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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
'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 historic Cambridge,
'at the Town And Country Fair.'
'Lots of eager owners have come along
'to show us their intriguing items.'
Would you call it an obsession?
Er, yes, I think it is.
'Which represent this area's unique antiques heritage.'
The maker, Thomas Wilson, Cambridge.
Oh, it's Thomas, is it? I wondered what the T was for.
'Also, of course, they want to find out
'what their precious objects are worth.'
£3,500 and £5,000.
'And here's today's mystery object.'
That, to me, looks just like a boat.
Cor, look at all these bicycles.
Have you ever seen so many bikes?
They say that this city is dominated by the university.
Well, they're absolutely right.
Do you know there are over 15,000 students here?
And not one of them is doing any work.
'The university was founded in 1209
'and has become world-famous for the high standards it achieves.
'For a start, no fewer than 90 of its affiliates
'have been Nobel Prize winners...so far!
'The city sits on the banks of the River Cam,
'with rich agricultural fenland fringing it to the north
'and London just 50 miles to the south.
'In this hi-tech age, it has become known as Silicon Fen,
'thanks to a boom in software, electronics
'and biotechnology companies.'
'I've parked up on Parker's Piece,
'a 25-acre common in the centre of the city,
'the venue for the annual Town And Country Fair.
'No time to lose.
'First off, meet Stafford, who's got a thing about clocks.
I got into collecting clocks through my brother
who was in the business and had his own business.
And...erm, I used to watch him repair them and I got fascinated by them.
What's nice about the clock is that it is of a type.
It's called a skeleton clock
and that's the term for revealing all the works.
And, this one, I would describe as being gothic,
with these pointed finials at the top.
So, it's got a kind of decorative nature to it.
The maker, Thomas Wilson, Cambridge, is inscribed on the chapter ring.
Oh, it's Thomas, is it? I wondered what the T was for.
Yeah, T for Thomas,
and he was a clockmaker in Cambridge between 1830 and 1858.
And I bet it looks jolly handsome on your mantelpiece, doesn't it?
If you were to ever want to sell it,
Cambridge is the place to sell it,
and the same applies, really, with this dial timepiece,
because this is the type of timekeeper that was made
to go in all sorts of commercial locations across Britain.
This is a very late-19th or early-20th-century example.
What can you tell me about Laurie & McConnal?
It's a department store that was in Fitzroy Street, Cambridge.
-At its time, it was a top...
-..departmental store, yes.
Well, how interesting, because Laurie & McConnal
would have had these timepieces around the department store
to indicate when it was time to go home
and throw the customers out, actually.
It's another example of something
that will make far more in this locality,
and, even in Cambridge, I think you wouldn't be likely
to get more than about £150-£250 for it.
-Oh, more than I thought.
-That sort of amount.
The skeleton timepiece is more interesting, really.
'But you'll find out how interesting value-wise a bit later on.'
Now a quirky collectable that was made in Cambridge,
and it's owned by Malcolm.
I was out for a ride in the car out in Suffolk,
and I saw a car-boot sale,
so I thought I'd just pop in and have a look
and I went in and I saw this Pye radio underneath the table.
I can remember as a child,
I don't know whether you can, my parents warming up the set.
-I do indeed.
-And you'd have to go to the radiogram, turn it on
and wait at least three or four minutes
for the valves to do the business
and then, by a miracle, you'd get some sort of signal and off to go.
Now, tell me, this Pye mains radio,
you bought it because it took you back in time
to a period when you actually worked for Pye in Cambridge.
I did, I've worked for three Pye factories in Cambridge
and I just wanted something to remind me of those days,
-and so, I've got very fond memories of working for Pye.
Well Pyes date, correct me if I'm wrong, 1896 to 2003,
-so, over a century of manufacturing.
-Essentially, headquartered here in Cambridgeshire.
And at their peak,
-they employed the top end of 14,000 people.
-They did indeed.
-And you were one of them?
-So, as far as this particular set is concerned...
-..it's a valve set.
-It's contained in a walnut veneered plywood case.
-Now, this discolouration on here is by heat.
-So, at some time, this has got pretty hot, hasn't it?
-Is that in your time or...?
-It was discoloured before I got it.
I would say that this damage to the case
-does knock it in terms of its value.
