Wearside Echoes: Antique hunt proves a hit

Photo from The Sunderland Lad with Two Names by David Whitfield
Photo from The Sunderland Lad with Two Names by David Whitfield
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A CHANCE buy at a car boot sale could prove a cash winner for a Wearside family.

Calum Whitfield was still at junior school when he snapped up a pair of blue and white vases with his pocket money while on holiday in Hereford.

A decade on – and following an appearance on the Antiques Roadshow – the 300-year-old vases are expected to fetch more than £1,000 at auction.

“We were driving back from visiting friends in Malvern when we saw a sign saying ‘Car Boot Sale,’ so we stopped off,” recalls Calum’s father, David.

“Me and Calum were looking at a stall when he saw the vases sticking out of a box. I think they were about £5 or £10, so he bought them.”

The origin of the vases so intrigued David, who runs Ye Olde Curiosity Shop and Emporium in Roker, that he contacted Sotheby’s auctioneers in London.

“Their expert on Chinese Porcelain thought they dated from the early 18th century, during the reign of Emperor Kangxi,” he said.

“He estimated their auction value to be £400-600 and said Sotheby’s would be happy to include them in a sale. But we decided not sell at the time.”

Instead, Calum opted to try for a second opinion on the vases – from the experts of BBC One’s Antiques Roadshow.

“A junior version of the Roadshow, called The Next Generation, was due to be filmed in Edinburgh in 2006 and Calum applied for tickets,” said David.

“We couldn’t believe it when they landed on the doorstep. Me, Calum and my younger son, Lloyd, all went up to Scotland for the show.

“We met Michael Aspel and other stars of the programme and Calum got picked to go on TV with the vases and some other bits of pottery.”

Veteran Roadshow expert Henry Sandon, a notable authority on Royal Worcester porcelain, valued the vases at between £800 and £1,000 during filming.

Following Henry’s enthusiastic response to the ornaments – thought to date from 1662-1722 – the Whitfields decided to put them up for sale.

“We waited until now as the Chinese market is very buoyant at the moment,” said bank worker Calum, 20.

“I’m hoping for good things from them butI’m planning to split any money they make with my dad and brother.”

The vases, which feature figures, flowerheads and scrolls, are due go under the hammer at Tennants Auctioneers in Leyburn, North Yorkshire, tomorrow.

A guide price of £1,000-£1,500 has been placed on the pair, which are described as Chinese Porcelain Hexagonal Bottle Vases from the Kangxi period.

“We took them down to Tennants in January to put them in the sale and, while I was there, I saw a white table standing with the rubbish,” said David.

“I asked if I could have it, and they said I was welcome. That afternoon I sold it in the shop for £15 – which helped with the petrol costs!

“Now we’ll have to see how the vases go, but it definitely seems as if Calum has a good eye for a bargain.”

l David has just published a book about his life, The Sunderland Lad With Two Names. Look out in Wearside Echoes next week for further details.