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!"
as we look back through the archives,
and today I'm at Syon House in West London.
This magnificent building is set in 200 acres of parkland,
providing an idyllic retreat from the hustle of the busy capital just ten miles down the road.
It's also a haven for flora and fauna.
So it seems the perfect location for me to share my collection
of natural-world treasures from the last ten years.
# Someone told me it's all happening at the zoo #
While tastes and trends relating to the trade in animal antiques
and artefacts have changed hugely over the centuries,
I've seen many natural-world wonders fly through "Flog It!"'s doors.
Take the whale vertebra that Rebecca and Mandy brought to show me
at the Blackburn valuation day in 2009.
Right! Well, let's talk about this whale vertebra,
because it's great! It's a piece of sculpture.
There's a lot of people thinking, "I'm not keen on natural-history objects, it's cruel,"
but let's face it, you know - that was killed in the 19th century,
and that's been an educational tool for Victorian families
for a long, long time. So, how did you come by it?
-I bought it at a car-boot sale.
-Did you? Recently?
-About five years ago.
-Can I ask how much you paid for it?
65. OK. Well, what do you think of this?
I think it's brilliant. Obviously people...
It's a "wow" thing. You either love...
It's like Marmite. You either love it or hate it, yeah.
Exactly. I bet I know where this has been, actually.
If you've got a small house, if you've got an open fireplace
-that doesn't work, you put that in the fireplace.
-It's a good space for it.
-And I think that's fantastic.
-That's what it should be used for. It's a piece of sculpture.
Do you know, when it's up this high now,
and you can walk around, and you view sculpture from every angle,
for me it's like being in Barbara Hepworth's sculpture garden down in St Ives.
You can understand the shape and form,
and you can see different things when you look from different angles.
That's the quality of good sculpture. This has it.
This has it, although nobody made this.
God made this happen.
But I love it. I think it's great.
And I know the auctioneer is going to pick me up on this,
have a go at me. He'll say, "What have you brought to my saleroom?"
But if we put this into auction,
I think we put it in with a valuation of... What did you pay?
-We put it in at 65, with a valuation of £65 to £100.
-We'll get your money back, and hopefully we'll get the top end
-of my valuation, and little bit more on a good day.
-Happy with that?
-Yes, happy with that.
But I can't wait to see the auctioneer's face on this one.
I just couldn't keep my eyes off that item!
But did it sink or swim at the auction?
Back in 2003, Hazel couldn't stand to hold on
to her Deco shagreen timepiece a minute longer!
It's only because I became animal liberation and vegetarian
that I want to sell it, because I found out that this is animal skin.
-So it's not my friend any more.
Do you know what sort of animal skin it is?
-Er, sharkskin, I think.
-Absolutely. It's known as shagreen.
-And it's very popular, from right the way back
in the 17th century, all the way through into the Art Deco period,
the 1920s, when this was made. How long have you had it?
-Oh, about 40 years.
-It's been in your possession a long time.
-When did you discover it was sharkskin?
About a year ago. SHE LAUGHS
Did you take it for a valuation, or...
No. I was going round antiques fairs, trying to value my stuff,
and I saw this... I'd always known it was shagreen,
but I didn't know what that meant. "Green", yes.
And it turned out it was sharkskin, and so I don't want it any more.
OK. Well, it's been dead a long time.
-And it would probably have been a by-product, as well.
-Oh, of people eating them?
-Sharks weren't killed for their skins,
so it's not as bad as ivory, although it's still not...
-Or tortoiseshell, but it's still not a nice thing, I agree.
Now, if we just take the bezel off the front...
..and take the movement out... There we are.
And if we give that a little rub, that should...
There we go. Look at the difference there.
-Sorry, I should've cleaned it!
-We've got a super set of hallmarks.
That's the maker. Then we've got the anchor,
-which means it's assayed in Birmingham.
Absolutely. Anchor for Birmingham, lion for England,
and the D, which is the date letter for 1928.
It's known as a dressing-table timepiece,
and it's not a clock. A clock strikes.
-A clock has bells.
-Oh, really? I didn't know that.
