Antiques series. Tim Wonnacott pitches up at a flea market and collectors fair near Worcester, where he sees a handwritten letter from Elgar and more.
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Britain is stuffed with places famous for their antiques,
and each object has a story to tell.
'I'm Tim Wonnacott
'and as the crowds gather for their favourite outdoor events around the country,
'I'll be pitching up with my silver trailer...' How do you do?
'..to meet the locals with their precious antiques and collectables.'
I'm feeling inspired myself, thank you very much.
Their stories will reveal why the places we visit
deserve to be on the Great Antiques Map of Britain.
Today we're in wonderful Worcester at a flea and collectors fair.
'Lots of eager owners
'have come along to show us their intriguing items...'
"All good wishes for 1928, yours, Edward Elgar."
'..which represent this area's unique antiques heritage.'
This is a wonderful object.
We have here a view of Worcester Cathedral.
'And of course,
'they want to find out what their precious objects are worth.'
Between £400 and £600.
£1,000 to £2,000.
£1,500 to 2,500.
-Now, what I've got here is an unusual trophy.
'And have a guess
'how much these sporting objects could fetch at auction.'
The name Worcester fair trips off the tongue, doesn't it?
Must be because it's got so many everyday associations for us.
There's the sauce of course,
and there's the cricket
and the porcelain, to name but three.
Worcester became known as The Faithful City,
because folk here supported the King during the English Civil War.
It has a rich industrial,
ecclesiastical and political heritage
and as a result, it's a place that bristles
with antiques and collectables.
I've unhitched the old rig
at one of the regular flea and collectors fairs
taking place in The Three Counties Showground
in sight of the beautiful Malvern Hills.
God, what a spot!
Now, we couldn't come to Worcester without seeing
some of its highly collectable porcelain.
Richard's brought along a ravishing piece
which has a bit of a yarn attached to it.
I've brought a vase that belonged to my great-uncle
that was presented to him in 1946.
Allegedly the vase was originally intended for Winston Churchill
when he got the Freedom of the City of Worcester,
but he didn't come,
so my great-uncle had it instead.
This is a wonderful object.
What we have here is a view of Worcester Cathedral
from more or less where the cricket ground is,
and what never ceases to take my breath away
is how the enameller,
the person that decorated this piece
is able to do it in colours
which are then fired on to the porcelain
so that they transform
from the colour that is applied to the porcelain pre-firing
and then the bright colours that you get back post-firing.
And that decorator is of course Harry Davis,
and for some people,
Harry Davis was the supreme decorator
at Royal Worcester of the 20th century.
The gilding in this instance is very fine,
as you would expect for a presentation piece
that potentially could've gone to Winston Churchill
and, um, must be a thrill to own such a thing, frankly.
It is, it is, we're very lucky...
It stays in a museum. I think it's too, it's too,
probably too valuable to stay at home
-and it's somewhere that people can see it and should do, I think.
'So, got any thoughts about the value of this fine piece?
'Keep mulling and I'll reveal all soon.'
Never judge a book by its cover, I was always told.
Well, my old mate Philip Serrell has stopped by
to show us a Georgian antique,
but I'd have never have had HIM down as a bookworm.
I'm a Worcester boy, born and bred in the county.
I think they say Worcester-born, Worcester-bred, strong arm, thick in the head, so I'm well-qualified.
These books were the Holy Grail of local history collecting for me,
but to find a set that's complete and that I could afford,
it took me 20 years to get them,
so for me, they really were the Holy Grail of books.
-So, what are these two volumes?
-Two volumes of Nash's History Of Worcestershire,
just here, "Nash's Worcestershire." And if I can just show you
one of the reasons why they're rare.
Now, there's a plan of the city of Worcester.
And you can see Pitchcroft there, that's the racecourse now.
And there we've got Worcester Cathedral,
and dealers would've bought these books in times gone by,
cut this plate out
and sold the map and perhaps got 50 or £60 for the map.
This book would've been written in the 1750s.
These are views from the city, this is from Red House Hill,
this is from the north-east,
and you've got the Malvern Hills where we are today,
so I think your Airstream's about there somewhere.
-Well, I love that. That just pinpoints it, doesn't it?
I have sold these four prints cut out of this book for £500.
-Have you really?
