Natural World Treasures Flog It!


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Natural World Treasures

Paul Martin selects his favourite collection of natural world wonders that have been brought in for valuation, including a calf-skin Charles I coat of arms.


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Welcome to another series of Ten Of The Best of "Flog It!"

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as we look back through the archives,

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and today I'm at Syon House in West London.

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This magnificent building is set in 200 acres of parkland,

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providing an idyllic retreat from the hustle of the busy capital just ten miles down the road.

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It's also a haven for flora and fauna.

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So it seems the perfect location for me to share my collection

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of natural-world treasures from the last ten years.

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# Someone told me it's all happening at the zoo #

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While tastes and trends relating to the trade in animal antiques

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and artefacts have changed hugely over the centuries,

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I've seen many natural-world wonders fly through "Flog It!"'s doors.

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Take the whale vertebra that Rebecca and Mandy brought to show me

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at the Blackburn valuation day in 2009.

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Right! Well, let's talk about this whale vertebra,

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because it's great! It's a piece of sculpture.

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There's a lot of people thinking, "I'm not keen on natural-history objects, it's cruel,"

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but let's face it, you know - that was killed in the 19th century,

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and that's been an educational tool for Victorian families

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for a long, long time. So, how did you come by it?

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-I bought it at a car-boot sale.

-Did you? Recently?

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-About five years ago.

-OK, yes.

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-Can I ask how much you paid for it?

-65.

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65. OK. Well, what do you think of this?

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I think it's brilliant. Obviously people...

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It's a "wow" thing. You either love...

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It's like Marmite. You either love it or hate it, yeah.

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Exactly. I bet I know where this has been, actually.

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If you've got a small house, if you've got an open fireplace

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-that doesn't work, you put that in the fireplace.

-You do.

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-It's a good space for it.

-It is.

-And I think that's fantastic.

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-That's what it should be used for. It's a piece of sculpture.

-It is.

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Do you know, when it's up this high now,

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and you can walk around, and you view sculpture from every angle,

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for me it's like being in Barbara Hepworth's sculpture garden down in St Ives.

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You can understand the shape and form,

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and you can see different things when you look from different angles.

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That's the quality of good sculpture. This has it.

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This has it, although nobody made this.

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God made this happen.

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But I love it. I think it's great.

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And I know the auctioneer is going to pick me up on this,

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have a go at me. He'll say, "What have you brought to my saleroom?"

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But if we put this into auction,

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I think we put it in with a valuation of... What did you pay?

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-65.

-We put it in at 65, with a valuation of £65 to £100.

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-Right.

-We'll get your money back, and hopefully we'll get the top end

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-of my valuation, and little bit more on a good day.

-Yeah.

-Fantastic.

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-Happy with that?

-Yes, happy with that.

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But I can't wait to see the auctioneer's face on this one.

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I just couldn't keep my eyes off that item!

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But did it sink or swim at the auction?

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Back in 2003, Hazel couldn't stand to hold on

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to her Deco shagreen timepiece a minute longer!

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It's only because I became animal liberation and vegetarian

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that I want to sell it, because I found out that this is animal skin.

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-Absolutely.

-Yeah.

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-So it's not my friend any more.

-OK.

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Do you know what sort of animal skin it is?

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-Er, sharkskin, I think.

-Absolutely. It's known as shagreen.

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-Yes.

-And it's very popular, from right the way back

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in the 17th century, all the way through into the Art Deco period,

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the 1920s, when this was made. How long have you had it?

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-Oh, about 40 years.

-It's been in your possession a long time.

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-Yes.

-When did you discover it was sharkskin?

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About a year ago. SHE LAUGHS

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Did you take it for a valuation, or...

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No. I was going round antiques fairs, trying to value my stuff,

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and I saw this... I'd always known it was shagreen,

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but I didn't know what that meant. "Green", yes.

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And it turned out it was sharkskin, and so I don't want it any more.

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OK. Well, it's been dead a long time.

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-I know.

-And it would probably have been a by-product, as well.

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-Oh, of people eating them?

-Sharks weren't killed for their skins,

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so it's not as bad as ivory, although it's still not...

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-No.

-Or tortoiseshell, but it's still not a nice thing, I agree.

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Now, if we just take the bezel off the front...

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..and take the movement out... There we are.

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And if we give that a little rub, that should...

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There we go. Look at the difference there.

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-Sorry, I should've cleaned it!

-That's fine.

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-We've got a super set of hallmarks.

-PJF.

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That's the maker. Then we've got the anchor,

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-which means it's assayed in Birmingham.

-It's English?

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Absolutely. Anchor for Birmingham, lion for England,

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and the D, which is the date letter for 1928.

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Oh! Really?

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It's known as a dressing-table timepiece,

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and it's not a clock. A clock strikes.

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-A clock has bells.

-Oh, really? I didn't know that.

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-Oh, right.

-And it's typical Art Deco in style, isn't it...

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-Yes.

-..with its wonderful Art Deco angular structure,

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and it really is a good thing. Now, although you don't like shagreen,

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unfortunately for sharks, it's a very popular thing at the moment,

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and I think that will do very well.

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So if we put an estimate of £60 to £100 on it,

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I think it'll do jolly well.

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Is that all?

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-What did you think it was worth?

-Millions!

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I tell my daughter, "Everything here's worth millions."

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Well, it would be nice, wouldn't it?

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We could both go on a holiday for millions, but...

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-Yes.

-..unfortunately not.

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It's going to make between 60 and 100. It might make a bit more.

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OK. OK. Well, I don't want it.

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Will that shark prove to be a friend or foe to Hazel

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when it comes up for sale?

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Over to Tenby now, where, in 2008, Charlie Ross was humbled

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by the provenance

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of Deanne's calfskin King Charles I coat of arms.

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I think we can undoubtedly give you the prize

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for the oldest thing on "Flog It!" today.

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Me or this?

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THEY LAUGH

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Well, not unless you were born in 1648.