-And it's typical Art Deco in style, isn't it...
-..with its wonderful Art Deco angular structure,
and it really is a good thing. Now, although you don't like shagreen,
unfortunately for sharks, it's a very popular thing at the moment,
and I think that will do very well.
So if we put an estimate of £60 to £100 on it,
I think it'll do jolly well.
Is that all?
-What did you think it was worth?
I tell my daughter, "Everything here's worth millions."
Well, it would be nice, wouldn't it?
We could both go on a holiday for millions, but...
It's going to make between 60 and 100. It might make a bit more.
OK. OK. Well, I don't want it.
Will that shark prove to be a friend or foe to Hazel
when it comes up for sale?
Over to Tenby now, where, in 2008, Charlie Ross was humbled
by the provenance
of Deanne's calfskin King Charles I coat of arms.
I think we can undoubtedly give you the prize
for the oldest thing on "Flog It!" today.
Me or this?
Well, not unless you were born in 1648.
1648, this is! How did you get it?
I had an elderly neighbour, who I used to do her garden for her,
-and she'd owned an antique shop in London...
-..in the 1920s.
-Do you know whereabouts?
-In St Christopher's Place.
And one day she said to me, "Would you like this?"
And so I've had it since then, and it's been in a trunk in my house
-for the last 30 years.
-What's it about?
It's about granting a coat of arms
-for this... I think it's Coiland.
-I think it's Colland.
Looking at that, I think it's Colland St Clair.
I think that's the seal. It's very fancy.
There's a curtain coming around here. Colland St Clair.
And it's the granting of a coat of arms to him, that family.
I think what's really interesting is the date,
which is 1648,
one year - in fact it was January 1649 -
that Charles I lost his head,
because it says, "twentieth year of the reign of our sovereign lord,
King Charles of England." I'm absolutely sure it's authentic.
It's definitely on vellum, which is a calfskin.
You can feel the texture of it. Secondly,
the decoration is real.
I mean, it isn't printed on, any other shape or form.
It's actually painted on. When you dug it out of the box it was in,
-did you have an idea of what it might be worth?
Because I've moved house, it's actually in the garage,
-in the trunk.
-It's not doing any good in the trunk, is it?
-No, it isn't.
-My view is, it's worth £50 to £100,
but that's a bit of a guesstimate, I think.
Certainly not worth hundreds of pounds,
-but it must have a value because of its age...
..and its relative quality. So £50 to £100,
-and we'll sell it without reserve.
-Paul gets very cross
-when we do that.
-Does he? No. No. I don't want to upset Paul.
Charlie wasn't too concerned about my feelings.
That item went to sale without any reserve!
Over to Newbury now, and back to 2004,
and Mandy was somewhat confused about the function
of her unusual ivory antique. So it was over to Catherine Southon on it.
Mandy, what's this you've brought along to us today?
I'm not quite sure, but I thought it might be a dance card.
As far as I know, it was my great-grandmother's, but beyond that I don't know.
-Something you've had in your family for a while?
So you thought it was a dance card? I don't think that's what it is.
If we just pick it up here, and undo the catch here -
it's very nice quality, actually, this -
and open it up, we can see all these leaves.
Now, these leaves tell us that it's actually an aide-memoire,
so it's something that you would have put in your pocket,
taken out and written little notes on in pencil or whatever.
Now, it's a really charming little piece,
a really unusual little piece. So it's something that your mother had
-for quite some time?
-But no history beyond that?
No. It's just been passed down the generations.
Right. As we can see on the front,
it's got "Napoleon's Tomb" engraved quite clearly on the front,
and on the back, "Napoleon's House".
But I think that it's probably going to date from around his...
probably his death, so around... He died in... When was it? 1821,
so I think we'd date it more as a commemorative piece,
around sort of 1820s, 1830s, about that sort of date.
-But it's a really nice piece.
-What would they have written with?
Just little notes. Just sort of anything...
-But what sort of pen, pencil?
-Oh, sorry. Yes.
It would have been a pencil, that sort of thing.
