of bookwork,
because look at the size of the wells, they are big, aren't they?
All mounted in brass. I like the fact that it's not polished,
so I'm pleased it's been in the broom cupboard
and that's quite nice, that's all wheel-cut, can you see that?
That's called a hobnail pattern,
-like you get on the bottom of hobnail shoes.
But it's all there, isn't it? The wells are lovely,
it just needs a good clean. It's made of oak. I'd like it to do £80-£120 if we put it into auction.
I've a feeling it needs a better starting point, though,
and I think if I can get the valuation down to around about £60 to £100...
A reserve of 60? And hopefully we'll get £120, if two people really want this.
I'd like to think so.
And they fight over it in the saleroom.
-You know what they say, the pen's mightier than the sword, don't they?
-Let's give it a crack, shall we?
An exquisite-looking decorative Oriental bottle
has grabbed Tracy's attention. But what's it for?
What a beautiful little snuff bottle, Mark.
Obviously Oriental. Beautifully hand-painted.
Do you collect Oriental, or is it something that's been passed down?
I had no idea what it was originally. We were landscaping the garden
and we came across a couple of bits and pieces and broken bottles and this was in there.
This was in your garden?
Completely filthy, covered in mud. Couldn't believe it at the time.
Oh, what a discovery!
I gave it a clean, but never thought anything more of it.
We had no idea what it was, so we tried to look it up.
I thought maybe perfume or anything, I didn't know what it was for.
You're very much along the right lines, really.
It's a little snuff bottle here.
Oriental, Chinese, beautifully hand-painted.
On the dragon, because we have a dragon here in this wonderful blue,
he's got five claws.
We know that because he's got five claws,
he's an Imperial dragon.
He's not any old ordinary, boring dragon.
He's a special dragon, because he's got five claws.
On the top here, if we just lift that out,
what we have is the little snuffer.
-This is ivory, dyed ivory.
And here, we have this wonderful workmanship here.
It's probably bronze, I would've thought
it would be bronze because it's such a good-quality piece of porcelain.
He looks a little bit like a frog, doesn't he? Actually, he's a lion.
So a beautiful, beautiful piece. Have you got any idea how old it is,
-or have you done any research?
-I looked at the mark on the bottom.
-The mark on the bottom, when I looked up the different dynasties, it worked out at about 1820 to 1850,
but, I can't pronounce it, "du gwan", or something like that.
You're pretty much spot-on, Mark, to be honest. It's very much early Victorian period.
I'm not very good, I'm from Essex, you see.
This is my problem, pronunciations are not my good things, so "dong-wong" sounds about right!
Oriental is so hot at the moment.
Anything from snuff bottles
to big, wonderful Satsuma vases,
really, really hot market.
I would be comfortable with putting a reserve of about £100 on this.
So, 100 to 150. Because the Oriental market is pretty hot at the moment,
I'm pretty sure that should do a little bit more.
Top-end estimate, maybe even exceed that,
but obviously it's down to you and if you're really happy with that...
No, no, here's hoping.
Hopefully we'll get loads of Oriental collectors
desperate to own the thing that YOU dug out of the ground.
It's always a delight to meet so many charming and interesting people
at our valuation days,
and it seems that everyone has got a good story to tell.
Charlie is up next with Janet,
and he's enjoying a little bit of guesswork.
-Sometimes you can judge the contents by the box.
And I'm beginning to think this is not a leather box,
it's leatherette or something,
so I'm expecting a bit of silver plate or something.
I hope I'm wrong.
Oh, I am wrong!
-What wonderful colours!
-They are. Beautiful colours.
Fabulous colours. I think even from here they're silver.
Bean-topped coffee spoons. Where did these come from?
-From an aunt and uncle of mine. I inherited it when they died.
My uncle always used to buy beautiful things for his wife.
I always thought they came from abroad, but I'm not sure.
Well, we'll have a look at one, but they're English.
I'm certain they're English. The case looks English,
and I'm expecting to see an English hallmark on there.
You can tell they're coffee spoons. Why?
-The shape, no?
-Well, partly the shape.
-They've got a bean top.
-There's a bean.
-Yes, the coffee bean.
And in fact, even if you look at the top of that one there,
-you can see the line making it a coffee bean.
-Isn't that interesting?
They're silver and enamelled. I'm expecting them to be 1920s,
-They're in fabulous condition.
The only thing that's slightly disappointing
is the bean top themselves. I'd like to see a bit of ivory...
or possibly a bit of mother of pearl, whereas if you
look at the sort of crazing on those,
-they are merely composition...
..which I think lets down the rest of them.
-Because the bowls are fabulous. These shells...
The shell motif bowls are fabulous.
I'm going to pick one up and pray,
-cos if they're EPNS they're worth about three quid.
-They won't be because they're enamelled. They are silver.
-And they're Birmingham.
Made in Birmingham.