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1648, this is! How did you get it?

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I had an elderly neighbour, who I used to do her garden for her,

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-and she'd owned an antique shop in London...

-Really?

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-..in the 1920s.

-Do you know whereabouts?

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-In St Christopher's Place.

-Right.

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And one day she said to me, "Would you like this?"

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And so I've had it since then, and it's been in a trunk in my house

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-for the last 30 years.

-What's it about?

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It's about granting a coat of arms

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-for this... I think it's Coiland.

-I think it's Colland.

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Looking at that, I think it's Colland St Clair.

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I think that's the seal. It's very fancy.

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There's a curtain coming around here. Colland St Clair.

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And it's the granting of a coat of arms to him, that family.

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I think what's really interesting is the date,

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which is 1648,

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one year - in fact it was January 1649 -

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that Charles I lost his head,

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because it says, "twentieth year of the reign of our sovereign lord,

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King Charles of England." I'm absolutely sure it's authentic.

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It's definitely on vellum, which is a calfskin.

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You can feel the texture of it. Secondly,

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the decoration is real.

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I mean, it isn't printed on, any other shape or form.

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It's actually painted on. When you dug it out of the box it was in,

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-did you have an idea of what it might be worth?

-No.

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Because I've moved house, it's actually in the garage,

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-in the trunk.

-It's not doing any good in the trunk, is it?

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-No, it isn't.

-My view is, it's worth £50 to £100,

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but that's a bit of a guesstimate, I think.

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Certainly not worth hundreds of pounds,

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-but it must have a value because of its age...

-Yes.

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..and its relative quality. So £50 to £100,

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-and we'll sell it without reserve.

-OK.

-Paul gets very cross

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-when we do that.

-Does he? No. No. I don't want to upset Paul.

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Charlie wasn't too concerned about my feelings.

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That item went to sale without any reserve!

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Over to Newbury now, and back to 2004,

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and Mandy was somewhat confused about the function

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of her unusual ivory antique. So it was over to Catherine Southon on it.

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Mandy, what's this you've brought along to us today?

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I'm not quite sure, but I thought it might be a dance card.

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As far as I know, it was my great-grandmother's, but beyond that I don't know.

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-Something you've had in your family for a while?

-Yes.

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So you thought it was a dance card? I don't think that's what it is.

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If we just pick it up here, and undo the catch here -

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it's very nice quality, actually, this -

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and open it up, we can see all these leaves.

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Now, these leaves tell us that it's actually an aide-memoire,

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so it's something that you would have put in your pocket,

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taken out and written little notes on in pencil or whatever.

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Now, it's a really charming little piece,

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a really unusual little piece. So it's something that your mother had

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-for quite some time?

-Yes.

-But no history beyond that?

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No. It's just been passed down the generations.

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Right. As we can see on the front,

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it's got "Napoleon's Tomb" engraved quite clearly on the front,

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and on the back, "Napoleon's House".

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But I think that it's probably going to date from around his...

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probably his death, so around... He died in... When was it? 1821,

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so I think we'd date it more as a commemorative piece,

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around sort of 1820s, 1830s, about that sort of date.

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-But it's a really nice piece.

-What would they have written with?

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Just little notes. Just sort of anything...

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-But what sort of pen, pencil?

-Oh, sorry. Yes.

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It would have been a pencil, that sort of thing.

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That would have been the only thing you'd have been able to get,

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and also that would have really stayed on here, I would've thought.

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Anything else would've been wiped off quite easily.

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But little pencils and things like that.

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What do you think the value's going to be worth?

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-I really don't know, to be honest.

-It's a curious piece, isn't it?

-Yes.

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I think it's going to be worth

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somewhere in the region of £50 to £70,

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so I think put a nice price on, £50 to £70,

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nice and attractive - bring some people in,

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and let's hope it really makes the money.

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We'll put a nice reserve on as well, of £40,

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-to make sure that we don't sell it for nothing.

-Yes.

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-Does that sound reasonable?

-That sounds fine.

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-Are you happy to let it go at that?

-Yes.

-You're not interested in it?

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Well, it is a lovely thing, but it's just in a box.

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-You're happy to let it go?

-Yes.

-I hope someone else will have their eye on it,

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just as I had, and let's hope it does well at auction.

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We'll see whether that pocket ivory aide-memoire

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managed to rocket up a small fortune in a minute.

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But before we head off to auction, let me give you a quick summary

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of my first batch of natural-world treasures.

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Hazel disliked this sharkskin clock,

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but did it delight any of the bidders at auction?

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Deanne's King Charles I vellum coat of arms

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got Charlie's royal seal of approval,

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but did it rake up a king's ransom?

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Catherine identified Mandy's ivory item

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as an aide-memoire, and we'll soon find out

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if it made a memorable impression in the saleroom.

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And finally the whale vertebra

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that Rebecca and Mandy brought in to show me,

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which might have been a bone of contention,

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but did it win any admirers in the saleroom?

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Let's see how it went down with the bidders

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as I take you to the auction room near Halifax.

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I can remember saying, "I can't wait to see the auctioneer's face

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when he sees this," and unwraps the bubble wrap

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from the courier, and goes...

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And he did. Ian's face was a picture when I saw him this morning.

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He said, "I knew that was you. I knew you picked that."

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But he didn't give any clues away, so it's fingers crossed.

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We've pitched it to sell, haven't we,

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and £65 to £100, something like that.

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I'm just wondering what this lot will make of it.

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We're going to find out right now. Good luck. Here we go.

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The whalebone-vertebra sculpture on stand.

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There we are.

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I think it looks fab.

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I'm opening this at £40. And five. 50.

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And five. 60. And five.

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At £65.

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And 70. And five.

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80. And five.

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90. And five.

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100. And five.

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-110.

-Brilliant!

-115.

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-Bit of competition.

-Yeah.

-£115 on my right.

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-HE BANGS HAMMER

-115!

-That's excellent, yeah.

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-Top end of the estimate. That's good. Pleased with that?