That would have been the only thing you'd have been able to get,
and also that would have really stayed on here, I would've thought.
Anything else would've been wiped off quite easily.
But little pencils and things like that.
What do you think the value's going to be worth?
-I really don't know, to be honest.
-It's a curious piece, isn't it?
I think it's going to be worth
somewhere in the region of £50 to £70,
so I think put a nice price on, £50 to £70,
nice and attractive - bring some people in,
and let's hope it really makes the money.
We'll put a nice reserve on as well, of £40,
-to make sure that we don't sell it for nothing.
-Does that sound reasonable?
-That sounds fine.
-Are you happy to let it go at that?
-You're not interested in it?
Well, it is a lovely thing, but it's just in a box.
-You're happy to let it go?
-I hope someone else will have their eye on it,
just as I had, and let's hope it does well at auction.
We'll see whether that pocket ivory aide-memoire
managed to rocket up a small fortune in a minute.
But before we head off to auction, let me give you a quick summary
of my first batch of natural-world treasures.
Hazel disliked this sharkskin clock,
but did it delight any of the bidders at auction?
Deanne's King Charles I vellum coat of arms
got Charlie's royal seal of approval,
but did it rake up a king's ransom?
Catherine identified Mandy's ivory item
as an aide-memoire, and we'll soon find out
if it made a memorable impression in the saleroom.
And finally the whale vertebra
that Rebecca and Mandy brought in to show me,
which might have been a bone of contention,
but did it win any admirers in the saleroom?
Let's see how it went down with the bidders
as I take you to the auction room near Halifax.
I can remember saying, "I can't wait to see the auctioneer's face
when he sees this," and unwraps the bubble wrap
from the courier, and goes...
And he did. Ian's face was a picture when I saw him this morning.
He said, "I knew that was you. I knew you picked that."
But he didn't give any clues away, so it's fingers crossed.
We've pitched it to sell, haven't we,
and £65 to £100, something like that.
I'm just wondering what this lot will make of it.
We're going to find out right now. Good luck. Here we go.
The whalebone-vertebra sculpture on stand.
There we are.
I think it looks fab.
I'm opening this at £40. And five. 50.
And five. 60. And five.
And 70. And five.
80. And five.
90. And five.
100. And five.
-Bit of competition.
-£115 on my right.
-HE BANGS HAMMER
-That's excellent, yeah.
-Top end of the estimate. That's good. Pleased with that?
I was a bit dubious to start with, but hey, it's gone, it's gone!
What a good result for Mandy!
Now off to London, where Kate Bliss discovered
that despite disliking her sharkskin clock,
Hazel had upped James's reserve!
You've had a word with the auctioneer
-and you've changed the reserve to 100, I believe?
Belatedly I found a very old valuation,
about 15 years old, that was 300. It was insurance,
so you knock off 100, but that was 15 years ago,
so I've realised it's worth much more.
James, you've heard that the reserve has gone up to £100,
and Hazel feels justified in doing that.
Do you feel that £60 to £100 is realistic?
I think it should do that. It might do a bit more.
£50. Someone offer me £50 for it.
No-one at £50? £50 I'm bid.
60. Five. 70. Five.
100. 110. 120.
130. 140. It's against you.
130. 140. New bid.
I want 50. 160. 170. 180?
£170, £170. I'm selling for 170. All done, 170?
All done, then, at 170. Your bid.
£170! What do you think about that, Hazel?
Good. It's OK. That'll feed me for a couple of weeks.
So, worth upping the ante after all.
Let's hope that result gave Hazel plenty of hot dinners!
Next to Carmarthen, to see if Deanne's royal vellum
rustled up a good result.
This is possibly one of the oldest things we've ever had on "Flog It!",
dated 1648 - the King Charles I parchment,
and it belongs to Deanne here, and hopefully for not much longer.
Well, it's going to sell. There's no reserve on this.
-Guess who put that in!
-I can't possibly imagine.
The 17th-century parchment, or perhaps vellum document,
dated the 4th of July 1648. Some interest here with me.
-I have two bidders,
which start me at 160.
-Wow, that's good!
-Yeah, it is.
