Antiques Radio Show

The Antiques Radio Show is a monthly program about antiques and the decorative arts, presented by Jolyon Warwick James. It explores news, reviews, events objects and goings on in the world of things that are old, beautiful or both – whether valuable or not! The program is broadcast on Monday evenings at 5:30pm every fortnight.

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Antiques Radio Show #37

presented by Jolyon Warwick James

The program looks at some predictable and some unexpected impacts, by the covid 19 lockdown, on the antiques and art industry. Some antique curiosities come up for sale giving an insight into how life was lived in years gone by and we get an amusing insight (“guru’s view”) into the art of the future. What if a sculptor does not wish to see her finished product, and the “sitter” cannot? We hear about a fascinating project (very much) touching on this. We include some cross words – cryptic, not angry.

Original broadcast date 11.10.2021

Antiques Radio Show #36

Whilst avoiding NFT’s, the program concentrates on some very material oddities and curiosities. It examines the recent history of the trade in some “well past use-by-date” comestibles, an old leaky beaker, an unexploded WW1 artillery shell and a weird wristwatch. There’s a follow up to the previous program (#35) “lost and found” and an additional of some parts of a suit of armour that were re-united. We end with some helpful quotes about art from Tolstoy, Kipling and Wilde.

Original broadcast date 13.09.2021


Antiques Radio Show #35

Our main topic is “lost and found” – four stories of items “separated” from their owners, and which eventually found their way home – some ornamental lions, bronze tortoises, paintings and Indian artefacts. Who were the dispossessed, where was home and what was the journey in the middle? On other matters, where is the dividing line between erotic art and porn? - we take a short (and seemly) peek. “Mechanical toy” versus “automation” – we compare virtues and descriptions. Lastly the issue of humour: can the antiques and art industry laugh and laugh at itself? The program offers few answers but lots to ponder.

Original broadcast date 16.08.2021


Antiques Radio Show #34

What links a 16th century gold medal and a 20th century combination silver cigarette lighter and case? Both were the gift of Kings with one also being to a “King”. We hear about both and detail some historical irony surrounding medal, almost 500 years after it was made. We discuss two intriguing opium legacies to the decorative arts, and then look at two non-original works of “flat art”. One a downright fake and the other a copy, both having intriguing stories surrounding them and sold for surprising sums. We ask if the price was for the singer or the song. This is followed by an excursion into body art, a teddy bear, humpty dumpty, a stopwatch and ends with a favourite quote.

Original broadcast date 19.07.2021


Antiques Radio Show #33

Sex, religion, politics and money are generally considered topics to avoid in "polite" society. How then does a polite program like the Antiques Radio Show avoid them? Perhaps it’s impossible to separate some objects from their impolite origins, but Jolyon does try in this episode to observe decorum, while tackling sporting memorabilia and collectibles, a remarkable doll, a beautiful portrait of a much-maligned lady, an 18th century book telling an astonishing tale of rising from adversity, the fate of a despised statue, and historic objects that some museums wish to return to their country of origin. 

Original broadcast date 21.06.2021


Antiques Radio Show #32

This time the Antiques Radio Show approaches the target objects via the dramatis personae. We find out about antiques and art through the people who carry the story. We discuss a mezzotint, some historic signatures, a well-connected beret, some suitably pocketed historic trousers, a questionable tomb adornment, and a controversial painting. All are explained and come to life through the people connected with them. This main meal is followed by some short snippets for dessert.

Original broadcast date 24.05.2021


Antiques Radio Show #31

How much is the discovery of antiques and art works a matter of luck and how much is it hard work, homework and inspiration ? The intriguing stories behind the plans for the liner Queen Mary, an old master painting, a Chinese bowl, a ceramic courting couple and some well-travelled coins illustrate this issue. Auctioning a Van Gogh painting is not straightforward, and some remarkable new technology comes to the aid of the antiques and art world.

 Original broadcast date 26.04.21


Antiques Radio Show #30

What makes antiques and art valuable to people? Why do they seemingly pay so much for certain things? We try to cast light on this from the details of the sales of a 17th century leather jug, an electric guitar, six early 19th century silver spoons, a collection of 18th and 19th century walking sticks, and two wood carved overweight figures. We investigate how CITES relates to some of these. Then onto the question of the accessibility of museums and the personal experience of an art historian. And do publicly accessible antiques and art have a responsibility to inform and entertain and never to offend? We offer some examples to test your curiosity and thresholds.

