Antiques Roadshow guest refuses to sell ‘family heirlooms’

Antiques Roadshow guest refuses to sell valuable family heirlooms

When guests are given an eyewatering valuation for their family treasures on Antiques Roadshow viewers often wonder if they are tempted to part with the sentimental items. But one guest put paid to that question when they assured expert Chris Yeo the items would be staying in the family. Telling him that they were “family heirlooms” they appeared adamant in their decision.

The team were visiting The Eden Project in Cornwall as part of an episode, which saw host Fiona Bruce welcome the Queen Consort to the roadshow.

While Queen Camilla brought some personal items to share with the team, expert Chris was more interested in an offering from a member of the public.

A gentleman brought along a copper mirror with two matching photo frames, which contained photographs later revealed to be of his grandparents.

Chris could barely contain his excitement as he recognised the items right away.

“When I found out I was coming to Cornwall, I was really hoping to see something typically Cornish and top of my list was Newlyn Copper and you brought in three fabulous examples,” he exclaimed.

Enquiring about the history of the items it turned out that a lot was known about the providence.

“These were gifted to my grandparents on their wedding day in 1922,” the gentleman explained.

“Their best man was Tom Batten. And Tom Batten was one of the leading Coppersmiths in Newlyn.”

Batten was a former schoolteacher who was selected to take charge of the copper-works under the design supervision of John Drew MacKenzie.

MacKenzie had founded the Newlyn Industrial Class (later called The Newlyn Art Metal Industry), in 1890, with the help of a handful of local artists.

The aim of the company was to provide a useful occupation for young fishermen in their spare time and during times of unemployment.

Suitably impressed, Chris continued his evaluation saying: “One thing that I’ve always loved about copper, which is made handcrafted, or metal which is handcrafted in this way is that… picking it up…you could really connect with the person who made it.

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“Of course, those names are a lost history, but in your case you have the name Tom Batten who is one of the key figures at Newlyn.”

Inspecting the items further he pointed to a stamp on the picture frames.

“We’ve got some marks here if you look on the corner of the frames, the Newlyn stamp,” he revealed.

“Collectors, I have to say do seem to like the more nautical themed ones, but these are still really lovely examples of Newlyn.

“A good size mirror and these two fantastic frames – I think in the right sale – I think conservatively I can see the three pieces making £1000 to £1500,” he enthused.

While most people would be somewhat taken aback by the news the owner simply looked incredibly pleased.

He simply grinned and said: “Fabulous. They’ll stay in the family. They’re family heirlooms.”

The Eden Project episode of Antiques Roadshow and other previous episodes are available on the BBC iPlayer.

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