£200, I'm bid. And £200 I'm bid, with me.
At 200. May I say 220 anywhere else? Selling it, then. All happy?
Going at £200...
-Wow! That's really good!
-That was short and sweet, wasn't it?
-I didn't think it would sell!
That's cos you'd said no reserve. It kind of puts you in a down mood
to start with!
Reserve or no reserve, Deanne made a regal £200
with her vellum, doubling the top end of Charlie's estimate.
Let me take you to Pewsey now, in Wiltshire,
when I join Mandy to see how her ivory aide-memoire got on
when it went up for sale.
I had a chat to the auctioneer earlier.
He liked it. He said it's going to do its money,
-so fingers crossed.
-We might get a little bit more.
-It was quite cheap, the estimate.
-Quite cheap? So what should it do?
-I shouldn't say that beforehand.
-No, you're letting Mandy down now!
We've put a good estimate on. It should do quite well, I hope.
Optimistic. It should do it, top end plus.
-We're going to find out.
-Time will tell.
-This is it.
The ivory-cased aide-memoire,
and I start the bidding at £40.
40 I've got. 45, 50.
Five, 60. Five, 70.
Five, 80. Five, 90.
95. I'm now out at 95. Bid's in the room.
100. And ten. 120. 130.
140. 150. 160. 170.
200. And ten.
220. 230. 240.
250. 260. 270.
-This is the sleeper we've all been waiting for.
At 320. At 320.
-At 320 in the room...
-HE BANGS HAMMER
Mandy, the hammer's gone down. Oh, you're crying!
-Catherine was keeping us in suspense there.
That's naughty! You knew it was going to do something like that.
I'm thrilled for you, but I'm embarrassed for me.
-We need to buy you tissues now.
-I dreamed it might happen,
-but didn't expect it.
-What a lovely "Flog It!" moment!
What a moment to treasure!
Amanda was clearly overcome by that result,
and I'm very pleased for her. In the Victorian era,
every hoof, antler and shell was transformed
into an elaborate object as a worked piece of art,
very much like this 19th-century nautilus shell here,
which I think is absolutely incredible.
If it was made of horn, ivory or an item of taxidermy,
it was considered to be the height of fashion,
a must-have to be displayed in your home,
like your own mini-museum. However, nowadays
such displays have fallen out of favour.
But what you have to remember is, these worked pieces of art
were born of an era before TV and tourism.
They were key scientific and educational tools of their day,
and it's a legacy that's still with us,
as I discovered back in 2005
when I visited one of Britain's leading natural-history museums.
Take a look at this.
'Coming here to the Natural History Museum at Tring
'is like stepping back in time, and visiting a museum
'out of the Victorian era.'
-The museum was built in 1889
for the second Baron Rothschild, Walter,
who turned out to be one of the country's greatest collectors
of natural history.
Walter had been obsessed by the natural world
from an early age, and by the time he was ten,
he had amassed a collection of insects and birds
large enough to start his first museum in a garden shed.
But before long, his collections were filling rented rooms and sheds
all over Tring. The museum was built as a 21st-birthday present
from his father, to provide a permanent place
-for them all to be housed.
For the next 18 years, under duress, Walter went to work
for the family's banking business, but during that time
he spent all his money, energies and enthusiasm on this place,
creating possibly the greatest ever natural-history collection
ever assembled by one man.
His collections included thousands of mammals,
reptiles and fish. It had everything,
from gorillas through to hummingbirds,
and even a group of domestic dogs.
I'm here to meet Katrina Cook, who's a curator
here at the museum's ornithological department,
whose passion with animals also started when she was young.
Katrina, so pleased to meet you. When and where did it all start?
It was my mother's fault, really. When I was very, very young,
she'd bring me here to the museum at least every week
of every school holidays. Always obsessed with animals.
My room was a museum, full of skins and wings
-and pinned insects and things.
-I stuffed my first bat when I was seven.
-Did you really? What, at home?
-At home, yeah.
Most young girls get into ponies. You got into bats and taxidermy!
Walter must have been quite an incredible man -
possibly slightly eccentric, don't you think?