Original broadcast date 29.03.2021


Antiques Radio Show #29

Where does the expression “fits to a T” come from? We explain the origins and illustrate the program with fitting examples, touting a Toby jug (who was Toby?), Tin Tin (“tintinalia”?), a tiny Tea service (too small to use) and a towering Trophy. This is followed by the Trials and Tribulations of museums. These institutions are repositories of expertise and forums for academic debate. So how, then, do they deal with the issue of fakes and alleged fakes which come under their aegis? We take a good look at a case in question, and witness a very robust debate indeed !

Original broadcast date 01.03.2021


Antiques Radio Show #28

This program tips us off about Brexit and changes to British hallmarking and about the real purpose of a Russian 1930’s travel poster. We hear details of an 18th century silver salver made by someone equally proficient in glass and enamel manufacturing. We find out more about women in the book industry and also about chapbooks (not what they sound like). We find out about an early (pre-chess) board game with a hard to pronounce name, but one useful for the Scrabble board. We examine the museum heist. How do crooks dispose of the stolen works? It harder (luckily) than you might think.

Original broadcast date 01.02.2021


Antiques Radio Show #27

A book about the antiques trade and a book about thimbles (etc.) and some historic thimbles themselves. Australian fauna and flora (prints etc) and some fascinating explosive information. A useful scrabble word – well actually an object to do with an ancient sport. There is the manifestation of a moving WWI love story, an explanation of how a Museum etc might acquire objects, news of a serious underwater museum, and some very good reasons to visit the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney. Who was the Lord of Lord’s cricket ground?

Original broadcast date: 4 January 2021


Antiques Radio Show #26

We dare to suggest some ideas for the festive season and Christmas giving - antiques and art for all the family? A pleasant and creative departure from receiving socks, soap and cheap sherry. Ceramics, silver, wood and works on paper relating to mental and physical pursuits as well as collectors’ items and a “practical joke” piece of jewellery almost 200 years old. We look at museums and their accessibility and what they do when confronted by “skeletons in the cupboard”. Join presenter Jolyon Warwick James for the final episode of Antiques Radio Show for 2020.

Original broadcast date: 7 December 2020


Antiques Radio Show #25

Stuffed birds - living and extinct; a circa 1700 ivory slide rule; a very expensive 1960 toy robot; and an 18th century Chinese wine pot that looks like a tea pot. Plus, ecclesiastical Beatles memorabilia. What cost? What loss? What advances made or lessons learned by society, in the years since? ARS examines each. 

We also look at some rather loosely used terminology and explain each in more precise terms – 'Hallmarks', 'Georgian' and 'Coat of arms'. We end with another remarkable discovery – underneath some floorboards. Find out what, when and where in this episode of Antiques Radio Show.

Original broadcast date: 9 November 2020


Antiques Radio Show #24

The thrill of the chase! Seeking the true Holy Grail – does it exist? Some claim to know where to look and why. ARS discloses! A collector’s personal “Holy Grail”? It may be a much sought-after wristwatch (“from outer space”!), or a rare Coffee Pot - possibly. But other things matter for different reasons to individuals (a sampler), or to cultures and nations (Toi Moko). Details and explanations are given for all. And what about funding for the arts? The ARS dares to go there and finally to reveal the unlikely place some very valuable stolen books (“Holy Grails”?) were found.

Original broadcast date: 12 October 2020


Antiques Radio Show #23

Interesting items - In this episode, we feature a rare Scottish silver spoon that travels the globe; a very special “transatlantic” chess piece; Royal shoes; old spectacles (but not just anyone’s…); the world’s oldest signature; and, something from the real life of “The Kings’ Speech”. All or any could have been yours! Find out what they would have cost you.

Information – News of a splendid collection of art from New York visiting Brisbane. More damage in a gallery by a careless “selfie” partaker. A WWII stolen picture returned and looking for its original owners (or descendants). “Buyers Premium” thoroughly explained and ditto: “cap-à-pie”! Brewers (??) to the rescue!

Original broadcast date: 14 September 2020


Antiques Radio Show #22

Interesting items – How often do you hear about an antique vampire slaying kit being sold? What does it contain – and cost? A Maori weapon - a mere - is sold, as are Vietnamese ceramics, a Corinthian helmet, some very special old historical “dolls” or figurines, and an unusual Jewish Iraqi ritual item. Each has a story!

Information – Details of Sculpture by the Sea and why it can be so enjoyable and pertinent to 2RPH listeners. We discuss what happens to a silver item which falls short of British law (a fake?) and explain the origins of the expression, “Bob’s your Uncle”. A planned new musical based on an illustrious painting. But which one?

