Antiques Roadshow guest surprised by staggering valuation of 1890s gown ‘Really?!’

Antiques Roadshow: Expert values ‘exquisite’ gown

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Antiques Roadshow visited Bodnant Garden in North Wales for another episode of the BBC hit show earlier this year. Expert Lisa Lloyd was impressed by a guest’s exquisite gown which belonged to a friend’s mother in the 1890s and worn to fancy dress balls. After informing the guest about the history of this style of dress, she revealed it could be worth £5,000 when taken to auction. 

Lisa started: “Well, what an exquisite gown you’ve brought in for me today. It’s what’s known as a ‘Robe a la Francaise’ and it’s a style that was very popular between about 1730 and 1780.

“You really would have been a lady of some wealth to have afforded a dress like this at that time. What can you tell me about it?”

“It was bequeathed to us earlier this year by a family friend, and we’d known about it for years,” the guest explained. 

“It was a lovely surprise when we had it and it had been worn by her mother in the 1890s to fancy dress balls. Since then, it has been packed away until it came to us.”

Lisa was stunned at the revelation the dress had been packed away for quite some time and asked the guest: “Are you a costume collector?”

The guest informed her they were, and it had been “unfortunately” left with them explaining “we’ve got a large collection”.

“I trained as a dress designer and I worked for a couturier, Ronald Paterson in the early 60s,” they continued. 

“So I was lucky, I was well-trained, I was very very lucky.” 

Amazed by the guest’s background and how he came upon such a dress, Lisa began to break down the history of the dress.

She started: “It’s a beautiful ‘Eau de Nil’ colour, silk damask, basically it comprises of an open robe over an underskirt which sort of illustrates the huge volume of fabric that was used in making these things and that was very much like a sign of wealth and status.

“Then we have you see the matching V-shaped stomacher with it as well which again is a separate piece. 

“You have this lovely, beautiful sort of ruffled trim on it which is very typical of you find on gowns of this period.

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“Another nice detail of this is what’s called a sack back gown and if you see the back here, it’s these box pleats which emanate from the ruffles at the back of the neck which almost goes into a train at the back and some of these had very long trains on them as well.

“What I would say about it is that it’s in remarkably nice condition. 

“They’re very susceptible to light and rot. This doesn’t have any of that, there’s a very small amount of fading on it in places.

“Essentially it’s in excellent condition. I think if it were at auction you would probably look at somewhere in the region of 3,000-5,000 on it,” she told the guest. 

Taken aback the guest simply asked: “Really?” before adding: “That’s a big surprise.”

Lisa explained: “I think so, simply because it is incredibly original and it’s in excellent condition. A rare survivor.” 

Feeling pleased with his total and still, in shock, the guest thanked Lisa on her estimation and went on with his day feeling rather pleased. 

Antiques Roadshow continues on BBC One on Sunday at 8 pm. 
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