Allan Blackburn column: What the eye doesn’t see

Allan Blackburn
Allan Blackburn
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Last week I talked about valuing antiques and how looking, feeling and weighing up each item can really help date an item.

I also said that I read 
lots of trade magazines 
and auction reports and still visit antiques fairs and shops regularly looking for that hidden treasure or bargain.

But how do you value 
an item if you can’t see 
it?

Some readers of this column may already know that each month I am live on BBC Radio Lancashire’s afternoon show.

Each month during the John Gilmore show listeners can phone in with their treasures and I attempt to value them live on air.

No pressure!

Generally speaking, 
people ask for a valuation 
on items they can lift 
which is usually pottery or porcelain and this is my speciality.

I then ask lots of questions about what they can see and feel.

I ask them to describe any marking on the piece and to turn it over and look on the bottom for the manufacturer’s mark and this leads to my valuation.

It’s rare that listeners call in with a reproduction. They usually have an idea of where it’s come from (passed down from a grandma or stored in a loft for a long time, for example)

To keep my hand in (so to speak) at home in the evenings, I read a lot of trade magazines as much as anything else, but I also get a lot of reports direct from the auctions sales.

Sotheby’s, Christies and Bonham’s send me their reports because I subscribe to them.

It’s important to keep up to date with what’s happening in the world of antiques as the marketplace is forever changing, and people rely on me to give them an accurate valuation often for insurance purposes.

There’s a huge appetite out there for people to 
understand their wealth 
and the value of their treasures, or even old items they’ve stumbled across in the loft.

Daytime television programmes like “Flog it” and “Dickinson’s Real Deal” are now extremely popular and of course we can’t forget 
the BBC’s staple “Antiques Road Show” which has been on air for a remarkable 34 years.