-Yeah.

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I was a bit dubious to start with, but hey, it's gone, it's gone!

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What a good result for Mandy!

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Now off to London, where Kate Bliss discovered

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that despite disliking her sharkskin clock,

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Hazel had upped James's reserve!

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You've had a word with the auctioneer

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-and you've changed the reserve to 100, I believe?

-Yes.

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Belatedly I found a very old valuation,

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about 15 years old, that was 300. It was insurance,

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so you knock off 100, but that was 15 years ago,

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so I've realised it's worth much more.

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James, you've heard that the reserve has gone up to £100,

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and Hazel feels justified in doing that.

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Do you feel that £60 to £100 is realistic?

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I think it should do that. It might do a bit more.

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£50. Someone offer me £50 for it.

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No-one at £50? £50 I'm bid.

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£50. 55.

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60. Five. 70. Five.

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80. Five.

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90. Five.

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100. 110. 120.

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130. 140. It's against you.

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130. 140. New bid.

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I want 50. 160. 170. 180?

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£170, £170. I'm selling for 170. All done, 170?

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All done, then, at 170. Your bid.

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£170! What do you think about that, Hazel?

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Good. It's OK. That'll feed me for a couple of weeks.

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THEY LAUGH

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So, worth upping the ante after all.

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Let's hope that result gave Hazel plenty of hot dinners!

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Next to Carmarthen, to see if Deanne's royal vellum

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rustled up a good result.

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This is possibly one of the oldest things we've ever had on "Flog It!",

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dated 1648 - the King Charles I parchment,

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and it belongs to Deanne here, and hopefully for not much longer.

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Well, it's going to sell. There's no reserve on this.

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-That's true.

-Guess who put that in!

-I can't possibly imagine.

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The 17th-century parchment, or perhaps vellum document,

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dated the 4th of July 1648. Some interest here with me.

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-Oh, good.

-I have two bidders,

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which start me at 160.

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-Wow, that's good!

-Yeah, it is.

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£200, I'm bid. And £200 I'm bid, with me.

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At 200. May I say 220 anywhere else? Selling it, then. All happy?

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Going at £200...

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-Wow! That's really good!

-Extraordinary!

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-That was short and sweet, wasn't it?

-I didn't think it would sell!

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That's cos you'd said no reserve. It kind of puts you in a down mood

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to start with!

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Reserve or no reserve, Deanne made a regal £200

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with her vellum, doubling the top end of Charlie's estimate.

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Let me take you to Pewsey now, in Wiltshire,

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when I join Mandy to see how her ivory aide-memoire got on

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when it went up for sale.

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I had a chat to the auctioneer earlier.

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He liked it. He said it's going to do its money,

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-so fingers crossed.

-Brilliant!

-We might get a little bit more.

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-It was quite cheap, the estimate.

-Quite cheap? So what should it do?

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-I shouldn't say that beforehand.

-No, you're letting Mandy down now!

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We've put a good estimate on. It should do quite well, I hope.

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Optimistic. It should do it, top end plus.

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-We're going to find out.

-Time will tell.

-This is it.

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The ivory-cased aide-memoire,

0:17:120:17:15

and I start the bidding at £40.

0:17:150:17:17

40 I've got. 45, 50.

0:17:170:17:20

Five, 60. Five, 70.

0:17:200:17:23

Five, 80. Five, 90.

0:17:230:17:26

95. I'm now out at 95. Bid's in the room.

0:17:260:17:29

100. And ten. 120. 130.

0:17:290:17:33

140. 150. 160. 170.

0:17:330:17:37

180. 190.

0:17:370:17:40

200. And ten.

0:17:400:17:42

220. 230. 240.

0:17:420:17:44

250. 260. 270.

0:17:440:17:47

-280.

-This is the sleeper we've all been waiting for.

0:17:470:17:51

At 320. At 320.

0:17:510:17:54

-At 320 in the room...

-HE BANGS HAMMER

0:17:540:17:57

Mandy, the hammer's gone down. Oh, you're crying!

0:17:570:17:59

-I am!

-£320!

0:17:590:18:02

-Totally shocked.

-Catherine was keeping us in suspense there.

0:18:020:18:06

That's naughty! You knew it was going to do something like that.

0:18:060:18:09

I'm thrilled for you, but I'm embarrassed for me.

0:18:090:18:12

-We need to buy you tissues now.

-I dreamed it might happen,

0:18:120:18:15

-but didn't expect it.

-What a lovely "Flog It!" moment!

0:18:150:18:18

What a moment to treasure!

0:18:180:18:20

Amanda was clearly overcome by that result,

0:18:270:18:29

and I'm very pleased for her. In the Victorian era,

0:18:290:18:32

every hoof, antler and shell was transformed

0:18:320:18:34

into an elaborate object as a worked piece of art,

0:18:340:18:38

very much like this 19th-century nautilus shell here,

0:18:380:18:41

which I think is absolutely incredible.

0:18:410:18:43

If it was made of horn, ivory or an item of taxidermy,

0:18:430:18:45

it was considered to be the height of fashion,

0:18:450:18:48

a must-have to be displayed in your home,

0:18:480:18:50

like your own mini-museum. However, nowadays

0:18:500:18:53

such displays have fallen out of favour.

0:18:530:18:55

But what you have to remember is, these worked pieces of art

0:18:550:18:59

were born of an era before TV and tourism.

0:18:590:19:01

They were key scientific and educational tools of their day,

0:19:010:19:05

and it's a legacy that's still with us,

0:19:050:19:07

as I discovered back in 2005

0:19:070:19:10

when I visited one of Britain's leading natural-history museums.

0:19:100:19:14

Take a look at this.

0:19:140:19:16

'Coming here to the Natural History Museum at Tring

0:19:200:19:24

'is like stepping back in time, and visiting a museum

0:19:240:19:27

'out of the Victorian era.'