And they're on a P.
-Now, a P appears on the Birmingham in 1914 and 1939.
-The start of two wars, which is easy enough to remember.
Now, looking at the case, I think they're probably
the earlier of the two. Now, that sounds a bit vague, but actually
because they're not Victorian or earlier,
it's not going to make much difference in terms of value.
Now, sadly, I'm going to really disappoint you now, I think,
-by saying that they're worth less than £50.
Surprisingly not that rare.
-Are you happy to sell them if I say that?
-Yes, that's fine.
-You are? You don't want to see them again.
We will put a reserve on them.
I think an estimate of £30-50 with a fixed reserve at 30.
I think if two people really like them...
then there is an up side. But there's not an up side
-into hundreds of pounds, sadly.
-Thank you very much.
Thank you very much for bringing them along.
The Ashmolean was the first public museum in Britain,
and it's still one of the greatest.
Now, we're here filming on a Monday,
so it's closed to the public, but we've got special permission to film
in one of my favourite haunts.
Now, they've recently spent millions refurbishing this museum,
but the area we're filming in today hasn't changed since the 1950s -
the Print Room.
It's called the Print Room,
but actually it houses one of Britain's greatest
collections of European prints
and drawings dating from the 15th century right up to the present day.
The collection had a great start in life.
In the early days in the 1840s, it acquired through public subscription
50 Raphael and 50 Michelangelo drawings, absolute originals,
from the celebrated collection of the artist Sir Thomas Lawrence.
I've got to say... they are heavenly.
I'm this close to the greatest works of art
I have ever seen in my life - in fact, in history.
These are chalk studies showing composition, light and shade,
It's just incredible. You can learn so much from coming here.
If you want to see Raphaels and Michaelangelos,
you do have to book a special appointment,
otherwise there's 25,000 other drawings and prints here
from artists such as Rembrandt right through to Stanley Spencer,
and I've taken the opportunity today to come and talk to John Whitely,
who's the senior curator here,
about his love and passion for drawing, and why it's so important.
John, you've always loved drawings. You're very passionate about them.
What is it for you? What makes you gravitate towards these?
Drawings are very unlike paintings.
They tell us something about the intimate thoughts
of the artist as he's preparing a work of art.
The paintings of the artist executed on the basis of these drawings
tend to be very finished statements.
They're for the public, they're for posterity,
and they don't give away as much as a drawing does.
No, these aren't so polished, are they?
They're not so polished, but they're also full of the kind of
thoughts that an artist has as he's moving towards the finished image.
This helps us to explore the innermost
thoughts of the artist as he's preparing his composition.
You've selected three here from this vast collection.
Show me what you're looking into,
what you can learn from each artist and what he's trying to do.
The drawing of the jockey by Degas shows the back
drawn in a certain position, and then the buttocks are pulled forward.
He changes his mind about where the leg goes and draws it over the leg.
It gives us an idea of how the artist is using his black chalk with
a kind of rage as he draws the leg in one place
-and then the jockey moves and he draws it in another place.
At great speed, although it must be said that although this drawing
appears to be a drawing done on the racecourse, it certainly isn't.
It must have been a professional model,
or possibly a jockey whom the artist brought back to the studio.
He poses for the artist in order to give this impression
of spontaneity, which then the artist will translate into the painting.
Let's look at the Turner.
Tell me what you see and what you can learn about Turner there.
The Turner is a very different work of art from the Degas
because it's a finished statement.
It's a watercolour by an artist who has done
this as a work of art in its own right, and he would've
expected a collector or a friend to acquire this watercolour from him.
Or he did it for his own pleasure. That's quite possible.
An image that he wanted to take back from Venice which would record
for him the impression of light and colour on the Venetian lagoon.
It doesn't look finished, of course, because it's so impressionistic,
and the colour is laid on in thin washes that gives a sense of air
and atmosphere, of weather and time of day,
to this view of buildings.
And that's the real subject of this picture.
He didn't go to Venice to paint Venice.
He went to Venice to capture an effect of Venetian light.
It's beautiful, isn't it? It's absolutely beautiful.
Let's look at Leonardo.
Oh, well, Leonardo lies at the very beginning of the Italian renaissance,
the early renaissance in the 15th century central Italy,
when drawing came into its own as an important method of preparing
a work of art.
He's using it as a way of thinking aloud,
and when I said that a drawing is fascinating
because it allows us to enter into the silent thoughts of the artist,
this is a particularly good case in point.
In this case he's not working from nature,
but he's drawing up something that he's inventing.
But it's owing to the years of close study of the natural world
that enables him to draw like this from his imagination.
John, thank you so much for your time.
Can I just borrow you for a second more to select a few drawings
from some of my favourite artists
so I can sit down and do what most people do when they come to visit?
Yes, by all means.