All natural historians have a slight tendency towards eccentricity,
and Walter had the dangerous combination
-of money with the madness.
-He's got a lot in common with you!
-If only you could've met!
-We'd have got on like a house on fire.
SONG: "Wild Thing" by Jimi Hendrix
Walter was a complete eccentric.
He kept an extraordinary menagerie of exotic animals at his home
in nearby Tring Park.
Among them were kangaroos, a tame wolf,
64 cassowaries and a giant tortoise.
He could often be seen in his coach being drawn by zebras,
both locally and on the occasional trip to the capital.
Some of the animals Walter brought back, both alive and dead,
from his travels and the collecting expeditions that he financed,
had never been seen before, and it's really important to remember
that not only was he an eccentric scientist
and a man who did crazy things,
but he was also a very, very serious natural historian,
and made an enormous contribution to the understanding of science at that time.
Now, your department, the ornithological department,
that's not open to the general public,
so can I have a sneak behind the scenes, please?
-I think we can arrange that.
-OK. This way?
The Natural History Museum moved its ornithological collection
from London to Tring in the 1970s.
There are 17,000 specimens preserved in jars,
and 16,000 bird skeletons.
Most impressively, there are almost 700,000 bird skins -
95 percent of the world's species.
How do the birds vary from the mounts, then?
What's the difference in stuffing them?
Well, these, what we call skins as opposed to mounts,
so they're all prepared, just, er...
just lying flat. They've got cotton wool for their eyes.
They don't need glass eyes. They don't have to be wired
into a lifelike position. This way they're easiest
for scientists to look at, measure and compare one with another.
Can I have a look at those? Is that a parakeet?
It certainly is. That's not just any old parakeet.
-What's different about this one?
-This is a Carolina parakeet,
which is now extinct in the wild, and this was also prepared
by the famous artist John James Audubon,
who produced a mammoth book, Birds Of America.
And you do this as well here, don't you?
-It's part of your job.
-Yes, it is.
We're adding to the collection all the time.
Nowadays we're not going out and shooting.
'We rely on people to bring birds in to us they've found dead.'
How do you go about preserving this bird?
OK. When the bird's freshly dead,
we make an incision from here, mid-sternum, down to the vent,
and then prise the skin away from the body,
and then, when it's all off, make a false body the same size
to go back into the skin again. It's not as gory as people think.
Now, I believe in this section somewhere
there's something quite special you're going to show me.
-They're all special.
-To you they are, aren't they?
-I think you're probably referring to these little chaps.
These are Galapagos finches, and some of these were actually collected
-by Charles Darwin himself.
-Is that his handwriting?
No. Actually, none of these bear Darwin's original labels.
But I can show you a bird that's not a Galapagos finch,
but it is one of Darwin's. Most of Darwin's specimens
don't have his own labels on any more.
They were taken off. But this chappie, this is a bobolink,
an American bird. It's...
-3374, in Darwin's own fair hand.
Absolutely incredible. It is such a fascinating place, Katrina.
Thank you so much for showing me around,
-and especially behind the scenes as well.
-Most welcome. My pleasure.
'Back to my Ten Of The Best collection of treasures
'from the natural world, and I'm taking you to Yeovil,
'where Hilary caused a real stir
'when she showed James two unforgettable items.'
When I saw this in the queue, words absolutely failed me.
It is one of the most awful objects I have ever seen.
But the thing is, I know you agree, don't you,
-because we talked about it.
-I certainly do, yes.
I thought, "I can't put something so awful on TV."
And then I thought, "Well, in a way, we should,"
because I went to Botswana just a few years ago,
and these things are still being sold in Africa,
and although it's illegal to bring them into the country,
the fact is people, people are still buying them out there.
This would been made around 1880, and you see them as footstools,
you see them as tables, just about anything.
And they are still being sold at auction today.
I don't like selling them, and I wouldn't,
but the thing that swayed me to bring this on
was what you're going to do with the money.
-You want to give it to Born Free.
If some good can come as a result of it, that's great.
Fantastic. So we have to somehow come to a value.
