Antiques Road Trip expert Paul Laidlaw made quite a find in an antiques and collectibles shop earlier this year in Margate, Kent. Not that he could have predicted how much money the item would make at auction.
Paul haggled down the £75 asking price to £60 for ‘a boxed optical instrument’, which he believed to be a ‘primitive sub-miniature camera’.
Neither he nor the Bury St Edmunds based auctioneers had seen such an item before, nor could they find information about the camera online.
With five phone bidders and internet interest among others all fighting for the camera, the auctioneer accepted bids in £1,000 increments, which is a first for Antiques Road Trip.
Much to the delight of Paul, the gavel went down at £20,000, to a private owner in Switzerland. That’s a £19,940 profit, with all proceeds going to Children in Need!
The previous highest auction sale on the show was a mere £3,800, for a Tibetan bronze deity.
So what is the treasured camera?
circa 1864 Auguste Bertsch Chambre Automatique
Photographic experts have confirmed it to be a circa 1864 Auguste Bertsch Chambre Automatique. It’s one of the first ‘automatic’ cameras.
This extremely rare 19th-century find is a sub-miniature 37x37mm wet plate fixed-focus microscope camera. The lacquered brass camera came in its original mahogany case, with reagent bottles and accessories. Its brass inset plaque reads CHAMBRE AUTOMATIQUE DE BERTSCH BTE S.G.S. NO. 229.
Think £20,000 is a lot? Well, yes it is, but similar items have sold before at auction for around €180.000. That’s a snip!
So, it seems such rare finds are still possible. Right, I’m getting my coat and heading down to the local charity shop, wish me luck.
You can watch Paul Laidlaw in action on Antiques Road Trip and read more about the story on the BBC website.
For more information about the auction lot, please visit the Lacy Scott & Knight website.