We'll take out boxes of Samuel Palmer and Burne-Jones,
and you can sit as a member of the public does,
don the white gloves and look at them to your heart's content.
This is what I've been waiting for.
He's got to be my favourite artist - Edward Burne-Jones.
One of the Pre-Raphaelites. This is just superb.
Wonderful purple ground with a... almost like a gold leaf image
of this beautiful woman.
But his work is just full of passion and mythology and...
He came to Oxford, I think, in the 1850s to study religion
and had some art lessons by Rossetti.
He became one of the four founding members
of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.
It's a small study of a beautiful angelic lady.
I didn't like this when I first saw this.
I picked this up and I thought...
But actually the more you look at this,
the more beautiful this woman becomes.
The burnt siennas and umbers and...
lovely muddy browns.
This is so good because anybody can come here,
work their way through these volumes, be so close to your heroes.
Right, I'm going to move on to some Samuel Palmer now.
Gosh, I could spend all day here.
This is quite interesting because this is, you could say,
mixed medium, really.
It's pencil, watercolour, pen and ink, and a white grounding.
It's a very, very clever technique.
It's a self portrait, and he's about 19 years old.
Done when he was living in London.
This is a few years later when they moved down to Shoreham, the family
moved down to Shoreham to escape the smoke and the smog of the city.
There's a childlike quality in his composition.
It's almost as if it's a book illustration.
Everything is happy about that little picture.
The little bunny rabbit hopping along,
but you don't really see trees growing like that.
It's just wonderful.
In fact, it's really nice looking at artists' works
where they've just done it for themselves,
it's not a commission and they don't really care how it's finished.
Sometimes they look better unfinished.
It makes you use your imagination more.
Over to Watcombe Manor saleroom in Watlington just outside Oxford,
where Jones & Jacob fine art auctioneers
will be selling our lots.
There will be two auctioneers on the rostrum today -
first Francis Ogley and then the owner, Simon Jones.
I'm going to take the opportunity to speak to Simon to see what he thinks of the Oriental bottle.
I like this. I like it a lot. It was dug up from the garden.
-Believe it or not.
-Unusual to find in a British garden.
Mid-19th century Chinese, a bit of blue and white.
We've got 100 to £150 on this.
-Yes. You'll have no trouble at all.
-Yes, because it's a little bit earlier.
What would you put it at?
I think that's Qianlong, and I think it's late 18th century,
early 19th century, rather than mid-19th century.
I like the Imperial dragon. I think that's a wonderful image,
-that's where my money goes.
-The five claws says it all.
You're getting quite excited, but you're not giving much away.
No, auctioneers never give anything away.
No, you can't! You should be a politician.
No, I don't want to be one of those!
-So we're in the right ballpark figure.
-You're OK, you're OK.
Yes. But hopefully it should fly away. Let's watch this one later on.
That's what it's all about, the magic of the saleroom.
Before the auction starts,
let's take another look at what we've put up for sale.
We start with Diana's three handsome rings. They look splendid together,
so they won't go unseen.
Then I picked out the Victorian desk stand. It's not the most ornate one that I've come across,
but there's no point in it just sitting in a broom cupboard.
In stylish mood, Charlie picked out
the elegant boxed silver coffee spoons belonging to Janet.
And Mark's amazing find, the Chinese snuff bottle.
It didn't cost him anything, so he should get a good return.
Now for Diana's three splendid rings,
with all those rubies, diamonds and pearls.
-A lot of money riding on this one, could it be the jewel in the "Flog It!" crown?
Three rings. Ooh, Charlie!
Will we get that 500-plus?
-300-500. Don't get too excited!
-I know, but can we get 500-plus?
There's one particularly good ring,
one with the synthetic stone which looks good but isn't valuable,
and the pearl ring, which is quite pleasant.
I think it was the best way of selling them. Put 'em all together.
We're going to find out, cos this is quite exciting.
I think this is a lot of money. £500, I would like.
You always would!
The 18-carat ring set, nine rubies and diamonds.
As described there. £300?
250, sell me.
280. 290. 300. At £300.
In the room at 300. Selling at 300. All done at 300?
Some more, please.
£100 a ring.
Well, they've gone.
Not as much as I'd like, but...
Charlie was right though, they were within estimate.
-Don't be too cross with me, Diana.
-I'll try not to be.
Sorry about that.
It just goes to show, auction houses are brilliant places to buy jewellery.
Next, it's my expertise under scrutiny.
OK, it's my turn to be the expert.
Remember that lovely Victorian desk stand inkwell?
Well, it's out of the broom cupboard and into the auction room.
Bruce, at the valuation day, you had your wife with you, Joan, didn't you?
-She can't make it today, but your daughter Susan can. Hello.
He's flogging your family inheritance, isn't he?
OK, it's not a lot of money, is it, really, but, it's a nice-looking thing.
-It is, yes.
-You just need a whopping great big desk in a big house.