Original broadcast date: 17 August 2020


Antiques Radio Show #21

Interesting items – We look at our heroes through objects associated with them, and the price to own part of their lives. We'll also take a look at three little whiskey jugs once belonging to a Polar explorer; an investment document that lost a genius a bundle; an escapologist's secrets (and a postcard he sent); and, some other heroic and inescapable prices.

Information – How an Australian museum just lost out (due to government intervention) on achieving a world first. A saving grace? A genuine 21st century treasure hunt. Who buried what, where and why? A new book about the treasures of a King.

Original broadcast date: 20 July 2020


Antiques Radio Show #20

Interesting items - Henry Ford once said, “History is bunk”, Antiques Radio Show (ARS) disagrees. ARS demonstrates how rich and informative history can be as seen through objects, items and works of art. We have a 'magic' item prop owned by a "Chinese” magician and another by a famous ventriloquist; bagpipes that went to war; dinky cars that tried to dodge some taxes; fake papers that trapped a Nazi criminal; and, a Bruegel painting that casts light on how we eat.

Information – We revisit “provenance” – its meaning and implications, including a legal view. We also find out about a new Sydney museum, and where our bells come from.

Original broadcast date: 22 June 2020


Antiques Radio Show #19

Interesting Items – Items that have sold: Australiana ceramic Kookaburra and a seascape painting. Other items include some “Recusant chalices”, a Mahjong set (how old is the game?), a broadsheet about the 1666 London plague and a toy railway engine.

Information – We examine fakes. How valuable, how extensive and how convincing can they be? How do they differ from copies, replicas, facsimiles etc. We look at some examples, ask some questions (but don’t have all the answers!) and offer several free giveaway booklets.

Original broadcast date: 25 May 2020


Antiques Radio Show #18

Interesting Items – A theme of the way people are related to objects – to a flute, a painting of a dwarf jester, a stuffed penguin, a trip to the Antarctic, a group of medals and a stolen Van Gogh. Who would steal an animal trough?

Information – Creative activity with art – where do you daub? Photo-shopping old master paintings with interesting results. An interesting exhibition in Spain. 

Original broadcast date: 27 April 2020


Antiques Radio Show #17

Interesting Items – A drum, a clock, a map, a “lewd book”, a gruesome execution, some walking canes and glass eyes. All old, some items (clearly) more beautiful than others.

Information – A 16th century board game (with a 21st century explanation), a very strange restitution story, some very queer history, and an odd stage play about an antiques dealer.

Original broadcast date: 30 March 2020


Antiques Radio Show #16

Interesting Items – A battered enamel car racing sign, some interesting silver – well into five figures for a claret jug and a large serving spoon! Australasian artefacts prove attractive.

Information – What can nations do to prevent heritage items disappearing overseas? We look at two situations. In this episode: a remarkable story of an early 19th century painter with very severe disabilities; the British Museum’s willingness to display underlines the changing face of attitudes towards sex, religion and politics; and, a potter escapes from the flames.

Original broadcast date: 2 March 2020


Antiques Radio Show #15

Interesting Items – How well-heeled must you be to afford a pair of Napoleon’s boots? What is a sampler and what is the price for an early colonial one from Van Diemen’s Land? We look at comics, typewriters, ivory plaques and a ring worn by a Jewish soldier in the Roman army.

Information – Buyers Premium is explained, and the question of “What is art?” comes into focus. We don’t provide an answer, but try to help you decide your take on it - is art all just “bananas”? Tack on a bit of “ozzie humour”.

Original broadcast date: 3 February 2020


Antiques Radio Show #14

Interesting Items – the cost of whistle blowing (and the penalties), an album of Railway tickets, insurance plaques (what do they do and what do they cost?), “The Father of Parole” and an “Aussie name to watch”.

Information – Australia gets back some treasures from German Museums. Hitler memorabilia – should it be sold ? An interesting angle on the debate and the curious result of such a sale. Another example of the benefits to society of Art Galleries and Museums and an art lover’s dating app – dubbed “tinder for people who love museums”. And what actually is an ounce?

Original broadcast date: 6 January 2020


Antiques Radio Show #13

Interesting Items - When were Christmas cards invented? What price was a first issue copy of Great Expectations (that’s the book, not what you expect to get in your stocking.) A suffragette tea service, a painting of a family listening to Lord Haw Haw and anyone for Sphairistike? All are fully explained, and prices revealed.

Information – A Christmas quiz (and answers)! The extraordinary discovery of Queen Elizabeth’s (Tudor not Windsor) dress and the Art Gallery of NSW expands.

