In Cumbria and Lancashire, BBC TV’s Bargain Hunt may seem a bit topsy-turvy to antique collectors. The show requires teams to first buy items at antique fairs, before trying to make a profit selling them at auction. Considering many of the Victorian dining chairs and antique chests at the fairs were probably purchased at auction in the first place, it’s difficult to see how anyone can turn a profit. Nonetheless, this is exactly what happened on 31st March, when viewers in Lancashire saw an antique chest purchased for £70 go for £250 under the hammer.
Bargain Hunt, hosted by the ever likeable Tim Wonnacott, is not a show where fortunes are made. Two teams – the Blues and the Reds – are each given a budget of £300 with which to buy three items from local vendors; generally an antique fair is chosen. Any money left is given to the antique specialists accompanying them, who select a fourth item (which can be rejected at the auction) Profits are made if the hammer price exceeds the purchasing price.
With odds like that, it’s not uncommon for “winners” to go home with nothing but a smaller loss than the losers. However, despite the rain the sun shone brightly for both teams at Newark on March 31st, with practically everything selling for a sizeable profit – including a pair of accordions and an antique leather satchel, both derided as worthless by the specialists.
Star of the show was the Georgian table-top antique chest. Lancashire antique dealers would recognise this attractive and superbly made little item as a probable apprentice piece. In Preston, antique desks and Victorian dining chairs were often apprentice-built.
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