-Old Victorian house.
-Yes, a great big vicarage, then it will look absolutely stunning.
You never know what happens in an auction.
We're going to find out, because ultimately it's down to
this packed saleroom of bidders to put their hands up. Here we go.
Lot 214, the inkstand, with a nice lift-out tray.
60, £70 for this?
50 then, start me.
50, I'm bid. 55 anywhere?
£65 now, at £65. All done at £65?
Spot on, wasn't it, really? Straight in again. Very quick.
What you expected, wasn't it, Dad?
-Yes, I'm happy with that.
Yes, we're happy.
So, out for lunch now?
I should think so.
I think you can stretch to that, can't you?
You can't twist his arm for that, surely?
Of course he's going to take her out for lunch.
Next, Janet's coffee spoons.
These aren't a lot of money, are they, really? They're nothing.
I thought, "Charlie, what's going on here?"
-But that is the value, isn't it?
-Who wants them?
I'd be a bit worried about damaging them.
-You'd forever worry about chipping the enamel, would you?
-Yeah. You never used them, obviously, did you?
-No, not at all.
They were always kept in the box.
Let's hope they go to a good home and we get the top end.
The harlequin set of coffee spoons, enamel backs
and ivory-coloured bean finials.
20, start me. £20. 20. 22 anywhere?
22. 25. 28. 30.
At £30. In the room at 30.
Come on. A bit more, please.
All done at £30. Selling at 30.
-30 they've gone.
It's so interesting, isn't it, cos that's quality but...
You'd like to think they'd be worth £30 a spoon, wouldn't you?
-It was within your estimate, though.
-I mean, I'm afraid the estimate was right.
Exactly. I hope they've gone to someone who really enjoys them.
Next, one of those marvellous stories,
Mark's Chinese snuff bottle.
Quite unbelievable and it's in perfect condition, and you loved it.
Absolutely love it and I've put a really conservative estimate on it,
because oriental is such a minefield.
It could really fly.
The only thing I've ever dug up in my back garden is
old broken bottles and snails, but this is quite incredible.
It's amazing what you hear on "Flog It!" with owners
bringing in all these treasures in, literally dug up.
What was it doing there?
Who knows? But we're going to find out what it makes right now.
A snuff bottle, stained ivory stopper.
Lovely thing, this. £100, start me for it?
180, I'm bid. 190?
£180, then. With Alan at £180.
All done at 180, all finished?
Well done. You were spot-on, actually.
Sorry it didn't fly, fly.
But nevertheless, that's a good result.
-Yes. Well done, Mark.
-Thank you very much.
Get digging. Find some more treasure.
And if you find another treasure, remember to bring it into us.
Later, we see an extraordinary bit of auction room drama.
That's incredible, isn't it?
-I wonder when it's going to stop?
-Don't you just love auction rooms?
While I'm in Oxford, I've taken the opportunity to visit just part
of this magnificent university, and as I come from a musical background and play the drums
and a bit of piano and guitar, I've chosen the Faculty of Music.
I'm drawn here, not just because I'm passionate about music,
but because I believe they've got one of the greatest collections ever assembled of musical instruments
on planet Earth, and some of them date back centuries.
It's called the Bate Collection, after Phillip Bate,
who was the musical director at the BBC for many years.
He left his collection of over 300 early woodwind instruments
to the Faculty of Music in 1963
so the students could appreciate the sound of the original instruments.
That turned out to be just the beginning, because it encouraged
other collectors who shared his enthusiasm to follow suit.
This amazing collection is still growing today.
I'm here to meet its current curator, the enthusiastic Mr Andrew Lamb.
I don't know where to look. How many instruments are there?
-Well, getting on for 2,000 now.
I've got to say, the collection here doesn't have a stuffy feel like some museums do have.
-Is that down to you and your passion and enthusiasm?
partly me, I'm just carrying on a long tradition.
The original curator, Anthony Baines, set the ball rolling.
Those of us who've stepped into his shoes,
we've got a class act to follow.
-I bet there's never a dull moment.
Have you played most of these instruments?
I have to say, no.
But what I have to do is learn to play them well enough to be able to demonstrate them.
The ones that are playable, I can get a couple of notes out.
-OK. What are you holding there?
-This is a lovely instrument,
it's probably my favourite instrument in the collection.
Most people will be familiar with it - it's a recorder.
But this is a recorder that was made at a time when these instruments were
orchestral instruments in their own right.
The thing about this is that it's in perfect proportion.
It's in the golden section.
We look at it and we kind of think, well, that's a very satisfying shape.
And we're fooled into thinking it's a simple instrument
but it's not, it's very successful.
So much so that they have not improved on the design in 300 years.
-Is that a maple or is it an English boxwood?
-It's in boxwood.
-Go on, go on, play.
-Here we go.
I'll see what I can do here.
HE PLAYS A TUNE
-Very warm tone.
