Roadshow Miscellaneous specialist Mark Hill goes behind the scenes of the BBC Antiques Roadshow as it celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2017…

Click here to view the 2017 dates and venues for filming the Antiques Roadshow

A set of Beatles autographs, a battered teddy bear, granny’s beloved china tea set, a diamond ring, a plastic doll, a tribal spear, a Dinky toy, a unicorn’s horn, and an old sewing machine…no, not an offbeat episode of The Generation Game, but part of the stream of many hundreds of objects a specialist may see during a typical filming day for the Antiques Roadshow. This year also sees my tenth anniversary as a specialist on the show and I’ve seen every one of those objects – and many, many more. I never tire of it, I always want more, and every filming day is like Christmas. You never know what you’ll unwrap next and you never know to which distant lands or parts of history you’ll be transported. It’s the closest to being Doctor Who that I’ll ever get to be. …

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Artist and caricaturist Fougasse is best known for his iconic ‘Careless Talk Costs Lives‘ posters, produced during World War Two to caution the public against gossiping and accidentally spreading information that may be of use to German spies during the War. Fougasse was the pseudonym of Cyril Kenneth Bird (1887-1965), a qualified civil engineer, who turned to drawing while convalescing after suffering serious wounds at Gallipoli during World War One. He chose the name as it was the bread-derived nickname of a French landmine, the effectiveness of which was “not always reliable, and its aim uncertain“. Adopting a quirky, almost sparse, style laden with quintessentially British humour, he was successful and became one of the best known cartoonists of the day. As well as illustrating various books, he contributed to Punch, The Graphic and Tatler, and was editor of Punch from 1937-49. During World War Two, he worked for free producing poster designs for the Ministry of Information, including the ‘Careless Talk Cost Lives‘ series, where each design contains a ‘hidden’ Hitler and/or Goering, listening in to potentially …

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Last Thursday Alfie’s Antiques Market in Church St, Marylebone, London hit a major anniversary when it turned 40. It’s almost as old as me! A day of festivities, including a lecture on 20thC Glass given by me, culminated in an intimate party, held as part of the London Design Festival. Exhibiting in a pop-up shop was London’s glass legend, Peter Layton, who was also celebrating 40 years of business by selling some of his newest designs in stunning black and white, as well as much-loved favourites including jewellery and his gorgeous Aeriel range of stone-forms and dropper bottles. The Antiques Young Guns also created a pop-up shop just 2 minutes walk away, with a varied stock that showcased the future of antiques, from posters to taxidermy to 18th & 19thC furniture and decorative accessories. For those into antiques, fashion, jewellery, mid-century modern design, and collectables with a leaning towards the 20th century, I can’t emhasise how wonderful and unique Alfie’s is – especially in this day and age of identical high streets across the world. I’ve …

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I recently wrote an article for The Daily Mail’s ‘Weekend’ magazine about my experiences behind the scenes of the Antiques Roadshow. Although I still see myself a a ‘new boy’, I’ve been a specialist on the show for nearly a decade now. How time has flown – and what stories have been uncovered and discoveries made! What’s more, the article made the front cover of the magazine. So a couple of us specialists were asked along to a grand house in North London to do a special photoshoot with celebrity photographer Nicky Johnston. You can see one of the results below. We had so much fun! Our much-loved presenter Fiona Bruce was interviewed, along with other experts including Eric Knowles, Joanna Hardy, and Ronnie Archer-Morgan. My article also covers everything from how filming really works to the research we undertake, and from the most valuable finds we’ve ever made to the most bizarre. For me, the most valuable was a Tiffany glass panel filmed at Towneley Hall in Lancashire that could fetch …

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It’s a charming twist that could have come from the pen of P.G. Wodehouse. Upon the death of his indomitable, aged socialite aunt Mary, Duchess of Roxburghe (right), 80-year old TV personality and ertswhile host of ‘University Challenge’ Bamber Gascoigne ‘accidentally’ inherited the stately pile of West Horsley Place in Surrey. Once described by its aristocratic owners as a ‘cottage’, this oft-ignored country house dates back to the 11th century and is unusually contructed in red brick with a ‘rustic’ version of the Classical architectural features that became popular from the 16th century onwards. Previous owners include King Henry VIII, Viscount Montagu, the family of Sir Walter Raleigh and, most recently, the Crewe family, from which its last owner was descended. It’s even reputed that Raleigh’s severed head was kept there for a while by his distraught wife, before being interred in St Mary’s Church opposite. Local legend has it that there was (is?) a secret tunnel that led from West Horsley Place to the  church, to enable the encumbent Catholic family to worship secretly in times …

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This has nothing to do with animals, obviously. Vetting is the process that occurs the day before certain, usually higher end, art and antiques fairs open. Teams of independent experts grouped by discipline (silver, glass, jewellery etc) move around the fair looking at every object in the fair in their category, closely examining any they feel the need to. Some are dealers at the fair, but most are not and travel in for the day. The point is to ensure that everything for sale is exactly what it is described as being – authenticity, condition, attributions and date must all be correct. Price isn’t included in vetting. That’s down to the dealer selling the item. A vetter may have an opinion, and/or experience, which they may voice to the dealer if they feel it’s appropriate, but generally a vetter is encouraged to keep their opinion on price to themselves. At some fairs I’ve vetted, thoughts on price are offered where a vetter feels that the object is under-priced in the market. Helpful stuff – as is when when a dealer …

