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After over 30 years, you might imagine our team on the roadshow
have seen the lot. Not a bit of it. The treasures keep rolling in.
What are the most exquisite things that we've seen?
They're coming up in Priceless Antiques Roadshow.
The Antiques Roadshow may have been around for over three decades,
but I hope you'll agree it's never gone out of fashion.
Today we're reminded
of a rip-roaring period of vintage fashion
that rocked the early 20th century.
Women walking around without corsets
with just a diaphanous piece of material between you, the man,
and her naked body.
I mean, it was shocking.
There's a head-to-head contest as two of our experts
try their hands at producing their own work of art.
-For a first effort that's not too bad.
-Better than Alastair's?
I don't know. You'll need to compare the two really, won't you?
It looks like a hubcap!
And ceramics doyen Henry Sandon on his love for English pottery.
Rather erotic to see it.
I've seen ladies go to watch a potter pull the handle
and they usually faint.
A typical Antiques Roadshow sees thousands of visitors
queuing patiently for advice from our experts.
Some lines are always longer than others.
We see no end of clocks and watches, books,
especially autograph collections, and ceramics of all kinds.
I can tell you,
getting the specialists in those categories excited takes some doing.
It's absolutely crammed full.
You get Rudyard Kipling, Thomas Edison,
Jules Verne, Robert Browning.
That's a very interesting object.
It's a Chinese Ming jug.
I think you're going to make my day!
Yes, you have, definitely.
That is superb.
There's an inherent problem with watches, particularly.
They were very expensive when they were first made
and they've always been expensive.
So the chances of finding something important on a roadshow
are fairly rare.
The ones that have come up
on the occasions when I've been on the programme,
I can remember pretty precisely.
This type of watch was made specifically for the Chinese market.
I'll explain why in a minute.
It is of the best quality really,
I think it's obvious from this enamel painting that it really is superb.
It was completely un-English in taste. Incredibly rich enamelling.
It was a stunning piece. I couldn't believe it.
A make-my-day sort of object.
The figures admittedly are a little bit doe-eyed.
It's slightly romantic in its feel.
Nevertheless the palette, the colours and the execution is terrific.
These watches were made, some in England and many more in Switzerland.
Actually, as presents initially, taken out by the British
when we were trying to get into favour
in the courts in China in the 18th century
and then later as commercial items,
which were sold in their many thousands.
Although the top quality ones always remain rare
and were usually sold only to the Emperor's court.
This type would certainly have been made for a mandarin,
possibly for presentation,
possibly as a gift from a visiting ambassador.
-Do you have any connections with...?
No, I don't know of any diplomatic personnel in my family or bank,
but I wondered where in fact I got my diplomacy from.
Now the valuation. I've been giving it some thought.
-You'd like to have an idea?
I thought about 10, but I think probably 12,000.
15,000 for insurance, certainly.
15,000 for insurance!
Where's the insurance man, quickly?
I think probably over the years I've been doing this show
that watch was definitely the finest decorative watch I've ever seen.
Good watches are rare.
Important autograph albums even rarer.
Expert Clive Farahar sees many famous names.
This is a remarkable collection of three letters
in the very typically violet handwriting of Lewis Carroll.
This one of Ernest Shackleton, this is particularly good.
But even he was amazed by this example.
This was my grandparents' autograph album,
which was all put together long before I was born.
Did they know everybody?
My grandmother was a member of the Royal Academy...
That's a good start, I suppose.
And my grandfather was a cleric, also a barrister,
who also stood for Parliament.
That's why we've got introduction to the politicians
-that are in that autograph album.
My first thoughts on seeing what might have been an ordinary album,
was, "OK, well I can do this one quite quickly."
But as I got into it, as I started turning the pages,
I realised that it was an extraordinary album.
I mean, it's absolutely amazing. It's absolutely crammed full.
You get Rudyard Kipling, Thomas Edison,
Jules Verne, Robert Browning.
Rudyard Kipling's signature is not going to be an awful lot of money,
sort of £40 or £50.
Thomas Edison, much, much better.
Robert Browning again, he's quite important and quite rare.
He'll make quite a bit of money.