Original broadcast date: 9 December 2019


Antiques Radio Show #12

Interesting items – Problems with a Maori cloak (which didn’t sell) but none with a Polynesian club and a metal (sic) cricket bat, once used by Mr D. Lillee, both which sold well. A huge premium for Poe’s pocket watch (provenance assured).

Information – A “letter to the editor” about digitisation and the Powerhouse Museum and a story about selling ivory – and what happens if you don’t follow the rules. A book review about Bauhaus, an article about the porn industry sponsoring an art exhibition (are they good bedfellows?) and something personal about Albrecht Durer. Plus some Antiques Radio Show trivia.

Original broadcast date: 11 November 2019


Antiques Radio Show #11

Interesting items – Dinky cars are collectable, as are advertising broadsheets of yore, a Lambeth Doulton Bear surfaces, and there’s a bit about Horace (the Roman poet) and his literary link with Captain Cook. All respective items sold successfully. But we have another story about something which didn’t – the first Porsche car made. We find out the glitch and hear about of the Bob Hawke sale which had no glitches and much glee (from the successful buyers).

Information – We examine the controversy of how museums describe themselves. How would you define a museum? ICOM has difficulties agreeing! And who is ICOM?

Original broadcast date: 14 October 2019


Antiques Radio Show #10

Interesting items – Boris Becker’s trophies come up for sale, the Beatles contract is signed over to a new owner and some famous football boots come under the hammer.

Information - Napoleon’s guitar is in Australia. We find out how and why. The thorny question of the trade and some alleged illegal trade in Egyptian Antiquities is covered. The story of the illegitimate sons who became heir to an estate - recently in one case and in the 19th century in another instance. The latter being the progenitor of one of London’s finest museum’s and the subject of a book review (which we read). And lots more.

Original broadcast date: 16 September 2019


Antiques Radio Show #9

Interesting items – Famous cricket ball is sold for a famous price, taxidermy is popular and pricey, and Beethoven’s hair brings a symphonic price. An Esther scroll reels off a tidy sum and a discussion as to whether it is in fact Iraqi or Persian. And what does a Queen (or member thereof) collect?

Information - News of the Australian Museum’s makeover. And are political cartoons too non-PC to publish? We also find out how Youtube’s new rules impact on Leni Riefenstahl’s work and views on a Venice Biennale’s exhibit. And what exactly is a “curfew”? – the item, that is…

Original broadcast date: 19 August 2019


Antiques Radio Show #8

Interesting items – World’s most expensive biscuit? A century-old inedible relic goes for the price of many thousand cups of tea. A charity shop gets lucky with a Moorcroft Vase, and a multi-million-dollar Chinese bowl that had been used for tennis balls. And what is a Rackets racket (“no you aren’t seeing double”) and what must you pay to own one? An update on that copy of Lady Chatterley’s Lover and a ”letter to the editor” about the book’s ability to offend. A Sydney Nolan found in a cupboard, and bones in a box.

Information – Overseas issues of museums - art and porn, what are the boundaries? We uncover an exploration of the issue. Looted antiquities sold through Facebook. How can it be countered? On home territory, we visit Sydney University’s architecture. A remarkable survival of a distinctive style.

Original broadcast date: 22 July 2019


Antiques Radio Show #7

Interesting items – An Australian museum buys a Suffragette bravery medal in England, and a First World war soldier is saved by the bullet hitting a penny in his pocket. The coin sells for a lot more a century later. Second World war quick disposal garments (for parachutists wanting to assimilate quickly) and investing in Whisky. What can a bottle sell for? Spirited bidding for the most expensive bottle ever.

Information – Does art care if it offends? Museum has problems with an exhibit and an interesting response from the artist. Similarly, how does Christopher Columbus offend and what happens as a result? We examine an ancient nautical term which has acquired a completely new meaning in US – due to a spelling mistake?

Original broadcast date: 24 June 2019


Antiques Radio Show #6

Interesting items – A sporting bid for an All Black’s rugby shirt? You need a deep pocket! And who would have thought of padlocks as collectable? 16th century ones were a work of art and a worry for the pocket. If that’s bizarre – how about a gold baked bean. Why would Heinz buy one of their own kind??

Information – There actually was a piano on the First Fleet. We hear about how there are two contenders for that title. We read an obituary for late and great Australian and international antiques dealer, Martyn Cook. A world first for Australia - world’s most expensive ever Museum re-location – Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta. Australia also hits the front with a top listing for the most visited contemporary art museum, Sydney’s MCA. Finally, a bit about museum restitution of historically ill-gotten artworks and artefacts. The problem is complex – as we hear.