-It is, it is.
If you're a professional recorder player nowadays,
the chances are you'll have a copy of THIS instrument.
You're very lucky, aren't you? Wow.
Did that ever catch on, a glass flute?
Well, it's funny you should ask that.
They're still making them.
It's very much a French idea.
There's a perception somehow that the material
that the instrument is made of has a profound effect on the tonal quality.
I don't think it has as profound an effect as people would like to think.
I don't let people play these ones because the horror potential is just too high, frankly.
-We won't get that one out, then.
I'm looking forward to having a play myself on something.
Something quite rare. What can I play?
Well, you can't have a go on this,
but I've got something lined up for you. Come with me.
Hard to know what to choose, isn't it?
None of these. I've got something very special lined up.
No wonder you were laughing.
-That's a serpent, isn't it?
-It certainly is.
I've seen them before, obviously, in pictures and museums, but I've never held or played one.
-This is your chance.
-It's covered in leather.
What they've done with these ones is they've glued the wood together
in sections and bound them in copper wire and then they put the leather over the top.
That's what you've got here.
What date are we talking about?
This one, we actually know all about it.
It was used at the Battle of Waterloo, dated 1815.
It was made by an English maker called Thomas Key & Sons.
It was used by a musician from the Royal Welch Fusiliers
called Richard Bentinck.
-Gosh, what provenance.
-I know, we know all about it.
Play it, please, play it. Does it sound like a tuba?
-To be fair, it's got...got a tone all of its own.
-Go on, then.
Right, here we go.
DEEP, BREATHY TONE
That suits you.
-That's me, is it?
-That's very you, yes.
-Now it's your turn.
-Do I need gloves?
No, you can handle this one, it's quite reasonable.
Do you blow hard, or sort of medium?
No, no, no, it's kind of blowing a raspberry, that's the deal.
I'm sure if you were good on this, you would get the subtleties out of it.
Funny you should say that, I've heard professional serpent players and I can't say I've noticed.
It could sound like somebody in pain. Screaming away!
What a beautiful instrument.
They are beautiful, they're very cuddleable.
Can I have a play on one of the drums?
Yes, all right, then. Why ever not?
We've got another instrument from Waterloo.
-OK, let's form a duet, then.
-I'll just put this away.
This particular instrument is our most recent acquisition.
We did a lot of fundraising to acquire it and we think it's
the instrument that was played by Joseph Haydn
when he came to Oxford to receive his honorary doctoral award.
Wow. So when does this date back to?
This is about 1792, this instrument.
It's a harpsichord and it really is, in many ways, the last flick
of the dinosaur's tail before everybody moved on to playing pianos.
-Double bank of keys?
-Absolutely, what they called a double manual.
-It's got a number of other features.
-These open up, don't they?
Yes, I'll just show you, here we go, just a minute.
-There we go, look at that, that's what they call
-a Venetian swell.
-How does that help the vibrating note more?
Well, what you did, very, very simple, you get it to play louder.
-That's all it is?
-Absolutely all it is.
HE PLAYS MUSIC
So, this is from Waterloo?
Yes, we think so. We don't know which regiment, but it's certainly the right period.
It's certainly the right style.
The condition is superb, isn't it?
-It is indeed.
-Let's see what it sounds like... Dum, dum dum...
Wow. Can you hear the overtone there? The way it resonates.
Can you imagine a marching row of let's say 15 or 12?
The power and the volume!
Absolutely, that is a real war sound, isn't it?
Thank you so much, thank you so much, that's made my day.
Playing a drum from the Battle of Waterloo! What a sound!
What an unbelievable experience, I'm so chuffed to have come here today.
If you're passionate about music, you must visit this place because
it is the complete encyclopaedia of musical instruments that have evolved over the centuries.
You don't just get to study tuning techniques, you get to
PLAY the things as well, and that's so important.
Today I've played a serpent and a drum from the Battle of Waterloo.
What a date in history, and it's all here and it's free.
Now it's time to find out what other treasures
the crowd in the Sheldonian have in store for our experts.
Charlie's found something which seems to be an unusual size.
-Denise, a grandfather clock.
-But a bit smaller than the usual grandfather clocks.
-It's a miniature one.
-It certainly is.
How did you get hold of it?
My great-uncle Joe gave it to me when he was 94.
-What a kind man.
He bought it in about 1930 from Stanton St John vicarage.
Did you always like it? Is that why you give it to you?
Yeah, as a child I always cleaned it and dusted it.
It would be fascinating for a child because it would be the right size
-for a grandfather clock if you were very small.
-Yeah, that's true.
It's an interesting combination.
There's no doubt that the case is English
and the movement is French.
And the date of this is very much late-Victorian,
almost into the Edwardian times. So we're looking at 1880, 1890.
Its case is made of rosewood -
a lovely, high-quality, dense wood -
and it's inlaid with satinwood, which you can see.