0:19:270:19:29

SNARLING TRUMPETING

0:19:290:19:32

-CHIRRUPING

-The museum was built in 1889

0:19:320:19:35

for the second Baron Rothschild, Walter,

0:19:350:19:37

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

0:19:370:19:41

of natural history.

0:19:410:19:43

Walter had been obsessed by the natural world

0:19:430:19:46

from an early age, and by the time he was ten,

0:19:460:19:49

he had amassed a collection of insects and birds

0:19:490:19:51

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

0:19:510:19:55

But before long, his collections were filling rented rooms and sheds

0:19:550:19:59

all over Tring. The museum was built as a 21st-birthday present

0:19:590:20:04

from his father, to provide a permanent place

0:20:040:20:06

-for them all to be housed.

-SNARLING

0:20:060:20:09

For the next 18 years, under duress, Walter went to work

0:20:090:20:12

for the family's banking business, but during that time

0:20:120:20:15

he spent all his money, energies and enthusiasm on this place,

0:20:150:20:19

creating possibly the greatest ever natural-history collection

0:20:190:20:23

ever assembled by one man.

0:20:230:20:26

His collections included thousands of mammals,

0:20:260:20:28

reptiles and fish. It had everything,

0:20:280:20:31

from gorillas through to hummingbirds,

0:20:310:20:34

and even a group of domestic dogs.

0:20:340:20:36

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

0:20:360:20:40

here at the museum's ornithological department,

0:20:400:20:42

whose passion with animals also started when she was young.

0:20:420:20:45

Katrina, so pleased to meet you. When and where did it all start?

0:20:450:20:49

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

0:20:490:20:52

she'd bring me here to the museum at least every week

0:20:520:20:56

of every school holidays. Always obsessed with animals.

0:20:560:20:59

My room was a museum, full of skins and wings

0:20:590:21:01

-and pinned insects and things.

-Oh, gosh!

0:21:010:21:04

-Fantastic!

-I stuffed my first bat when I was seven.

0:21:040:21:07

-Did you really? What, at home?

-At home, yeah.

0:21:070:21:10

Most young girls get into ponies. You got into bats and taxidermy!

0:21:100:21:14

THEY LAUGH

0:21:140:21:16

Walter must have been quite an incredible man -

0:21:160:21:18

possibly slightly eccentric, don't you think?

0:21:180:21:21

All natural historians have a slight tendency towards eccentricity,

0:21:210:21:26

and Walter had the dangerous combination

0:21:260:21:28

-of money with the madness.

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

0:21:280:21:31

-If only you could've met!

-We'd have got on like a house on fire.

0:21:310:21:35

SONG: "Wild Thing" by Jimi Hendrix

0:21:350:21:38

Walter was a complete eccentric.

0:21:380:21:40

He kept an extraordinary menagerie of exotic animals at his home

0:21:400:21:44

in nearby Tring Park.

0:21:440:21:46

Among them were kangaroos, a tame wolf,

0:21:460:21:48

64 cassowaries and a giant tortoise.

0:21:480:21:51

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

0:21:510:21:55

both locally and on the occasional trip to the capital.

0:21:550:21:58

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

0:22:050:22:09

from his travels and the collecting expeditions that he financed,

0:22:090:22:13

had never been seen before, and it's really important to remember

0:22:130:22:16

that not only was he an eccentric scientist

0:22:160:22:19

and a man who did crazy things,

0:22:190:22:21

but he was also a very, very serious natural historian,

0:22:210:22:25

and made an enormous contribution to the understanding of science at that time.

0:22:250:22:29

Now, your department, the ornithological department,

0:22:290:22:32

that's not open to the general public,

0:22:320:22:34

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

0:22:340:22:37

-I think we can arrange that.

-OK. This way?

-Follow me.

0:22:370:22:40

The Natural History Museum moved its ornithological collection

0:22:420:22:46

from London to Tring in the 1970s.

0:22:460:22:49

There are 17,000 specimens preserved in jars,

0:22:490:22:53

and 16,000 bird skeletons.

0:22:530:22:55

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

0:22:550:23:00

95 percent of the world's species.

0:23:000:23:03

How do the birds vary from the mounts, then?

0:23:040:23:07

What's the difference in stuffing them?

0:23:070:23:10

Well, these, what we call skins as opposed to mounts,

0:23:100:23:13

so they're all prepared, just, er...

0:23:130:23:16

just lying flat. They've got cotton wool for their eyes.

0:23:160:23:19

They don't need glass eyes. They don't have to be wired

0:23:190:23:23

into a lifelike position. This way they're easiest

0:23:230:23:25

for scientists to look at, measure and compare one with another.

0:23:250:23:29

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

0:23:290:23:31

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

0:23:310:23:34

-What's different about this one?

-This is a Carolina parakeet,

0:23:340:23:37

which is now extinct in the wild, and this was also prepared

0:23:370:23:40

by the famous artist John James Audubon,

0:23:400:23:43

who produced a mammoth book, Birds Of America.

0:23:430:23:46

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

0:23:460:23:49

-Prepare specimens?

-It's part of your job.

-Yes, it is.

0:23:490:23:52

We're adding to the collection all the time.

0:23:520:23:54

Nowadays we're not going out and shooting.

0:23:540:23:57

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

0:23:570:24:00

How do you go about preserving this bird?

0:24:000:24:03

OK. When the bird's freshly dead,

0:24:030:24:07

we make an incision from here, mid-sternum, down to the vent,

0:24:070:24:10

and then prise the skin away from the body,

0:24:100:24:13

and then, when it's all off, make a false body the same size

0:24:130:24:17

to go back into the skin again. It's not as gory as people think.

0:24:170:24:20

Now, I believe in this section somewhere

0:24:200:24:24

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

0:24:240:24:27

-They're all special.

-To you they are, aren't they?

0:24:270:24:30

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

-Gosh!

0:24:300:24:33

These are Galapagos finches, and some of these were actually collected

0:24:330:24:37

-by Charles Darwin himself.

-Is that his handwriting?

