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Antiques Roadshow expert refused to value 'most disturbing' item due to its past

Antiques Roadshow expert refused to value 'most disturbing' item due to its past

The expert said he did 'not want to put a price on something which signifies such an awful business'

If you've got any old relics or heirlooms gathering dust in your loft and taking up valuable space, Antiques Roadshow is probably the best place to take them.

People can turn their trash into treasure on the hit BBC show, while dually bagging five minutes of fame while they discuss the origin of their mysterious object on-screen.

But sometimes, digging into the history of an item can prompt conversations about some dark subjects.

During Sunday night's (31 March) episode of Antiques Roadshow, expert Ronnie Archer-Morgan had to tackle 'one of the most difficult things' that he's ever had to discuss on the show since he joined the team in 2011.

He even refused to value the item because of its horrifying past, something that has only happened a few times on the show.

Host Fiona Bruce and co headed to Alexandra Gardens in Cardiff to try and find some exciting artefacts, only to stumble across an antique with a chilling past.

In the voiceover, she explained that a woman had brought along a disc which 'acted as an endorsement of the professional reputation of an African slave trader in the West African port of Bonny in the 18th century'.

Ronnie was visibly taken aback by the antique and made it crystal clear that both he and the entire Antiques Roadshow crew 'wholly and unequivocally disapprove of the trade in ivory'.

He told the guest: "But this ivory bangle here is not about trading in ivory, it’s about trading in human life, and it’s probably one of the most difficult things that I’ve ever had to talk about. But, talk about it we must."

Ronnie Archer-Morgan refused to put a price on the item.

Ronnie described the 'amazing' object as a 'testament to the callous trade' which eclipsed the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, before taking a closer look at the inscription on the disc which described the original owner as a 'good trader' and a 'honest fellow'.

The collector scoffed and instead described him as a 'despicable human being', before adding: "I'd like to meet him and teach him how honest I think he is."

Ronnie continued: "This is a document, the living proof, the surviving proof, that this awful trade went on.

"Look how beautiful the calligraphy is, the beauty of the calligraphy it just belies the awfulness of the message."

Explaining how she had acquired the chilling object, the guest said she had snapped it up for just £3 around 36 years ago at a house sale organised by a family who she used to care for.

He admired the calligraphy but said it simply disguised the 'awfulness' of the message.

The woman said she 'had no idea what it was' but picked it up as she thought it 'looked interesting'.

"Now I’m researching, it said traders - I thought it meant trading in coffee or spices, but I realised they were trading in people," the woman told Ronnie.

The emotional TV star then opened up about his own family history, explaining that his great-grandmother was a 'returned slave' from Nova Scotia in Canada who came back to Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone.

He continued: "I think it's my cultural duty, our cultural duty, to talk about things like this.

"I just don't want to value it. I do not want to put a price on something which signifies such an awful business.

"But the value is in the lessons that this can tell people. The value is in researching this and what we can find out.

"And I just love you for bringing it in and thank you so much for making me so sad."

The strangest items that have appeared on Antiques Roadshow

While the ivory ring on last night's show was heartbreaking, some items on the show have just been downright bizarre

Human hair from famous poets


Ever dreamed of owning the locks of William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge?

Well, it'll cost you, as when this item was brought on Antiques Roadshow last year it was valued at upwards of £40,000.

The clippings were a family heirloom, and according to expert Justin Croft, one was taken on a person's deathbed.


Nightmare fuel Teletubbies concept art

Turns out Tinky-Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po originally looked pretty scary.

Jonathan Hills drew the concept art for the future children's TV icons. He sadly died in 2020 and his wife brought some of his original sketches on the show in 2022.

Expert Mark Hill admitted some of the drawings were 'creepy', but went on to value the individual pieces between £500 and £2,000, and the entire collection of 80 drawings at up to £80,000.

A bottle of pee

Who could forget the time expert Andy McConnell inadvertently drank urine back in 2016?

A bloke called John found the bottle in his garden, and McConnell used the taste test to figure out what was inside, thinking it was port.

Fast forward to 2019, and Fiona Bruce revealed to McConnell: "Inside were these brass pins, all of these dating from the late 1840s, and the liquid - urine, a tiny bit of alcohol and one human hair."

It turned out it was a 'witches bottle', buried on the threshold of a house as a protection against curses and bad luck.

Featured Image Credit: BBC

Topics: TV, TV and Film, BBC, Antiques Roadshow, History, Money