It's just amazing how many people there are actually here.
The whole Gladstone family on this side.
The importance of the album is that it showed the great flowering
of the British Empire before the First World War.
It was just full of the great and the good.
So it's a rather glorious piece.
Look here! We've got Thomas Hardy, Mark Twain,
Nellie Melba, Holman Hunt,
Paderewski and dear old Ellen Terry.
There is a page that is going to be incredibly valuable really.
We're approaching many thousands of pounds. Where do you keep it?
-At my mother's house.
-At your mother's house!
-Well, if she knows it's worth that, will it frighten her?
You'd better not tell her.
But more than any other object,
we see thousands of ceramics at every roadshow.
Today there are eight specialists dedicated to this huge category.
Doing ceramics on the roadshow is actually quite hard work,
because that seems to be what everybody has.
In this country especially.
Ceramics just come at us in enormous waves.
The vast majority of ceramics has very, very little value.
However, those of us who are interested in Chinese ceramics,
we know that one day,
a really, really important piece of Chinese porcelain
might just come across the table.
On this occasion, former ceramics expert Hugo Morley-Fletcher
was the lucky one.
It's a very interesting object.
Perhaps the most speculative and fascinating piece
that has appeared on the Antiques Roadshow in the whole series.
In fact, it's not going to be possible
for us to give you a precise evaluation of it -
there are only four or five people in this country
at the moment who probably could.
Each of us has specialities in certain fields.
Just occasionally something will come in
that falls outside your major field of comfort.
On this particular occasion,
Hugo, who knows a thing or two about Chinese ceramics,
was given this white jug.
It's a Chinese Ming jug, I think.
I think it was most probably made at the end of the 15th century.
There is an alternative
that it was made in the 18th century in the Ming style.
But there are reasons why I don't think that.
The very grey glaze which is slightly pooly and streaky
is what one would expect.
When we look inside, there's a great deal of pooling in the glaze,
which is indicative of that sort of date.
I think if it was an 18th century copy,
the glaze would be much more efficiently put on
and much more even.
So we're in a hopeful situation of it being old.
What would a person expect it would be worth?
I really don't know. I'm not the ultimate expert.
There are only four or five people in this country
who can tell you really.
Normally we wouldn't want to record an item
if we didn't feel we knew what it was.
But there are moments on the roadshow
when a potentially extremely valuable object comes in
where you simply have to point out,
"Look, this is a very difficult subject.
"We can't give you a snap answer. We need to check it up."
It was slightly outside Hugo's comfort zone,
so he said, "I'm going to have to do some research on this."
So, was it real or reproduction?
It was some weeks later that Hugo came back
to tell presenter Angela Rippon what he'd discovered.
Hugo, when we were at Ely, he pounced on this very ordinary looking ewer,
this jug, as something that might be rather special.
I think you described it as being speculative.
You've had it for a couple of weeks.
Does it come up to expectation?
Well, I'm glad to say, it does.
It has been shown to museum people
and compared with one in the British Museum,
which is the only other one of its kind in this country.
It would appear that it is what I hoped it was, a very early Ming jug.
What sort of value are you going to put on something like that?
Now I suppose £8,000 to £12,000.
If you think that was exciting back than,
over 30 years later, our ceramics experts tell us
that Ming jug would be worth upwards of £200,000.
You'll be the first to know if another comes in.
It's fair to say Roadshow favourite Henry Sandon would be just as happy
to get his hands on a fine piece of English ceramic.
So, what or who sparked his passion for pots?
I had some lessons from one of the English great potters,
Geoffrey Whiting of Worcestershire.
I went to the evening institutes
and he tried to teach me to make pots. I was never very good.
But what it did do was to teach me to appreciate a good pot.
He made this pot for me.
And it really sums up his work.
It sums up English pottery, of the great medieval tradition.
It's like a great medieval flagon really.
Formed by hand, of course, hand-thrown.
And then a fantastic handle put on it,
which is there permanently for ever more.
Fixed at the top, fixed at the bottom.
To see Geoffrey Whiting, or any great potter,
pull a handle from raw clay stuck up the top there
and then pulled down
is one of the most miraculous things you could ever see in human life.
