Antiques Roadshow: meet the experts

We know they know their stuff when it comes to antiques, but what do we know about them? Lucy Cavendish went to find out more…

Lisa Lloyd has her grandmother to thank for her love of antiques. “We lived in a very modern house and my parents knew nothing,” she says. “But when I was eight, my grandmother used to pick me up and take me round all the shops. Then in my 20s I worked next to Sotheby’s, so I spent all my free time there.”

Advertisement

For 16 years she worked as auctioneer and director of London auction house Rosebery’s, but then she and her husband Marc Allum (a fellow expert on Antiques Roadshow) moved to the south of France where they organised antique- collecting holidays. Now she’s back in Wiltshire, running her own art and antiques business.

Her stock-in-trade on Roadshow is her choice of dress: “I love vintage frocks and I always try to wear something unique. I probably have between 400 to 500 pieces in my collection – and I used to have more! I went through a period of buying lots of Victorian and Edwardian items, but now I tend to concentrate on the 1940s and 50s.”

She’s been with the programme for one season. “I love it,” she says. “I’m good on miscellany. I can go from 18th-century art to tribal objects and textiles.” The strangest thing she’s valued was a carved wooden hex from a cottage in Pendle. “It’s a remnant from the witch trials,” she says. “It’s not worth much but it’s so interesting.”

Her fantasy find would be a piece by William Burges, a designer and architect who made furniture as well as smaller items. “Pieces have been found in the past, so here’s hoping,” she says.


The ex-hairdresser

Previous career incarnations have seen Ronnie Archer Morgan work as a DJ, a lab technician and a hair- dresser. In the last of those jobs he saw celebrity clients from Cilla Black through to Sandie Shaw. But in his lunch hour, Archer Morgan would go out and scour local antique shops and stalls for anything that took his fancy – from handbags to costume jewellery. He’d then show what he’d bought to his clients. “Everyone loved it! Suddenly I was buying stuff for £20 and selling it on for £200.”

By the time he began to work on film sets with David Puttnam, he was also having a semi- lucrative second career buying and selling individual pieces. “I remember Catherine Deneuve telling me she loved everything I bought. Dustin Hoffman did too.”

On the back of this interest, Archer Morgan set up a stall at Antiquarius antiques market in London. “I just bought things that interested me.” It was after this that Sotheby’s approached him to consult on a sale of wrist watches. “They had seen a gap in the market and, despite the fact I had no formal education, they asked me to organise it.” Now, two decades later, Archer Morgan is much in demand. “I suppose it’s because I just collect what I like. I put on exhibitions of things and then they sell like hot cakes and a trend is started!”

His favourite find so far on the Roadshow is a Fijian war club brought to Scarborough in 2012. “It was beautifully carved but used to smash in the heads of the enemies. It was valued at £25,000 – life-changing money. That’s what makes it all so exciting!”


The actor’s son

There’s a clue in the name to the provenance of this particular expert. Fergus Gambon is the son of actor Michael and his interest in porcelain started when his father took him shopping as child. “I saw this beautiful coffee can and fell in love with it,’” he says. “My father refused to buy it so I went in to a sulk.” The coffee can was duly purchased. The woman who sold it to him told him it was Worcester. “I researched it and found out it was Spode and I was so excited about finding it out for myself.” Thus a passion for antique collecting was born. However, his parents felt he should pursue another career. “They didn’t see it as a ‘proper’ job so they insisted I do law. I think my father felt that as his job was so insecure, I should do something more traditional.”

Gambon trained and worked as a lawyer for a decade but found it boring. By this time he had also developed an interest in antique toys and dolls’ houses. “I can’t tell you how many I have because I have so many!” Eventually he got a job at Phillips auctioneers (now Bonhams) where he is a valuer and cataloguer. “I find my job so thrill- ing,” he says. The icing on the cake is the work he does with Antiques Roadshow. And now, of course, his parents have finally accepted he is doing a “proper job”.

His most exciting find was in Swindon in 2010. “It was a carved wooden doll from 1740. It sent a shiver down my spine.” Despite it being valued at £25,000, the owners chose to renovate the doll rather than sell it. His fantasy find would be some porcelain painted by Thomas Pardoe, a ceramic artist.


The former rocker

Antiques Roadshow’s glass expert started his career working as a rock journalist. “I lived in LA. I was 22 and it was heaven,” says Andy McConnell.

“In a way, my job as a journalist helped me see things as a narrative.” But his interest in antiques goes back to childhood when he helped his parents with their part- time antiques dealer- ship. “I’d go up to the Portobello Road and hunt things down.”

His passion for glass stemmed from meeting a dealer in Germany. “It was very fashionable back then, so I’d buy glass in the UK and send it to Germany, and I started learning about it.” His love affair continued over three decades and now glass is his obsession. “I couldn’t give a monkeys for anything else.” It’s his expertise – he owns over 30,000 pieces of glass – that makes him so important to Antiques Roadshow. “The show has been incredible for me. I just love it. I know my strengths. I may be the wackiest and most idiosyncratic but I also try to be witty.”

His most memorable valuation on the programme featured a wine glass that was brought to Leeds Town Hall. “It was from 1710 and the owner had no idea what it was worth. It could have been a wooden budgerigar as far as he was concerned! I told him it was worth £5k and he was visibly shocked. He sold it for £7,500 in the end. It was a great moment.”

His fantasy Roadshow find would be a piece of glassware sealed with the crest of George Ravenscroft. “He perfected the formula for lead crystal which was the defining moment for British glass. A piece like that is worth around £200,000.”

Advertisement

Antiques Roadshow is on Sundays at 8pm on BBC1