So, if you ever had a friend in
a cabinet-making, French-polishing line of business
it would be a good idea to get that sorted out,
-top and bottom really.
And if it was sorted and the case is in pretty spanking order,
I can see this mains radio set,
probably made here in Cambridge in 1953,
-making the top end of £60-£100...
-..in brilliant condition.
-But you've got to get it into brilliant condition first.
'Cambridge University is made up of 31 autonomous colleges
'where many a fine brain has been educated.
'Adjacent to all that is Cambridge School of Art
'with its own illustrious son,
'the celebrated cartoonist Ronald Searle
'whose work is now highly-collectable.
'You may know him from his hilarious St Trinian's cartoons
'which inspired a series of films.
'The college has amassed a fascinating archive
'and I went to have a look
'with professor of illustration Martin Salisbury.'
So, Searle was here in 1938, 1939.
Was he a good student?
Erm, well, not according to his marks.
He seems to have just about scraped through,
failed some of them, passed others
and just about managed it. I should say, at that time,
the approach to drawing was a very formal, traditional,
academic form of drawing,
so, perhaps he was already a little bit too interested in the caricature.
Well then, could be. So, he finished here at Cambridge in 1939
and he joined up, is that right?
He had joined the Territorials
and then, a year into his studies,
he was called up properly, the Royal Engineers.
And that was not a happy experience for Searle, was it?
Not a happy experience at all.
He set off on the troopship without knowing where they were going
and we're getting into 1942
and they were told on the journey that they were heading for Singapore.
-They arrived on the very day that it fell to the Japanese.
So, he spent the rest of the war in Changi jail,
where he spent most of his time drawing.
He lost most of his comrades and friends to cholera and malaria,
and he himself suffered from cholera many, many times,
-but somehow survived.
-Yeah, must have been a tough buzzard,
but out of those wartime experiences,
how many drawings survived?
I think there was well over 300.
They were drawn on scraps of paper, toilet paper, anything he could cadge
and we have the book here, which is now very rare.
But, not only that, we have the blocks,
the original letterpress line blocks
-that were used to print it.
So, if we take this extremely gruesome image,
you can see the pain and agony in that person's face, can't you?
Absolutely, he wanted the world to know.
I mean, this was his motivation for drawing.
He felt that there was no other way that this story would get back
to the wider public.
'Searle was very much a line man,
'using fountain or dip pens.'
These are the actual nibs he used, are they?
They are. He was very fastidious and almost obsessive about it,
so has written the name of each nib and its properties
and here you'll see in his sketchbook, he's trying them out
with little calligraphic swirls and drawings,
just to see the property of each nib.
So, did Searle maintain his connections with Cambridge
-to the end?
-Very much so. I mean, towards the end of his life,
he set up an award for students via him,
the Ronald Searle Award for Creativity,
and he gave us some of these bits and bobs for the collection
-to be back in Cambridge.
-Well, isn't that marvellous.
All in your archive and beautifully preserved here, I have to say.
'Ronald Searle gave his friend Rachel one of his pictures.'
And how lovely is this?
Rachel, so kind of you
to bring an original Searle work of art with you.
-Tell me about it.
Well, it's Grand Central Station in New York.
It has lots of the elements that are actually there.
I guess that's the ticket office and the clock and the tower,
but the main focus is the commuters, who are desperate to get home.
-So, it's the mania of commuting...
..that Ronald Searle has captured here.
-Pastiche of the building.
-Elements that a New Yorker
-or anybody who's been through the station would recognise.
-But re-arranged in the way that Searle could only do.
But what I love is the ant-like quality of these people,
-except ants are disciplined in their commute...
..this lot are out to kill, aren't they?
-I mean, the bared teeth.
Flying attache cases,
the anger, trampling people to the ground.
-And the sort of mad staring eyes.
But, so, he's absolutely captured that.
And we've been lucky enough
to look at Searle's collection of nibs
and when you look at the density of the drawing within this work,
you can quite appreciate how you do need that number of nibs
-and varieties of ink to create these effects.
'So, what would you have to pay
'for a highly-collectable original Searle like this?
'Have a guess and you'll find out later.'
Now, if you go digging around in any town,
you would probably unearth some kind of quirky relic.
Cambridge has proved a veritable treasure trove.