These fans, the very light wood here.
And the green wood, which you can see, is olive wood.
Lovely. You have a wonderful broken pediment on the top,
and it's very much modelled on a longcase clock,
other than it would be unusual to see such slender pillars down a clock of that period
if it were a full grandfather clock.
An enamel dial we have here,
with very intricate brass filigree work in the middle of it.
And then we're going to turn it round and have a look at the movement.
And when I said a platform movement, this is the platform,
screwed to the back of the clock here.
The great thing about a platform movement,
if it were a full-size longcase clock, you would have a pendulum.
It would be stopping and you'd have to adjust it all the time.
A carriage clock movement, that clock will work if you lay it flat,
turn it upside down, turn it on its side...
Hence carriage clocks - you could rattle along in your carriage
and it would always carry on going.
And I think the movement was made in France, imported into this country
and then put into an English case.
And beautifully done. And it's really in super condition, although I noticed when I wound it up
that the hands went, "Whizzzz!" And we had to wait for it to stop.
-Has it always been like that?
-No, it hasn't.
It wasn't me that did it, was it?
No, it wasn't. I did take it somewhere but they didn't make a good job of it.
Ever had it valued?
Well, I did for insurance purposes.
Did you? Well, that's quite interesting.
And for insurance purposes?
They said £1,200.
-Crumbs! How long ago was that?
That was in 1999.
Did they charge you for that valuation?
-Yeah, but that came along with the repair as well.
It shouldn't be for me to say this,
but quite often you get people that repair things and they say,
"I'll give you an insurance valuation," and it's quite inflated.
It may not come as a surprise, or it may do,
-that's a hugely inflated insurance.
I think it's fabulous but I think it's worth, to sell, £200 to £300.
-Still want to sell it?
You're very, very understanding and good.
I hope that somebody that really likes it might tickle it above £300,
but I think we've got to realise it's not going to make £500 or £600.
-Thank you for bringing it along.
What a fascinating item.
And it's true that insurance valuations do tend to be high.
Next up, a little glamour from the 1920s.
I've just been joined by Hilary who's got, well,
some Rene Lalique, that's probably one of the top names in glass,
-I think so, yes.
-How did you come by this?
It was given to me by my parents.
It was handed down and I think it belonged to my uncle.
Wonderful opalescence, isn't there, to Rene Lalique. You can see that.
-It's quite thick.
-It's beautiful, isn't it? Beautiful.
It's signed there, look, Rene Lalique,
which means this was made before he died.
Vessels that were made afterwards were just signed Lalique.
This pattern was around in the early 1920s,
I think up to about 1930,
-so you can actually date it to around that period.
-Where has it been in the house?
-It's just been wrapped up.
Yes, wrapped up, and then I brought it out about a year ago
and I just had it on a shelf.
-It's a lovely thing.
I've done some price comparables
-and these bowls sell from around £200-300.
-Oh, right. Yes.
-So we've got a book price for this, £200-300.
Only problem being...
-..that. Can you see?
-A little bit of damage.
That can be sorted out, but it might cost £80 to do it.
So that will affect the price,
and I'm scared to put two to three on this.
I'd like to go one to two with a reserve at one to get things
started, cos I still feel it might do £150. Are you happy with that?
Not really, no, I would've hoped it would go for a little bit more
than that and have a reserve of 140.
OK, look. £140.
Let's call the valuation 140-200.
-Fixed reserve at 140.
-But I'm rather hoping for the top end.
If there's two people in the saleroom that are going to buy
their own restoration work, they're capable of doing this, or they know
a friend that can do it, they won't be put off or frightened by it.
-Cos it is a £200-300 bowl.
-But it's just that chip.
People are so fussy nowadays. You know who you are.
Fingers crossed for Hilary we get it away.
Next, Tracy has found something familiar.
Well, I think it's Clarice Cliff.
I think you're probably right. But lovely, lovely pieces.
Are they something that you've inherited
or you've bought or you've collected?
I bought these in a jumble sale.
-Over 30 years ago.
OK. Can I ask you, did you pay much money for any of these items?
This was 10p and these were five.
-So you didn't pay a lot of money at all, really.
-Have you had them on display at home?
Have you got pleasure out of them?
My children used to play with them and they used to use these as Daleks.
-As the mother ship in one of the Dalek movies.
-I love it!
Well, Wendy, because they've been used as Daleks,
they've obviously been knocked about a bit,
and we have got some damage here.
Both these ends have been knocked off.
So I'm wondering if they were exterminating each other.
They could have been.
On this little tiny conical shape, we've got a chip here, as well.
But I will say this particular pattern is the crocus pattern,
and it's one of the most common.
But this is a really lovely little size, which is great.
-But what I love best is this.
-I do, I love it.
It's just so unusual.
It's a Stamford shape,
quite simplistic, really. We've got the typical Art Deco clean line.