-It's a wicked thing, isn't it, when they are removed?
-But I've got one last one I want to show you, Tim.
That was my office.
-When you started in business?
-Yes, not in 1750 though.
If they were to come up in your saleroom today,
what would the local value be for two Nash's volumes like this?
£1,000 and £2,000, perhaps £1,500 and £2,500,
it's the condition is all,
-and you can find many of these, but they've been cut up.
And to find two volumes that haven't been cut is just...
Rising over 200 feet in the air,
ethereal Worcester Cathedral reaches for the sky.
-The bells inside that tower
are recognised as among the finest in the world
and they're antiques.
I'm meeting the cathedral's Ringing Master, Mark Regan.
as an activity, is something that's happened for centuries.
Bells have been rung in celebration, in mourning,
to tell the news, from about the 15th or 16th centuries, we think,
bells told the rhythm of the working day.
In Worcester Cathedral,
the Dean ordered for the bells to be rung for victory over the French...
-..in the Napoleonic wars,
but one thing happened with the bells which is really special,
They were recast
and the money was given by the clergy who lost their sons in the Great War.
So, the history here is enormous and fantastic.
-Do these bells ever wear out?
The bells in the cloister were cast in the 14th, 15th century.
Those bells are the bells that rang in the Civil War,
they're the bells that rang in the 18th and 19th century,
they could still be used.
Bell ringing is maths and music and sport.
-We have 12 bells.
So, when we ring, we'll go from the highest note,
just there, it's called the treble,
to the biggest note, the lowest, right behind you, the tenor,
-and that weighs two and a half tonnes.
-So, we go down the scale.
Then we just change the pattern of the bells.
So, if you have three bells, one, two, three,
you'd go two, one, three, two, three, one, three, two, one, three, one, two, that's quite simplistic.
The more bells you have, the more changes you have.
We learn a pattern, we don't have a score,
and we'll stand up here for these great long pieces of ringing,
four hours without stopping, one person per bell...
You must all be incredibly clever. Because if you get it wrong,
presumably you completely mess it up, do you?
We do, which happens often, it's very noisy.
They're also very, very difficult to ring,
because the tower is quite slender and it moves a lot.
-Well, we'll stand by for a performance, thank you very much.
Back at the fair, we've got a set of hand bells
that were given to the cathedral by Pat's ancestor.
I've brought along a set of 31 hand bells,
which my great-great-uncle donated to the Cathedral
and I believe are still used today, in the training of the bell ringers.
The story is partly told by this brass plaque on top of the box.
"These hand bells, 31 in number,
"were presented to the Worcester Cathedral Guild Of Change Ringers
"by Harvey Reeves."
And if I open it up, we can see how beautifully fitted the case is.
All 31 bells are complete,
either outside on the table, or in this case.
And of course each of these bells are specially tuned to a note,
so that if you were a bell-ringer...
TIM RINGS BELL
..and in particular, obviously a hand bell-ringer,
you could actually play a tune.
As far as Harvey Reeves is concerned,
it says on the plaque, "A native of this city,
"First Editor of The Bell News,"
and that was the bell-ringing chronicle of the time, I guess.
Yes, it was.
He founded the Bell News And Ringers' Record
and it was THE magazine.
It's difficult for us to grasp today
just the passionate interest that there was across the country
in bell-ringing and in particular, hand bells.
Now, when it comes to the value of a set like this,
it's difficult, because they don't crop up that often,
but where we've got a named route to Worcester
and we know where they were presented
and by whom and at that date,
and they're all complete,
it's quite likely that if this set of bells were sold,
they would bring between probably 1,500 and £2,000.
-Which sort of strikes the right note, doesn't it?
Definitely does, yes.
This is one of Worcestershire's success stories.
Henry Morgan first designed his iconic three-wheeled car in 1909,
and it was an instant hit, according to archivist, Martin Webb.
The Morgan became a huge success right from the start,
because here was a car that people could afford to buy,
halfway between a motorcycle and a motor car.
Morgans were built as three wheelers because of the tax advantage.
These were hugely popular, so demand for the car increased rapidly.
Harry Morgan was a very clever engineer.
He went to Swindon Railway Works to receive his apprenticeship,
a very astute man from the point of view of not only the engineering,
but the business side of things as well.
