A World War II memorabilia collection with a personal connection has grabbed attention at the BBC’s ‘Antiques Roadshow’ this month.
The long-running show travels to different locations across the UK and is famous for its valuations. Guests – usually members of the public who showed up that day – are brought face to face with experts, who sometimes deliver surprising news over what their items are worth!
In this case, a lady at Culzean Castle in Ayrshire, Scotland brought along a piece of family history. Left to her by her pilot father were an Irvin flying jacket, logbook and a Distinguished Flying Cross, or DFC.
‘Antiques Roadshow’ looks to find the personal stories behind the objects. And the man the memories belonged to had quite a time during the war. As part of the Royal Air Force, he sat behind the controls of a Hamilcar glider.
The guest described one situation where he came under attack from below. Suffering a shrapnel wound to the leg, he needed to reach ground level and fast.
She revealed that he landed “at such a rate that the tank flew out of the front of the glider into a ditch.” And the bullets didn’t stop coming. The pilot had to get in the ditch himself to avoid being killed.
He was awarded the DFC as a result, though the occasion wasn’t exactly ceremonial. The medal arrived in the post! Despite a letter from King George VI congratulating him, the pilot felt a trip to Buckingham Palace was in order.
That didn’t happen, though in 2005 he went to Holyrood Palace during a Royal visit. As reported by the Scottish Sun, he spoke to the Queen but was somewhat informal about the matter.
What valuation did the memorabilia receive? An eye-opening sum… just shy of $7,000! Roadshow expert Mark Smith broke the news to the guest’s amazement.
Smith has been with the show since 2014. The display was right up his street – a BBC bio reads that 2 of his specialisms are “flying clothing and RAF log books”.
He took great pleasure being close to authentic military items, such as the jacket. Speaking of the sense of time and place it gave him, he commented: “I’m there crossing the Rhine, it’s fantastic”.
‘Antiques Roadshow’ has been a BBC staple since 1979. No less than 43 seasons have aired to date. The current presenter is journalist Fiona Bruce.
The format has traveled around the world, with Roadshows arriving in Germany, Finland, the USA and Australia amongst other locations. Mark Walberg hosted the Stateside version… not to be confused with movie star Mark Wahlberg of course.
Over the years the show gained a reputation for curious items and headline-making valuations. As noted by the BBC, Smith once appraised a toy panda that accompanied a pilot during the Dam Busters raid of 1943.
In 2019, Reader’s Digest took a tour of the Roadshow’s classic encounters. Standout moments include a woven gold snake bracelet from the late 19th century. The head of the snake bore a Kashmir sapphire, meaning the object could fetch up to $27,000 at auction.
Another extraordinary find was sand art using grains collected from Pikes Peak National Park, North America by artist Andrew Clemens. Small is beautiful, with a maximum valuation of $50,000.
Meanwhile, a 19th century painting by Henry Francois Farny was only fully appreciated after the glass was removed to release a mosquito! The annoying inscet bagged the owner a potential $300,000.
In the BBC’s own 2017 rundown of Roadshow treasures, a modern marvel landed in the form of Banksy’s ‘Mobile Lovers’. The canvas was a Boys’ Club door in Bristol. In 2014 the piece went under the hammer for almost $560,000.
“The club sparked an ownership dispute with Bristol City Council” the BBC write “but Banksy wrote to the cash-strapped club and said it was theirs.”
Another Article From Us: New ‘Call of Duty’ Game Goes Back to WW2… But When?
What was the biggest find in the British series’ history? That’s thought to be a Faberge Flower, presented to a military regiment in 1904. The soldiers got a shock when a price tag was unveiled of over 1 million dollars…