And if we just sort of turn it upside down,
there we have the wonderful "Bizarre by Clarice Cliff" mark.
Pop that back. And that was 10p, you said?
-So that was quite expensive, that one, wasn't it?
-It was expensive. I had to think about that(!)
-I think it makes a great mother ship.
-It's a whole new meaning on the word "ceramic".
Because of the damage, really, the money's going to be in this one, to be honest.
I'm thinking a pre-sale estimate of £100 to £150.
-Now, bearing in mind you only spent 25p on the lot...
-..I don't think that's a bad return.
No, I think that's a fair price.
And the children have had the great pleasure of playing Daleks.
-It's going to fly away at auction.
£100 to £150 seems good value for that little collection.
I always like meeting people at our valuation days and being introduced to the children.
Your mum's just handed the phone, so she's having a good time.
And I hope you're behaving well at home.
Charlie and Nigel are looking at a mysterious box.
-Have you used the contents at all?
-No, my father bought it second-hand
in Portsmouth when I was a youngster, about eight years old.
And he worked for the city architect's department.
He may have used it early on in
his career, but I suspect not later.
-So we're going to find architectural instruments?
-Yes, sorry, I should have told you.
No, that's fine. So we open up there.
Gosh! It's absolutely complete, isn't it?
-It's extraordinary, isn't it?
What a meticulous person he must have been.
If I'd owned something like this, half of them would be missing.
I wish I had been as meticulous as my father.
What really interested me here, have you noticed this writing here?
Well, I hadn't actually paid much attention to it.
-Yeah, now I look at it.
And then some initials.
So we've certainly got a French box here.
-Rosewood. The French in the 19th century used a lot of rosewood,
loved rosewood, as indeed the English did, but I think the French
even more so, which obviously relates to the instruments in so much as the box was made in France.
But "lines" and "circles" -
I can say that these instruments were made in England.
I think that's a fair conclusion.
That would ring true, wouldn't it, with high-quality steel?
-I would agree.
-As an engineer you would agree with that.
-I certainly would.
So I think then shipped out to France, where they put it in
the box and presumably retailed in France, I would have thought.
But alas, alack, despite the cost of making something
like that, I would suggest that the value of the box probably
exceeds the value of the contents.
I think that's quite possible.
I would think that I would hope for, say, something about £50,
perhaps a bit better
-if possible, on a good day, maybe.
-I think I'm looking at
an estimate of 40 to 60.
I think you're pretty spot-on.
I think the box is worth £30. These ought to be worth
a couple of hundred pounds.
It's no good me saying that that's what they're going to make.
I think 40 to £60 is a sensible estimate, with a reserve at the
bottom end and a little bit of discretion
so that we don't give them away.
Still got the key.
-And it locks perfectly well?
It does. It's a little counterintuitive, though.
To lock it, let's see, I think you turn anticlockwise.
Anticlockwise. French, you see.
Well, it's the other side of the road, isn't it?
Well, that may not be the French view of it!
There's just time to have another glimpse of what our experts have picked out to take off to auction.
Charlie's right, I'm sure. Denise's miniature grandfather clock would appeal to children and adults alike.
I couldn't ignore the earlier Lalique bowl -
even with the chip it should generate plenty of interest.
Wendy's Clarice Cliff has a little Dalek damage,
but I expect it will still do very well.
Nigel's late 19th century rosewood box with architectural
instruments would cost a fortune to make today,
so the buyer will get a real bargain.
It's up first, so let's see who wants it.
They're going to go to a good home because we've got £40-£60 on these,
and it's absolutely nothing for a complete set, is it? That's true.
This is the right time to invest in antiques on things like this
because it's something not many people want and the price is so low.
People nowadays wouldn't use them, of course, would they?
They've been overtaken, as you say, by computers.
Let's hope there are some draftsmen or architects here.
Lot 136 is a set of drawing instruments
in a rosewood and brass case.
There we go, lovely set there.
40 to £50 for it.
40 I'm bid. 42.
42, 44, 46, 48,
50, 50, 55, 60?
£55. 60 anywhere?
For £55 beside me.
60, 65, 70?
-They do like it.
Still beside me at £65.
All done at 65.
£65. I'm pleased.
-Thank you very much indeed.
That's absolute quality, absolute quality.
Those are the kind of things you should really be investing in
because £65 is absolutely nothing for that, is it, Nigel?
Next, that beautiful coquille bowl by Rene Lalique.
-It's a nice piece, apart from the little chip, as we said.
-That is holding it back.
-That's the trouble.
But right now, it is down to this lot out here.
It is absolutely packed in the saleroom.
-Surely, somebody wants some Rene Lalique.
-I hope so.
We are going to find out right now.
Lot 7 is the coquille shallow opalescent bowl. Here we go.
And what can we say for that?
A couple of hundred pounds to start me for it?