0:24:370:24:40

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

0:24:400:24:43

But I can show you a bird that's not a Galapagos finch,

0:24:430:24:46

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

0:24:460:24:49

don't have his own labels on any more.

0:24:490:24:51

They were taken off. But this chappie, this is a bobolink,

0:24:510:24:55

an American bird. It's...

0:24:550:24:57

-3374.

-3374, in Darwin's own fair hand.

0:24:570:25:00

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

0:25:000:25:04

Thank you so much for showing me around,

0:25:040:25:06

-and especially behind the scenes as well.

-Most welcome. My pleasure.

0:25:060:25:10

'Back to my Ten Of The Best collection of treasures

0:25:170:25:20

'from the natural world, and I'm taking you to Yeovil,

0:25:200:25:23

'where Hilary caused a real stir

0:25:230:25:25

'when she showed James two unforgettable items.'

0:25:250:25:28

When I saw this in the queue, words absolutely failed me.

0:25:300:25:35

It is one of the most awful objects I have ever seen.

0:25:350:25:39

But the thing is, I know you agree, don't you,

0:25:390:25:41

-because we talked about it.

-I certainly do, yes.

0:25:410:25:44

I thought, "I can't put something so awful on TV."

0:25:440:25:47

And then I thought, "Well, in a way, we should,"

0:25:470:25:50

because I went to Botswana just a few years ago,

0:25:500:25:53

and these things are still being sold in Africa,

0:25:530:25:58

and although it's illegal to bring them into the country,

0:25:580:26:02

the fact is people, people are still buying them out there.

0:26:020:26:05

This would been made around 1880, and you see them as footstools,

0:26:050:26:09

you see them as tables, just about anything.

0:26:090:26:13

And they are still being sold at auction today.

0:26:130:26:16

I don't like selling them, and I wouldn't,

0:26:160:26:18

but the thing that swayed me to bring this on

0:26:180:26:21

was what you're going to do with the money.

0:26:210:26:23

-You want to give it to Born Free.

-Yes.

0:26:230:26:25

If some good can come as a result of it, that's great.

0:26:250:26:28

Fantastic. So we have to somehow come to a value.

0:26:280:26:32

My goodness, what do you think it might make?

0:26:320:26:35

Well, I was going to throw it away, unless we could do something with it,

0:26:350:26:39

so I don't know, because of what you've said.

0:26:390:26:41

People don't want it. I was thinking £20, £30.

0:26:410:26:44

-I think it'll make 100.

-Do you?

-It might make a shade more.

0:26:440:26:48

And it is a total comment on the times,

0:26:480:26:50

and if we move across to the next thing,

0:26:500:26:52

-this also - same family, of course.

-Yes.

0:26:520:26:55

-And this was your grandparents'?

-This was my grandmother's.

0:26:550:26:59

Now, this, of course, is the same sort of date.

0:26:590:27:01

We're talking around turn of the century.

0:27:010:27:04

And this case, a dressing case made out of crocodile skin this time,

0:27:040:27:08

but really fantastic quality.

0:27:080:27:10

We have one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine silver-topped bottles,

0:27:100:27:14

we've got a silver-topped flask, powder boxes,

0:27:140:27:18

really good interior there.

0:27:180:27:20

And they've got to be worth £20 each at least,

0:27:200:27:23

so if we give that a value of £200 to £300,

0:27:230:27:27

-I think that'll do well as well.

-OK, yes.

0:27:270:27:29

Split them up, two separate lots. 100 to 150, 200 to 300.

0:27:290:27:33

We'll find out whether Hilary delivered a nice charitable donation

0:27:360:27:40

with the proceeds of her sale in just a minute.

0:27:400:27:43

First, here are three irresistible wildlife-related wonders

0:27:430:27:47

that I must showcase you once again.

0:27:470:27:50

Back in Peterborough in 2004,

0:27:530:27:55

this stunning walrus-tusk cribbage board of Tony's

0:27:550:27:59

made a big impression on James Braxton.

0:27:590:28:02

'A year later in Margate, I was in a real flutter

0:28:050:28:09

'when entomologist Mike brought in his first-edition volume

0:28:090:28:12

'of moth books.'

0:28:120:28:15

Condition is perfect, and inside,

0:28:150:28:17

well, it's just a joy to behold.

0:28:170:28:20

They flew out of the sale room, reaching £290.

0:28:200:28:24

Here's another whale item. This time it's a Victorian narwhal tusk,

0:28:270:28:30

which Richard wanted to flog in Chippenham back in 2005.

0:28:300:28:34

And Catherine Southon loved it.

0:28:360:28:38

It's absolutely wonderful, a fantastic spiral piece of ivory.

0:28:380:28:44

A rare item, and it went for a whopping £1,950 -

0:28:440:28:49

a great result.

0:28:490:28:52

'Now to Torquay, where in 2009

0:28:550:28:57

'Jean literally rendered me speechless

0:28:570:29:00

'when she showed off her gorgeous amber necklace.'

0:29:000:29:03

-I think you're clutching something quite valuable in there.

-Well...

0:29:040:29:07

Let's have a look inside your purse.

0:29:070:29:10

Ooh, look at that!

0:29:110:29:13

Wonderful amber necklace! Have you worn it much?

0:29:130:29:17

I used to have hair that colour, Paul,

0:29:170:29:19

so I used to wear it then, and it used to look pretty good.

0:29:190:29:23

-But as one gets older...

-Ahhh!

-..one's hair colour changes.

0:29:230:29:26

-I think you'd look pretty good in this still.

-You reckon?

0:29:260:29:29

Of course I do. This is timeless. This is amber,

0:29:290:29:34

and it's millions of years old, it really is.

0:29:340:29:37

It's fossilised tree sap, basically.

0:29:370:29:40

If you've got any insects trapped in it,

0:29:400:29:43

-when it was a sticky liquid...

-There might be something in there.

0:29:430:29:47

..you are laughing. If you haven't got little insects,

0:29:470:29:51

look for pine needles or bits of moss that get trapped in this.

