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Last Thursday we were delighted to welcome Patricia Law and her friend Daphne Bartlett to a VIP day at the Antiques Roadshow filming at Chepstow Racecourse. Having won the competition in the May issue of Homes & Antiques, the pair enjoyed a night’s stay and dinner at the beautiful Bell at Skenfrith.
On the day, we were treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of the show with press officer Olwen Gillespie before Patricia and Daphne had their objects valued (without having to queue!) and posed for pictures with presenter Fiona Bruce (above) and ceramics expert Henry Sandon.
The highlight of the day was when one of Daphne’s treasures, bought for £1, turned out to be a genuine mystery object.
‘I’ve never seen anything like it,’ Marc Allum (pictured right with Daphne) groaned before a bit of joint detective work hinted at a probable use.
When unscrewed, the extraordinary silver-plated, whistle-shaped object, which Marc dated to 1890-1910, contained a metal ring, not unlike the plastic rings children use to blow bubbles. Daphne had suspected it might have once contained a pungent liquid used to revive ladies who had swooned – and Marc confirmed this as a likely theory.
‘The cork stopper indicates it would definitely have held a liquid,’ he said, ‘and the metal ring would once have held a sponge.’ Further research suggested that, although now rare, these were Victorian police issue.
‘I suppose policemen in those days had to deal with lots of fainting ladies in tight corsets!’ said Marc. He valued it at £40-£60.