Allan Blackburn column

Allan Blackburn.
Allan Blackburn.

A lot of you already know that I am a regular contributor on the afternoon show on Radio Lancashire.

I love this part of my job and once a month I do an hours broadcast with Gilly, giving listeners valuations on their antiques and treasures.

It all started 24 years ago with Mr Bickerstaffe from Salmesbury Hall, who would value listeners’ pieces over the phone.

He took me into his confidence one day and said he found it difficult trying to give accurate valuations, from the descriptions that were coming from the phone live on the air.

I said I would come and help him and after a few goes, he stepped aside.

The rest is history.

Over the years I’ve worked with most of the broadcasters, and I have to say that’s it’s a lot easier now than it was back then.

Technology now means that listeners to the show can email a photo to the studio, so I can clearly see the markings on the bottom of a piece of porcelain or the hallmarks on jewellery.

Often people will text in their descriptions.

This is especially helpful if I need to double check anything and it helps them out, if they are too nervous to talk to us on the phone live on air.

Another hurdle is that people can describe something very differently from what they actually have in their hand, so a photo can help clear that up.

What’s “big” to one person may not be big to another, and similarly descriptions like “it’s very pretty” and “it’s quite heavy don’t help me get down to actual facts about a piece.

Regarding the valuations, my strength is in pottery and porcelain rather than furniture and most of the items that people call in with are the “smalls” that I favour.

I find it easy, to be honest, as I get a mental picture and can visualise it from the description.

I love my job on the radio and like nothing better than hearing a person gasp in surprise, when something has a fantastically high valuation.

It always makes my day.