0:29:510:29:54

-Yeah.

-But commonly found in the Baltic,

0:29:540:29:57

the beaches of Poland. But it does get washed up in this country.

0:29:570:30:01

-Really?

-Yes, it does, on Southwold Beach.

0:30:010:30:04

-Good heavens!

-Because I've been amber hunting,

0:30:040:30:06

and I actually interviewed a chap on "Flog It!"

0:30:060:30:08

who collected amber from the beach, and when it's washed up,

0:30:080:30:12

it's sort of like, um...a rough pebble...

0:30:120:30:14

-Yes.

-..a funny little odd-shaped pebble.

0:30:140:30:17

-Really?

-But you have to polish it

0:30:170:30:19

and cut it into these facets like this.

0:30:190:30:22

Yeah. But let's see what it looks like. Shall we put it on?

0:30:220:30:26

Yes, there we go.

0:30:260:30:28

Look at that. And it still looks fabulous, doesn't it?

0:30:280:30:31

-Give them a twirl.

-THEY APPLAUD

0:30:310:30:34

-How much did you pay for that?

-It was about £200

0:30:380:30:41

about 20 years ago.

0:30:410:30:44

Oh, you'll get your £200 back. I just think it's stunning!

0:30:440:30:47

I really think every woman would like to own that.

0:30:470:30:50

That's the way. Big one at the bottom.

0:30:500:30:53

Why don't we put it into auction with a value of...

0:30:530:30:55

-..£200 to £400?

-Oh, excellent.

0:30:560:30:58

You need two women that try that on and look as great as you do in it.

0:30:580:31:02

Oh, thank you.

0:31:020:31:04

That necklace certainly wowed the crowds in the valuation room.

0:31:040:31:08

This next lot has appeared in another of my Ten Of The Best collections,

0:31:080:31:12

but they are just too good to ignore,

0:31:120:31:14

so it's over to Solihull, where in 2007,

0:31:140:31:17

James Lewis was amazed at the incredible provenance

0:31:170:31:20

of John's enormous leather-bound first edition botany books.

0:31:200:31:24

When I saw you in the queue earlier today,

0:31:240:31:27

and I saw one of these volumes, my immediate thought was,

0:31:270:31:30

"Oh, no! You've only got one!"

0:31:300:31:32

But you had all three.

0:31:320:31:35

But you had to go all the way home to get them.

0:31:350:31:37

Yes, that's right. Yes.

0:31:370:31:39

So whenever we're looking at a leather-bound book of this size,

0:31:390:31:44

the size alone tells us it's a pretty important book,

0:31:440:31:47

so let's open it up and have a look.

0:31:470:31:50

And as soon as you turn to the frontispiece,

0:31:500:31:54

one of the most important names ever in botany,

0:31:540:32:00

-William Curtis.

-That's right, yes.

0:32:000:32:02

This edition... We've got Roman numerals here.

0:32:020:32:05

1777.

0:32:050:32:07

-Absolutely fantastic. First edition!

-That's right.

0:32:070:32:11

So you've got one of the most important botanists,

0:32:110:32:15

the first-ever edition, all three volumes.

0:32:150:32:19

And you've got other works linked to him. Now, tell me,

0:32:190:32:21

how do you come to have these?

0:32:210:32:23

They've been passed down through the family.

0:32:230:32:26

He's in fact my great-great-great-great grandfather.

0:32:260:32:31

-William Curtis is?

-William Curtis, yeah.

0:32:310:32:34

Oh! I mean, what a provenance! Look at these!

0:32:340:32:37

It's interesting, if you look back in history,

0:32:380:32:41

he was said to have a microscopic eye,

0:32:410:32:44

and didn't even use lenses to look at the plants he was sketching.

0:32:440:32:47

And if you read Dr Johnson's notes on him -

0:32:470:32:51

oh, look at that! -

0:32:510:32:54

he tells you about the quality of the work.

0:32:540:32:56

And he was the best! There was nobody better than him.

0:32:560:32:59

And each one of these plates would have been hand-coloured

0:32:590:33:02

at the time the books were made.

0:33:020:33:05

So these aren't later coloured. These were done at the time.

0:33:050:33:08

Look at that! That thistle is just marvellous.

0:33:080:33:11

OK, it's a very good book.

0:33:110:33:13

Now, of course, for any botanist,

0:33:130:33:15

this was the fun thing to produce. But the bread-and-butter was this,

0:33:150:33:20

his botanical magazine.

0:33:200:33:23

They were produced literally every couple of weeks.

0:33:230:33:26

Here we have Curtis's Botanical Magazine,

0:33:260:33:28

Or Flower-Garden Displayed,

0:33:280:33:30

and these are dated - here we go...

0:33:300:33:32

MD... This is 1822.

0:33:320:33:35

So look at those again. Lots of coloured plates.

0:33:350:33:38

Yeah. Beautiful illustrations.

0:33:380:33:40

Yeah. They're lovely. They are things we see a lot of.

0:33:400:33:45

They don't make a lot of money, but they're fun.

0:33:450:33:47

So we've got three of those. Now, tell me about these.

0:33:470:33:52

Now, this is Samuel Curtis. He's the son-in-law.

0:33:520:33:56

Now, he did this volume,

0:33:560:33:59

-which is Lectures In Botany.

-OK.

0:33:590:34:02

And it's put together based on the work of his father-in-law.

0:34:020:34:07

Fine. So we need to come up with some ideas of value for you.

0:34:070:34:10

If we look at the condition of them, they really do need attention.

0:34:100:34:14

-They do, yes.

-And it's going to cost a lot of money to put them right.

0:34:140:34:19

So...

0:34:190:34:21

those, the little ones, they are going to be worth...

0:34:210:34:25

£150 to £250 for the three.

0:34:250:34:29

The major ones...

0:34:290:34:31

It's hard. They have made as much as £6,000 in mint condition.