Combined with success on the racetrack,
he convinced people that the Morgan was the car to buy.
And then of course in the 1930s,
people wanted a four wheeler rather than a three wheeler
and the four-wheelers that we built before the war
were then developed throughout the '50s and '60s
and we continue to build these traditional cars today.
Richard is the proud owner of a contemporary Morgan.
But what I want to look at is the camera he's restored,
which was once owned by Henry Morgan himself.
I'm a Morgan owner and I've been using HFS Morgan's 1928 Leica.
Leica is very much like Morgan,
it's a good, strong brand, it's been going a long time.
I'm hoping that Tim can have a look at it
and give his opinion on the camera.
Now, Richard, we know that Henry Morgan owned this camera
and it is a Leica 1A,
he created some of these prints you've brought along, didn't he?
Yes, he did.
I mean, this particular print actually is taken at Brooklands
and you can see HFS Morgan actually holding the camera.
-And he's the geezer in the suit.
-He's the geezer in the suit.
-But he was very proud of his race team...
..which had just won at Brooklands and done very well.
Richard, who's this an image of?
This is Peter Morgan who is HFS Morgan's son,
who was involved with the company after the war and eventually became chairman.
He's in his wartime uniform and obviously home on leave.
And do we think that his father took that image with this camera?
Almost certainly, because it was taken from a negative
which was found with the camera
and which was processed last year.
Ernst Leitz created the name Leica
from partly his name, L-E-I,
and C-A for camera
and that's where the brand name Leica came from in 1925.
This was the revolutionary camera that you had to own
at that period
and to make it in a size that was portable
and capable of doing landscape photography,
all of that was a revolution.
'So, what would a collector pay
'for this little camera with a connection like that?
'Find out my estimate later on.'
300 years ago, the big business in Worcester was glovemaking.
At the turn of the 19th century,
nearly half the glovers in England were based here,
but it all started even earlier, according to Philippa Tinsley
at Worcester City Art Gallery and Museum.
We know that there were glovemakers here in Worcester
right back into the 13th century.
But in 1777, the first glovemaking factory was built here in Worcester.
So in the 1820s,
we know they were making just over six million gloves
here in Worcester every year,
which is a total of somewhere around £30 million worth of value of business.
Today, there is only one handmade glove company left in Worcester
using the traditional methods.
It's run by the indefatigable 95-year-old Les Winfield.
Production has slowed down a bit,
but if anyone knows what it takes
to make a jolly good pair of gloves, it's Les.
The trade is very skilled,
one of the very skilled trades,
because you've got to use your head, your hands, your feet,
'everything about you.'
We also still make hand-sewn gloves.
Worcester is renowned for the picturesque setting
of its cricket ground in the lee of the cathedral.
And cricket has its own memorabilia,
like the two pieces Tim would like to have valued. Great name.
One is a piece of Royal Worcester porcelain,
plaque painted by Harry Davies, the great artist,
relating to one of Worcester's finest cricketers, Fred Root.
The other is a match ball from 1899, when two Worcester cricketers,
the Foster brothers,
both scored 100 in each innings in the same game against Hampshire.
Now, what I've got here is an unusual trophy.
It's half a cricket ball and it says on it, on a silver plaque,
-"A memento of July 27th, 28th and 29th 1899."
All beautifully mounted up in silver, look,
and on an ebonised plaque like that.
So what is the significance of those dates, Timbo?
Two Worcestershire batsmen, RE Foster and WL Foster,
became the first brothers to score 100 in each
innings in the same game. I don't think it's been done since.
That is extraordinary, isn't it?
-Now, the photograph in front is of Reg.
-Yes, it is.
And apart from being entitled to this trophy for that match
that's recorded in 1899,
he was an incredible all-round sportsman, wasn't he, Reg?
He was, very much so. Very gifted at football as well.
Still the only man to captain England at football and at cricket.
He holds the record for the highest score on Test debut
when he went, in 1903/04, to Australia with the England MCC team
and in the first Test at Sydney, in response to Australia's
first innings of 285, he scored 287 on his own.
That's amazing, isn't it?
-That's the way to beat the Aussies.
-Now, moving on to the plaque.
Here we scroll forward a few years, don't we?
Because this porcelain plaque,
made by the Royal Worcester porcelain factory,
is beautifully decorated,
showing the Worcester cricket club ground
with Worcester Cathedral in the background.