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A few years ago, I bought a Minton majolica tile (above and below) at auction that, according to the handwritten labels on the back (see below), had a rather interesting provenance to the Great Exhibition of 1851. I wrote a blog post about it appealing for more information, which you can read by clicking here. I had a few helpful responses shortly after but was delighted to hear very recently from Michael Spender, a tile collector and the Museum and Arts Manager at Poole Museum. He was the original owner of my tile and had researched it and the other, similar tiles he owned. He wrote about his discoveries in 2004 in Glazed Expressions, the magazine of TACS, the Tiles & Architectural Ceramics Society. Michael was kind enough to pass on scans of the article and here is what I learnt from reading his in-depth research. Michael traced the source of the design of a stylised flower-head in an ogee arch to a row of tiles shown in an illustration …

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Are you a collector of pop culture, memorabilia and collectibles in the US?

Is your collection enormous?

Is your collection incredible?

Do you want to be on TV?

If so, the makers of BBC2’s primetime TV series ‘Collectaholics‘ want to talk to YOU about an exciting new American TV series!

Comics, Rock & Pop Memorabilia, Americana, Disneyana, Toys from Tinplate to Star Wars and Transformers, Christmas,  Halloween and Coney Island Memorabilia, Funky Specs, Fashion, Fifties & Sixties stuff and Costume Jewelry are just some of the things we’re interested in…why not surprise us?!

To find out more email collectibles@rdftelevision.com or contact them via Twitter on @rdfcollectibles.

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Having missed the opportunity last year, I was delighted to be able to attend the annual Hornsea Pottery collectors’ event last week, held as part of the Hornsea Freeport‘s ‘Nostalgia’ weekend. Organised by the Hornsea Pottery Collectors & Research Society, the busy event sees exchange of information and new learnings, as well as allowing members to buy and sell, and build their collections. My weekend started with a visit to the Hornsea Museum, in the charming seaside town of Hornsea itself. I was driven there by Pauline Coyle, author of the official biography of John Clappison, Hornsea’s lead designer (see below). This museum, contained in two pretty converted cottages, must be one of the best maintained and best organised small museums I’ve ever been to – and it’s all run by volunteers. The passion the curator Carol Harker and her team exude just shines through! Over 2,000 examples of Hornsea pottery made from 1949-2012 are organised by decade and type, with each smart cabinet containing carefully curated and beautifully displayed ranges of pottery. You …

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On Friday 4 July 2014, the hottest night of the year, an excited crowd gathered at The Rooftop Restaurant at Alfies Antiques Market for the celebratory party and awards ceremony to announce the winners of the ‘Antiques Young Gun of the Year’ award for 2014. The winner was the very popular choice of James Gooch owner of Doe and Hope, who was presented his award by the 2013 winner, 23 year old auction house specialist Timothy Medhurst. James commented “I’m naturally delighted to take on the mantle of Antique Young Gun of the Year from the superb ambassador that is Tim Medhurst, and I’m looking forward to both the challenges and benefits that come with the role.  It means a lot to be the first bona fide dealer to win the award and I hope I can leave a distinct mark on the year’s proceedings and help the movement continue on an upward trajectory. Since I was part of the first core of AYGs championing the movement on social media, it is wonderful to be recognised …

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In April this year, I was lucky enough to be able to secure the central exhibition space at the Spring Antiques For Everyone fair at the National Exhibition centre in Birmingham to promote Skrdlovice glass. Although the accompanying book ‘Berànek & Skrdlovice: Legends of Czech Glass‘ was launched later that month, we were able to mount the first exhibition of its kind in the UK, covering glass made at the factory from the mid 1940s until it closed in 2008. The glass was generously provided from the private collection of glass historian and collector Robert Bevan Jones, who organised it into sections and created the display. Along with along with Jindrich Parik, he is one of the two authors of the accompanying book – the first on the factory and its designers. As you can see from the photographs below, the display made an immense visual impact. As a result, it was visited by many thousands of people who visited the fair – comments were extremely positive and everyone came away having learnt many new things …

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The eagerly awaited confirmation of the Antiques Young Gun of the Year Awards 2014 can now be revealed! The team behind this fast growing and now very high profile movement, designed to promote members of the antiques trade, aged 39 and under, George Johnson, Mark Hill and editor of Antiques News and Fairs Gail McLeod, are delighted to announce that the awards ceremony and party will take place on Friday 4 July 2014 and will be hosted by Alfies Antiques Market – the iconic London antiques, vintage and 20th century design nexus founded by Bennie Gray in 1976.

Bennie Gray told Antiques News & Fairs: “These days the politicians are all saying it’s the entrepreneurial spirit that will save our economy. Which I think is true – of course the antiques trade has always been one of the most fertile breeding grounds for entrepreneurs, especially those with a fine eye for design. So it is a great privilege and a great pleasure for our antique markets to welcome and support the Young …

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