Original broadcast date: 27 May 2019


Antiques Radio Show #5

Interesting items – Do you know when Valentine’s Day cards were invented? In this episode, we also explore how an Antarctic sledge came onto the market and read about a group of 19th century Australian Goldfields jewellery sold in England. How did it get there and what did it fetch?

Information – A truly wonderful charity in operation! We read about it organising the taking of terminally ill persons to art galleries and exhibitions. A "letter to the editor” about causing damage at an auction viewing (and the auctioneers unexpected response) and some thieves foiled in their attempts to steal a painting from a museum. A piece of trivia is discussed – the question of how one expressed the idea of “clockwise” before clocks were invented!

Original broadcast date: 29 April 2019


Antiques Radio Show #4

Interesting items – An early painting of a cricket match spins a good story but tests the pocket – as does a Louis Vuitton travel trunk. Corkscrews come in all shapes and forms but we look at one that has no rivals! And what price the wine in the bottle it opens!

Information – It’s hard to believe that labels on museum objects could raise a storm. We read about just such a furore arising from a British Museum response to a Sydney Powerhouse Museum inquiry (storm in a showcase?). Could Monty Python fly their circus at the V & A Museum? Listen to their views. We read about how commerce and advertising latches on the finer things in art – to help them sell their products, such as toothpaste. Find out where Henry VIII was conceived! The bed has been found.

Original broadcast date: 4 March 2019


Antiques Radio Show #3

Interesting items – It’s sometimes hard to understand why empty beer cans can attract so much positive interest but we find out why and how much. Does beauty apply, or is it collectomania? Perhaps in the eye of the drinker. Certainly the Lalique silver belt buckle we read about was highly appreciated for its aesthetics. Attractive in possibly a different way is The Fallen Madonna with the big boobies. This TV comedy prop from ’Allo! ‘Allo! actually came under the hammer! Who bought it and for how much?

Information – Though sounding a little theatrical, there is a real issue of the occasional heart attacks when looking at art. We read about this and another gallery problem of damage to objects caused by “selfie” takers. We explore the protocols of nude modelling and read a book review of “Macaroni mania” – which is not about cooking!

Original broadcast date: 21 January 2019


Antiques Radio Show #2

Interesting items – For those who remember the days of pen and paper we hear about a beautiful glass Baccarat paperweight. What makes it so desirable? Who was “mouseman” Thompson and what was the distinguishing feature (insignia) of his furniture? For the traveller, or railway buff, we look at what happened to the “Flying Scotsman” nameplate (the rest of the engine is elsewhere). If you are decorating your sitting room, you might not consider a Mammoth skeleton on the grounds of space. But it's nice to know what they cost in case your circumstances change. We end with a touching story of a First World War Soldier’s watch, re-discovered and repurchased by descendants.

Information – Or is it trivia? Can monkeys hold artistic “copyright”? Has any monkey ever tried? We read about a bizarre court case….! The Antiques Radio Show passes on a useful tip (warning) about not swimming in Venice’s canals – and the consequences if you do. And staying in Italy we find out that the Leaning Tower of Pisa leans less – and what it means for you!

Original broadcast date: 18 February 2019


Antiques Radio Show #1

Interesting items – We hear about the details of the sale of the actual copy of Lady Chatterley’s Lover used in the 1960 “obscenity trial”. Older and less risqué (or likely to corrupt?), is the story of the large dining table made from timbers of a wrecked Spanish Armada galleon. What price fantasy and being taken in (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was!)? Some expensive 1917 photographs of the famous “Cottingley Fairies”.

Information – The splendid painting “The Paston Treasure” is the signature image of the Antiques Radio Show program. The picture’s content is described, and its significance discussed. There is a book review of Ceremonial Maces (in Australia) and details of exhibitions and events to be visited. Do you know the historical origins of what we now describe as the “hash” tag, button or key? The word had been corrupted (apparently unlike the 1960s readers of Lady Chatterley’s lover…..!) We explain!

Original broadcast date: 7 January 2019

Meet the presenter: Jolyon

A man standing and talking to people with his arms crossed.

Jolyon Warwick James was born and educated in England and is an independent silver professional based in Australia. He is an Honorary Associate of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (Sydney), and founder member (and twice President) of the Silver Society of Australia. In London Jolyon is a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and a member of The Silver Society.

Press: Antiques Radio Show is featured!

Jolyon and Antiques Radio Show were featured in an article in ARS Antiques magazine. Here it is: Antiques Radio Show Article