And it's rather erotic to see it.
I've seen ladies go to watch a potter pull the handle.
And they usually faint and fall on the floor,
because they're so shocked by it. It's a wonderful thing.
I've learned more from watching him make a pot than anything at all.
Who'd have thought that potting could get erotic?
Stand by for Henry immortalised as a Toby jug in a couple of days' time.
I know Henry found that experience fascinating
and two of our other experts have recently taken the opportunity
to try their hand at a spot of craftsmanship.
Silver specialist Alastair Dickenson and Ian Pickford
went back to school.
We brought them to an historic workshop in Chipping Camden in the Cotswolds.
Very attractive, isn't it?
I don't know quite what we've let ourselves in for here.
I've never hammered a piece of silver in my life.
-It's really pretty, isn't it?
-Yes, isn't it brilliant though?
It hasn't changed since Ashby acquired it.
CR Ashby, one of the leading lights of the Arts and Crafts movement,
brought a team of craftsmen here in 1902.
George Hart was one of the original silversmiths
and his descendants still run the business today.
Julian, hello. Good to see you again!
-How do you do? Welcome to Ashby's workshops.
Raring to go.
Making silver is something I actually did many years ago.
I hate to say it was more than 30 years ago.
It's something I think is terribly important actually -
to really understand a subject, you've got to get your hands dirty.
You can't really understand something properly until you've done that.
-Today we're going to get you to try and make one of these bowls.
This isn't exactly the same but it's the sort of thing we're after.
Effectively, by the end of the day, you should have something along those lines, with a bit of luck.
Are you an optimist?
Ever the optimist!
We just take a piece of silver and cut it out with a pair of snips.
Follow the line all the way round.
I hope it's going to be like riding a bicycle but we will see.
One of the last things I ever made was actually that - my wedding ring and my wife's wedding ring.
And they're made out of the same piece of gold.
You'll find it's harder than you think. Your fingers will start aching by the time you're half way round.
These are the hands that have strummed 1,000 chords, you know,
on various guitars over the years, so...
It was by accident I got into silver because I was at Phillips Auctioneers as a general porter.
One day I went to look at a china fairing that had just made a world record price.
I picked it up to see if it had marks on it.
When I turned it over, it fell out of my hand and dropped
and smashed on to a tray of other fairings - including one that also surpassed the previous world record.
Having offered my resignation, it was luckily rejected.
I was put into a department where I couldn't break anything!
The next stage is to start making it slightly bowl-shaped.
Just literally start hammering round here...
Going round it slowly, forming the shape up.
There we go. The very beginnings of the bowl.
So this is probably the same technique that has been used for hundreds if not thousands of years.
A thousand years. Ever since sheet metal was starting
to be worked by hand, it has been done in exactly the same way.
And this particular tree trunk, has this been here ever since...?
Well, we have got photographs of the workshop in 1902,
and it is the same tree trunk in the same place in the floor.
Never been moved.
In't it incredible to think that all those pieces we see by Ashby in
-the Guild Hall, they have worked on that?
-What a professional!
-Can you be quiet in the cheap seats, please?
Really give it some welly. It is surprising.
I am going to bang my thumb if I do that.
Is that good enough?
You'd probably manage at that.
-Let the professional do it.
-Come on then.
-Yes. And for a first effort...
Better than Alastair's, isn't it?
I don't know. You will need to compare the two, really.
It looks like a hubcap!
Ian and Alastair now have to heat the silver to make it easier to work.
But how does Julian think they are doing so far?
They are not doing too badly for a first attempt.
Don't tell them that, mind!
But they seem to be getting on OK.
We'll go and pop them down on the side.
We will see how they fare when it comes to doing a bit of raising.
That is when the real test will be.
You can see how it starts to pull the shape in.
You have now got that sort of step in there.
Do you want to go lie down? This might take me some time!
-Oops! Miles out.
-That is it. Now to the right.
You need to go quite fast, as I did.
-Right, that will do you for now.
-Going back to a flat sheet!
Not quite the same as mine, but...
You're getting there.
