During a recent episode of BBC’s Antiques Roadshow, Fiona Bruce and the team of experts took the roadshow to Woodburn Museum in Northumberland. The site is a former colliery that tells the story of coal mining and the miners’ way of life in northeast England. During the show, a guest stunned expert Andy McConnell when he presented him with two glasses made by William Beilby in the 18th century and revealed the stunning price they would be sold for at auction.
Fiona began: “Occasionally, on the roadshow, we get a glimpse into the secretive world of freemasonry.
“An organisation made up of mostly male groups called lodges, each with their own traditions incorporating mysterious symbols and objects.
“Items like 18th-century glasses, which offer both an insight to the rituals, and the craftsmen that made them.”
When first looking at the glasses, Andy exclaimed: “These glasses are absolutely the cream, they are firing glasses for toasting.
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“So, how on earth do you end up owning these wonderful little gems?” he asked.
The guest revealed: “Well, I got a bit lucky really. I had seen them come up in an auction, but they were just a general lot.
“They were valued at just £50 to £70, and I pretty much knew when I bought them what they were.
“But sadly, they had been spotted by somebody else, so they didn’t go up in value but managed to win the lot.”
“What you recognised them as was the work of the Beilby family, William Beilby who was in Newcastle 1768, it is exactly what it says on the tin.
“They were Britain’s leading enamellers, greatest enamellers working exclusively on glass and glass enamelling is done by, you get the compound powders.
“You get the basic colours, and then you grind these glass into powder and then William Beilby, who did both of these glasses, I am sure, would pick up oil on a paintbrush, mix this powdered glass up onto the paintbrush and then paint each colour on one by one.
“Firing them each time because each glass and each colour had different melting points and then using them fine brushes painted on these details.
“So here we have the masonic compasses and the square on the other side where this style of white floral branding around the top and they are a well-known set.
“The first one that came up that we know about was bought by the British Museum in about 2009 for £12,000, then one sold for £8,000 and another one sold for £6,000.
“But yours, I know, would fetch today at auction you would get somewhere like £16,000 the pair,” he admitted.
The guest was shocked at the price of them and simply replied: “Wow,” before Andy continued: “What a pleasure.
published 2022-05-09 12:03:00