And it shows a special match in 1925.
Tell us about that match, Tim.
Well, the scene is actually celebrating
the career of one of Worcester's very best bowlers.
A fellow called Fred Root,
who joined Worcester in the early '20s from Derbyshire.
He was a legend in bowling because he held the attack together
through turbulent times in the '20s and early '30s.
In 1925, he became the first Worcester bowler to ever take
- and still is - 200 wickets in a season,
at just a shade over 17 runs apiece, which is phenomenal.
His wife, Mrs Root, she had this specially commissioned
and painted by the legendary artist
Harry Davies at the Royal Worcester works.
-And that's an image of Fred Root in the foreground.
Taken, probably, in the mid-1920s but it is a superb picture of him.
It looks as if it's in front of the old pavilion at Worcester,
so it's a nice item. Beautifully signed as well.
Good, clear signature.
And a very interesting pair of objects,
connected directly with Worcester and this part of the world.
Well, I have to say, the porcelain plaque is a top quality object.
All these things made by the Royal Worcester porcelain
company are top quality
but when you get something decorated by Harry Davies,
and specifically for a commission like this,
showing an individual scene that will never be repeated
in any kind of mass production sense,
it becomes very, very special indeed.
I've spotted there's a fine hairline crack running through it.
'So how will that hairline crack affect the plaque's value?
'These pieces surely put Worcester on the Great Antiques Map.
'But what are they worth? I'll let you know later!'
Lovely day here.
People milling around, browsing and snapping up treasures.
Meanwhile, we have two antique sporting guns
made in Worcester in the mid-19th century and owned by Vaughan.
I've brought along two guns made in the Victorian period
by John Perrins & Son, the great master gunmaker of Worcester.
Now, Vaughan, if I grab this one, correct me if I'm wrong
but this is a percussion cap
-muzzle-loading sporting gun.
And we know it's a percussion cap because if I slightly cock it,
there's a nipple inside and you would have clad that
in an explosive device, which would be a cap.
And in this instance the cap,
because it's so beautifully made, is concealed within the butt, there.
So you take a cap out from there, you'd prime it, effectively,
with that cap.
Having previously, as a muzzle-loader,
-loaded your black powder, got your wadding in.
What I love about this one is we've got these great engravings
here where it says Perrins & Sons.
You can see the hound putting up a pheasant
all engraved into the metal, which is really rather special.
-It is. It's been well done.
-It's a lovely thing.
Next door to that we've got the next development, so to speak.
-With a gun that looks remarkably similar.
It's got hammers like the muzzle-loader,
except that we've got an underlever opening device here,
which reveals the revolution of the cartridge,
which is that fellow.
Load that with your powder and shot, insert it into the piece
and those pins standing up proud are effectively the igniters.
And when you fire it, the hammer comes forward, hits the pin
-and the pin ignites the cartridge and boom, boom.
They're very, very handsome pieces.
Now, Vaughan, when it comes to values, I've taken a bit of advice.
And the pinfire would be likely, at auction,
-to bring between £600 and £900.
But the surprise to me in my investigations
is that the muzzle-loader could be worth as much as £1,500 to £2,000.
Right. OK. That's very interesting.
The composer Edward Elgar
was born in a village just outside Worcester in 1857.
His music is synonymous with all things English
and his legacy has spread wide.
I've heard about a local private collection of mechanical
musical boxes, where I can hear a bit of Elgar
in a way I've never heard it before!
The collection includes pianolas, euphonia and automata dating back
to the origins of mechanical music in the 19th century.
John Phillips is my guide.
This particular piano is more than just a pianola.
It's what they call a reproducing piano.
It actually reproduces the touch, on every note,
that the original pianist played.
And in this case, it's Elgar's Land of Hope and Glory,
played and arranged by Max Darewski.
It's all driven by a vacuum.
The vacuum drives the motor, the motor turns the spool
and the holes in the paper are read by the tracker bar
and there's binary coding on the end that actually tells it what
weight to play each note. And off it goes.
MUSIC: Land of Hope and Glory by Elgar
-Makes you proud to be British.
It certainly is a very stirring piece of music.
-Isn't that absolutely marvellous?
Now I've heard it all. Well, not quite.
