Antiques on St Helena are quite common as many families have been here for years and have gathered artefacts and mementos from many parts of the globe.
The Napoleonic era obviously has an impact on island collectables with pictures, ceramics, tapestries and other works lovingly cared for.
When asking folk what antiques they have and do they know about them, the usual answer is, “no its been passed down to me”. Consequently the heralded visit by Bargain Hunt and Antiques Roadshow celebrity Tim Wannacott was met with much anticipation.
Tim visited the island last week with his wife Helen to write articles about St Helena for the Harrods Magazine and Mail on Sunday.
Whilst they were here, we took advantage of his valuation skills and set up an event in Jamestown’s Grand Parade for locals to bring their treasures.
It was estimated that we would get enough interest to keep the ball rolling for around two hours, in fact Tim was still going strong seven hours after he started! The queue started at around 8.30am for the start at 10.00am.
We saw paintings, wood carvings, coins, ceramics, glassware, statues, jewellery and much more. Some items could be valued on the spot but most were photographed and the owners details taken for a more accurate valuation to be sent from the UK.
Did we unearth any rare finds? Well if we did, no one is shouting about it.
There were some items valued in the thousands but the owners want to keep them under wraps. Probably because they just want to keep them in the family, just where they have been for the past 200 years.
An invitation to Longwood House for last Tuesday saw many of us up there to mark the opening of the exhibition “Napoleon in Saint Helena” at the Musée de L’Armée in Paris. The museum is running an exhibition to illustrate Napoleon’s time on St Helena and includes much of the furniture which was used by Napoleon whilst here.
The museum description of Napoleon’s time on St Helena includes the following narrative which in the context of today’s opinion of the island, couldn’t be further from the truth.
“On the rock of Saint Helena, the fallen Emperor launched his final battle, that of posterity, making his last residence a place for writing and creating the legend. Isolated in the midst of the Atlantic, everything conspired to make Longwood a tragic hell on earth.”