In 1852, a hoard of Tudor goodies was discovered by workmen
in rooms at Corpus Christi College.
The cache is now in the city's
Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
and curator Dr Jody Joy knows all about it.
So, what exactly was in it then in toto?
So, we had a white leather glove, as well as a comb,
and a large collection of footwear and these two wonderful plaques.
And it was reported to the local Cambridge Antiquarian Society
in their volume there.
So, that's how we know all the details about it.
Weren't they marvellous, though?
The fact that they'd make the report,
produce a copperplate engraving,
include it in a finely-bound volume
and, you know, this is all quite serious stuff
-for these historians isn't it?
So, oddball group then, really.
It is a strange group and to be found under the floorboards.
In the Elizabethan time,
you wouldn't expect to be leaving valuable items like this behind,
so you wonder how on earth they got there.
Yeah, exactly. Now, these shoes are fun, aren't they?
There's something quite modern about them.
Yeah, they almost look like modern-day sandals in a sense.
They have got this beautiful slashed decoration
which is very characteristic of the Elizabethan period.
They would've been to show off the stockings underneath
which might've been brightly-coloured.
Almost a sort of ballet dancing pump-type shape, aren't they?
Funny you should say that, pump is the correct term
to describe these objects.
-They're tight-fitting leather garments worn around the foot.
However, these look a bit more utility, don't they?
I think so, I think in a muddy Elizabethan street,
this would be just the job, raised above the muddy surface.
And they have a higher heel.
The Elizabethans actually invented the heel,
so, we have them to thank for the high heels today.
This is rather a suspicious-looking object here.
It's a purse made of white leather
and, obviously, the drawstring would have been in there.
Now, white leather was used for some shoes
for, kind of, aristocratic people,
so white actually does have some affinities
-with sort of higher-class people.
And for me, I have to say,
these Romaine masks in the roundels
are absolutely fantastic, aren't they?
They are beautiful. Obviously, carved in the relief.
You've got the wonderful headdresses of the man and the woman,
maybe some kind of military regalia,
but not necessarily what people would have been wearing everyday.
-Maybe something more stylised looking back into the past.
So, Jody, why do you think that these things
might have been squirreled away?
It's really difficult to know.
I can imagine a situation where someone stores away their precious
items for safekeeping under the floorboards and, for whatever reason,
they don't ever return back to collect them.
What's interesting, though, is that Corpus Christi College was founded
to train priests
and these items here, some of them are actually quite fancy
and I know at the time,
there were particular people with certain religious beliefs
who thought that Elizabeth... Elizabethan fashion was scandalous.
So, all that sort of pomp and grandeur might, in a puritan mind,
be seen as something completely offensive.
Exactly and, I mean, this is pure speculation,
-but could that be a reason for hiding the material away?
There's a thought for you.
'You learn such a lot about a place through its buried treasure.'
'Back at the fair,
'Mark is something of an expert on the Cambridge bottles
'he's, quite literally, dug up.'
My wife is quite understanding about them,
but she does now and again remind me that I've got rather a lot
and I can't keep collecting them, because we're running out of space.
Oh, dear, which we are, yes.
How many bottles have you got in your collection?
Roughly between 500 and 1,000.
-Have you really?
-That is quite a rough approximation, isn't it?
So, can you remember the first bottle you ever dug up?
Yes, it's this little F Hills bullet stopper
which I found in a ditch in Cambridge.
Found that and I was very thrilled to get it
and that's what started me off.
And how old where you?
I was 'round about 11-12 years old.
Just the moment then to get a boy enthused about something.
-That's it, yes, indeed, yeah.
-And I suppose, as a kid, you liked the
-idea that you just dug it up and it's free...
-..which appeals a lot to a child, doesn't it?
-Appeals a lot.
Yes, that's right.
Well one of the oddest-looking bottles, I always think,
are these things that look like torpedoes.
-You can't stand the thing up, can you?
But this was a deliberate idea, so that the thing would lie down.
Before that, most of the bottles stood upright.
The corks, then, would shrink in the bottle
-and that would let out the gas and the drink inside would go flat.
So, this guy, William Hamilton,
came up with this idea of laying the bottle on its side
and then the cork would be in contact with the liquid all the time,
-thus, swelled in the neck...
-And it wouldn't shrink.
