Marc Allum’s fascinating and amusing talk covering 40 years of great finds on The Antiques
Road Show was very well attended. Marc gave us a brief account of his own journey to
becoming one of the miscellaneous experts on the Show, starting from early years fossicking
on the beach, through auctioneering to running a fine art valuation and consultancy service
and writing for mainstream magazines.
He then introduced us to the Antiques Roadshow team, highlighting the collegiality and
friendship that exists among them, and explained some of the background research that
goes into finding the individual objects to feature, and how the shows are produced. (His
own cat Minou, sadly deceased, featured for many years in the opening credits of the show,
rushing across the screen making a Greek (looking) vase wobble).
Ozzy The Owl was a rare find in 1990 and has become an icon for the Show. This
Staffordshire feathered slipware drinking pot in the shape of an owl with a detachable head,
was identified by Henry Sandon – himself an icon – and is now displayed in the Potteries
Museum in Stoke-on-Trent. An 18 th Century punch pot which had been gathering dust on a
shelf was valued between £8,000-£12,000, enabling its owner to buy her Council house.
Bought for £1 at a boot fair, a plant in a vase turned out to be another great find – it was a
rare lost wax vase by Lalique, valued by the expert at £20,000, and sold for £32,450!
Many of the treasures brought to the Show have little or no monetary value. Their worth
lies in the story behind the object or its quirkiness. Others open many doors into history –
for example, the cigarette packet given by Rommel to a prisoner of war who survived to
bring it back to England and tell the story behind it.
Sadly, this year will be the last year for the Antiques Road Show series. But Marc
encouraged those of us who are visiting Britain this year to buy a ticket and take along a
treasure. Perhaps a fortune awaits!
Reviewed by Christine Turner.