0:34:310:34:37

I reckon we should put an estimate of £2,500 to £3,500 on them.

0:34:370:34:42

They may make more. They've got all the plates there,

0:34:420:34:45

so that's important. Need to put a reserve on.

0:34:450:34:48

I would say £2,500.

0:34:480:34:50

All right. Now, obviously you've discussed it with your family.

0:34:500:34:54

Yes.

0:34:540:34:56

They've got to go somewhere. They can't stay in my loft forever.

0:34:560:35:01

-No.

-And they deserve to be appreciated for what they are.

0:35:010:35:05

They are such an important set.

0:35:050:35:07

They're going to well loved and well looked after,

0:35:070:35:10

and I'm sure they'll go to a great home.

0:35:100:35:13

That incredibly rare collection still takes my breath away,

0:35:130:35:17

and we'll be back to see if it made big bucks in a bit.

0:35:170:35:20

First let me give you a quick recap on my final selection

0:35:200:35:24

before I show you just how well they did when they went off to auction.

0:35:240:35:29

'Jean's necklace was a real sensation at the valuation day,

0:35:290:35:32

'so let's see if it was a real head-turner at the auction too.'

0:35:320:35:36

John may be sad to let go of his rare and exquisitely well preserved botany books,

0:35:370:35:42

which have been in his family for generations,

0:35:420:35:45

but what a statement they'd make in someone else's library!

0:35:450:35:48

And in Yeovil, Hilary certainly made a big impression on James Lewis

0:35:490:35:54

with her elephant's foot and crocodile-skin dressing case.

0:35:540:35:57

But the laws governing the sale of such items are strict,

0:35:580:36:02

and unfortunately I received some disappointing news about it

0:36:020:36:05

when I met up with auctioneer Nick Sainty.

0:36:050:36:08

It's had to be withdrawn from the sale.

0:36:100:36:12

We cannot sell it, and here's Nick to tell us why.

0:36:120:36:15

Unfortunately we're governed by CITES regulations,

0:36:150:36:18

which, in essence, is the 1977 Convention In Trade Of Endangered Species.

0:36:180:36:24

-Right. Yeah.

-In that it states that endangered species

0:36:240:36:28

or animal products, post 1947, cannot be sold,

0:36:280:36:32

so they have to be proved to have been worked,

0:36:320:36:35

or, indeed, killed, I suppose, and stuffed,

0:36:350:36:39

before 1947. The burden of proof is upon us,

0:36:390:36:42

-and we just can't prove it.

-Because you'll be responsible,

0:36:420:36:45

-and that's a big fine, isn't it?

-That's a five-figure fine, yes.

0:36:450:36:49

What did the owner say when you said they've got to take it home?

0:36:490:36:52

She didn't have any great love for it, I have to say!

0:36:520:36:55

It was going to go in the garage, probably!

0:36:550:36:57

That's a sad thing, to be honest.

0:36:570:36:59

With that elephant's foot barred from the sale,

0:37:000:37:03

let's see if anyone snapped up Hilary's elegant vanity case.

0:37:030:37:07

Now we've got the crocodile-skin dressing case going under the hammer,

0:37:090:37:13

£200 to £300. Good luck, everybody. This is it.

0:37:130:37:16

340. 360.

0:37:180:37:20

-£380 is bid.

-Straight in at 380.

0:37:200:37:23

£380. 400, will you? It's on the book at 380.

0:37:230:37:28

-Come on! More, more, more.

-Commission bid of £380

0:37:280:37:31

on the book. You're out in the room, and the phones are out.

0:37:310:37:35

-Wow!

-Quick in, quick out.

0:37:350:37:37

I'm selling, then, at £380.

0:37:370:37:41

Hammer's gone down. That's a "sold" sound.

0:37:410:37:44

-Isn't that good?

-Wow!

-£380! That was quick.

0:37:440:37:47

-You could say that was snappy.

-THEY LAUGH

0:37:470:37:50

-That's excellent!

-I'm ever so happy with that.

0:37:500:37:53

That is a great result. The phones were booked.

0:37:530:37:55

There were phone lines on there, and they didn't even come in

0:37:550:37:59

because the price was... Fantastic result.

0:37:590:38:01

At £380, that dressing case carried off a great result.

0:38:010:38:05

Now to Plymouth, to find out whether Jean's amber necklace

0:38:070:38:10

caught anyone's eye.

0:38:100:38:12

We've got £200 to £400 on this.

0:38:120:38:14

I don't know what the feeling is in the room.

0:38:140:38:17

I haven't talked to anybody. I haven't seen it viewed at all.

0:38:170:38:21

-So fingers crossed, that's all I can say.

-Absolutely.

0:38:210:38:24

We're going to find out. I don't think we can talk about it any more.

0:38:240:38:27

-It's down to this lot.

-Wait and see.

0:38:270:38:29

On next to lot 489,

0:38:330:38:36

and I'm bid at £200 for them.

0:38:360:38:38

They've gone. They've gone.

0:38:380:38:41

And five. 210. 15. 220.

0:38:410:38:44

Five. At 225 here. 230.

0:38:440:38:47

There's a telephone bid.

0:38:470:38:49

-250. 260.

-Come on.

0:38:490:38:52

-270. 280.

-Oh, my goodness!

0:38:520:38:54

290. 300.

0:38:540:38:56

And ten. 320.

0:38:560:38:59

-JEAN GASPS

-330.

0:38:590:39:02

At £330 on the telephone, against you in the room.

0:39:020:39:05

At £330.

0:39:050:39:08

That's a "sold" sound. £330!

0:39:090:39:13

-Not bad. I'm quite happy with that.

-Not bad at all.

0:39:130:39:16

-I'm very happy with that.

-We were hoping for that,

0:39:160:39:19

-and we got it.

-Thank you.

0:39:190:39:21

-Very happy about that.

-Your husband's really pleased.