No, it wouldn't shrink.
And he came up with his invention very early in the 19th century
and then they went on using this shape of bottle
right until the end of the century.
But there've been some cunning inventions, haven't there?
And you've got three examples here of something
that are called Codd bottles.
Tell us about the history of those.
Well, the guy who invented them was a guy called Hiram Codd.
He was actually born in Bury St Edmunds 'round about 1838,
He come up with the idea of just inventing a new bottle
-with a marble in, as...could be used as a stopper.
So, his patent took the neck of a bottle like that
and it pinched it, so that you get a corridor that runs through the neck
and then, very cleverly, where the aperture is at the top,
-a bit of rubber was introduced as the seal.
So, you fill the thing with carbonated water,
-which is fizzy and whatnot.
You then invert the bottle
and the marble runs down that corridor
and gets jammed at the bottom.
And give it a shake, slight shake
and that increases the pressure in the bottle.
When you turn it upright like that,
the marble stays jammed against the rubber ring.
Ram that into the bottom of the Codd
and you open up the bottle and can have a swig.
There is a substantial value to some of these bottles, as you well know.
'Load of old codswallop?
'Well, you may be surprised at how substantial those values can be.'
'I'm having a whale of a time.
'Chatting away to the locals at the fair...'
How do you do?
'..and looking at as many of their treasures as I can.'
-Well, this is a rather fun-looking little pot.
Hello, you. It's a formidable work.
'Stan is a local antiques dealer
'and he's brought along an intriguing find.'
I purchased this punt gun at a local car-boot sale
early on a Sunday morning
and several people had walked by it,
cos a lot of people thought it was a washing line pole.
So, on closer inspection, it turned out to be a punt gun.
One of the marvellous things about Fenland, generally,
is that, historically, this place has been a haven for wild fowlers,
and they do it in punts,
and the punt has mounted on it,
usually, the most enormous cannon-like bit of armament,
a punt gun, which looks remarkably like this thing.
But I have to tell you that I have a slight suspicion about this.
Most punt guns have a system of ignition down at this end,
which is usually flintlock or, sometimes, they're wheel lock.
Now, this one simply has a shallow pan here,
into which you'd prime it with some gunpowder,
and there is a breed of this very long, large, bore piece of armament
that's called an Indian war gun,
which are designed to go through the slit in a wall
and they're very crudely made,
hence, in iron, like this one.
And the sighting arrangements are crude.
You have a simple little hole like that
that you line up with a nail down at this end,
so that when the invader is coming into your fort,
couple of hundred of you chaps armed with these
would cause a considerable amount of damage
out there in the field of fire.
So, I bet you a quid, Stan the man,
that this thing started off life in India defending an Indian fort.
-And what are you going to sell it on for, Stan?
I'd like to say £400, something in that region.
Yeah, why not. Whether it's a punt gun or whether it's a wall gun,
I think it's a jolly interesting object.
No-one can dispute Cambridge's academic pedigree,
but it also has a considerable sporting history.
Where I'm standing is a piece of ground called Parker's Piece
and it was here that the rules of Association Football were born.
'And there's more.
'The nearby Fens have been integral to another winter sport,
'And all sorts of fun and competitions used to take place
'when there was enough ice.
'Fen skating paraphernalia has been collected by The Norris Museum,
'where Richard Carter is an expert.'
Well, we're not 100% certain how fen skating started.
It was probably a product of environment and necessity.
Out here in the Fens, you get an awful lot of water.
When winter came and it froze solid,
boats and other things were totally useless,
so they had to find another way
and that's probably how skating started.
French and Dutch people first came to the Fens to help drain it.
They had great experience in turning their low-lying waterlogged land
into good farmland.
Various types of skating were developed
and that led to skating for pleasure,
but then that led on then to speed skating or racing,
and then long-distance skating and then team sports.
'Racers would bomb along at top speed,
'whilst others were rather more sedate.
'Look at that, a skating policeman from 1955.
'And you'd be amazed by the variety of skates from days gone by.'
This one just here is a bone skate from the Middle Ages.
The point about bone skates is you tend to glide across the ice,
the skate doesn't cut into the ice.
The skate just here is a skate that's imported from Holland
and is from the 18th century.