It now takes several hours of painstaking work to repeatedly heat,
cool and shape the bowls under Julian's watchful eye.
Ian and Alastair just have time to solder on a base for their bowls and
give them a quick polish before the end of the day.
-That is the texture.
-The textured look!
It is more like the corrugated look!
Perhaps it is better, you are the experts, if you judge and see how well you think you have done.
I mean, that is my simple effort.
-To be fair, Ian has done some before.
-This is true.
And it does show, to be honest. Not a bad effort, as they say.
-You begin to realise why, in the 18th century, they had to be apprenticed for seven years.
When we do the Antiques Roadshow,
and we look at hundreds of things in that day,
I will never look at a piece of silver quite in the same light.
Today has absolutely transformed my views on silver.
Now, we have noticed a growing trend on the Antiques Roadshow for collecting vintage clothes.
And our specialists are no strangers to fashion. Apart from the ever-stylish Penny Britain,
Hilary Kay and Katherine Higgins, the men don't do too badly, either.
It is the Swinging '60s we often think of as a time of radical change on the fashion scene.
But a number of visitors to the Antiques Roadshow
have brought in beautifully preserved outfits from the Roaring '20s.
It was this era that probably signified the biggest change for fashion in the 20th century,
when women in particular were flinging off the shackles of the past.
I would like to introduce Lucy, who has very kindly agreed to wear one of your most beautiful outfits.
Those dresses symbolised a great deal in fashion.
No longer were they constrained by these high Edwardian ideals, these nipped-in waists.
We were looking at the garcon look, which in fact was
a very unfeminine look in many ways, but actually, quite a sexy look.
So I often think what you can't see, actually, makes it far more interesting.
This is a very typical mid-'20s flapper dress, I suppose.
Very glamorous, very nicely decorated with rhinestones.
-Sparkling very well.
And silk and chiffon, very, very fragile.
It makes you wonder how the flappers did all they are supposed to have done!
Maybe Lucy can give us a quick turn, and you can see how beautiful it is with the lace.
Very, very lovely.
It was a wonderful age in terms of the way women's clothing moved forward.
It showed a brave new world, I think, for females.
And that little collection signified that quite well.
Those flapper dresses, covered in rhinestones, the geometric looks.
I could just imagine a mid-'20s lady going out on the town looking like that,
town looking like that, bright red lipstick, the dancing, the cocktails.
That was what it was all about.
But even the men, they were looking more casual.
They were wearing their sportswear.
They were getting out of their suits and wearing V-neck jumpers
and brogues and things.
It was a great age.
But flapper dresses weren't the only shocking new look of the '20s.
Some designers went further.
Here Eleanor is wearing the Fortuni gown.
Isn't it fantastic?
I have to say, I have never seen it looking better.
Even when I was wearing it!
I think it's beautiful.
When the Fortuni dress appeared at the Amsterdam roadshow,
it looked like nothing at all.
It was just screwed up in a box.
And it needed to be worn.
And we looked around to find somebody who was tall enough and slim enough
to do it justice, and fortunately, I have to say, David Batty's daughter
Eleanor was there, and with very little prompting, she said, "Yes, that's fine."
The only difficulty was trying to get her out of it at the end.
She just loved it!
Fortuni was very influenced in his early career
by the aesthetic movement, by the pictures and paintings of
Alma-Tadema, and what he wanted to do was make something that was beautiful but was also very unstructured.
How does it feel to wear?
Um... It's comfortable.
For the first ladies who put them on, they said it felt as if they had nothing on, because it was
It was very radical.
If you think about stitched up, buttoned-up, corseted up women's fashion of
the latter part of the 19th century, then to have this movement, which was corset-less, it was shocking.
Women walking around without corsets, with just a diaphanous piece of material between you, the man,
and her naked body, with just a few cords to keep it together, it really
was an extraordinary movement and the development of women's fashion.
They are quite rightly, I think, really sought after, not only by
museums but also, actually, by people who want to wear them.
-Oh, really, OK.
-Well, the value of this, I would have said between £1,800 and perhaps £2,500.
We see our fair share of dresses from this era brought into the roadshow.
I have got to do this.