John himself has restored
this exquisite little mechanical music box.
Let me play it for you.
To my mind, it's the mechanics that have gone into it
that make them so worth collecting today.
See, even the head moves quite separately.
The wings, the tail, the beak and the head all move.
And to have the clockwork movement that's capable of making that bird
make all those gestures is extraordinary.
-And then we have the music at the same time.
I wonder what Elgar would have made of this little warbler.
Back at the collectors fair,
Cora has brought along her piece of Elgar memorabilia for a valuation.
I first became interested in Elgar because I found
he was engaged to a woman in 1883 and she appears on my family tree.
Is there a connection between that family connection and this postcard?
It is said, in this lady's family, that in 1887,
Elgar asked her father for her hand in marriage
and her father immediately said no because Edward Elgar
was a Roman Catholic and he was an Anglican priest.
Edward Elgar had no money and he wasn't a gentleman.
-So, on three counts,
-Elgar was not eligible to marry the vicar's daughter.
Well, if we look at the postcard itself, it's fascinating
cos the script on it says, in Elgar's hand,
"It seems strange that I should be living here for a little time.
"All good wishes for 1928. Yours, Edward Elgar."
And it's addressed to her in her married name,
which is Mrs Jenner at The Cottage, Abbots Morton, Worcester.
So, despite their potential romance falling abroad,
they were linked professionally, weren't they?
Yes. She was a soprano and she sang in local concerts
and he accompanied her on the piano on several occasions.
And I see from the postmark that it's sent on the 4th January 1928.
So, this is his new year message to his former potential fiancee.
-Now, how did it come into your possession?
I give lectures on Elgar and, last year,
I was giving a lecture and before I'd even started,
a lady came up to me with this and said, "Would you like it?"
And I looked at the signature and I nearly died.
I couldn't say thank you quite soon enough.
-You bit her hand off and snatched it from her...
-I did really.
..and said thank you very much.
I must have seemed so ungracious but I really...I was just bowled over.
Well, with your special interest and this very generous gift
all coming together, how marvellous is that?
Well, ordinarily, if you were an autograph hunter,
if you were a person who collected famous people's
bits of correspondence, I would think this postcard,
in its innocent state might be worth, I don't know, £200 or £300.
But because of what you've told us
and what we now know about the tapestry
that has been woven into this simple note and the potential
significance of the hidden message that might be within it...
'Hold on! Have a think, quick. What's it worth?'
We've seen some very distinctive objects today,
appealing to particular collectors.
Cora's Elgar-signed postcard would appeal to autograph collectors
and Elgar fans.
In my mind, if you were to sell it, you would be more likely to get
-between £400 and £600 for this simple postcard.
-For a postcard!
I just hope the lady that gave it to you last year
isn't watching this show!
'The Leica camera is a classic.'
There is a sort of standard price for a Leica of this nature.
But I think the Morgan connection with this camera would
transport it to the £1,000-£2,000 price range.
A thrill for us to see here in Worcester.
Now, that special cricket ball trophy.
On a good day that is worth between £1,000-£1,500.
But Tim's Royal Worcester plate has a hairline crack,
so how does that affect its value?
I fancy, because the sportsmen will still love it,
whether it's got a hairline crack or not, on a good day,
£3,000 or £4,000 in your back pocket.
-Has that bowled you out or not?
-It has slightly, yes.
So, knowing that, what do you think Richard's equally unique
but pristine piece is worth?
If I was put in a spot and said,
"How much should I insure this pot and cover for?"
I would have thought in the order of £15,000.
I think we'll wrap it up very,
-very carefully in that suitcase you brought it in.
-Yes, we will!
Having seen all these marvellous objects, there's no doubt Worcester
certainly deserves its place on our Great Antiques Map of Britain.
In fact, with all this eclecticism, it's been a thrill to investigate.
Worcester proves to have an intriguing past and plenty of interesting antiques when Tim Wonnacott pitches up at a flea market and collectors fair. Local resident and antiques expert Philip Serrell drops in to show Tim some rare books about Worcester, while other locals bring such fascinating objects including a handwritten letter from Elgar and a Royal Worcester piece made especially for Winston Churchill. Tim views a collection of mechanical music machines that have never been filmed before and finds out about the antique bells that ring in Worcester Cathedral.