Not only was this World War 2 Militaria Trench Art Model Spitfire one of my favourite finds, it also led to my TV debut!
In this second helping of my Source Vintage Blog I wanted to share with you one of my favourite finds to date and the story of how this item led to me appearing on BBC1 antiques show, 'The Bidding Room'.
About a year ago, I visited an antiques centre and spotted a model plane in one of the cabinets. The label stated simply that it was a perspex plane. On closer inspection I could see that it was made of strips of perspex, with paint in between to create a camouflage effect. It looked like a Spitfire or a Hurricane, I wasn't sure. But I WAS sure that there was more to this than just a perspex plane. I purchased it for £50 and began researching it as soon as I got home.
My research indicated that during WW2, items were made from pieces of salvaged aircraft and my model plane could have in fact been made from the windshield of an aircraft used during that time. I was very excited about this and posted pictures of it on my social media channels. Well, this was when it got very interesting!
It was seen by the researchers for a new BBC1 TV show called 'The Bidding Room', who contacted me and explained that they were looking for people with unique or interesting items to apply to come to their antiques emporium, have their item assessed and valued, meet their panel of dealers and hopefully make a sale. They asked if I would be interested in taking part with my plane. Of course, I agreed.
So, in February this year (2020), I travelled to the filming of 'The Bidding Room', located just outside Halifax. Or should I say I began my epic journey to Halifax, from York, which, if you were driving, would take about an hour. However, I was getting the train and there just so happened to be quite a big storm the evening before, resulting in delayed and cancelled trains! The schedule for filming was strict and I had to be there on time. Three hours later, I arrived into Halifax where I was swiftly collected by the runner for the show. I arrived at location as filming was starting, signed some forms, had one sip of coffee and then I was swept straight off for filming.
First there were some walking shots both inside and outside the building. Then came the initial on camera interview where I had to say a bit about my item.
From there, I was pulled straight into the valuation room where the host, Nigel Havers and the valuation expert, Simon Bower, were waiting. This is where disaster struck! I introduced myself to Nigel and passed him my model spitfire. He loved it and regaled tales of flights he had had in spitfires. He then passed it to Simon, at which point my plane seemed to turn into a bar of soap! It slipped from his hands, he tried to catch it, juggled it for a few seconds and then it fell and crash landed on to the hard table top below! The wings of the plane parted ways with the body, while my bottom lip started trembling and my eyes started to well up. My item had been broken before I had even entered the Bidding Room! Regardless of the item now being in two pieces, Simon valued it at £100 - £120.
From the valuation room, I was taken for another on camera interview to talk about how the valuation went and how I was feeling about entering the Bidding Room. I was happy with the valuation, as it was double what I paid for the item.
Now it was time to enter the bidding room! The Floor manager explained to me what I should expect when I enter the room. He said there would be a long table at the far end where five antiques dealers would be sat ready to bid against each other for my item. There would also be camera operators, producers and runners around the outside edge watching proceedings. He explained there was a red cross taped to the floor where I should stand. He would count me down (3,2,1) and I would be on camera as soon as I stepped through the door.
So, 3...2...1... the Floor Manager counted me down and with real enthusiasm and gusto, I burst into the Bidding Room! The door flung wide open and smashed into a pile of crates that were stacked behind the door! The crates rolled everywhere, while I stood in the centre of the room contemplating my life choices! Should I carry on as if nothing had happened...? Or should I leave the room and run to the train station..!? I chose to do a slow moonwalk backwards out of the room and start again. Unfortunately, by this point the Floor Manager had disappeared, there was no count down and the exact same scenario happened another three times, albeit slightly less destructive each time. Until, finally, I managed a gentle creep into the room, holding my model spitfire, which, remember, was now in two pieces!
I placed the model on the table in front of the dealers and stepped back in search of the red cross taped to the floor. To begin with, the dealers seemed unsure what my item was or what it was made of. They passed it between themselves, the body went one way and the wings went the other! I gave them some details and interest seemed to perk up a little. Bidding, however, started slowly. It became clear there was only one dealer with any real interest in my item and that was Adi Higham.
Bidding got up to £60, at which point Adi asked me if we had a deal? I said "not a chance!" I liked the item too much and deep down, I wouldn't have minded if the item didn't sell. But Adi wasn't finished there. He offered £90, which I rejected. He then offered £100, which I rejected again. I said that an offer of £150 would secure the item, which Adi rejected. Adi then offered £120, with the promise that it would be re-homed to an air base which was used during World War 2. With that, I accepted the offer and in a way, it felt like the plane was going back to where it belonged.
Thankfully, watching the show on TV, they had edited out any awful bits, including the plane being broken. They must have re-filmed the item carefully being passed around and held together by the dealers. You can see, just for a split second, the wings come away from the body as it is handled by Jane Cave, but overall, they did a cracking job! No doubt you'll see me on the bloopers real sometime in the future! Overall, it was a fantastic experience, with a group of wonderful crew and experts, and I'm so pleased I did it.
However, one final twist to the story! Having secured £120 from Adi for my model Spitfire, I exited the Bidding Room and in true antiques dealer style, I spotted an item which was for sale in the building. A charming vintage hand painted Antiques Shop Sign. So, it really was in one hand and out the other!
If you're interested, you can see Adi and I discussing this particular episode of the Bidding Room and all of the mishaps in my YouTube video below.
Thanks so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed blog post number 2. Please continue to support the small independents during these very strange times and please stay safe out there!
Until next time, goodbye!
Owner Source Vintage
Shop from Source Vintage here