I can just imagine this being worn in the '20s.
But 100-year-old shoes are quite a different proposition.
So Katherine Higgins was delighted to see a rare and unusual collection
brought in by a pair of young visitors in 2004.
It is so nice to have antiques to use.
I can see you two modelling the most dashing pair of shoes
on your feet. Where do they come from?
My great-grandad and great-grandmother owned a hardware shop in Norfolk,
and then they bought a shop next to it, which was a shoe shop.
And upstairs in the attic, they found all of these shoes.
I think it would be hard for me to say that a girl seeing a collection
of shoes wouldn't be excited, and I was the typical girl seeing shoes.
It was exhilarating, really.
Not only to see the shoes, but to see so many pairs of them, and to see them still in their original boxes.
The other amazing thing was, weren't they in fabulous condition?
Some of these actually date back to the Edwardian era, so we're talking about 100 years ago, really.
How do they feel? You are actually modelling the shoes.
-They are actually really uncomfortable!
I remember Katherine saying that, she said something like fashion
always turns around. And it is true.
Because my friend has a pair of shoes like the lace-up ones,
practically exactly the same as the ones we brought on the show.
Well, generally, these go for round about £100 for the early issues with the original laces.
That is for a pair.
And then these later Edwardian into the '20s era shoes,
anything between £65-£70 a pair.
And you have got how many pairs, did you say?
Right. So, that is
nearly £4,000 or so, maybe?
As much as that, possibly.
When Katherine was saying how much they would cost, I didn't realise that we had so many
of them until they were all put in front of us.
I just couldn't believe that I was surrounded by so much money!
They were sold at an auction, and they went for around £55 each.
Unfortunately, the rest of them, due to snow, they got damaged in the garage.
But we did manage to save some of them, so it is not all bad.
I have a question to ask you.
Do you think they will come back in fashion?
I think they are very contemporary now, actually.
It is only the heel that maybe looks a little bit more dated.
I think you could go out on the street wearing those now,
or you could go to school, and think your classmates would think you're very trendy.
If I did go to school in the shoes, I think all my friends would say,
"Where are your shoes from? They're really nice.
Whereas before, I thought they were horrible.
It just goes to show, keep anything long enough and it will come back into fashion.
That's what I tell myself, anyway!
But it is not just clothes that are shaped by the times we live in.
There are some objects that shriek their age at first glance.
One such piece is fondly remembered by one of our nattiest dressers, Mark Allen.
I have to say, this must be one of the most incongruous objects that has arrived at the airfield today.
I'm feeling a little bit out of place sat around this dining-table.
The day I was at East Kirkby, and an Eero Saarinen tulip table turned
up was quite a joy for me to experience, because I was in a very strange situation.
There I was on a Second World War airfield, and I had something that
was so surreally out of place within that context that I had to do it.
What made you buy it?
I saw a picture in a magazine, in 1967.
We had just got married, and all other tables were square, brown jobs.
Well, you were obviously thinking along very trendy lines at the time, because this is a very trendy table.
And still is now, in fact.
This table was designed by a Finnish architect and designer called Eero Saarinen.
He designed this table in 1956, and do you know the name of the table,
the design of it?
-Tulip, absolutely correct.
Saarinen stands out for me because he is one of the best of Scandinavian designers. Forward-thinking.
He was producing items that were so far ahead of the time, he wanted things to be uncomplicated.
He was moving things forward, pushing things into other realms,
and that table kind of signifies a brave new post-war world.
Despite the age of the design, they're timeless still.
People really do appreciate this.
And it is still very much in vogue now, that is why these pieces are still being produced.
Had you ever thought about current value?
I know it is not worth very much.
It is interesting you should say that, because you are actually quite right. They are not worth fortunes.
You could buy a table like this at auction currently for around about £200-£300.
And you are probably going to play a similar amount for the chairs.
But we have enjoyed it.
That is what is important, and I have really enjoyed talking to you about it.
Thank you very much indeed.
There is a lesson there. A classic piece of design isn't just functional, but a timeless asset.
Join us again next time for some more revealing
moments from the archives on Priceless Antiques Roadshow.
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