My goodness, what do you think it might make?
Well, I was going to throw it away, unless we could do something with it,
so I don't know, because of what you've said.
People don't want it. I was thinking £20, £30.
-I think it'll make 100.
-It might make a shade more.
And it is a total comment on the times,
and if we move across to the next thing,
-this also - same family, of course.
-And this was your grandparents'?
-This was my grandmother's.
Now, this, of course, is the same sort of date.
We're talking around turn of the century.
And this case, a dressing case made out of crocodile skin this time,
but really fantastic quality.
We have one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine silver-topped bottles,
we've got a silver-topped flask, powder boxes,
really good interior there.
And they've got to be worth £20 each at least,
so if we give that a value of £200 to £300,
-I think that'll do well as well.
Split them up, two separate lots. 100 to 150, 200 to 300.
We'll find out whether Hilary delivered a nice charitable donation
with the proceeds of her sale in just a minute.
First, here are three irresistible wildlife-related wonders
that I must showcase you once again.
Back in Peterborough in 2004,
this stunning walrus-tusk cribbage board of Tony's
made a big impression on James Braxton.
'A year later in Margate, I was in a real flutter
'when entomologist Mike brought in his first-edition volume
'of moth books.'
Condition is perfect, and inside,
well, it's just a joy to behold.
They flew out of the sale room, reaching £290.
Here's another whale item. This time it's a Victorian narwhal tusk,
which Richard wanted to flog in Chippenham back in 2005.
And Catherine Southon loved it.
It's absolutely wonderful, a fantastic spiral piece of ivory.
A rare item, and it went for a whopping £1,950 -
a great result.
'Now to Torquay, where in 2009
'Jean literally rendered me speechless
'when she showed off her gorgeous amber necklace.'
-I think you're clutching something quite valuable in there.
Let's have a look inside your purse.
Ooh, look at that!
Wonderful amber necklace! Have you worn it much?
I used to have hair that colour, Paul,
so I used to wear it then, and it used to look pretty good.
-But as one gets older...
-..one's hair colour changes.
-I think you'd look pretty good in this still.
Of course I do. This is timeless. This is amber,
and it's millions of years old, it really is.
It's fossilised tree sap, basically.
If you've got any insects trapped in it,
-when it was a sticky liquid...
-There might be something in there.
..you are laughing. If you haven't got little insects,
look for pine needles or bits of moss that get trapped in this.
-But commonly found in the Baltic,
the beaches of Poland. But it does get washed up in this country.
-Yes, it does, on Southwold Beach.
-Because I've been amber hunting,
and I actually interviewed a chap on "Flog It!"
who collected amber from the beach, and when it's washed up,
it's sort of like, um...a rough pebble...
-..a funny little odd-shaped pebble.
-But you have to polish it
and cut it into these facets like this.
Yeah. But let's see what it looks like. Shall we put it on?
Yes, there we go.
Look at that. And it still looks fabulous, doesn't it?
-Give them a twirl.
-How much did you pay for that?
-It was about £200
about 20 years ago.
Oh, you'll get your £200 back. I just think it's stunning!
I really think every woman would like to own that.
That's the way. Big one at the bottom.
Why don't we put it into auction with a value of...
-..£200 to £400?
You need two women that try that on and look as great as you do in it.
Oh, thank you.
That necklace certainly wowed the crowds in the valuation room.
This next lot has appeared in another of my Ten Of The Best collections,
but they are just too good to ignore,
so it's over to Solihull, where in 2007,
James Lewis was amazed at the incredible provenance
of John's enormous leather-bound first edition botany books.
When I saw you in the queue earlier today,
and I saw one of these volumes, my immediate thought was,
"Oh, no! You've only got one!"
But you had all three.
But you had to go all the way home to get them.
Yes, that's right. Yes.
So whenever we're looking at a leather-bound book of this size,
the size alone tells us it's a pretty important book,
so let's open it up and have a look.
And as soon as you turn to the frontispiece,
one of the most important names ever in botany,
-That's right, yes.
This edition... We've got Roman numerals here.