And the big innovation here was the use of metal or steel
in the skate runner, which meant you cut through the ice
and you could go a lot faster
and you can see a very fancy curve on there.
This particular skate is a speed skate.
The Fenmen found that the longer your skate, the faster you could go.
And then the top skate here is a skate for distance skating.
There are no screws to hold it onto your boot,
the straps were designed to be released quickly
and then put back on quickly.
'But it's becoming a bit of a distant memory,
'because, latterly, we just haven't had cold enough winters
'for Cambridgeshire folk to take to the ice,
'and that includes Peter,
'who has inherited a pair of Victorian fen skates.'
My grandmother gave them to me many years ago,
and I think I was the only sort of young male in the family at the time,
so she thought I might have more use of them than she did.
That to me looks just like a boat.
-You've got a prow to the thing...
..a keel, which is made of steel,
and then the superstructure of the boat is beautiful crafted
in stained beech,
and beech is a great timber
cos it's very strong, it's very close-grained,
it's very light, it's very easily carved and so-forth.
And the skate maker will have created this thing
especially to take a screw-on heel and sole,
and I've never seen these little pins before,
which finally locate your shoe on the skate.
And then, you've got the leather straps
-which feed through to tie you down, so to speak.
These were made by Marsden Brothers, makers in Sheffield.
Specialist steelmakers, cos you'd want to sharpen up the edge of these
so that they'd scoot along pretty well.
And I can reliably date them to before 1895,
cos, in 1895, the Marsden firm was taken over,
so they were no longer Marsden. So, they're definitely pre-1895.
-They've got Portland Works on them, haven't they?
Which, I think, opened in 1877 so...
Well, that would crack...crack the dating period.
But they're very nice sculptural objects
-and a memento of your family, really.
-Not worth a great deal of money.
I think they'd scoot off, if you were to sell them at auction,
for about 40 or 60, maybe £50-80 for the pair.
-Thank you very much, Peter.
'All the fun of the fair is capturing the attention
'of the young ones around here.
'My eye has been caught by this gorgeous painting
'brought along for valuation by Elsa.'
I first saw the painting in a gallery in Southwold,
and at the time, I had children of a very similar age,
who one of them had just taken her first steps.
I just mentioned it to my husband
that I'd seen this just lovely, lovely picture
and, six months later, it was my birthday
and he bought it for me as a surprise.
Well, this artist is a Dutchman, Bernard de Hoog,
and there have been, across the centuries,
quite a few artist families sharing that name,
but the Bernard bit indicates that he was born around 1867,
and he moved to a village
where there were lots of traditional interiors to cottages.
And for a few years,
he painted a lot of what are called genre interiors
and this is exactly what this is.
So, this is a very ordinary Dutch household,
but celebrating that wonderful flush of family life.
And what I like about him is that
the treatment of light is very nice, isn't it?
You can see the net curtains, they're all illuminated.
It's summertime, there are summer flowers in the jug.
The light hits the cap that this little child is wearing
and illuminates that,
-and then the face of the little toddler, the first step.
-Like the first step your daughter...
-..was taking that year,
when your husband bought you this painting, which is marvellous.
-And you have it hanging in your Cambridgeshire home?
-We do, yes.
And every time you go past it, it takes you back to a special moment.
It does it makes me smile. I mean...it's...it's just beautiful.
'And the value of such a cracking painting?'
-My valuation would be between, I suppose, £3,500 and £5,000.
'Some of Mark's bottles may surprise you.'
That bottle can be worth the top end of £120.
That one could be worth the top end of £600-£800,
and a mid-teal Codd bottle can be worth £800-£1,200.
'That makes Mark's entire collection pretty valuable.
'So, does that inspire YOU to do a bit of digging?
'What about Stafford's skeleton clock then?'
Really? As much as that?
And finally, Cambridge-born-and-bred Ronald Searle,
and Rachel's marvellous Grand Central Station cartoon.
We video-called specialist dealer Chris Beetles for his opinion.
He was the most influential
and, certainly, the most famous illustrator/cartoonist in the world.
That would be in the gallery between £4,500 and £5,500.
Thank you so much.
Well, what a busy day, hey?
I've certainly learned something in this hallowed seat of learning.
With this mad bevy of objects,
how could Cambridge not be on the Great Antiques Map of Britain?