0:39:210:39:24

THEY LAUGH

0:39:240:39:26

A decent mid-estimate result for Jean,

0:39:260:39:28

but saving the most valuable till last,

0:39:280:39:31

let's see how those William Curtis botany books did

0:39:310:39:34

when they went under the hammer.

0:39:340:39:36

This is a very exciting and a very sad moment, John.

0:39:360:39:39

-You must have butterflies now.

-I certainly do.

0:39:390:39:42

But first it's time to flog John's three botanical magazines.

0:39:420:39:45

We've got a valuation of £150 to £250 on these,

0:39:450:39:48

put on by James Lewis, our expert.

0:39:480:39:51

We've got quite a bit of interest in it.

0:39:530:39:56

Who's going to start me for this lot?

0:39:560:39:58

Three volumes here. Probably a couple of hundred, I should think.

0:39:580:40:02

Start me at 150.

0:40:020:40:03

100? 100 I'm bid. 120.

0:40:030:40:07

140. 160.

0:40:070:40:09

At £140. You want 160?

0:40:090:40:12

-Yes.

-160,

0:40:120:40:14

On that phone at 160. 180?

0:40:140:40:16

180. 200? 200.

0:40:160:40:19

220, sir? 220. 240?

0:40:190:40:21

240. 260? 260. 280.

0:40:210:40:24

-Yes.

-280. 300.

0:40:240:40:27

320?

0:40:270:40:28

320. 340?

0:40:280:40:30

340. And 60? 360.

0:40:300:40:33

380. 400.

0:40:330:40:36

400. 420? 420.

0:40:360:40:38

440? 440.

0:40:380:40:40

-460.

-He's got the butterflies.

0:40:400:40:42

You're letting go. This is your family heritage.

0:40:420:40:45

-500. 500.

-It's sad, and exciting, I bet.

0:40:450:40:49

-It is.

-550. 600.

0:40:490:40:53

-650.

-This is good.

0:40:530:40:55

600 now on the floor. 650 on the other phone?

0:40:550:40:59

Yes, 650. 700?

0:40:590:41:01

He says no. 650 on that phone.

0:41:010:41:04

At 650. They will be sold, make no mistake.

0:41:040:41:06

And advance on 650? It's with that phone at 650.

0:41:060:41:10

-700, sir? 650.

-Yes!

0:41:100:41:13

-That's a great result. £650!

-Brilliant.

0:41:130:41:17

-That's really good.

-One more lot to go.

0:41:170:41:19

That's right. They're three big volumes.

0:41:190:41:21

I just hope that we get well over three and a half grand,

0:41:210:41:25

and I'm pleased you've raised the reserve.

0:41:250:41:28

I don't know if you know this, James.

0:41:280:41:30

Originally you said £2,500 to £3,500.

0:41:300:41:32

-We had a reserve at two and a half.

-We've raised it to 3,500.

0:41:320:41:35

-We've raised it to 3,500.

-I think you've done exactly the right thing.

0:41:350:41:39

We've got the three volumes, the three volumes of it.

0:41:410:41:43

I'm sure you've all had a good look if you're interested.

0:41:430:41:47

-2,500. 2,500 I'm bid.

-Good!

0:41:470:41:49

Two-five. Two-six. Two-eight.

0:41:490:41:51

3,000.

0:41:510:41:53

Three-two. Three-four.

0:41:530:41:56

Three-four. Is it three-six? Three-six.

0:41:560:42:00

-Three-eight?

-Good man.

-Three-six I've got over there.

0:42:000:42:03

Yes, sir. Three-eight. Four, sir?

0:42:030:42:05

4,000. Four-two. Four-four. Four-four.

0:42:050:42:08

Four-six. Four-eight.

0:42:080:42:10

Now we're climbing. This is more like it.

0:42:100:42:12

Four-eight, sir? Four-eight. 5,000.

0:42:120:42:14

-Five-two. Go to five-two?

-Yes.

-Five-two, five-two.

0:42:140:42:17

-Five-four, five-six.

-That's what we want.

0:42:170:42:20

A lot of money.

0:42:200:42:22

6,000? You're 6,000. Six-two?

0:42:220:42:25

Six-two. Six-four? Six thousand four.

0:42:250:42:28

Six-four. Six-six.

0:42:280:42:30

Six-eight? Yes, sir, six-eight. 7,000.

0:42:300:42:33

-Worth every penny.

-Fantastic.

0:42:330:42:36

Seven-four. Seven-six.

0:42:360:42:38

Seven-six?

0:42:380:42:40

No? 7,400. Below the stairs here at seven-four.

0:42:400:42:44

Seven-six anywhere else? At 7,400, you're out.

0:42:440:42:49

-At 7,400...

-HE BANGS HAMMER

0:42:490:42:51

Hammer's gone down. £7,400. Worth every single penny.

0:42:510:42:55

-Fantastic.

-What will you do with that?

0:42:550:42:57

-That's a lot of money!

-Unfortunately it's not all mine.

0:42:570:43:01

-It's all spent.

-No. It was given down through the family,

0:43:010:43:05

and I've got five brothers - well, four brothers and a sister.

0:43:050:43:10

-So it'll be shared.

-It has to be shared,

0:43:100:43:12

-but I can see a good holiday.

-You can. Of course.

0:43:120:43:15

I know we keep saying it, but quality always sells,

0:43:200:43:23

and those books had it in spades.

0:43:230:43:25

Sadly that's all we have time for today,

0:43:250:43:28

but do join me again soon for another look back

0:43:280:43:30

for the "Flog It!" archives. But until then, it's goodbye

0:43:300:43:33

from a magnificent Syon House.

0:43:330:43:35

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:43:350:43:39

E-mail [email protected]

0:43:390:43:43

.

0:43:430:43:43

Paul Martin selects his favourite collection of natural world wonders that owners have brought in to be valued and sold at auction. There is a calf-skin Charles I coat of arms, and a rare first edition collection of William Curtis botany books. Also, Paul takes an eye-opening trip to the Cotton Powell Natural History Museum in Kent.