-Absolutely fantastic. First edition!
So you've got one of the most important botanists,
the first-ever edition, all three volumes.
And you've got other works linked to him. Now, tell me,
how do you come to have these?
They've been passed down through the family.
He's in fact my great-great-great-great grandfather.
-William Curtis is?
-William Curtis, yeah.
Oh! I mean, what a provenance! Look at these!
It's interesting, if you look back in history,
he was said to have a microscopic eye,
and didn't even use lenses to look at the plants he was sketching.
And if you read Dr Johnson's notes on him -
oh, look at that! -
he tells you about the quality of the work.
And he was the best! There was nobody better than him.
And each one of these plates would have been hand-coloured
at the time the books were made.
So these aren't later coloured. These were done at the time.
Look at that! That thistle is just marvellous.
OK, it's a very good book.
Now, of course, for any botanist,
this was the fun thing to produce. But the bread-and-butter was this,
his botanical magazine.
They were produced literally every couple of weeks.
Here we have Curtis's Botanical Magazine,
Or Flower-Garden Displayed,
and these are dated - here we go...
MD... This is 1822.
So look at those again. Lots of coloured plates.
Yeah. Beautiful illustrations.
Yeah. They're lovely. They are things we see a lot of.
They don't make a lot of money, but they're fun.
So we've got three of those. Now, tell me about these.
Now, this is Samuel Curtis. He's the son-in-law.
Now, he did this volume,
-which is Lectures In Botany.
And it's put together based on the work of his father-in-law.
Fine. So we need to come up with some ideas of value for you.
If we look at the condition of them, they really do need attention.
-They do, yes.
-And it's going to cost a lot of money to put them right.
those, the little ones, they are going to be worth...
£150 to £250 for the three.
The major ones...
It's hard. They have made as much as £6,000 in mint condition.
I reckon we should put an estimate of £2,500 to £3,500 on them.
They may make more. They've got all the plates there,
so that's important. Need to put a reserve on.
I would say £2,500.
All right. Now, obviously you've discussed it with your family.
They've got to go somewhere. They can't stay in my loft forever.
-And they deserve to be appreciated for what they are.
They are such an important set.
They're going to well loved and well looked after,
and I'm sure they'll go to a great home.
That incredibly rare collection still takes my breath away,
and we'll be back to see if it made big bucks in a bit.
First let me give you a quick recap on my final selection
before I show you just how well they did when they went off to auction.
'Jean's necklace was a real sensation at the valuation day,
'so let's see if it was a real head-turner at the auction too.'
John may be sad to let go of his rare and exquisitely well preserved botany books,
which have been in his family for generations,
but what a statement they'd make in someone else's library!
And in Yeovil, Hilary certainly made a big impression on James Lewis
with her elephant's foot and crocodile-skin dressing case.
But the laws governing the sale of such items are strict,
and unfortunately I received some disappointing news about it
when I met up with auctioneer Nick Sainty.
It's had to be withdrawn from the sale.
We cannot sell it, and here's Nick to tell us why.
Unfortunately we're governed by CITES regulations,
which, in essence, is the 1977 Convention In Trade Of Endangered Species.
-In that it states that endangered species
or animal products, post 1947, cannot be sold,
so they have to be proved to have been worked,
or, indeed, killed, I suppose, and stuffed,
before 1947. The burden of proof is upon us,
-and we just can't prove it.
-Because you'll be responsible,
-and that's a big fine, isn't it?
-That's a five-figure fine, yes.
What did the owner say when you said they've got to take it home?
She didn't have any great love for it, I have to say!
It was going to go in the garage, probably!
That's a sad thing, to be honest.
With that elephant's foot barred from the sale,
let's see if anyone snapped up Hilary's elegant vanity case.
Now we've got the crocodile-skin dressing case going under the hammer,
£200 to £300. Good luck, everybody. This is it.
-£380 is bid.
-Straight in at 380.
£380. 400, will you? It's on the book at 380.
-Come on! More, more, more.
-Commission bid of £380
on the book. You're out in the room, and the phones are out.
-Quick in, quick out.
