Saturday, 29 August 2009


I told you all about our first visit to Washington Old Hall. Little did I know we'd be returning so soon. It happened that my friend Vivien, who sent us a 2-for-1 coupon that we'd used to go the first time, also gave me a flyer from the National Trust. I noticed that Steve Moore from the Antiques Roadshow along with Anderson and Garland auctioneers would be doing free valuations at Old Washington Hall in August.

Given that since this recipe book was dated the year of George Washington's birth, it seemed only appropriate to have it valued there. I suspected this might be related to the fact that the Antiques Roadshow is to be filmed at the Bowes Museum soon.

When we arrived we were given a number (52)

and told they were up to about number 12 so we should go for a wander, which we did. The rain was threatening however, and when we returned there were vacant chairs at the front. It looked like a show not to miss and so I saved a chair whilst Bill went for some tea.

We noticed very few people like us had brought only one item. Several brought bags and backpacks full. We started kicking ourselves thinking of what we might have had valued. As most of our older items are sentimental we wouldn't be interested in selling them anyhow. I told Bill it would be awful to find out they were worth a great deal because then I would be scared to use or handle them! Still, it might have been fun to find out more about some of them.

Bill laughed at the number of German beer steins people had horded thinking they were valuable. I watched people's faces as they left, trying to determine if they had received good news or not. A number looked fairly satisfied but quite a few did not.

Someone was told, "Put it back in the attic for another 30 years and it might be worth something." Bill over heard "It would be best to take this thing to a charity shop; at least then someone might get some use of it."

The man in the yellow jacket was apparently said Steve Moore of the Antiques Roadshow team (Bill was pleased to notice that his jacket was lined in a bright pink silk to match the stripe in the plaid). He disappeared at one point for a photograph for the Chronicle. I've linked to the article; Bill and I are actually shown in the last of the pictures.

I love Moore's expression here.

This couple brought the oddest collection of bric-a-brac and we overheard him telling them that just because it has a name on the bottom of the piece doesn't make it valuable or even old.

However, it was the gentleman with the reading glasses whom they all consulted with unusual items and he was the one who eventually looked at Bill's recipe book. I'd already noticed that he seemed quite the diplomat, telling people how
interesting their items were, even if not worth a penny. He did look genuinely pleased when presented with the book to examine; at least it was actually old, and he said there was no reason to think that it wasn't actually as it appeared, from 1732.

He said it it had a lovely old vellum cover and would cause a lot of excitement and interest at an auction. People are known to collect such recipe books and he said it would likely bring about £200-300; perhaps on a really good day as much as £400-500. I was pleased it was worth more than Bill's £50 estimate. It would have been nice had it been worth millions, but as it is, we will just keep it and enjoy its oddity. We had a good day out in any case.

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