140 I am bid, 150? 160.
At 150 then, 150 all done at 150.
Pat now at 160.
160...the bidding. 170?
180, 190, 200...
Climbing, they like it!
200, 210, 220...
220, then. 220, all done at 220,
all finished and done at 220.
By the door at 220.
-That's good. Come on, that is OK.
It was damaged and don't forget
it was only a seven-and-a-half-inch bowl.
-Yes, so that is good.
-Yes, I'm happy.
-That was a bit of fun.
Thank you so much for coming along.
If you have anything like that and you want to sell it, bring it along to one of our valuation days.
And you can pick up details from the BBC website or from your local press.
Next I want to show you something very rare and interesting that's coming up later on in the auction.
Simon the auctioneer has given me a tip-off about a lot that is coming up in the sale. And this is it.
It's a tiny little early 19th-century Japanese cloisonne vase.
It came in through a probate sale. Somebody had died in the estate.
The rest of the family don't particularly want to own it.
They know it's worth possibly a few hundred pounds.
That's what they're thinking. Simon has just informed me
it could be worth around £4,000, so we're going to watch this one later on in the show.
But look at the exquisite detail, because that is all enamel work.
Can you see all the little flowers and the petals?
That's little tiny wires that have been put onto
the vessel to stop the coloured glass from running.
It's exquisite. The detail is superb.
That's what you're buying, really. It's a little ornament.
It's lot number 144.
If you've got something like this and you're thinking of selling it, don't just sell it to
the first person, take advice from the professionals, because it could be worth several thousand pounds.
Back to our lots, and Denise's little grandfather clock is up next.
£200 to £300 is riding on this.
You've seen this as a little girl and you really liked it.
It's been handed down through the family and now you're selling.
Yep. Well, I've got two boys and I can't...
You can't split that up, can you, I guess?
-But it's got to go. A nice thing.
A really, really nice thing.
My uncle only had the best.
-Had an eye for detail.
Let's hope this packed saleroom knows what to look for. Good luck.
A miniature longcase clock in the inlaid case there.
A couple of hundred pounds for it. 190 I'm bid.
200 anywhere before I go to the phones?
Coming to you now, Pat, at 200.
We're in at 200.
200, 210, 220,
They like it, they like it.
Coming to you now, 270, 270,
290 at the back, 300, 310,
330, then. Right at the back of the room at £330. All done at 330.
Yes, top end of the estimate and a bit more - £330.
-That's not bad.
-You're happy, aren't you?
I think Uncle would be pleased with that.
His actual words were, "Flog it."
So I think he'd be very pleased.
-I think the boys will as well, won't they?
Good result. Next, what I consider to be a classic "Flog It!" story.
Right now, we're hoping to turn 15p into maybe £150, who knows, £200
because Clarice Cliff never lets us down.
Now, a lovely story, this, isn't it?
This is brilliant.
30-odd years ago you bought this
-four-piece set of Clarice Cliff?
You've had great fun playing Daleks.
-Yes, my children did.
-Why are you selling today, anyway?
Well, my son and daughter are older, they don't play Daleks any more. They're grown up.
You can never grow out of Doctor Who, though, can you, really?
No, they're still avid watchers, yes.
Well, good luck, anyway.
The Clarice Cliff Stamford tureen and cover
and three condiment covers. £100 to start me for it.
350's better. 350 I'm bid, 360?
That got them whistling in church. 350.
-Am I hearing right?
-360 now, OK.
-Oh, they love it, don't they?
370 then, with Alan. At £370.
All done at 370. With Alan.
That's incredible, isn't it? With all that damage as well.
It just goes to show it doesn't put people off buying Clarice Cliff, does it?
Or were they Dr Who fanatics?
Hey, what are you going to spend the money on?
-Don't forget there's 15% commission.
Yes. Share it between my grandchildren and a rescued greyhound called Mr Blue...
-..that my son's got.
-I'm so pleased.
-Mr Blue. He's fabulous.
It's always nice to hear the money's going to a good cause.
Now I'm sure you're curious to find out what happened to the little
cloisonne vase that I showed you earlier on in the programme.
It just happened to be made by Namikawa Yasuyuki around 1880,
the top maker at the dawn of the golden age of cloisonne.
This is exceptional, so keep watching.
-£5,000 is now being offered.
Don't you just love auction rooms?
-I'm tingling now.
And it's all gone deadly quiet.
14,800, then. At 14,800, all done.
Here we go, the hammer's going down.
Lucky owners. That is the excitement of the auction room.
If you've got something like that, bring it along to one of our valuation days.
We would love to sell that for you.
You can check the details on our BBC website.
Just log on to bbc.co.uk/lifestyle.
Click F for "Flog It!", follow the links, and hopefully there'll be
a valuation day venue very near you soon. We'd love to see you.
Bring along your unwanted antiques.