I'm selling, then, at £380.
Hammer's gone down. That's a "sold" sound.
-Isn't that good?
-£380! That was quick.
-You could say that was snappy.
-I'm ever so happy with that.
That is a great result. The phones were booked.
There were phone lines on there, and they didn't even come in
because the price was... Fantastic result.
At £380, that dressing case carried off a great result.
Now to Plymouth, to find out whether Jean's amber necklace
caught anyone's eye.
We've got £200 to £400 on this.
I don't know what the feeling is in the room.
I haven't talked to anybody. I haven't seen it viewed at all.
-So fingers crossed, that's all I can say.
We're going to find out. I don't think we can talk about it any more.
-It's down to this lot.
-Wait and see.
On next to lot 489,
and I'm bid at £200 for them.
They've gone. They've gone.
And five. 210. 15. 220.
Five. At 225 here. 230.
There's a telephone bid.
-Oh, my goodness!
And ten. 320.
At £330 on the telephone, against you in the room.
That's a "sold" sound. £330!
-Not bad. I'm quite happy with that.
-Not bad at all.
-I'm very happy with that.
-We were hoping for that,
-and we got it.
-Very happy about that.
-Your husband's really pleased.
A decent mid-estimate result for Jean,
but saving the most valuable till last,
let's see how those William Curtis botany books did
when they went under the hammer.
This is a very exciting and a very sad moment, John.
-You must have butterflies now.
-I certainly do.
But first it's time to flog John's three botanical magazines.
We've got a valuation of £150 to £250 on these,
put on by James Lewis, our expert.
We've got quite a bit of interest in it.
Who's going to start me for this lot?
Three volumes here. Probably a couple of hundred, I should think.
Start me at 150.
100? 100 I'm bid. 120.
At £140. You want 160?
On that phone at 160. 180?
180. 200? 200.
220, sir? 220. 240?
240. 260? 260. 280.
340. And 60? 360.
400. 420? 420.
-He's got the butterflies.
You're letting go. This is your family heritage.
-It's sad, and exciting, I bet.
-This is good.
600 now on the floor. 650 on the other phone?
Yes, 650. 700?
He says no. 650 on that phone.
At 650. They will be sold, make no mistake.
And advance on 650? It's with that phone at 650.
-700, sir? 650.
-That's a great result. £650!
-That's really good.
-One more lot to go.
That's right. They're three big volumes.
I just hope that we get well over three and a half grand,
and I'm pleased you've raised the reserve.
I don't know if you know this, James.
Originally you said £2,500 to £3,500.
-We had a reserve at two and a half.
-We've raised it to 3,500.
-We've raised it to 3,500.
-I think you've done exactly the right thing.
We've got the three volumes, the three volumes of it.
I'm sure you've all had a good look if you're interested.
-2,500. 2,500 I'm bid.
Two-five. Two-six. Two-eight.
Three-four. Is it three-six? Three-six.
-Three-six I've got over there.
Yes, sir. Three-eight. Four, sir?
4,000. Four-two. Four-four. Four-four.
Now we're climbing. This is more like it.
Four-eight, sir? Four-eight. 5,000.
-Five-two. Go to five-two?
-That's what we want.
A lot of money.
6,000? You're 6,000. Six-two?
Six-two. Six-four? Six thousand four.
Six-eight? Yes, sir, six-eight. 7,000.
-Worth every penny.
No? 7,400. Below the stairs here at seven-four.
Seven-six anywhere else? At 7,400, you're out.
-HE BANGS HAMMER
Hammer's gone down. £7,400. Worth every single penny.
-What will you do with that?
-That's a lot of money!
-Unfortunately it's not all mine.
-It's all spent.
-No. It was given down through the family,
and I've got five brothers - well, four brothers and a sister.
-So it'll be shared.
-It has to be shared,
-but I can see a good holiday.
-You can. Of course.
I know we keep saying it, but quality always sells,
and those books had it in spades.
Sadly that's all we have time for today,
but do join me again soon for another look back
for the "Flog It!" archives. But until then, it's goodbye
from a magnificent Syon House.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
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.